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Bubble Breakdown : Blaney Continues Hot Streak, Carries Toyota Banner Back into Top 35

It's been a difficult second half of the season for Dave Blaney and the No. 22 team; they're busy jockeying for the 35th and final "locked in" spot in car owner points with the No. 21 team and their driver combo of Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader. But last week, Blaney had his best finish of the year, surviving a hairy Talladega race to finish 3rd and build momentum he carried over to the following week at Lowe's. Finishing 6th, his second consecutive Top 10 and his third consecutive Top 15 gave the No. 22 some distance from a handul of cars chasing him. Now, for the first time in this stretch of the season, Blaney finally has breathing room, moving into 34th in the standings, 39 points ahead of 35th and a crucial 148 ahead of 36th. To see who Blaney leapfrogged to get into the 34th spot, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown...

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Ten Points to Ponder … After Lowe’s

*1. Lucky at Lowe's* - Jeff Gordon is a great race car driver, but even the best sometimes need a bit of luck, as Gordon acknowledged in his post-race comments from Victory Lane: "I can't tell you how many times we tried to give this one away. I was having trouble with the (fuel) pickup on the banking. Even on the last (restart), the tires spun so bad, Clint Bowyer could have gone right by me." Gordon pulled out the win despite two cautions and a red flag in the last 16 laps of the race, a green-white-checkered finish, an almost-empty gas tank, and a group of talented hard chargers right behind him, including Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards. *2. Translation, please?* - There was some serious fender rubbing going on partway through the race between future teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. After Jeff got into Dale, an angry Junior warned, "Tell him I ain't gonna forget that!" But I'm really curious about what Gordon meant when he said a short time later, "I really don't want to race him tonight," referring to none other than his future teammate. What's your interpretation?

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Allmendinger Aces Lowe’s

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Paul Menard (17th), David Reutimann (20th), A.J. Allmendinger (30th), David Ragan (31st), Juan Pablo Montoya (36th) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* A.J. Allmendinger (15th), Paul Menard (22nd), David Reutimann (29th), Juan Pablo Montoya (37th), David Ragan (40th) *Rookie of the Race: A. J. Allmendinger.* Allmendinger started just 30th for Saturday night's race, but there was no need for Team Red Bull to be concerned...he wouldn't stay there for long. Powering his Camry into the Top 20 by lap 60, both driver and team proved early that they would be a force to be reckoned with. The No. 84's progress, however, became hindered soon after once he dropped a lap down to the leaders, a setback which could have proved costly long-term. But that's when Lady Luck finally shined her good graces on this team, as Allmendinger was the beneficiary of the "Lucky Dog" award on the lap 119 caution for debris; just like that, he was back on pace with the leaders in what would prove to be a crucial turning point.

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Busch Breakdown – Dollar General 300

The Busch series was once again the playground of the Buschwhackers. *Greg Biffle* and *Carl Edwards* dueled at the front of the pack for much of the first two thirds of the race. Biffle took the lead at the beginning of the race as Edwards was working his way up through the front of the pack from his fifth place starting position. *Kasey Kahne* briefly took the lead and then lost it to Biffle who continued to lead until lap 59. At that point Edwards took the point and battled back and forth with Biffle until lap 129 when *Clint Bowyer* assumed the point. Biffle led one more lap on lap 139, but lost it to *Jeff Burton* who led the remainder of the race to capture his 26th career Busch victory.

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Martin Truex joins the philanthropic side of NASCAR

Saturday at Lowe's Motorspeedway, Martin Truex announced that he is beginning a new charitable organization to help out needy kids in both his home state of New Jersey and his current home of Mooresville, NC. Truex wants to take advantage of his position within NASCAR and his success in life in order to give back to his community and share the blessings that he has been afforded. The foundation will be focused on helping kids who are in need and could benefit from a little aid of some kind.

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A Synopsis of the Driver’s Meeting

As part of the coverage of the Bank of America 500, the Frontstretch attended the driver's meeting before the race. We realize that this is something that the average fan is not afforded the opportunity to do, so in an effort to take you to places that you don't normally get to go, here is a quick synopsis of what occurs behind the doors of the driver's meeting.

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Passion Fuels Waltrip’s Past, Present and Future

The year was 2002. It was my 27th birthday. My father was receiving the Mayor's Award of Excellence for community service. Darrell Waltrip was there too, accepting the award for excellence in sports. Each recipient stood and spoke and, while I was very proud of my father and felt him to be more than deserving, it was Darrell's speech that spoke directly to me. "Find your passion," he told us that night. Whether that be ballet or racing, teaching or writing, the path to being happy and successful is to zero in on what you do well and follow it.

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The Loss Of Dale Jarrett – My Own NASCAR Hero – To Retirement

During my lengthy tenure as a writer for Frontstretch.com, the editors have often reminded us (the writers) that no matter what our past experience is with NASCAR, we should always strive to appear as journalists first...fans second. While I have usually succeeded in following that directive, longtime readers know that, being the rebel that I am, I have never hidden the fact that Dale Jarrett is my favorite NASCAR driver. So tday, I have been given special permission to ignore that directive and wear my heart on my sleeve (of my fancy UPS jacket, of course!). I have never been the type of guy that has "heroes," but if I were, Dale Jarrett would have been one.

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Newman Does It Again At Lowe’s; Frontstretch Tidbits From The Track

Ryan Newman is about to run his 14th race at Lowe's Motor Speedway - and for the seventh time, he is going to start from the pole. Newman outdueled Chasers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Kurt Busch among others to win the right to start up front for the Bank of America 500 Saturday night. Johnson proved the biggest nemesis for Newman; but while the No. 48 car has made Victory Lane his second home at the track, Newman is the king of Nextel Cup qualifying among active drivers at the 1.5-mile oval in Concord, NC. "We picked up over a half a second difference over practice," said Newman about his run. "Typically, here at Charlotte you can feel the speed, and it was a great lap for us."

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You Think You Hate Missed Restarts? ESPN Hates Them Even More

In NASCAR blogs and forums throughout the internet one of the key themes that fans often turn their attention to is not the quality of the race, as much as the quality of the race broadcast. If you've read the reader comments at the end of many of our articles, you've probably noticed a fairly consistant theme there also, specifically, the number and timing of commercial breaks. Thursday, I sat down with ESPN's Vice President of Motorsports, Rich Feinberg, and talked about the broadcaster's policies and commitment to you, the race fan. What came out of this discussion was that broadcasting is not only a media that delivers the excitement of NASCAR racing to fans that would otherwise not have any way to see them, but also that first and foremost, broadcasting is a business. In order for ESPN to justify their expenditure to carry NASCAR races, they have to be able to make enough revenue to cover their expenses and still make some money. In order to understand how that part of the business works you need to know that before the race can get to your 46" high def, there are two kinds of costs that have be paid for. First, there are the broadcast rights fees that ESPN must first pay to NASCAR to be allowed to broadcast races so that NASCAR can pay their bills in Daytona, and if you've seen the reported dollars that ESPN paid, you'll have to agree, that's a big nut right there. Then, there are the production costs that go into bringing the actual race broadcast to the fans. These production costs range from the equipment that is at the track, the technology that it developed to bring new innovation into the sport, and the money required to employ enough people to make the race broadcast feasible. ESPN employs the services of over 250 on a race weekend to bring the race telecast to the fans. They have to not only pay those people for their time and effort, but they must transport them and house them during a given race weekend.

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