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Frontstretch Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond

Frontstretch Power Rankings
Richmond is considered by many fans to be the best track on the schedule. Well, the race this week didn’t really provide much excitement for the first 382 laps, but boy, did it make up for it in the final 28. Denny Hamlin dominated the race from the drop of the green flag, before a flat tire proved to be his undoing. Then, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was on his way to breaking his winless streak when "one of those racin’ deals" knocked him out of contention -- a wreck that came courtesy of contact with Bad Boy Kyle Busch. All the while, Clint Bowyer was taking it all in, just waiting for his opportunity to steal the victory. The twists and turns of the race gave our panel a plethora of reasons to move people up and down the rankings ... read on to see if you agree or disagree with the latest choices by the Frontstretch writers. *How The Rankings Are Calculated*: Frontstretch does their power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football -- writers on our staff will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15...3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one liners, and ... voila! You have the power rankings from our dedicated staff.

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Top Ten Security Precautions Kyle Busch Took to Get Out of Richmond Alive

*10.* Pretended to befriend Brad Keselowski, gave him his sun goggles to wear, slapped him on the back, and sent him on his way. *9.* Dressed up as a Budweiser guy removing empty kegs from the track. *8.* Disguised himself as a rabid Junior fan running around asking… “Where is that punk SOB?!” *7.* Hired Jimmy Spencer to be his escort out of there.

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Kyle Busch: The Sound of One Hand Clapping Drowned Out By A Million Boos

Saturday’s Crown Royal presents The Dan Lowry 400 was a relatively quiet affair... for the first 95 percent of the evening, that is. At that point, Denny Hamlin had led all but one lap of 382 circuits around the 3/4-mile speedway in front of his hometown crowd. It had been a fairly smooth race, save for the Patrick Carpentier (or as Larry McReynolds says, "Partrick Compartier") pinball imitation on Lap 231, followed by Michael Waltrip’s parking after mistaking Casey Mears for a Demolition Derby contestant on Lap 356. But how quickly things can change in this sport. On lap 383, it was Hamlin's tire going the way of the dinosaur, eventually causing the caution that would bunch up the field in time for the last few laps. Just like that, several teams who'd simply been watching Hamlin dominate throughout the better portion of the evening suddenly became contenders.

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They Come In All Shapes And Sizes: Ranking The Types of NASCAR Tracks Across America

“If God had made us all the same, life would have been boring, Daniel”. So said my dearly departed Grandfather, the legend that was William Peters. And the old boy was right; he usually was, to be fair. And if it’s true about people, it’s certainly true about sport and NASCAR, in particular. Can you imagine how mind numbing it would be to watch 36 races in a row at Fontana, or a season composed entirely of 500-mile Sunday afternoon races at Pocono – about a third of which would probably be blighted by poor weather? Even the best tracks in that scenario would get dull awful quick. Fans across the country would be turning off in droves after watching week after week of “The Big One.” And they’d be equally bored with ten months straight of high-banked half-mile racing at Thunder Valley, regardless of how much beatin’ and bangin’ there was on offer.

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Richmond Race Coverage Conveys Short Track Drama Well

If you're a television executive on FOX or ESPN, the last two weeks of NASCAR racing have bound to have left you drooling. At Talladega, the pack of cars did not get strung out or single file, like it did in the Fall race there; that caused the close racing and crazy wrecks fans expect at that facility. In fact, there were two “Big Ones” in the Cup race to go along with one “really Big One” in the Nationwide Series race. Plus, the ratings golden boy, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., stayed in contention until the end of the Cup event, coming close to the win at his best track. Richmond International Raceway wasn't lacking for drama, either. Viewers of the Nationwide Series race on ESPN Classic or SPEED Channel (more on that later) saw hometown hero Denny Hamlin make a late pass on Kevin Harvick to win, then saw Kyle Busch and Steve Wallace have a sandbox showdown after an on-track bump and run.

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Running Their Mouth: 2008 Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400

_Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Dan Lowry 400 presented by Crown Royal at Richmond International Raceway:_ "They [Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch] were just racing so hard there and you knew it was going to happen. I just took advantage of a misfortune right there. This is just awesome, I just love this place. I really messed up in qualifying for these guys. We just dug deep and worked hard, and things worked out. I just want to thank everybody. This is awesome." _Clint Bowyer, finished 1st_

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400 Edition

Under the lights on a wild Saturday night, sparks flew and fans booed. A controversial accident between Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. made headlines, but it was Clint Bowyer who left Richmond with a victory. It was Bowyer's second career win, but Junior's winless streak extended another week. All four contenders this weekend made this week's "HOT" list, but who could go for a good run at Darlington? One thing's for sure, two defending champions are having unexpectedly difficult seasons. *HOT* *Kyle Busch:* Busch was already disliked by several NASCAR fans, but by taking out Dale Earnhardt Jr. while going for the lead this weekend at Richmond, the aggressive driver enraged the core of fans in Junior Nation. Let’s get this straight – the wreck was not intentional. It was simply a matter of Busch being too aggressive and it unfortunately took a win away from NASCAR’s most popular driver. Finishing second, Busch moves back atop the points standings with his fourth straight Top 2 finish after winning last week at Talladega.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2008 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond Edition

*The Key Moment:* Second place Kyle Busch spun Dale Earnhardt, Jr. out of the lead, but it was Clint Bowyer who drove through the carnage to eventually assume the win as the yellow flag flew. *In a Nutshell:* It ain’t over until it’s over -- and sometimes it isn’t over even when it _is_ over. *Dramatic Moment:* When Denny Hamlin’s tire started deflating, it set off a dizzying chain of events over the final twenty laps. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* *Kyle Busch had a pretty clever plan* for winning the race. I hope he had an equally clever plan to get out of Richmond alive. But before you toss stones (or beer bottles), ask yourself this question: if Dale Jr. had wrecked the No. 18 car with the exact same move, would you have thought it was dirty pool, or just good hard racing with three laps to go on a short track?

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Ten Points To Ponder…After the 2008 Crown Royal 400

*1. Maybe Some Trash Talkin’?* - The National Football League's record-setting but controversial wide receiver Randy Moss of the New England Patriots has announced that he is forming a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. Moss expects his Moss Motorsports operation to enter selected races later this season, then compete in the full schedule of CTS events in 2009. There's no word yet on a driver selection for the new team, or what kind of flamboyant Victory Lane celebration the football player -- known for his creative TD in-your-face end zone moves -- would require his driver to execute. But you better believe that it would be memorable ... and if Moss himself ever gets behind the wheel, watch out.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Regan Runs Well at Rowdy Richmond

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Patrick Carpentier (4th), Regan Smith (26th), Michael McDowell (29th), Sam Hornish, Jr. (35th) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Regan Smith (21st), Sam Hornish, Jr. (23rd), Michael McDowell (40th), Patrick Carpentier (43rd) *Rookie of the Race: Regan Smith.* The most notable part of Smith’s night wasn’t so much his leading rookie finish of 21st, but rather how he got to that point. Soon after the drop of the green flag, the Steak-Umm Burgers Chevrolet backpedaled from its 26th place starting spot, eventually dropping a lap to leader Denny Hamlin by lap 53.

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