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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In the Chase: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

One race down...nine races to go. After his dominating performance on Sunday, Clint Bowyer has to be asking himself what the big deal is about all this Chase pressure everyone kept talking to him about. The only winless driver in the playoffs, he threw that status right out the window Sunday, coming out of the gates strong to score the first victory of his Cup career and climbing to fourth in points in the process. But Bowyer didn't stand alone in his success; for the majority of the Chasers, Loudon proved to be a solid starting point for their ten race quest for the Cup. In fact, the top seven finishing positions on Sunday went to drivers solidly within the Chase field; only three ended the day outside the Top 15, leaving the twelve car lineup more tightly bunched at this juncture than ever before. So, which drivers are still heating things up and hitting their marks as the Chase rolls on, and which ones are feeling the pressure to perform? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not OUTSIDE The Chase: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

NASCAR's playoffs may be full steam ahead - but that doesn't mean the other 31 drivers stop racing each week. Whether they're building momentum for 2008, out there fighting for a job, or just infused with the plain ol' desire to win, each one has something to strive for as the races wind down. It's a chance to make up for lost time, stealing the spotlight from this year's title contenders while looking for a little late season hardware of their own. These drivers know there's pressure of a different kind; after missing the playoffs, their futures could depend on proving to fans, the media, and their current team they've still got what it takes to compete at the sport's top level. So, which one of the non-Chasers is in the best position to spoil the championship party at Dover? Read on to find out who in this week's edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not… _outside_ the Chase. One note before we begin…unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not…which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).

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“Kahne” The New Face of Budweiser Pull It Off?

After it was announced that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would not take Budweiser with him to Hendrick Motorsports next year, the search was on to find the person that could best exemplify the beer company's image. It didn't take long for them to find their man. At a press conference Tuesday, Kasey Kahne will be introduced as the front man for the most popular beer in the world. The 27-year-old from Enumclaw, Washington inherits the role of Earnhardt, as the series' Most Popular Driver is off to hawk PepsiCo products instead for 2008 and beyond. The multi-year deal has the beer company now sharing space with Allstate, replacing Dodge Dealers as the primary sponsor of Kahne's No. 9 car after seven years on the hood. So, that's right, folks; Bud is going from the everyman, all-encompassing fan base of Earnhardt to ... the guy with the girls stalking him in the car insurance commercials? For those observing the sport, it's not the likeliest match made in heaven. Don't get me wrong; Kahne is undoubtedly one of the most marketable figures out there today. However, his placement with an alcohol sponsor seems like it might be a bit of a reach - not to mention a bit out of character - for his clean-cut, aww shucks image.

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Running Their Mouth: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon

_Each week, we'll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel 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 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway._ "Well, it must have been the burnout. I think I blew (the engine) up. That's what it's all about (though)...this is unbelievable. I can't believe it happened here. This has always been a good track for us; we just could never get the finish. I'm just so excited to celebrate with all these guys. They deserve it." _Clint Bowyer after his first career win_ "It was a real good day. I'm so proud of this race team. That was a great effort to come from 18th and fight our way up to finish inside the Top 5. Clint Bowyer, my congratulations to him. He was the class of the field today. I'm (just) very happy to get the Chase started off like this. I was having fun racing with Tony. He's a great driver and a class act, and we were mixing it up for sure there a couple of times. It was a good race." _Jeff Gordon, finished 2nd_

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Numbers Game: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon

*0* Points that Jimmie Johnson leads Jeff Gordon by in the Nextel Cup point standings. Technically, they are tied, but if this was the end of the season, Johnson would get the nod for having more race wins. *1st* Career Cup victory for Sylvania 300 winner Clint Bowyer in 64 starts. *2* Career Bud poles for Clint Bowyer after taking the top starting spot in the Sylvania 300, with a lap time of 29.206 seconds and a speed of 130.412 mph.

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St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Starts “Racing To Save Lives” Campaign

MEMPHIS, TN (September 17th, 2007) – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the world’s premier center for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases, has taken the green flag for its Racing to Save Lives campaign. Located in Memphis, Tenn., ALSAC, the fund-raising organization of St. …

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Ten Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon

*1. Brad's Big Blunder* - Fans have not exactly warmed to Brad Daugherty, the former NBA All-Star player and Busch Series team owner turned NASCAR TV analyst. But Daugherty made a big blunder on today's pre-race show when he opined that none of the Chase contenders could catch the top three drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. "To come from the bottom, it's insurmountable. It cannot happen. It's too big of a deficit because those guys don't make mistakes. It's not going to happen," he said. WRONG. Just ask Clint Bowyer, he shot from 12th to fourth in just one race and is now only five points out of third. Anything can happen over the course of ten races and there's more to it than not making mistakes - there are cut tires, engine problems, pit road issues, getting caught up in other people's wrecks, and many other variables that can hurt _any_ Chase driver...even the top three favorites. *2. Nice Guy Finishes First* - Clint Bowyer's first win is one of the feel-good stories of the season for a guy who is widely liked throughout the garage.

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Perfection Causing NASCAR Perfect Hell

So often in life, our ultimate pursuit is perfection. One parts failure on a car is one too many, one loss for our favorite sports team ruins the dream of a season unblemished, and one point off on a test simply makes us agonizingly short of a mythical 100 percent. Caught in the details of minor mistakes, we're raised to believe better comes as a pill you can swallow only when the best is unavailable. Yet, the search for the best is what's threatening the future of NASCAR nowadays. It's a quest for perfection that, in one sense, has actually been achieved; but in doing so, the sport has lost the true essence of what made it so great.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

*The Key Moment* - This one was pretty well decided when the green flag flew. After resuming the lead on lap 185 Clint Bowyer drove away at will. *In a Nutshell* - Three hours of terrible tedium. *Dramatic Moment* - 300 laps at NHIS were almost completely devoid of drama...at least it was over quickly. *What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* *We gave up a race at North Wilkesboro for this mess?* NASCAR needs to move this race date to Darlington or Rockingham. *So much for the CoT ending the "dreaded aero push" issue.* If anything, it looks like passing is harder in the new cars than it was in the old one. And I couldn't help but notice the track's street sweeper looked prettier and more aerodynamic than the new McCars in the event.

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The Chase Is Here – But The Top 35 Battle Is Closer Than Ever For Wood Brothers, BDR

The Chase may have just begun this week in New Hampshire, but the race for the 35th position in owner points has been in full swing all season long...and the gap is getting narrower. The difference between 34th and 36th now stands at just 82 points - and while the Top 35 battle does not garner as much coverage as the Top 12, with a potential spot in the 2008 Daytona 500 at stake, it certainly deserves it. Once again, the No. 21 team emerged as the victor again this week, holding onto the final spot with its original driver; but one mistake next week could mean having to qualify for the next race on time, a difficult scenario no one wants to face. Who are the other teams fighting to stay in contention for the 35th and final spot? Check out this week's new look edition of the Bubble Breakdown: *Race Down to Three Cars* With *Johnny Sauter's* No. 70 team now 132 points ahead of *Kyle Petty's* No. 45, the race for the final locked in position is between Petty, *Ken Schrader,* and *Dave Blaney* in the No. 22 car.

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