The Frontstretch Newsletter: May 19th, 2010

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THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
May 19th, 2010
Volume IV, Edition XCV

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Breaking: Mayfield Case Dismissed
By Tom Bowles

The yearlong Jeremy Mayfield drug suspension saga has come to a sudden and screeching halt. Judge Graham Mullen chose to dismiss Mayfield’s case against NASCAR Tuesday, ending his bid to seek civil damages after a positive test for methamphetamine caused his indefinite suspension from the sport. 

In his decision, Mullen focused on the initial contract Mayfield signed as both driver and owner with NASCAR, one that surrenders the right to sue as a willing participant within the series if NASCAR feels rules within the contract have been violated. It’s a common issue in contract law as to whether such wording is enforceable when there’s a conflict over whether rules were violated; but in this case, Mullen thought NASCAR’s wording in the contract took precedent.

"Plaintiffs thereby waived their right to pursue their claims for defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, and negligence," he explained in his written ruling. "Plaintiffs' claims are hereby dismissed."
The Mayfields had no initial comment on the case, deferring to attorney Mark Geragos who has yet to comment on the matter. However, Shana Mayfield did make a Facebook post claiming she was “speechless” on the verdict and resulting end to their NASCAR fight. On the other hand, the sanctioning body itself was thrilled with the ruling, releasing a statement of its own thanking the court for its support.

“The U.S. District Court’s ruling is a powerful acknowledgement and affirmation of NASCAR’s rulebook and its ability to police the sport, said Ramsey Poston of the sport’s PR department. “NASCAR has been very clear with its competitors as to its policies and what is expected of them. NASCAR’s comprehensive substance abuse policy, which is among the best and toughest in all of sports, serves the safety of our competitors and fans.”
The ruling leaves the Mayfields at a standstill. Under federal law, the case can only be appealed once NASCAR's lawsuit against Mayfield is dropped, a case the sanctioning body has indicated it will continue to move forward despite the ruling.

Breaking: Phoenix Withdrawing From Road Course Races, Planning Further Cuts
By Tom Bowles

Unsponsored Phoenix Racing will officially begin cutting back its Nationwide schedule next month. A source told Frontstretch Wednesday the organization has decided to pull out of the series’ three road course races, turning down a turnkey driver/sponsor opportunity to run at Road America fully-funded in mid-June. Instead, races at Watkins Glen and Montreal will be skipped as owner James Finch reorganizes his effort, focusing on the series’ three Car of Tomorrow races while attempting to put the No. 1 car back up for sale. 

Originally, Finch had sold the No. 1 to Truck Series owner Steve Turner, but the deal fell through, a move that triggered in part the firing of struggling rookie James Buescher. Buescher has now moved to Turner Motorsports full-time to run in that series, while Finch is planning on a hodgepodge of drivers to fill seat time in selected races over the next few months. Cup regular Ryan Newman manned the car at Dover, with former full-time driver Mike Bliss testing the CoT in Daytona this week.

The future of Finch’s Cup team also remains uncertain. With the exception of Talladega – where Bliss brought the car home tenth - the No. 09 has start-and-parked for every race it’s entered. 

Top News Stories
by Tom Bowles

Sacks Makes NASCAR Return … For JR Motorsports

No, that’s not a misprint. At 57 years of age, the man who scored his lone Cup Series win at Daytona in July, 1985, will return to the track 25 years later for his first start in any of the sport’s top three divisions since 2005. Sacks will drive the No. 88 for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, running the first of what will be a 25-race partnership over two years with Grand Touring Vodka. The company, of which Sacks is a part-owner, will back the No. 88 for ten events this year before expanding to a 15-race deal in 2011.

“I just couldn’t pass on an opportunity to race at Daytona in top equipment on the 25th anniversary of my Daytona victory,” Sacks said of an unlikely return to the cockpit. “On top of that, being the only driver in this event that actually raced with Dale in the Wrangler No. 3 … and now being teammates with Dale Jr. in that car is just awesome.” 

Earnhardt, Jr.’s special Wrangler car will now be one of a three-car effort for JRM in July. Steve Arpin will round out the trio by driving the No. 7 Chevrolet.

A Long Island native, Sacks drove in 263 Cup races in a career that spanned from 1983-2006. Scoring one victory, three top 5s, and 20 top-10 finishes, his run as a full-time driver was effectively ended after a savage crash at Texas in the Spring of 1998. Suffering massive head and other injuries, it took over a year to recover, costing him a full-time ride with Cale Yarborough. He then pulled spot duty for several seasons before attempting a failed comeback with his own team during a three-year period from 2004-06. On the Nationwide side, he owns one win (Talladega, 1996) in 32 spot starts in the division from 1989 to 2004. 

