Recent Posts

A Winner In Any Era – Driven To The Past: Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip is known by all race fans and casual viewers alike, as the jovial anchor for Fox Sports' NASCAR coverage. Since 2001, we've all become familiar with his trademark phrase "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity.....Let's Go Racin', Boys!!!" He has also developed his own language, 'splainin' to us the difference between loose and tight, the practice of working together while trying to win for yourself (coopetition), cars named "Bertha", and he has also been known to break out into song. What many fans who have only started following the sport don't know is just how successful Darrell Waltrip was as a driver. He is often introduced as "3-time Champion, Darrell Waltrip", but with today's Chase format, it's hard to appreciate just how much he has accomplished.

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Fanning the Flames: One Team’s Folly Is Another’s Fortune

What a typical NASCAR vacation: The circuit takes a one-week hiatus from on-track action only to turn up the volume away from it. The Ginn / DEI merger not only shuffled the driver deck and taught prospective owners a thing or two about life in the bigs, it opened a spot in the owner points standings for the Wood Brothers. The recipient of the Lucky Dog in all this chaos, the Woods went from previously finding themselves in a seemingly insurmountable 225-point hole, relying on driver-for-hire Bill Elliott's Past Champion's Provisionals (or pure speed) to make the show each week. The Woods' No. 21 now sits in the 35th position as Bobby Ginn's No. 13 car owner points have been dissolved. With Dave Blaney and Scott Riggs knocking at the door — just seven- and 67-markers back — we once again have a race within the race and, undoubtedly, the biggest break the Woods and the Toyota contingent have caught all season. What was just a short week ago a non-issue will now be one of the most highlighted battles on the track and in qualifying each week. Speaking of which, the US Air Force, Motorcraft, Little Debbie, Valvoline and Caterpillar all send their thanks, Bobby. Too bad they can't send you money. I send my thanks as well for the questions and comments this week. As always, the easiest way to reach me outside of my cell phone — sorry, not publishing the number — is to email me at _matt.taliaferro@frontstretch.com_.

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Surprise! NASCAR’s Version of Reality Slightly Skewered

In case you didn't know it, the competitiveness in NASCAR's highest ranks has never been better. Don't take my word for it, though; just _ask NASCAR_. On second thought...you don't have to. This sport is more than willing to _tell_ you what to believe. Here is an excerpt from a July 16th NASCAR press release titled "NASCAR's Golden Age of Competition is Now." "Present-day NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races offer closer competition than anytime in history, a new NASCAR statistical analysis has shown. Taking into account such statistics as cars on the lead lap, average leaders per race and margin of victory, racing since 1970 has become more competitive and more unpredictable than ever. Consider this: In 1970, 22 of the 48 races "featured" only ONE car on the lead lap at the end of the race. Not since 1994 has a race ended with one car on the lead lap (Geoffrey Bodine at North Wilkesboro)."

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Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Brickyard 400 Edition

*2007 Indy Handicaps* *Jeff Gordon* - Gordon has won a track record four Brickyard 400s, including the inaugural event in 1994. He's also managed ten Top 10 finishes here in thirteen starts. The Indiana transplant is hugely popular with the fans in Indy, as well. *Denny Hamlin* - Hamlin finished tenth here last year in his only Brickyard start to date. Prowess at Pocono is often an indicator of a driver's chances at Indy, and I don't think anyone will dispute Hamlin does OK at Long Pond. *Matt Kenseth* - Kenseth finished second here last year and also was runner up in 2003. He has four Top 5 finishes in seven starts at Indy. *Jeff Burton* - Burton won the pole here last year but finished fifteenth. His average finish in thirteen Brickyard starts is 19th.

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Ginn Racing’s Five Year Plan Failing At Protecting Even Its Biggest Assets

Earlier this week in the "Frontstretch Newsletter":http://groups.google.com/group/TheFrontstretch/browse_thread/thread/d3d723644011e909, I wrote a brief commentary asking readers to understand the harsh reality of Bobby Ginn's decision to cut loose the popular veterans Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek into the world of NASCAR free agency. While everyone has their varying opinions about what's gone down in the last week or so, I felt it was necessary for fans to take a step back and consider the difficult position the rookie car owner was placed in. In essence, I made a move to protect Bobby Ginn, protect a man who I felt was painted into a corner and forced to make some difficult decisions. But twenty-four hours after my plea to the NASCAR community, everything that most people, including myself, thought was true about Ginn's "restructuring plan" was proved false...with even members of the team itself still digesting a thought process proven to be nothing more than a bad sequence of broken promises. The news of the merger between DEI and Ginn Racing is still fresh in everyone's minds, and only the bare minimum of details has been released.

