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Tag Archives: Morgan Shepherd

Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Camping World RV Sales 200 at Dover

For the 23rd time this season, a Sprint Cup driver proved that they had the awe-inspiring mettle to dominate NASCAR’s AAA series. For the eighth time this season, Kyle Busch proved to race fans that he is indeed deserving of a full-time ride in the Cup ranks, because he’s such a darned good Nationwide Series driver. And for the second time in the four races since Joe Gibbs Racing was “penalized” for its involvement in a cheating scandal at Michigan, its No. 18 team and their “substitute” crew chief dominated the field. Though several drivers had excellent race cars, Mike Bliss’ car took too long into a run, while Brad Keselowski had repeated issues on pit road that lost him valuable track position, allowing neither to challenge Busch, who led 157 laps.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Winn Dixie 250 at Daytona

*In a Nutshell:* Friday night’s race at Daytona was a true barnburner, slowed by only three cautions and run at a near-record pace. Unfortunately, Friday’s race was also as predictable as a TV movie -- with Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas dominating the field. Once the checkered flag flew, it was Denny Hamlin scoring the win, his third in the Nationwide Series for 2008. Hamlin’s victory also marked the ninth of the season for JGR’s No. 20 team, and the 12th win in 18 races for JGR this season in this division. Though Ford and Chevrolet had strong performers in Carl Edwards and JR Motorsports, respectively, in the end the horses under Hamlin’s hood proved to be insurmountable for any challengers -- even for his teammate Kyle Busch, who came home a solid second.

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Did You Notice? How To Start And Park, Why Nationwide Is Dying, And Crew Chief Free Agency

*Did You Notice?* … All the talk about Nationwide Series teams looking to pull out of the series with the advent of the Car of Tomorrow? Well, it goes far beyond whether or not car owners will be able to afford the new car; frankly, the purse money for the series isn’t proving a justifiable reward for a struggling owner to stay involved. For proof of this growing problem, let’s go back to Talladega. Back then, everyone was applauding the effort of Morgan Shepherd, the perpetual start and parker in the Nationwide Series who chose to go the full distance, finishing a respectable 13th. However, Shepherd’s total winnings in that race were $20,775; that’s just $3,000 more than he would have made if he finished 43rd and parked it on the first lap.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 CARQUEST 300 at Charlotte

*In a Nutshell:* Though he failed to overwhelm the CARQUEST 300 field as he has in so many other races this season, Kyle Busch was the class of the field again at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Pitting for fuel on Lap 129, Busch stayed out for the duration of the race, conserving fuel under caution and taking advantage of clean air to stay in front of the field. Though Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski all mounted furious charges on Busch’s Camry, none were able to deny him his fourth Nationwide Series win of the season. Hamlin finished second in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20, breaking a four race win streak for the team. Busch’s win, however, was overshadowed by late-race fireworks between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, who led for 25 laps and finished a career-high third. Hamlin, frustrated by Keselowski’s race-long lack of “racing etiquette” took a swipe at Keselowski’s car under caution, damaging the left front fender and stripping him of any chance of running down Kyle Busch during the ensuing green/white/checkered finish.

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Running On Empty? No, Running On Faith!

In the NASCAR world -- no matter which of the three top series you happen to be talking about -- the news of multi-million dollar sponsorship deals are the norm. Take, for instance, the recently announced Roush-Fenway Racing/Aflac deal. Aflac has stepped up to be the primary sponsor for Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team for the next three years, to the tune of about 25.3 million dollars a year. Speed, they say, costs money; and lots of sponsors out there are shelling out big bucks to see their name go by really, really fast. But at the other end of the spectrum, you have arguably the biggest, most important sponsor of all time. This "sponsor" does not sit down every few years and negotiate a new contract for x amount of dollars. No, they wrote their first contract many, many years ago and, in fact, have never "renegotiated" it since. That sponsor is God ... and his team is Faith Motorsports.

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Ten Points To Ponder… After the 2008 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond

*1. Maybe Some Trash Talkin’?* - The National Football League's record-setting but controversial wide receiver Randy Moss of the New England Patriots has announced that he is forming a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. Moss expects his Moss Motorsports operation to enter selected races later this season, then compete in the full schedule of CTS events in 2009. There's no word yet on a driver selection for the new team, or what kind of flamboyant Victory Lane celebration the football player -- known for his creative TD in-your-face end zone moves -- would require his driver to execute. But you better believe that it would be memorable ... and if Moss himself ever gets behind the wheel, watch out.

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Did You Notice? Ganassi’s Trial By Fire(d), The Trials And Tribulations Of The Woods, And… Morgan Shepherd?

*Did You Notice?* … That at Talladega, the No. 21 Ford driven by Jon Wood had to pull in the garage after just _one_ lap in order to fix radical adjustments made in qualifying to get the car in the show. Now, I know it looks like I pick on the Wood Brothers every week, but it’s hard to ignore them when they continue to make major mistakes. There were seven other cars who qualified on time for this race, and _none_ of them had to spend nine laps in the garage area to fix their cars within the first five laps. What the heck did the team do to the car to make it that urgent for them to go behind the wall? Couldn’t Wood have just lost the draft, driven really conservatively, and hoped a caution came out to fix the issues? Killing your chances for a good finish before you’re even 10 miles in probably isn’t good for team morale; how can you gain points on the Top 35 when you’re putting yourself in a position where you’re simply trying to leapfrog cars that wreck? But to me, the best part of the whole thing was the post-race press release, in which crew chief Mike Smith attempted to be optimistic.

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Nuts For Nationwide: Four Down, 31 to Go in 2008

It's still very early in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series but already the themes are emerging. Yes, there are thousands of laps to be run, but the pre-season predictions are proving to be accurate. Well, mostly. Moonlighting Cup drivers are cleaning up… Drivers from NASCAR's top echelon have made almost exactly a third of the total available starts (58 of 172) in Nationwide races this year and, perhaps unsurprisingly, they've picked up all the prizes on offer so far. Tony Stewart (Daytona, California), Mark Martin (Vegas) and Matt Kenseth (Atlanta) have accounted for the wins while Stewart (Daytona), Jeff Burton (California, Atlanta) and Brian Vickers (Vegas) have vacuumed up the pole positions. For Mark Martin, it was an all-time series best 48th victory, the next nearest being Kevin Harvick with 32 wins; for Matt Kenseth it was win number 24, moving him into a tie for fifth place on the all time wins list with Tommy Houston. Kenseth's win, by the way, ended a 22 race winless streak for Ford in NASCAR's second series.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Stater Brothers 300 at Fontana

*In a Nutshell*: The Nationwide Series played second fiddle to the Cup series on Monday afternoon, starting their race an hour after the big boys took the checkered flag. That meant that 12 drivers were running almost 700 miles thanks to the delay of the Cup race and the postponement of the Nationwide race. However, it didn't make much difference to Tony Stewart, who ran away with much of the event. Stewart started the race on the outside of the front row because qualifying was rained out and led the first 23 laps before relinquishing the lead to Morgan Shepherd. Yes, Morgan Shepherd. OK, it was on pit stops; but still, Morgan led a lap before he parked his car for the day. From that point on, Stewart regained the lead and wasn't headed except for pit stops. Kyle Busch looked like he might have had a shot at Stewart before the end of the race, but it was not meant to be as whenever Busch would get close, Stewart would just pull away again.

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