Recent Posts

What’s The Call: Did Aric Almirola Make The Right Career Choice?

Today's Question : Earlier this week, it was announced that Aric Almirola will be headed to Ginn Racing to share a Cup ride with Mark Martin for the rest of 2007 and beyond. Was this the right move for Aric's future, or was he wrong to slam the door on an opportunity with one of the top teams in Cup, Joe Gibbs Racing, a team he drove for in the Busch Series up until this surprising turn of events? Becca Gladden:Let's see - sharing a Busch ride with Denny Hamlin or sharing a Cup ride with Mark Martin. Hmmm. That's a tough choice. Not! This is a no-brainer for Almirola...and it has nothing to do with what happened in Milwaukee. Tommy Thompson: The news that Aric Almirola is leaving Joe Gibbs and signing on as a part-time Cup driver, sharing duties with Mark Martin in the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet at Ginn Racing, truly bewilders me. Is the kid suicidal? That's the first of two things that came to my mind when I heard the decision. The other was simply a rule of thumb for self-preservation, one that a grizzled firefighting instructor at Texas A&M once shared with me and the other assembled trainees: "If the rats are running out of a burning building, you don't run in." Someone needs to share this practical wisdom with Almirola, before he gets burned…BIG TIME!

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Rest Easy, Anheuser-Busch: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Did NOT Coronate Budweiser

A few days ago, my esteemed Frontstretch colleague and friend, Mr. Mike Neff, made the assertion that it is the driver that makes the sponsor. While that may be true for some lesser known products, I don't believe the separation of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Budweiser should prompt Anheuser-Busch to be searching through the St. Louis area Yellow Pages for a cheap bankruptcy lawyer _just_ yet. Contrary to popular cultural myth, Budweiser, the "King of Beers", did in fact exist long before the inception, conception, reception, and perception of NASCAR's Most Popular Driver. Truth be told, it predates him by some 98 years, back to 1876, when horsepower was actually rated by the number of road apples left in your wake.

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Fanning the Flames: NASCAR Silly Season Could Be Worse – We Could Have Steinbrenner

Remember when Silly Season used to go into full swing around the Charlotte race date in October? These days, it seems it's going strong by Indy. Yeah, I know I say this every year...but this season truly seems much sillier than last. Or the one before, and the one before that… This year is unique in that most of the silliness centers not with the drivers, but the owners. We have the Ray Evernham / George Gillette deal that has been ongoing for all of a decade and may never get done. There are also investment firms popping up right and left in the garage, milling about like pit lizards, trying to buy into someone, _anyone's_ race team. Problem is, these investment firms don't know a front clip from a fuel pump. They also don't realize that teams need sponsors...not someone to split the utility bill with them.

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Kyle Busch: There’s Nothing More Dangerous Than A Man With Nothing Left To Lose

_"You better not try to stand in my way_ _As I'm a walking out the door,_ _Take this job and shove it_ _I ain't workin' here no more."_ -Chorus to _"Take This Job And Shove It"_, by Johnny Paycheck Those words immediately came to mind when digesting the recent bizarre behavior exhibited by Kyle Busch. While his recent statements aren't exactly as outlandish as say, Tony Stewart accusing his teammate of backing up into him at 200mph at Daytona, they do give one pause for reflection: What the heck is up with this kid? It doesn't appear he's trying to make the best of a difficult situation, wooing a suiting sponsor, or auditioning for his next ride. He looks like a guy trying to get canned instead of quitting, so he can collect unemployment.

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Mirror Driving : Kahne Drinking Bud? Chicagoland A Dud? And Ginn Hits The Ground With A Thud

*It's now been six years since Chicagoland hosted its first Nextel Cup race. Are you disappointed in the progress being made as the track has aged, and should improvements be made ala Homestead and Las Vegas to make the facility more competitive?* Tommy: Heck no...looks like it's becoming a challenging track. I could care less how slick it was…it made for some interesting racing. Amy: The track itself has improved, as it basically started as a one groover. The problem is, NASCAR never needed to be adding all those cookie-cutter tracks in the first place - Chicago _and_ Kansas? Give me a break. Tony: Not sure why we had such a bad race Sunday. I thought Chicagoland was starting to get a bit better; instead, it just took a step back.

