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Did You Notice? Where Are The Sponsors? Martinsville Madness … And Beyond

*Did You Notice?* … That Carl Edwards' much-publicized incident with Matt Kenseth occurred _after_ the guy had spent hours in a steaming car with all the fans off? At a track where carbon monoxide poisoning can be severe, Edwards was suffering from alternator problems which forced him to cut electrical power in order to survive the race. "The thing was overheating and I didn't have my fan on in there," said Edwards. "I was getting a little hot … we're auctioning off this City of Hope suit and helmet and it's going to be the sweatiest auction item in the history of the world."

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Mayfield’s Final Shot Could Be Green’s Last Hurrah

One week ago, it looked like Jeremy Mayfield's Nextel Cup career was nearing a difficult, painful ending. But just when you thought the two-time Chaser was down and out for good ... he's been given one final chance. It was announced on Monday that Mayfield is going to drive the No. 66 car for Haas CNC Racing for the rest of this season and all of 2008. That ride was occupied, until this week, by Jeff Green, who has now been unceremoniously shoved to the unemployment line. While the seat is not the A-level ride Mayfield's desired since announcing he'd leave Bill Davis Racing at the end of 2007, it still represents an opportunity, one more chance to prove he can still make a living driving in the Cup series. After a series of tough endings with top teams, he needs to make the most of this one. Mayfield has been around the Cup series for a long time. He made his Cup debut in 1993 driving a car for the Sadler Brothers; after a short stint with them and a similar underfunded team owned by T.W. Taylor the following year, he began driving for Cale Yarborough. Mayfield had an unspectacular run with Yarborough, compiling just two Top 5s and three Top 10s in two years with the team before moving elsewhere. Mayfield was then hired by Michael Kranefuss and drove the 1997 season for him, accumulating three Top 5s and eight Top 10 finishes. A breakout year for what was then a single car program, Mayfield's flashes of brilliance that season proved a sign of things to come.

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Running Their Mouth : Subway 500

"I was happy to see the 12 (Newman) get by the 24 (Gordon), because I was thinking about the points we would gain on the 24. But then I said, 'Whoa, Ryan's hungry. He hasn't won in a while.' I was more worried about the 12 at the end there than I was about the 24. I washed up in the middle of the corner, and he (Newman) was inside of me going down the straightaway. I left the door open, and the caution certainly helped me." _Jimmie Johnson_ "It was a good run for the alltel Dodge Avenger. We weren't a very good car yesterday in practice at any point. We made some changes that worked, and the guys did a good job. In hindsight, I still wish we had the last lap on the outside of the 48. It was a good run for us. We had a little bump and run there with the 24. That is something that has happened to me in the past, so I didn't feel that bad giving it to him. In the end, it was a good finish for us." _Ryan Newman, finished 2nd_

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Numbers Game : Subway 500

*3* Consecutive Martinsville wins for Jimmie Johnson, a feat also accomplished by Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Richard Petty. Next Spring, Johnson will have the opportunity to make it four in a row which would tie the record held by Fred Lorenzen. *3 hours, 59 minutes, 45 seconds* Time it took to complete the Subway 500. *4* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Subway 500.

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In The Chase : Martinsville Edition

The Hendrick stronghold on the Chase for the Championship tightened Sunday at Martinsville, as Jimmie Johnson scored his series high seventh win of the season. Not to be totally outdone, teammate Jeff Gordon finished third, maintaining a 53-point lead over Johnson in what has quickly become a two man race for the Championship. If not for some bad luck and poor finishes in earlier events by the other ten drivers who make up the Chase, Sunday could have actually had an interesting impact on the standings; Chasers claimed ten of the Top 13 positions. But as things stand right now, it's the Gordon / Johnson show down the stretch, with Clint Bowyer barely holding on in a possible spoiler role for yet another week. But even though the big trophy is out of reach for most, there is still plenty of cash to fight for amongst the other ten competitors. So, which of the Chasers left Sunday's yellow-filled race at Martinsville throwing caution to the wind, and which ones left feeling like they had gone twelve rounds with a heavyweight champ? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase to find out...