At this time, the driver deal is for just one race, with JRM using their fleet of development drivers for the other nine events.

Cupwhackers Lead Final Nationwide CoT Test

Full-time Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch continued to school Nationwide Series regulars Tuesday, leading the way in the first of a two-day test for the series’ new Car of Tomorrow at Daytona. Harvick’s self-owned No. 33 car led morning practice, posting a speed of 181.598 miles an hour in single-car runs to beat second-place Trevor Bayne by over four-tenths of a second. Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson, and Scott Wimmer (in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) rounded out the top 5.

During the afternoon drafting session, it was Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch’s time to head to the front. The No. 18 Toyota led the pack with a speed of 185.395 miles an hour, nipping the No. 16 of Colin Braun by .073 of a second. Brad Keselowski, Steve Wallace, and Paul Menard rounded out the top 5. Greg Sacks, fresh off his deal with JR Motorsports, was 22nd quickest.

In the final major test before the car’s debut in July, the bigger story was who wasn’t there. Just 24 cars from 13 organizations made it down to Daytona, with five of them Cup-supported programs. Among the full-time Nationwide owners missing included K-Automotive, Baker Curb, McDonald Motorsports, Jay Robinson Racing, Key Motorsports, and many more. Some or all may not enter the July race due to lack of funding, equipment, or both.

Texas Man Dies In Ridealong Crash at TMS

An 87-year-old man died Tuesday after injuries suffered in a ridealong program at Texas Motor Speedway. According to an Associated Press report, Fred Krusemark of Dallas died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck after the Corvette he was riding in blew a tire and made contact with the outside wall.

Participating in the Texas Driving Experience, an outside company who had rented time at the speedway for its ridealong program, Krusemark had won the opportunity as a thank you for being a blood donor. 

"[He contacted us] several times to make sure he was on the list,” said Carter Bloodcare spokeswoman Linda Goelzer. “He was excited about coming.”
Both the TDE and TMS had no comment on the incident at press time. The Krusemark family also declined comment beyond a brief statement that praised Fred as a, “wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.”

Tom Bowles is the Managing Editor for Frontstretch.com.  He can be reached via email at tom.b...@frontstretch.com.

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Today's Featured Commentary
Voice of Vito
Brian's Song: Vickers Would Be Wise to Wait This One Out
by Vito Pugliese

Playing hurt is something that virtually any driver will struggle with at some point in his career. The urge to remain in a car that is literally yours, custom built to your specifications around your dimensions can be overpowering. We all remember Dale Earnhardt being driven to tears at Indianapolis in 1996, giving way to Mike Skinner after a handful of laps, thanks to suffering a broken clavicle at Talladega just a couple of weeks earlier. This season has had its own example in the case of Denny Hamlin, hobbling around, gingerly entering and exiting the No. 11 JGR Toyota at Phoenix, to bring about the nay-saying of many who questioned his decision-making abilities. 

I guess the last few weeks has shut most of them up – myself included.

With the startling announcement last Thursday that Brian Vickers had been hospitalized for what was eventually found to be blood clots in his lungs as well as the veins of his legs, and would miss the race at Dover, the next question after who would be his sub was “When will he return?”

Hopefully the answer is, when he’s healthy enough to safely compete.

After being admitted to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC last week, Vickers was administered a drug called Coumadin to break up the clotting he was experiencing. It is a blood thinner commonly used for this practice, but with thin blood comes the associate side effect of easily bruising, internal bleeding, and the possibility of external bleeding for a while should he suffer a laceration. 

My friend’s dad was prescribed the same medication a few years after having similar blockages, and I witnessed firsthand how the slightest nick from her dog jumping up with its front paws, making the slightest contact with his bare legs, resulted in 45-minutes of applied pressure with a cold compress, his leg elevated in the air to help stop the bleeding. 

Now imagine slapping the wall backwards driver’s side first into turn one at Charlotte, entering that turn at 190mph. Yeah, I don’t want to think about it either. 

NASCAR has a roster full of drivers who have been hurt and come back too soon to less than desirable outcomes. Steve Park, who got t-boned under caution at Darlington competing in a Nationwide race back in 2001 and suffered severe head trauma, tried to come back perhaps too soon in 2002 at Darlington that spring. After a summer of lackluster performances, he would find himself barrel rolling down the Pocono backstretch like Davey Allison circa 1992, collecting teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with him in the process. 

