Recent Posts

Fanning the Flames: What A Weird Week For NASCAR It’s Been

Wow, what a week. The Kansas race still has fans buzzing, while 2008 plans have become just as much of a hot-button topic: why just yesterday, Kyle Busch got a new sponsor (M&M's), Scott Riggs a new home (Haas CNC Racing), Ganassi Racing a new open-wheeled Scotsman (Dario Franchitti), and the Busch Series a new title sponsor (Nationwide). Oh, and did I mention Talladega is up next, with four — count ‘em, _four_ — drivers attempting to qualify for their first plate race (in the midst of the Chase, no less). Geez, just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder… Thanks for the questions this week; the quality just gets better and better from you folks. Remember, you can shoot me your opinions, questions, or comments by clickin' on this little red link: matt.taliaferro@frontstretch.com. *Q: In several CoT races, cars that finished well have been found to be too low in the rear quarter panel. We are constantly assured that this is, in fact, a handicap to running well. Here's my question: With all the limits on the CoT and all drivers talking about the lack of front downforce, are we sure that lowering the quarterpanel is still a handicap? Wouldn't that help equalize the balance on the car?* _— SallyB_ *A:* That's a great question, Sally, and with the unknown nature of the new car, it is hard to give you a fully qualified answer. However, I talked to my buddy Matt McLaughlin here on the Frontstretch, and we concluded...

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Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps : UAW-Ford 500

*2007 Talladega "2" Driver Handicaps* *Jimmie Johnson* - Johnson has been on a roll at Talladega as of late: he won here last Spring and finished second in April. He almost won last Fall's Talladega event, as well; that is, before former teammate Brian Vickers crashed the little party Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson were staging on the final lap of the race. Johnson was miffed for a long time after that, but don't expect it to be a problem this year - Vickers is in a Toyota and might not even qualify for the race. *Jeff Gordon* - Gordon's win here this Spring was his fifth at Talladega, stopping a string of recent bad luck at the track. The career stats say otherwise; he's got Top 10 finishes in 15 of his 29 Talladega Cup races. But the last two years have ended with him crashing out of the event before the end of the race each time.

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I’m Just Sayin’… Greg Biffle Won, Period

Watching the end of Sunday's weird, wacky Kansas Cup race, I was as stunned as anyone to hear Jimmie Johnson say in his immediate post-race interview that he didn't think Greg Biffle won the race. "He was clearly out of gas," said Johnson. "I feel terrible for Greg. He's been working so hard to win a race and he was up there in position to win it. But if you don't maintain pace car speed, you don't hold your position. And it was clear to everyone that he couldn't do it. If he could have, he would have stayed on the bumper of the pace car to the finish line. So in my opinion, where he coasted across the finish line relative to the other cars that could maintain pit road speed is where he should finish."

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans : Talladega Edition

This is the week the Chasers dread most, as the Nextel Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the first restrictor plate race under Car Of Tomorrow conditions. The 2.66-mile high-banked oval is notorious for being a crapshoot - simply because the restricted engines keep everyone in a three-wide pack most of the day. In that scenario, one wrong move by even the best of drivers can trigger a multi-car incident that takes out half the field. The wreck can happen anywhere from the front to the back of the pack - and when it does, there is no sure way to avoid it. Some drivers love the strategy involved in drafting - picking and choosing partners and lines while using airflow to their absolute advantage. Other drivers just don't get it, and lament the loss of control over their own destiny that comes with having to rely on someone else to make moves ahead of them. And this time around, there's an even bigger unknown; in particular, how the Car Of Tomorrow will make its restrictor plate debut. All of this makes for a particularly tricky race when considering your fantasy picks, and even then, this is one where simply surviving will win out over skill. So, who will figure it out and get lucky? Because, in all honesty, it will probably take a little bit of both. Keep reading on to see who is worth the gamble and who needs to sit this one out in this week's Fantasy Picks ‘N' Pans...

