The Frontstretch Newsletter - November 6th, 2007

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Nov 6, 2007, 3:47:15 AM11/6/07
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THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER presented by Your Company Could Be Here
Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
November 6th, 2007
Volume I, Edition CXLVII

Got any newsletter feedback? Want to advertise with us? Email us at edi...@frontstretch.com and let us know.

Editor's Note : Yesterday's Big Six was missing the last part of the sentence in "When ..."

Having won three straight (Cup races), Johnson could become the first driver to win 10 races or more in a season since - you guessed it, Jeff Gordon's magical year of 1998 (13 race wins).

We apologize the ending of that paragraph was omitted.


Today's Top News
Haas CNC Racing Owner Convicted Of Tax Fraud; Team Expected To Continue Operations
by Tom Bowles

Nextel Cup team owner Gene Haas has admitted he's made some major mistakes.

On a Monday afternoon in court, he paid for them dearly.

A federal judge in California sentenced Haas to 24 months in prison, accepting a plea agreement from in which the owner of the No. 66 and No. 70 Nextel Cup teams pleaded guilty to 11 charges related to tax fraud. Signing the deal in August, Haas admitted to cheating the government out of more than $70 million in tax money and various other payments; claiming he trusted the wrong people with his money, the maverick billionaire was still held accountable for finances included under his name.

Guaranteed to serve 85% of his time in jail, Haas will reappear in court January 14th, 2008, where he will be transported to prison. In between, he'll be in rehab; with the support of Haas' lawyer, the judge forced the millionaire to enter treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

The 54-year-old owner of Haas Automation is a part of a number of business ventures; most recently, he was involved in building a state-of-the-art wind tunnel for car testing and other scientific purposes in the North Carolina region. He needs it for his Cup program; the operation has struggled since its debut in 2003, never finishing in the Top 25 in Nextel Cup owner points. Currently, both his teams are locked in the Top 35 for 2008, however, with Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs signed to drive the car next season.

But will those cars be on the track with the owner behind bars? The early answer is yes. With both teams being run under the supervision of General Manager Joe Custer - who's been the listed owner since midseason - both teams expect to be fully operational in 2008 and beyond. No sponsors have been announced, but the team has been operating under the assumption their owner would be imprisoned ever since the plea bargain was made public. Plans are supposedly in place to continue the operation with adequate funding - even with Haas unable to reenter the picture until late in the 2009 season.

More information on this story as it develops.

Today's Featured Commentary
(FS Newsletter EXCLUSIVE)
Sitting In The Stands With S.D. Grady : A Fan's View 
Title here
by S.D. Grady

Dear Mr. Bruton Smith,

This past week, you purchased the NASCAR track formerly known as New Hampshire International Speedway. After some lengthy consideration, I have come to the surprising conclusion that the sale is a good thing. I offer to you a hand of welcome to New England and a few words of wisdom, in the hopes that you will listen to a longtime fan of this facility located in rural Loudon, NH.

Don't be alarmed; I expect you to make some changes, and I agree with many other fans that changes should be made. I just do not entirely agree with which changes they are.

Please, do not reconfigure the racing surface in a manner that would result in a mile and a half track with high banks and five lanes of racing. While I agree that Lowe's and Atlanta are two of the best tracks on the Nextel Cup circuit, I do not believe that every track should mimic them. Part of the charm of the circuit is the variety of tracks that the teams compete at. Loudon has always presented a unique challenge to the drivers with its tight, flat turns and fast straightaways; don't make it easy on them.

Please keep our two dates. I can understand the desire to transfer one of the two to one of your larger venues, with the opportunity to garner more ticket sales. But I'm thinking of the negative impact removing one of the sold out Cup dates would have on our regional racing series. Both the Whelen Modifieds and the Grand National Busch East Series visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway as companion events to the Nextel Cup races. This provides these talented local racers the opportunity to show their best stuff to the biggest and brightest team owners in auto racing. While I'm sure these series would continue to compete at The Magic Mile, something of the excitement that accompanies driving in front of 50,000 fans would diminish. Move the dates around all you like; I don't care about that. Just don't make them disappear from our little stretch of the woods.

With that said, here are a few requests for improvements at the track. After thoroughly enjoying myself for a week at Atlanta a few years ago, I know what I like...

- The horrendous traffic jams in New Hampshire induced me to buy the RV, so I could hide at the track during that most stressful part of a race weekend. However, the camping spaces are so small, it's nearly impossible to stretch your legs out while sitting around the campfire. There's a widespread movement among us RV'ers to have larger camping spaces. Want to double the fee? That's fine. Also, introduce reserved spaces. The circus involved in landing the closest site possible to the track is laughable.

- I have to second Kenny Wallace's suggestion of building a pedestrian bridge between the stands and the entrance to the parking lots outside of Turn 1. While the 100,000 fans usually win the race to leave after the event, one of these days, somebody is definitely going to be run over by an anxious hauler stuck waiting out the tidal wave of foot traffic.

- When building additional seats, give us an inch or two more space per person. I've been to many different venues and have sat in splinter-filled bleachers, comfortable chairs with cupholders, and backless torture seats. The aluminum seating here is not bad ... until Sunday. Eating your neighbor's elbows always feels a bit wrong after shelling out top dollar for the best seats in the house. 