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Top Ten Ways NASCAR Could Make Chicagoland Mildly More Entertaining

10. Let Medallion Financial Corp. sponsor the race, featuring 43 selected cab drivers as the drivers while the actual drivers ride shotgun and try to give them advice. (Great for the Diversity program, too!) 9. Move the date to California Speedway so we, the fans, can hear once again just how full the stands really are and how great the shopping is under the grandstands. 8. Hold the race on the Dan Ryan Expressway during regular rush hour traffic. (We'll see just how brave NASCAR drivers really are!) 7. Feed each driver a plate of "Chicago Style" hot dogs and baked beans before the race and enhance the in-car audio for that true "Windy City" effect.

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Driver Shopping? Try Clint Bowyer On For Size

There is no secret that NASCAR is experiencing a "changing of the guard" over the past few years, as many of its popular veterans have either retired or are in the process of gradually exiting the sport. This attrition has left not only team owners scrambling to find competent replacements for the seats of their race cars, but race fans as well looking for their next favorite driver to replace an aging veteran. And in many ways, the process that fans go through in finally settling on a suitable replacement are no less complicated than what car owners are saddled with. Some might argue that picking a favorite driver is even more onerous of a decision for the fan, as owners generally only require a driver to be competent behind the wheel and project an acceptable public persona. Not so for most fan supporters, who, before pledging their personal loyalty and support, in addition to contributing probably more of their hard-earned money in accessorizing their wardrobe, cars, and den than they should, have a lengthy and very personalized set of requirements that a prospective new "favorite" driver must meet. That is as it should be, because this is not a "term of contract" agreement between the fan and their No. 1 driver…it is a longterm commitment. Perhaps Clint Bowyer, presently setting tenth in drivers points in only his second full-time season in the Nextel Cup Series, can fill the void that the recent retirement of Rusty Wallace, as well as the gradual and / or soon expected final retirements of popular veterans like Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd or Kenny Schrader have or will create for fans of those drivers.

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Budweiser’s Big Blunder: Why The Driver Makes The Sponsor, Not The Other Way Around

This past weekend, one of the biggest driver/sponsor divorces in recent memory became public knowledge: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Anheuser-Busch, specifically Budweiser, will end a nine-year marriage following the conclusion of the 2007 season. The only primary sponsor that Junior's ever had since he moved up to the Cup series as a part-timer in 1999, the magnitude of this change can't be underestimated; Junior Nation is famous for the amount of red Budweiser gear that they wear in the stands, sporting clothing and souvenirs that are about to become little more than collector's items just a few short months from now. Clearly, this change will be a huge adjustment for Junior's legion of supporters, an adjustment that will literally change the color of the stands on race weekends as the new sponsor weeds its way into clothing collections all over the country. But while the rest of us adjust, there's one part of this fairy tale that can't make just a few minor changes in order to live happily ever after - the impact Budweiser will have on the sport. In a move that's turned into one of the biggest sponsor/driver divorces in the sport's history, Anheuser-Busch appears to be the biggest loser in a decision they should have been more hesitant to agree to; for when the amount of exposure they're about to lose is taken into consideration, you can't help but feel sorry for a sponsor about to have a large chunk of its marketing value taken away.

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: Chicagoland Edition

Chicago is known for football, deep dish pizza, shopping, and the Sears Tower; sadly, it's not yet known for great racing. However, there was at least one driver who didn't sleep through the Chicagoland snoozefest; that would be Tony Stewart, who celebrated the end of his 20-race winless drought with another climb up the fence. Smoke was left awake and alert after a weekend where he got a lecture from the coach about playing nice with others, and he turned that motivation into victory celebration come Sunday night. Smoke wasn't the only happy camper; Richard Childress Racing put all three of its drivers in the Top 10, while polesitter Casey Mears led the way for Hendrick Motorsports. But there were plenty of sour faces at the end of the day, too. Jimmie Johnson saw his chance at victory blow up along with his tire with 45 laps to go, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had to muscle home his Chevy to a 19th place finish with no power steering. So,what mood did _your_ favorite driver leave off heading towards the final off week of the season? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not to find out if he made the cut.

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Numbers Game: USG Sheetrock 400

*1st* Fence climb after a Cup victory in 2007 for Tony Stewart on Sunday. *1.727* Tony Stewart's margin of victory over Matt Kenseth at Chicagoland. (in seconds) *2 hours, 58 minutes, 59 seconds* Time it took to complete the USG Sheetrock 400. *3* Career Cup poles for Casey Mears in 163 starts.

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