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2007 Driver Review: Ken Schrader

*2007 Ride* - No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford (Feb. - May; Sept. - Oct.) No. 47 Wood Brothers / JTG Ford (April - Texas) No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge (July - Indianapolis) *2007 Owner* - Wood Brothers (No. 21) Beth Ann Morgenthau (No. 49) *2007 Primary Sponsor* - Little Debbies / Air Force (No. 21) Paralyzed Veterans of America (No. 49) *2007 Crew Chief *- Michael McSwain, Gene Nead (No. 21) Dean Johnson (No. 49) *Stats:* 13 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 49th in points. Best Finish : 19th, Martinsville (April). *High Point:* Trying to find a high point for Schrader last season was a major challenge. While he did lead two laps at Darlington, his No. 21 Ford was taken out in a crash and finished 41st - typical of his run with the Wood Brothers throughout 2007. Frankly, the only finish worth mentioning in that car was a 19th place finish at Martinsville; not only was that Schrader's best run with the team in 12 starts, it was the only time he finished on the lead lap all season. Also notable was his lone race driving with a group of old friends - the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge Schrader drove during the 2004-05 seasons. Pressed into service during a one-race deal for Indianapolis, the 52-year-old not only qualified the underdog team on speed, he brought the car home 25th, the car's fourth-best finish during all of 2007.

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2007 Driver Review: Johnny Sauter

*2007 Ride*: No. 70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Yellow Transportation *2007 Owner*: Gene Haas / Joe Custer *2007 Crew Chief*: Robert "Bootie" Barker *Stats*: 35 Races, 0 Wins, 1 Top 5, 2 Top 10s, 30th in points. *Best Finish*: 5th - Richmond, September. *High Point*: Sauter's 5th place finish at the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond was the best finish of his career, and it also wound up being his sole Top 5 of the season for Haas CNC Racing. While Sauter was experiencing a rather mediocre year on the track, though, his personal life was far from mediocre. Sauter and his girlfriend of two years, Paul Menard PR rep Cortney Owen, got engaged during the 2007 season - keeping any on-track struggles well in perspective. To our knowledge, the happy couple have not yet set a date for the wedding.

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Winning Back Longtime NASCAR Fans: Part II

*Speaking of TV* - And who isn't these days, usually noting that they find the current NASCAR broadcasts absolutely terrible to the point of being almost unwatchable. Of course, everyone needs to be appreciative to a point, because only a generation ago a damn few races were on TV at all - and those that were were shown in part often weeks after the fact. But like so many things, it's not that much harder to do things well than it is to do them poorly. A lot of folks, myself included, thought or just hoped that things would improve when ESPN got back into NASCAR broadcasting. That didn't turn out to be the case. After a tough year, it would behoove ESPN management and "talent" to use the offseason to review tapes not of this year's broadcasts but tapes from the glory days of the mid-to-late 1980s. Those broadcasts were free of gimmicks and talking heads with little to say, long on information and actual coverage of the racing itself. Today's race broadcasts were exactly that, coming across too much like People magazine - a curse on this generation - and too little like ABC's old Wide World of Sports.

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2007 Driver Review: Elliott Sadler

*2007 Ride:* No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Dodge Dealers / UAW *2007 Owner:* Ray Evernham *2007 Team Director:* Josh Browne (February - July) Scott McDougall (July - October) Rodney Childers (November) *Stats:* 36 races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 25th in Points. *Average Finish* : 25.5. *Best Finish* : 6th - Daytona 500, February. *High Point:* Elliott Sadler looked to be on the rise heading into last season, and the Daytona 500 seemed to solidify his up-and-coming status when Sadler finished sixth in the Great American Race. Aside from an eighth-place run at Kansas, it was Sadler's finest moment of 2007. *Low Point:* The other 34 races.

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2007 Driver Review: Boris Said

*2007 Ride*: No. 60 No Fear Racing Ford (limited schedule) No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford (Watkins Glen - August) No. 98 Gillett - Evernham Motorsports Dodge (Loudon - Sept.) *2007 Primary Sponsor*: SoBe No Fear Energy Drink (No. 60) Little Debbies (No. 21) Valvoline (No. 98) *2007 Owner*: Mark Simo (No. 60) Wood Brothers (No. 21) Ray Evernham (No. 98) *2007 Crew Chief*: Frankie Stoddard (No. 60) Michael "Fatback" McSwain (No. 21) Randy Seals (No. 98) *Stats* : 5 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 1 Top 10, 51st in points. *Best Finish* : 8th - Infineon, June. *High Point*: We are accustomed to seeing Boris Said excel on the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, so it comes as no surprise to see a Top 10 finish in his season stats. However, no one expected such a solid performance from Said in the Daytona 500. Said qualified the No. 60 SoBe No Fear Energy Drink Ford sixth overall, and started the biggest race of the year in the 23rd position following a solid performance in his Gatorade Duel. After taking the green flag, Said quickly fell to the rear of the restrictor plate drafting pack - but it turned out to be to his advantage. Avoiding all the wrecks and carnage, Said was able to bring it home 14th, completing all 202 laps and taking in a cool $265,375 in the process.