- Improve fan access! The tours for pit road currently available offer little more than a cattle drive following a tour guide sporting a bouncing sign. With the infield half-filled with a swamp, space is limited, and therefore, tighter restrictions are in place for infield access on race weekends. I'd love to see a real Fan Zone, located over the garages, or as seats built behind pit road. Nothing compares to getting down with the teams and experiencing the excitement of Happy Hour or Qualifying.

- Last but not least, my own far-fetched suggestion. Loudon does actually sport a road course. It's tight and narrow, and would never tolerate a Cup car sliding through the hairpin turns. But…if you're bound and determined to raze the entire facility and start over again, why not expand and improve that road course. Offer the option to NASCAR to run a road course race in New England during the Chase. Then we would truly see a Cup champion that Chased his way to the trophy on all types of tracks currently run in the circuit.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you. While it saddens me to see ownership of my home track pass outside of the Bahre family, it is reassuring to know that someone who dedicates himself to improving his tracks took up the reins. 

I'll be seeing you on June 29th, 2008! 

Sincerely,

S.D. Grady

S.D. Grady is Frontstretch.com's Fan's Voice Newsletter columnist. She also makes occasional contributions to the website; feel free to reach her at so...@frontstretch.com.

For Laughs
Who's Hot / Who's Not In The Chase : Shortened Texas Edition
by Cami Starr

Editor's Note: Our very own Cami Starr put together a jokester edition her weekly Chase column, summing up the frustrations most race fans are feeling with two races to go. Enjoy!

Texas - another week of Jimmie Johnson winning.  Does anyone who's not a Hendrick fan really give a crap about the Chase anymore? 

Let's just get right to this.

Hot

Jimmie Johnson - DUH.  The big question is, will he shave his eyebrows for the banquet?

Jeff Gordon - Better stop screwing around with 7th place finishes if he wants to win the big money to buy Ingrid a honkin' piece of jewelry.

Warm

Clint Bowyer - Has a snowball's chance in hell.  Most likely playing with his Johnson and Gordon voodoo dolls nightly.

Cold

Everyone Else - See ya next year.

How will Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson tank it early and come back to win it at Phoenix?  Will Jeff Gordon put one of Ella's dirty diapers in Jimmie's car in an effort to gag him to death and make him pit under green?  Will ESPN show anyone else but those two on TV?  Can Suzy Kolber just STFU?  We'll just have to wait until next week to find out who's hotter - Jeff or Jimmie in the Chase.


Cami is the Frontstretch Fantasy Racing Editor. She can be reached at ca...@frontstretch.com.

TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH: 

FRONTSTRETCH TRIVIA

Q. 
This driver won the first race ever shortened by rain at Phoenix International Raceway. Name him.

(Answer Tomorrow)


Monday's Trivia : Q.
This future NASCAR Cup champ scored not only the inaugural win, but also his first Cup win at Phoenix. Name him.

Ricky Rudd dominated most of the 1988 Checker 500K, until his motor blew with only 16 laps to go - giving 1992 Cup Champ Alan Kulwicki his first ever win in the inaugural Phoenix Winston Cup race.

Coming This Week on The Frontstretch :
Matt McLaughlin breaks down the chances of our Chase contenders at Phoenix - using a little bit of past history in his Driver Handicaps. 
Danny O'Quinn opens up on a frustrating season of sitting on the sidelines in the latest edition of Frontstretch's Beyond The Cockpit (coming Thursday).
Starting Friday, Becca Gladden goes LIVE at Phoenix Raceway with a heartwarming story about - Kyle Busch? - and all the latest news and information from the one-mile oval out West. Stay tuned to Frontstretch for live updates from the track this weekend - we will be active on both Saturday and Sunday with news and information!


Think you have what it takes to write for the Frontstretch?
Are you looking for a fast-growing website that can give you an opportunity to not only share your thoughts on racing, but have FUN doing it with a group of laid-back, dedicated personnel? Well, we have the place for you.  Frontstretch is now actively seeking new writers to add to our dedicated staff. Follow this link for more information on how you can become a weekly columnist for the site and/or newsletter!

Tomorrow, Only In The Frontstretch Newsletter :
Nextel Cup Power Rankings - By the Editors

Coming Tomorrow on the Frontstretch :
Frontstretch Top Ten
by Jeff Meyer
Jeff injects a little weekly NASCAR humor into our lives.
Mirror Driving
by The Frontstretch Staff
Your favorite writers talk about Matt Kenseth "settling for second," Carl Edwards "settling for a Busch title," and Roger Penske "settling for a loophole" to get Sam Hornish into the starting fields next year.
Thompson In Turn 5
by Tommy Thompson
NASCAR Commentary - this week, Tommy talks about the danger presented by Bruton Smith's purchase of New Hampshire - and how nothing should change.

SMI Acquisition Serves To Benefit Sport, Fans
by Matt Taliaferro
A special commentary by our Fanning The Flames columnist on how Bruton Smith's New Hampshire purchase may indeed be the best thing to happen to the Chase - and to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Voice Of Vito
by Vito Pugliese
NASCAR Commentary. Vito grades the first year of performance with the Car of Tomorrow and suggests a list of improvements.

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