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Tony Stewart: Rising Above a Checkered Past into this Fan’s Heart

After Saturday’s Nationwide race, the stands at Nashville nearly fell down with the echoes of boos pouring down on Kyle Busch’s victorious head. First, he burned up his tires, quite literally! And then came the expected climbing out of his car on the frontstretch, the bow to the angry mob held back by the catch fence and the snaring of the checkered flag tossed from the flagstand. Nothing truly notable there, since the Shrub is currently riding a high in fan hatred. However, I don’t think anybody expected the smashing of the Gibson guitar into itty bitty bits. When the bits weren’t small enough, Kyle swung the trophy again into the cement. After the past week, all I could say was, “wow.” The moment didn’t actually stir my anger — I seem to be past that. The rock star wannabe just met expectations. Fast forward to Sunday. This time, I bit my nails watching Tony Stewart float through the final corners of the race. Was there enough gas? Yes? No? I really wanted Tony to win…

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NASCAR News for Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Johnny Benson’s Truck Team Folds Johnny Benson, the defending Camping World Truck Series Champion, was notified by Red Horse Racing on Monday that the team would not be able to finish out the season due to lack of sponsorship. Benson has the No. 1 Toyota Tundra seventh in the standings, …

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Numbers Game: 2009 Pocono 500

1st Career Cup win for Stewart-Haas Racing after Tony Stewart‘s trip to Victory Lane on Sunday. 2 Number of times winner Stewart led the Pocono 500 Sunday. 2 Cars moved to the rear of the field at the start of the Pocono 500. (No. 14, Stewart – backup car; No. …

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The Choice Tony Stewart Didn’t Have To Make

As you wake up this morning, you’ll find so much written about what Tony Stewart has done this year … and rightfully so. As I said "two weeks ago,":https://frontstretch.com/tbowles/24499/ the patience he’s showed as an owner/driver has been beyond what anyone could have expected from a man once put on probation for punching a photographer in the face. It’s the calm, maturing influence both off the track and behind the wheel which led Stewart to conserve fuel in the closing laps at Pocono, putting him in the rare position of using a strategy call to coast to the win over a car in Carl Edwards which was clearly the fastest on the track. Becoming the first owner/driver to win since Ricky Rudd in 1998 – as well as the first to lead the points since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 – has Stewart checking goals off his “to do” list a heck of a lot earlier than anyone expected. But for all the amazing things Stewart’s achieved to date, perhaps his greatest strength comes from something he chose _not_ to do: stay in his comfort zone.

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Five Points to Ponder: Nashville/Pocono Edition

Add Saturday night’s guitar smashing episode to the long list of reasons why a number of NASCAR fans absolutely hate Kyle Busch. The victory lane celebration left musicians everywhere cringing at the sight of a custom Gibson Les Paul being smashed into oblivion a la Pete Townshend and left NASCAR fans in awe at the sight of a driver smashing a trophy seconds after winning it. I was like the many fans who couldn’t wait to read what everybody was saying about this seemingly classless act the next morning, but after sleeping on it and reading Sam Bass’ (the artist who designed the guitar) comments I have since softened my stance. Sure, Busch could have thought of a less dramatic way to make sure his team all got a piece of the trophy, but that’s not Shrub’s style.

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Joey Logano and Greg Zipadelli Ride New Rules To Pocono’s Top Rookie Prize

Not even a dominant victory in Saturday’s ARCA RE/MAX Pocono 200 could prepare Joey Logano for the “Tricky Triangle” – Sprint Cup Style. The rookie, who saw Pocono for the first time in his career this past weekend, was given the chance to earn valuable experience in Bill Venturini’s No. 25 Camry during the support race. The 19 year-old took full advantage of the opportunity - leading 52 laps en route to a dominant victory. Despite his supremacy on Saturday, Logano appeared out of his league, when the green flag flew on Sunday. The No. 20 Toyota fell from his 23rd starting spot almost immediately and lost a lap before the half-way mark as the Logano struggled with an ill-handling race car.

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Bubble Breakdown: Michael Waltrip Bounces Back With Strong 17th To Solidify Spot In Top 35

If you make the long and winding drive down Long Pond Drive you’ll come upon the Speedway in the woods known as Pocono International Raceway. In 2008, this track was nothing short of disaster for the bubble teams and 2009 wasn’t much kinder to them. It started Friday when qualifying was rained out, meaning that the teams would have to start from the rear of the field. Add in the fact that passing is so difficult in these cars and it’s a long grueling race anyway and you have a long afternoon for the teams hovering around the top 35. The end result was only Michael Waltrip posting a top 25 finish among our drivers and that included a pair of spins. So to see how badly the bubble teams struggled on Sunday, read on in this week’s edition of the bubble breakdown.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville

For the sixth week in a row, Kyle Busch was the dominant car in a Nationwide Series race. That’s it, no tricks to this story. His pit crew perfect, his laps fast, his nose clean, Busch led 173 of the 225 laps run Saturday night to score his long overdue fourth win of the Nationwide Series season. While Busch’s race was clean, his unorthodox celebration was far from it (read on to hear this writer’s take).

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Tracking the Trucks: 2009 WinStar Casino 400 at Texas

*In a Nutshell:* Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 1.321 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night. Bodine gambled on fuel strategy and won, scoring his fifth victory at the mile and a half track. Colin Braun, Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford rounded out the Top 5.

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