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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol

1. B-O-R-I-N-G - Drivers were effusive in their praise of Bristol's new surface and banking, and even the Car of Tomorrow and Goodyear's hard tire seemed to get a pass (no pun intended). But if NASCAR wants to know why TV ratings are so low, Saturday night's race provided the answer. A hot, humid summer night race at Bristol used to exemplify the track's slogan, "Racing the way it oughta be." But even the broadcasters' repeated promises that "it's gonna get interesting soon" couldn't pump any excitement into this total snoozer.

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Bowles-Eye View: Race to the Chase Lacking True Drama

I don't know about you, but whenever I watch The Godfather, Part II - one of my favorite movies - you always watch certain things and hope for the ending to be different. Fredo can be a very likable character at times, and you can slip and find yourself thinking that maybe he won't make the same mistakes this time around. No matter what, though, any hope you have that things will change always falls by the wayside. There will be no movie remake - and you already know what the ending will be, no matter how much you try and convince yourself otherwise. That's where we are in NASCAR's 2007 Race to the Chase. We all know the answers - but there's too much hope for a different ending to allow ourselves to admit the truth.

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Bubble Breakdown: Petty Enterprises Coming Dangerously Close To Top-35 Cliff

The two-car battle for the 35th and final position in owner points is close to becoming a three-team race - and that new third team is a team that's slumping rather than one stepping up as the season nears its stretch run. While its sister car streaked to a second straight top 10 finish at Bristol, the No. 45 from Petty Enterprises seems to have been left behind. The Dodge continues to struggle each and every week, whether it's Kyle Petty, Chad McCumbee, or Kenny Wallace behind the wheel - a 32nd-place run for Wallace at Bristol is the team's best finish in five weeks, with results of 41st, 42nd, 33rd and 41st coming in the previous four races. That has left the team dangerously on the edge of falling into the grasp of teams below them.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Edition

For the second time in the past five races, Juan Pablo Montoya qualified his Texaco Havoline Dodge on the outside of the front row; but this time, more than a few eyebrows were raised. While qualifying second at Indy was impressive, the Colombian had made huge strides towards conquering his hardest challenge to date; transitioning to stock cars on tracks less than a mile long. For the first 200 laps, it looked as if the former road course ringer had figured out his short track game, never falling out of the top 10. However, as the race wore on into the night, the No. 42 Dodge slowly faded, eventually finishing 17th. Still, the Sharpie 500 marked the 11th time in 2007 that Montoya finished as the race's top finishing rookie, continuing to lead this year's freshman class in that category.

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Tracking the Trucks: 2007 O’Reilly 200 at Bristol

Johnny Benson scored his first career win at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night, taking the checkered flag 0.790 seconds ahead of the newly married Brendan Gaughan. Benson benefited from a two-car crash on lap 180, when Travis Kvapil and Kyle Busch made contact and spun while battling for the lead. As the smoke cleared coming out of turn 4, it was Benson who found his way back out front, and he held off all challengers over the final 21 laps to take the victory.

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Busch Series Breakdown: 2007 Food City 250 at Bristol

The new track surface was the focus of much pre-race hype at Bristol... and it lived up to every bit of it. All race long, cars were spread from the top to the bottom, with three-wide racing taking place more than we had ever seen before at the half-mile bullring. Jason Leffler led for the first 14 laps following the drop of the green flag, putting himself in position as the favorite while leading a race-high 81 laps on the day. At the end of the race, it was Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Leffler duking it out up front, putting on an amazing race for the lead. At one point, the three drivers went four-wide with a lapped car, leaving onlookers stunned and the crowd rocking in Thunder Valley.

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Holding a Pretty Wheel: 10 Things I Hate About You, NASCAR

There has been a lot of talk this season about NASCAR's declining ratings, and if fewer TV viewers are a valid indicator, the sport's declining popularity. Fans say they just don't care as much as they used to, that the races aren't as exciting, and that the television coverage is sub par. NASCAR blames anyone they can... except themselves. The sad part is, NASCAR either had the opportunity to fix many of the things that fans have cited as reasons for leaving and refused, or whistled innocently and pointed the finger anywhere but at themselves. Thinking about what the real problems in the sport today are, and how easily they can/could have been fixed, makes me really wonder what is going on in the heads of the powers that be. Not that NASCAR has done anything to make us think they actually care about the fans, but sometimes it seems as though they only keep some things in place to save face and not look stupid.

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NASCAR’s Busch Series: Fix the Points System, Please!

If I were to ask if the NASCAR Busch Series were in need of some sort of a points system change, the answers I would get would probably range from 'hell no!' to 'well duh!' Kevin Harvick clinched the 2006 championship with a ninth-place finish in the Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, four weeks prior to the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Carl Edwards is well on his way to doing the same with the 2007 championship. There has got to be something NASCAR can do to make these points races a little less boring.

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That’s History Profile: Alan Kulwicki

As we head into Bristol this weekend, we are often reminded of some of the most memorable moments in NASCAR Kulwicki was born on December 14, 1954 in Greenfield, Wis. He was a pioneer in the sport, coming to NASCAR through the Midwest's ASA series, which produced such luminaries as Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and Dick Trickle. Kulwicki was one of the first drivers to complete college, graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1977, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Alan used his education and experience to his advantage; always getting more out of less, and doing things smarter than the other guy. Legendary car owner Junior Johnson was once asked which driver he would have wanted to drive for him that never did. The two names that came to mind were seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, and Kulwicki. Johnson was convinced that having a driver who was just as (if not more) mechanically adept as he or the people he had assembling the car would have made them a force to be reckoned with.

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A Question of Risk: Is Death Too High a Price for a Driver to Pay?

This past Thursday night, NASCAR lost a great racer. John Blewett III lost his life in a wreck during the New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Thompson International Speedway. He was driving his No. 66 modified at the time of the incident. A champion of several tracks throughout the East, at 33 he was considered a seasoned veteran of the modified circuit. It is at moments such as these, when we are mourning the loss of a competitor, husband and father, that it behooves us to stop and consider the dangers of racing and the choices that are made by racers and fans to continue participating in the sport.

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