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FOX Wines And Dines The Lady In Black To A Second Straight Saturday Night Success

There must be something in the air at race tracks on a Saturday night. After a less-than-stellar outing at Talladega, the FOX Sports broadcasting team again turned in a performance deserving of the Emmy Award they received just a few short weeks ago. In fact, the last two races at Richmond _and_ Darlington -- both on Saturday nights -- have come off nice and smooth, with few mistakes and less of the fluff that turns off and jades so many avid fans. But just like the right side of Kyle Busch’s race-winning car, the TV coverage wasn't without its fair share of Darlington stripes. Here is a breakdown of how FOX fared during this Mother's Day Weekend event: * Since the Sprint Cup Series no longer races at Darlington twice a year, writers, producers, and reporters have a daunting task of cramming all of the elements of the egg-shaped oval into just one weekend.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Edition

Despite a different track surface, it was the same ol' Darlington Saturday night, with the Lady in Black’s walls jumping out and biting drivers on several occasions ... including race winner Kyle Busch. But while there were some adjustments made to the track, adjustments made to this week’s “HOT” list are minimal. Kyle Busch continues to dominate. while Junior Nation continues to enjoy the success of the No. 88 team with another top 5. Still, two new drivers are featured in this week’s “WARM” and “COLD” lists heading into All-Star weekend. There may not be a points-paying race next week, but it’s still an opportunity for struggling teams to find some extra speed before the Coca-Cola 600. To see who some of those teams are, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup. *HOT* *Kyle Busch:* This man is flat out unstoppable right now. Top 10s in five consecutive races -- with Top 3s in four of them -- to go along with a win this week keeps Busch at the top of the standings.

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Running Their Mouth: 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington

_Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway:_ "It's pretty awesome. Darlington obviously showed again tonight that is one of the hardest places -- always has been, and always will be. Even with the fresh asphalt this place is tough. I just can't thank this M&M's, Joe Gibbs Racing team enough. They did an awesome job. We're going to go through a lot of Mac Tools this week fixing this thing, but that's okay. It's an awesome win for us." _Kyle Busch_ “First of all, my hat’s off to Kyle. Man, I wanted to beat him bad. I wanted to beat him so bad. Now we’re tied for wins. I wanted to keep him down a little bit, but he did a great job. This Claritin Fusion was good. I tore it up just a little bit on the left-front, but I definitely had a good time – a lot better time than last night. The new surface is growing on me. It’s alright.” _Carl Edwards, finished 2nd_

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington

*The Key Moment:* On lap 285, Kyle Busch blew by Jeff Gordon and drove off into the night with the afterburners lit. *In a Nutshell:* New asphalt, same old race track; Darlington is still the meanest mother on the circuit. *Dramatic Moment:* When it became obvious nobody had anything for Busch, the leader had to manufacture his own excitement, frequently running his car into the wall or getting it sideways battling with traffic. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* Well that’s odd. *A dominating win didn’t seem to endear Busch to the fans.* In fact prior to the race and after the race, Busch seemed to be enjoying taunting those fans who booed him. Give the kid this much, he still doesn’t like these new cars even though he’s winning races in them. What’s all this bizarre talk about *Kyle Busch being the reincarnation of Dale Earnhardt,* the Intimidator?

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Having A NASCAR Villain To Hate Never Felt So Good

Moments after taking his first career Darlington win, Kyle Busch got out of his car, hopped on the roof, and took a bow as if he were the hero. It was the culmination of a burnout performance worthy of his Indiana Jones paint scheme. Too bad the fans thought it was the equivalent of a standup comedian telling five straight minutes of awful jokes. The sold out crowd showed their appreciation – or lack thereof - in all sorts of different ways: beer cans, boos, and giving him the middle finger. And so it goes for NASCAR’s resident villain these days. One week after the controversial contact that left Dale Earnhardt, Jr. winless and Busch whining about the possible backlash, Saturday night was an indication it’s going to take weeks, if not months for fans to forget what went wrong.