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Brickyard 400 Edition

The Cup series heads to the heartland of America this week for the annual running of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Having taken place every year since 1994, this event has quickly become the second biggest race on the schedule, if not in prestige, at least in purse money. Increasing fan support does nothing but help the race's growing reputation, too; hosting the largest crowd on the circuit at estimates of nearly 300,000 fans, the Brickyard is certainly a jewel that any driver wants to have on their resume at the end of their career. But the track that's on every driver's Victory Lane fantasy wish list also proves to give fantasy owners fits as to who to pick from their team for the race. With incredibly flat corners that put handling at a premium, the immense size of the track can cause teams to pay a huge penalty if they make a mistake in calculating fuel mileage. That's got everyone's fantasy team on edge, hoping their driver's fuel tank is nowhere close to running out of gas heading into the first of 17 races in a row to end the year. So, what more do you need to know in order to have your fantasy team kissing the bricks after a dominating Sunday performance? Read on to find out in this week's edition of Picks 'N' Pans.

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DEI and Ginn Racing Merge Effective Immediately

Dale Earnhardt Inc., already one of the world's premier racing organizations, has become even stronger through a merger with Ginn Racing. Effective immediately, the team will feature the Chevrolets of Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Martin and Almirola will combine to drive the No. 01 Army Chevrolet for the remainder of the 2007 season as well as the entire 2008 season. Menard drives the Menards Chevrolet, Truex drives the Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and Earnhardt handles driving duties of the Budweiser Chevrolet. All four entries are inside the coveted top 35 in Nextel Cup points heading into this weekend's Brickyard 400.

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Mirror Driving: Chasing The Chase, Truckers Ruining The Race?, and Does ESPN Know Their Place?

*After a one-week breather, Nextel Cup racing resumes this week with just seven races remaining until the end of the regular season. Heading into that final stretch, who among the Top 12 is the most vulnerable to drop out and why? And if someone does fall out, who slips in their place?* Tommy: I would say Clint Bowyer. I'm just not convinced that RCR is all that strong...and Bowyer's inexperience will get him in the end. Truex is in trouble, too…for much the same reason. Tony: It's definitely Bowyer due to inexperience or Harvick due to inconsistency. Tom: I think Bowyer is definitely vulnerable. I think the biggest thing for him is going to be whether or not he can handle the pressure of being on the bubble as this thing comes down to the wire.

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Bobby Ginn: The Gambler Rolled “Snake Eyes”

In what has become the quickest and most dramatic rise and fall of a race team in recent NASCAR history, Ginn Racing has fans, drivers and other owners in the NASCAR garages wondering what in the world has transpired with the team that had been showing so much promise since the drop of the green flag at this years Daytona 500. Since owner Bobby Ginn purchased the two-team organization formerly known as MB2 Motorsports from its previous majority owner Nelson Bowers barely a year ago, what the NASCAR community has witnessed is an illusion…a highly calculated gamble, based on maintaining an appearance of stability to gain acceptance within the sport in hopes of securing significant outside financing, money that was desperately needed to continue the charade. And it was a fairly well orchestrated deception...one that almost worked. The plan's downfall was simply that no corporate sponsor was ever found that would take the bait that Bobby Ginn set out…and the ruse has now begun to unravel. Bobby Ginn, a real estate developer from South Carolina, entered the NASCAR scene with a BANG!

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Turn That Frown Upside Down: DEI/Ginn Merger Has Upside All Around

Last week, the circle track world was up in arms about the goings-on at Ginn Racing. The former MB2 Motorsports team that shocked the world and showed so much promise by nearly winning the Daytona 500 in February, then going on to lead the points earlier in the year, was suddenly in dire straits. After dismissing long-time veterans and fan-friendly drivers Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek due to lack of sponsorship dollars, Ginn found himself having to go on Sirius NASCAR Radio to explain himself. It was a bit of damage control, with Ginn not wanting to appear to be this era's J.D. Stacy (unscrupulous early 1980's car owner), after being touted as potentially the next Rick Hendrick of the sport. Word has it that the DEI/Ginn Racing Merger is well underway, and may be announced as early as today. It is rumored that Mark Martin will drive this weekend under the DEI banner; an irony of sorts, as Earnhardt and Martin stagged some epic battles during the late 1980's through the 1990's. The No. 13 owner points look to be transferred to the No. 15 of DEI rookie Paul Menard, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his short Cup career.

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