Speaking of Davey Allison, he did perhaps the best impression of Humpty Dumpty, or Arnold’s T-800 from _Terminator 2_, during his brief career after being knocked silly at The Winston (now The All-Star Race) at Charlotte in 1992. Already wearing a flak jacket to hold his busted ribs together, he then sported a pair of black eyes –literally like Beetlejuice (his words) – after going for the aforementioned ride off DW’s nose at Pocono in June of ’92. Never mind that they had to Velcro his hand to the shifter for Sonoma as well.

There are also other drivers who waited out the rough ride and returned when their bodies had healed. Ernie Irvan was moments from death in 1994 when he turned head on into the backstretch at Michigan International Speedway in morning practice. It would be over a year before he would return to Cup competition, wearing a patch over an eye that was slow to heal from his accident. He would again return to full-time competition in 1996, winning two races, including Michigan – the track that nearly took his life. He would win once more in 1997 before suffering another head injury in an accident at Michigan once again during practice for a Busch (now Nationwide) race.

Current ESPN commentator Ricky Craven suffered a pair of hard wrecks at both Atlanta and Darlington in 1997, leaving him with a severe concussion that would bench him just four races into the 1998 season. He would return 13 races later, struggling to regain the consistent form he had displayed in Larry Hedrick’s No. 41 team that got him his coveted Hendrick Motorsports opportunity a year earlier. He would race only four more times with Hendrick before sitting out another 10 races to prevent any further injury should he tangle with the wall again. 

Back then the only energy absorbing item on the track was the mush between your ears.

Two-time Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte was involved in a pair of grinding crashes at the July Daytona event in 2000 and again at New Hampshire. He got out of the car after the first caution at the following event at Pocono, suffering from post-concussion symptoms. He would miss the next two races at Indy and Watkins Glen. After further evaluation by another doctor, it was discovered he was actually suffering from an inner-ear problem which led to vertigo. 

While he may have sat out thinking he had a concussion, it led him to discover the real reason for his discomfort, which if you want to look at it in a positive light, helped uncover something that may have prevented him from winning the last true Labor Day edition of the Southern 500 in 2003.

So where does this leave Brian Vickers? At home, resting comfortably, on blood thinning medication. How might it affect his career? If he simply waits it out and gets himself clear of clots and off the medication, he should be fine. There is more damage to be done coming back too soon, trying to rush things because you are in fear of somebody taking your job. 

NASCAR’s resident statesman Jeff Burton this weekend said, “Sitting out a race or two or three, four, five or 10, ain't going to ruin his career – the main thing is that he's healthy." After all, this is the original NASCAR Team Red Bull driver – the one who bailed on Hendrick Motorsports where he won a Nationwide Seris championship to take a chance with an upstart Toyota team. He was with the team when they were missing races in 2007 due to lack of speed and owner points, eventually getting them to Victory Lane last August at Michigan International Speedway, and ultimately into the Chase following Richmond in September. 

Before missing the race at Dover, Vickers had moved up to 20th in points following his third top-10 of the year at Darlington, after a miserable stretch that saw him finish 37th, 38th, 29th, and 20th. Vickers was 164 points out of the final transfer position for the Chase. As a result of missing Dover, Vickers dropped to 27th and sits nearly 300 points out of 12th with little hope of making the Chase this season.

All of this, however, is secondary to Vickers’s health and well-being. Get well soon, Brian – all of us in the NASCAR community wish you a quick recovery and look forward to seeing you back at the track.

Vito Pugliese is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.com.  He can be reached by e-mail at vito.p...@frontstretch.com.

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Frontstretch Philanthropy 
 
For the next two weeks, Frontstretch.com is proud to support  Shriners Hospitals for Children, a charity proudly supported by David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 Ford Fusion. Please take a moment to read a little more about the Shriners and how you or someone you know can join this worthy organization. 
 
Did you know that NASCAR Driver David Ragan proudly calls Shriners Hospitals for Children® his “charity of choice”? Ragan supports the work of the Shriners because he recognizes them as the “guiding force behind the network of the finest children’s hospitals in the world.”
  
Have you ever wondered who makes up the Shriners? Shriners come from all walks of life – they are plumbers and professionals, salesmen and CEOs, fathers, uncles, and sons. And they are also brothers. While their backgrounds and interests may be diverse, Shriners are bound together through shared values and a desire to have fun, do good and build bonds that last a lifetime. They are a brotherhood of men committed to family, engaged in ongoing personal growth and providing care for children and families in need. As a Shriner, you will become part of a powerful network of mentors who can help you grow – as a man, a father and a husband. You will develop relationships that will benefit your life, and maybe even your business and career goals, with the chance to pass lessons of leadership along to the next generation.
 