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not : Outside The Chase

Sunday's race at Martinsville marked the beginning of the final five races this season, launching a segment filled with pressure-packed racing not only for those fighting for the title, but for many others involved in separate skirmishes of their own. Whether it's battling to stay within the Top 25 in driver points, to move up to the "best of the rest" label of 13th place, or simply to prove their worth in the free agent market, each of the non-Chase wheelmen has his own set of goals in mind. Unfortunately for many, the tight quarters of Martinsville's half-mile oval proved a formidable adversary, as the event's 21 cautions chewed up and spit out the hopes of many an underdog looking to make a name for themselves on the old school short track. So, which drivers kept their hot streaks intact, and which ones found themselves skidding to a halt on the hard concrete surface of a paper-clip slugfest turned Demolition Derby? Read on to find out who's heating up and cooling down among the non-Chase drivers heading to Atlanta this weekend...

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Subway 500

*The Key Moment* - Ryan Newman appeared ready to get around Jimmie Johnson; however, he had to back down when David Ragan's last lap spin caused the race to end under caution. *In a Nutshell* - Hand-to-hand short track combat…racing the way it ought to be. *Dramatic Moment* - A two lap shootout at Martinsville had every fan in the jam-packed grandstands on their feet. *What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* Unlike some other race tracks recently, there *weren't any empty seats at Martinsville*. Hmm. Is there a lesson there? It seems NASCAR's three remaining short tracks are perpetual sellouts.

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Ten Points to Ponder … After Martinsville II

*1. Safety, Schmafety* - The next time anyone from NASCAR tries to say that safety is their first priority, I want to have a tape of today's finish on hand, showing David Ragan's car sitting sideways in the middle of the track coming off Turn 1 and the leaders heading towards him full steam ahead. Rusty Wallace, a seven-time winner here who was calling the race, was incredulous: "The 6 car is sitting sideways in the middle of the track! They're wide open!" he yelled before the caution came out. What's worse was the No. 6 car was stopped perpendicular to the wall, with the driver's side door in the direct path of oncoming traffic. This race saw a record number of cautions, but NASCAR was clearly late with the flag when it counted most. Added Wallace in disbelief, "We saw the caution flags all day long, late in the race, and they were coming wide open in Turn 1 with that 6 car sitting dead sideways in the middle of the track." *2. Eddie Edwards* - Did you see the footage of Carl Edwards shoving and then feigning a punch at teammate Matt Kenseth's face when the two argued after the race? I'm sure Carl will say he was just kidding around, but it's obvious Matt didn't get the joke. Will Edwards, clearly the aggressor, be penalized? Will that Tony Stewart line from a year or two ago about Carl being the Eddie Haskell of NASCAR resurface? Either way, Jack Roush can't be happy seeing this altercation between his two stars.

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Three Straight Weeks of Misfortune Cripple Bill Elliott, Wood Brothers In Top 35 Quest

October has not been a good month for the Wood Brothers team. It all started back in Talladega, when Ken Schrader tagged the wall following a cut tire; it was a tragic set of circumstances that resulted in the No. 21 car falling out of the Top 35 in car owner points. Sadly, that was only the beginning. Now - three weeks later - the deficit between the No. 21 team and the final bubble position has grown substantially. The latest episode came this weekend at Martinsville, when a mechanical failure erased a Top 20 performance, handing the team a DNF just 16 laps from the finish. To see how far back the No. 21 team is from the final bubble position, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown...

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Johnson Proving Exceptional In Unlikely Title Defense

On a day where this Chase became clearly defined as a battle between just two, Jimmie Johnson celebrated the seventh victory of the season at Martinsville with more than just a win at stake. Pulling the latest punch in this yearlong prizefight atop the standings, Johnson was able to close the gap between himself and championship leader Jeff Gordon to just 53 points. It also draws him ever closer to matching his Hendrick Motorsports teammate on a much bigger stage: the NASCAR Record Book. The defending champ now stands on the precipice of challenging for an unprecedented second straight Chase title. It would be the first time since the advent of the playoff system that's happened; more importantly, in an era where the word "repeat" in any major sport is rarely uttered due to both parity and change, it would be a tribute to the way in which the No. 48 team has kept the core of their team intact while focusing on the task at hand. It's also symptomatic of how times have changed.

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