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The Bubble Breakdown: Dave Blaney Rides Momentum into the Top 35

NASCAR’S Sprint Cup teams raced under the lights Saturday night at what many believe to be the crown jewel of the series, Darlington Raceway. The track labeled as “to tough to tame” looked quite timid during qualifying for several of the bubble teams as five drivers managed to qualify their cars in the top 18 during Friday evenings qualifying session. But Saturday night the Lady in Black showed her true self, as only two of those bubble teams were able to manage top 20 finishes, and left us wondering why the others even bothered to paint the right sides of their cars. As the checkered flag waved, one team raced its way into the top 35, one wrecked its way out, and the rest were just happy to get out in one piece.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Michael McDowell Survives Darlington Duel

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Regan Smith (16th), Michael McDowell (18th), Sam Hornish Jr. (23rd), Patrick Carpentier (43rd), *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Michael McDowell (28th), Regan Smith (29th), Sam Hornish Jr. (38th), Patrick Carpentier (40th) *Rookie of the Race: Michael McDowell.* The rookie hailing from Phoenix, Arizona recorded his career best qualifying effort this past weekend when he placed his Camry 18th on the starting grid. The team, carrying the Brain Cancer Action Week at Darlington, backed up their strong Friday performance with another formidable run on Saturday night. McDowell lost a lap early, and would lose three more throughout the evening; which left a frustrated driver fighting the track position battle all night. “I had a couple of bad runs there where I just couldn’t get back in my rhythm, you know, running there a lap down and the leaders are trying to get by. And this place is so tough when somebody tries to get by you, if you don’t give way, you end up slowing the whole pack down and getting ran over.”

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Ten Points To Ponder… After 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington

*1. No Popularity Contest* - Joe Gibbs Racing “hot shoe” Kyle Busch, winner of Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 won honors as the First Quarter Driver of the Year for 2008. The voting panel, made up of individuals knowledgeable in the numerous disciplines of U.S. motor racing, picked the 23-year old Las Vegas, NV. native for his winning performances in not just his Sprint Cup gig, but his impressive results in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide Series as well. Busch trounced his nearest rivals, totaling 142 points to runner-up and fellow NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who garnered 72 points. IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, the first female in history to score a win in that series, placed third with 51 points. The voting period ended after the Talladega race and well before Busch was involved in a controversial late race accident while battling fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Richmond. Busch went on to finish second to Clint Bowyer, while Earnhardt, Jr., though also finishing in the Top 10, lost any chance he may have had to end a two-year winless streak due to what many believed to be overly aggressive driving on the part of Busch. Earnhardt Nation will not be allowed to cast votes in the Second Quarter Driver of the Year for 2008 balloting, either!

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington

*In A Nutshell:* In a word: dominating. That’s how one could describe Tony Stewart’s run at Darlington in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Friday night. Stewart, who qualified 3rd, led on three different occasions for a total of 90 laps to score the win. His fourth victory in the Nationwide Series this season, it also doubled as his first in any NASCAR division at the Lady in Black. Stewart's only serious challenge came on a green/white/checkered restart, courtesy of former second place runner Mark Martin running out of gas with four laps to go. As Martin slowed, he was hit from behind, resulting in an accident which collected six cars. Most of them were running in the Top 8; however, series point leader Clint Bowyer avoided it all to setup a showdown with Stewart for the lead. But the No. 20 pulled away in NASCAR's version of overtime, beating the No. 2 of Bowyer by .815 seconds -- and reasserting the team's dominance in the series.

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Ken Schrader: A Lot Like a Rock

It was very nearly perfect. Stock Car racing returned to the too-long-silent Rockingham (formerly North Carolina) Speedway last week on a picture perfect early summer day. All eyes were on Joey Logano, the rookie phenom who won easily from the pole in his ARCA/Remax Series debut, but it was a veteran who truly epitomized the day-and the track itself. Ken Schrader in a way, WAS Rockingham Speedway on Sunday, or perhaps Rockingham Speedway was Ken Schrader. Coming from a 31st-place starting spot to finish second, Schrader passed cars by using the track to his advantage. It was a brilliant performance by the veteran driver with the reputation of being one who will race anything, anytime. At one point late in the race, Schrader took the lead and proceeded to school Logano in the finer points of holding a lead-switching from the bottom-hugging low line in the turns to the high line-the only place where Logano was really able to make his best moves. It didn’t work forever, but it was great, clean racing-the way Schrader has run for most of his 53 years.

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