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Much Ado About Nothing At Kansas: Attempting To Create Controversy Where There Is None

The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup is now three weeks old, and there is yet to emerge a dominant or favored contender to win the 2007 championship in NASCAR's elite division. Mainly because everyone keeps wrecking. One would think that might be a talking point as we move 1/3 of the way through the title chase. However, the biggest story coming out of Kansas this week was Greg Biffle winning the Lifelock 400. Or not winning the Lifelock 400 if you ask Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer. As NASCAR arbitrarily shortened the race a couple of times following the 2nd rain delay of the event, Greg Biffle held a lead a little over 1 second ahead of 2nd place finisher and home-state hero, Clint Bowyer. After Juan Montoya's tire ripped apart everything in the left front wheel of his Havoline Dodge Charger, the caution came out, the field was frozen, and the race was completed under caution.

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Mirror Driving : The Kansas Debacle, Dale Junior’s Bobble, And Was Biffle’s Wobble To The Finish Legit?

*How should the race at Kansas have been completed on Sunday? Should they have called the race at 148 laps, run the race on Monday...or done something in between?* Amy: I think they did it right, under the circumstances. Nikki: I agree, Amy, and not just because I wanted to get my money's worth. Beth: They probably should have specified a time for the race to end not a lap number.

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Top Twelve Things Chase Drivers Do For Luck

*12. Denny Hamlin* - Gets rubbed by a pit lizard. *11. Matt Kenseth* - Was carrying a rabbit's foot, but with his recent luck, he's going to just start hauling around the whole bunny. Well, at least until McMurray makes his crew guys get it back, anyways. *10. Jeff Burton* - Rubs the AT&T logo on the hood of his car...he wants to make sure NASCAR didn't take it away. *9. Kurt Busch* - Nothing, which explains both his recent cool streak and upbeat mood at the same time. *8. Martin Truex, Jr.* - Pees on his pit stall's wall.

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NASCAR Is Ripe For Scandal

The September 25th publication of the Frontstretch Daily Newsletter broke a story of race "fixing" that occurred September 23rd at Dover International Speedway. The publication provided incontrovertible evidence that Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears, along with his Crew Chief Darian Grubb and Spotter Chuck Joyce conspired to alter the finishing order of the race in order for fellow teammate Kyle Busch to gain valuable driver's points in his quest for the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship title. The Frontstretch obtained radio transmissions from the Hendrick teams race frequency that clearly indicated that Mears, who is not eligible for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, was instructed to relinquish his position on the track to Busch. Excerpts of radio communications as previously reported between Mears, Grubb and Joyce are as follows:

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Did You Notice? Kansas … And Beyond

*Did You Notice?* How quickly Greg Biffle was ready with a story when he exited his car in Kansas' Victory Lane. Whether you believe NASCAR made the right call or not, listening to the way in which the No. 16 driver handled the scenario certainly made it hard to believe that car would have lasted another three laps. I'd put $10,000 on the line to see that car started in the current condition it was on Sunday after hearing Biffle speak. *Did You Notice?* How much of a one-sided "partnership" the new Roush Fenway - Yates Racing tandem has become? First off, driver Travis Kvapil gets picked for the new ride over Kenny Wallace and others, and _then_ the team's driver of the future, Stephen Leicht, is mysteriously released after whispers the team's Busch operation is scheduled to close. All this after Leicht won a race this season and progressed well with the support of Citifinancial, a sponsor who just one year ago expressed interest in moving up to Nextel Cup. Now, crew chief Butch Hylton from the No. 88 team is leaving...making this whole thing seems more and more like a Roush Fenway sellout by the day.

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

After a wild and wacky weekend at Kansas, people are still trying to figure out who won the race, let alone what the ramifications were on top of the Chase standings. However, as the dust settles and reality sets in that Greg Biffle snagged the win - fair or unfair - the focus should switch to just how clearly the title Chase unfolded after a rain-shortened, crash-filled frenzy in the Midwest. After six drivers were within 28 points heading into the event, now just two are within 114 of new Chase leader Jimmie Johnson - superstar Jeff Gordon and surprise Clint Bowyer. Everyone else got swept up by a Kansas tornado; in fact, half the title contenders finished 35th or worse, putting their Chase hopes in serious doubt heading to Talladega and beyond. So, who survived the Midwestern storm and who appears to be down for the count? Find out in this week's Chase Edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not in Nextel Cup. *Hot* *Jimmie Johnson* - While there was controversy over who won the race at Kansas, there was no such confusion over who was on top of the Nextel Cup standings. After starting shotgun on the field, Johnson put together a masterful performance that saw him rise from 43rd to 3rd in the final running order.

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