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Winning Back Longtime NASCAR Fans: Part I

Towards the end of last season, Brian France gave a press conference concerning the state of the sport of NASCAR. Not unexpectedly, given his position and lack of mental ability, for the most part Mssr. France assured everybody all was well despite the sagging TV ratings and blocks of unsold seats in the grandstands. But France did state that NASCAR was determined to keep and win back the longtime fans who have been the backbone of the sport all these decades, those who have been jumping ship in record numbers over the last few years. That's a Tectonic shift in corporate policy, as such longtime fans have been routinely ignored and alienated for years now. In the past, NASCAR "corporate think" seemed to be, "Aw, let them old-timers go. There are plenty of folks lined up to grab them seats anyway, and we'll have a better class of wealthier and less rowdy followers at the end of the day." Well, that didn't work out too well, did it? New fans can be a fickle bunch. The same problems that caused them to give up old interests and sports to give NASCAR a shot can drive them away from stock car racing just as readily. Blame it on MTV, blame it on You Tube, USA Today, the Internet, or whatever else - but it just seems that these days, folks don't have much of an attention span anymore. They want their information and entertainment in bite size-easily digested nuggets. A four hour race after a ninety minute pre-race show that is a thinly disguised infomercial just doesn't cut it in this Brave New World of "what have you done for me in the last five minutes?"

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2007 Driver Review: Ricky Rudd

*Ricky Rudd* *2007 Ride:* No. 88 Yates Racing Ford - February to July; No. 88 Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Ford - July to November *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Snickers *2007 Owner:* Robert Yates *2007 Crew Chief:* Butch Hylton *Stats:* 31 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 1 Top 10, 33rd in points. *High Point:* In what turned out to be his only Top 10 finish of the season, Rudd started and finished the Coca Cola 600 in seventh place. A big gamble on fuel mileage allowed Rudd to be in the right place at the right time to gain track position while other drivers had to pit for a splash of gas to make it to the finish. "I was having to save gas so much the last couple of laps," Rudd said. "We obviously didn't have a winning car, but we knew we had a top-12, top-15 car."

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2007 Driver Review: Scott Riggs

*2007 Ride:* No. 10 Gillett Evernham Dodge *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Stanley Proto Tools/Valvoline *2007 Owner:* James Rocco/Valvoline Evernham Racing *Stats:* 27 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 1 Top 10, 36th in points. *High Point:* While later in the season, qualifying would become an issue for the No. 10 team, Riggs started off the year strong starting in the Top 10 in six of the first ten races. However, strong finishes didn't follow other than an eighth place effort at Martinsville, his lone Top 10 finish of the season. A small consolation was the fact that he ended his tenure at Gillett Evernham Motorsports with three Top 20 finishes in his last five starts. *Low Point:* Riggs ended the 2006 season 20th in points, giving him a "free pass" into the first five races of the season. Solid qualifying runs in the first ten races meant he didn't have to rely on being in the top 35 in points to make those races, but with over half of those being finishes 30th or worse, Riggs sat 36th in points when the series hit Darlington. Unfortunately, his qualifying luck ran out, and Riggs missed his first of what would be nine races that week.

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2007 Driver Review: David Reutimann

*2007 Ride:* No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota *2007 Sponsors:* Burger King / Domino's Pizza *2007 Owner:* Michael Waltrip / Robert Kauffman (came on board in October) *2007 Crew Chief:* Frank Kerr *Stats:* 26 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 39th in points. *High Points:* Although there were a lot of zeros in David Reutimann's 2007 stat line, the rookie from Zephyrhills, Florida had plenty of reasons to be encouraged. His most notable on-track accomplishments came in June, when a 40th-place start proved no obstacle at Michigan; Reutimann drove his way through the field to notch a solid 15th-place finish. Another surprising run came at Richmond in September, when the driver of the No. 00 Toyota recorded a lead lap, 13th-place run. However, the best news out of the Reutimann camp came off the track in October, when he was announced as the heir apparent to drive the No. 44 UPS Toyota that will be vacated by 1999 Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett after the fifth race of the '08 season.

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2007 Driver Review: Tony Raines

*2007 Ride:* No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor:* DLP HGTV *2007 Owners:* Bill Saunders, Troy Aikman, and Roger Staubach; Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel (acquired majority ownership in September) *2007 Crew Chief:* Brandon Thomas *2007 Stats:* 34 Starts, 0 Top 5s, 1 Top 10, 29th in points. *Best Finish:* 9th, Talladega (October) *High Point:* If you were a Tony Raines fan, you had to wait awhile for success this year; his highest point came eight months after the season began, at a most unlikely place: Talladega. In October, Raines managed to not only survive the UAW-Ford 500, but he was a contender throughout, leading five of his six laps of 2007 in the process. When the checkers flew, Raines found himself with a 9th place finish, his only Top 10 of the season driving the No. 96 Chevrolet.

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