Today there are approximately 350,000 Shriners belonging to 191 chapters around the world. Not surprisingly, there are well-recognized men from entertainment, sports and politics who proudly call themselves Shriners.  Visit www.beashrinernow.com and find out all of the great opportunities and ways in which you can benefit from membership in Shriners International.

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Tweet 'N' Greet
by Jay Pennell

Editor's Note: With the NASCAR Twitter community expanding by leaps and bounds this year, it's become a place for instantaneous news, reactions, and a whole lot of inside jokes. We understand if you don't want to join the Twitter community - but as a fan, it's important to know the news and info you're missing out on! That's why, every week, Jay Pennell will sort through the thousands of messages and give us a little taste of what's going on each Wednesday.

So, without further ado, here's a look at what those in NASCAR were thinking over the past seven days...

@NASCAR: Statement: “The U.S. District Court’s ruling is a powerful acknowledgement and affirmation of #NASCAR’s rulebook ...

@NASCAR: ... and its ability to police the sport. #NASCAR has been very clear with its competitors as to its policies and what is expected of them...

@ NASCAR: ... serves the safety of our competitors and fans.” #NASCAR

@Kenny_Wallace: Its a fight to 30k. I now have 29544 Twitter followers at http://twitter.com/kenny_wallace and 29923 Facebook fans at http://bit.ly/bDgQLS

@ 19Spotter (Bret Griffin, Scott Lagasse, Jr. Spotter): At victory lane karting. Gotta get my practice on for the kings cup. We gonna smoke em

@ Nicademus5286 (Bryan Davis Keith, Frontstretch.com): James Finch down on #NASCAR_NNS, Kyle Busch not happy with expenses of Truck team...hey #NASCAR, your business model's busted!

@ NASCARBowles (Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com): Random note of the day: if @dalejr doesn't win the All-Star Race, he will move to the outside looking in for 2011. #NASCAR

@ mw55 (Michael Waltrip): I will be at WalgreensMile north of the Speedway on US 29 this Thursday at 4p if you want an @EZGrill they have em ! And other stuff too.

@Kenny_Wallace: My sponsor for Charlotte NNS race!.."National Domestic Violence Hotline" or go to www.The Hotline.org ..NO ONE should ever be abused..EVER!

@mw55: Our special guest brought us a sample. http://tweetphoto.com/22949238

@Elliott_Sadler: Remember to vote this week guys!! Its a big week for the PVA and operation Finally Home!! We can help make things better for Vets together!

@3widemiddle (Chris Lambert, Spotter, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota): Went to c @BrianLVickers this am. Doing really well, good spirits, making jokes. Same ol sarcastic BV. He's doing really well, NO ?'s please

@DeLanaHarvick: @KevinHarvick "have those drapes always been there?" yup, for THREE years! oh and my birthday is in july in case you forget... sheesh.

@Regan_Smith_: Got home and turned on the flyers game.... Must b Montreal sent the Jr team cause they clearly didn't show up tonight

@KevinHarvick: ole ole ole ol!!! 6-0!!!!@NHLFlyers!!

@BradCColeman: All that needs to be said is @KyleBusch is a wheelman.

@Elliott_Sadler: Hermie and I just donated 10K out of our foundation to help those victims affected by the floods in Nashville. God bless those involved!!

@mw55: RT @nateryan: : Est Dover attendance in #nascar box score 88,000..No where in america(maybe world) were there more gathered for anything.

@MartinTruexJr56: Electric!!! http://tweetphoto.com/22751192

@scottspeed: And here is a fun fact, Dale Jr. Doesn't heli out the track no more, thought that was cool and responsible in this economy

@mw55: Future hall of famer. (On the left) http://tweetphoto.com/22736033

@RTruex00 (Ryan Truex): MWR is starting to make their presence known. Getting better every week

@mw55: And graciously gave interviews to all that wanted one. Took the blame and never questioned nascar. Hats off 4 time.

@mw55: I love Jimmie Johnson. So respectful of the fans and media. Others should learn from that man. Pit road penalty and he totally took it.

@DeLanaHarvick: there's a safety worker smoking in the back of the pit stall... nice...

@DeLanaHarvick: the cars all look like they are spining out coming through 3/4. not so sure i like this view...

@jlracing (Justin Lofton): Dover leftovers - after bouncing off wall w/ 21 2 go, JL told CC Rette, "Mark, the Monster got me." Not true. He came back to finish 3rd!

@RobbyGordon: Ok so I admit I am using the All Star wkd as a test session for the 600 but I still love my fans and their support to try and see me run it

@dennyhamlin: looking forward todays race.. usually im not that optimistic about running here but today feels different.. we will soon see

@DeLanaHarvick: a kiss on the forehead followed by have i told u i love u today by @KevinHarvick initially brings a smile, then i say what have u done? :)

@jjyeley1: I forgot to tell everyone that I have been approved to race in next weeks allstar open weekend.... Yahoooo !!!!

@mw55: Trevor (Bayne) is good. his foot is bruised but he was in good spirits. he did such a good job today. its a shame it had to end like that.

@DeLanaHarvick: That was an interesting end to the race...left the garage & a ton of ppl were crowded outside nascar hauler. i smiled becasue it wasn't us!

@Regan_Smith_: Wish bowyer had Twitter, I would have to click the follow button for sure! Lol Denny handled it well, much respect to that

@SamSarcinella (Kyle Busch's Fiancée): Using my 1000th tweet to say hell yes we won, victory lane baby!!!!! http://tweetphoto.com/22573514

@AJDinger (A.J. Allmendinger): I don't promote it, but what bowyer just did back to hamlin was what needed to happen.

@jordan_fish (Denny Hamlin's girlfriend): Oh come on!!! Classless!!!!!!

@AshleyAllgaier: The fans are outta their seats, standin next to the fence, & yellin at the drivers... #priceless #nascar http://tweetphoto.com/22571399

@SamSarcinella: Cautions out for a slow moving car how convenient a caution right at the end race..... Shocking!!

@jordan_fish: Who's comin to Finish Line Festival? http://tweetphoto.com/22547996

@StenhouseJr (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.): Changin into my wrestling suit to tackle the monster today! The citifinancial ford with start 6th

Jay Pennell is a Website Contributor to Frontstretch.com.  He can be reached via e-mail at jaywp...@yahoo.com, and you can also check out his work at allleftturns.com or jaywpennell.blogspot.com.

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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 actively seeking 4-6 additional writers for both our newsletter and website to add to our dedicated staff in 2010.  Follow this link for more information on how you can become a weekly columnist for the site and/or newsletter!

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TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:

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FRONTSTRETCH TRIVIA:

Q. Today, qualifying for the Sprint Showdown is done with the typical two laps of qualifying.  However, in 1998, NASCAR debuted a new system to determine the starting grid for the Winston Open.  What did they do?

Check back Thursday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch newsletter.
 
Tuesday's Answer:

Q. The Winston Open has always been the scene of all-out driving by drivers doing everything in their power to get into the big show.  Occasionally, this results in some big wrecks.  The 1994 Winston Select Open had one of these big wrecks in which someone actually went upside-down.  What happened to cause this wreck, and who went up and over in the process?

A. Dave Marcis had chosen to stay out when the rest of the field pitted under caution on Lap 24.  This gave him the lead on the restart, but had a slower vehicle than the rest of the pack.  Jeff Gordon and Joe Nemechek took Marcis three-wide exiting Turn 4.  Gordon was able to get the lead from Marcis, but Nemechek dropped back.  

Ward Burton came up to battle Marcis for second and accidently bumped Marcis past the start-finish line.  Marcis got loose, saved it, then got bumped by Ward again.  The second bump spun out Marcis in front of nearly the entire field entering Turn 1.  Chuck Bown's No. 12 was pile-driven into the crash by Loy Allen Jr.'s No. 19 Hooters Ford.  Allen effectively shoved Bown on top of the No. 75 of Todd Bodine, which resulted in Bown going on his roof briefly.

In all, nine cars were eliminated in the crash.  Marcis, Allen, Todd Bodine and Bown were amongst this group.  In addition, Michael Waltrip, Harry Gant, Rich Bickle (in the Melling Racing No. 9), John Andretti in the Hagan Racing No. 14, and Ken Bouchard in a Superman-themed No. 67 were eliminated.  Brett Bodine and Wally Dallenbach Jr. were also involved, but continued on.

The makings of this wreck can be seen at the 6:50 mark in this clip.  The replays of the wreck can be seen at the beginning of this clip.

Frontstretch Trivia Guarantee:  If we mess up, you get the shirt off our backs!  If we've provided an incorrect answer to the Frontstretch Trivia question, be the first to email the corrected trivia answer to tri...@frontstretch.com and we'll send you a Frontstretch T-Shirt ... FREE!

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ADVERTISEMENT
Frontstretch readers - Did you miss out on the opportunity to check out Gillette's newest razor before it is even available to the public? Well, you are in luck! The new razors were so popular with our readers - 100 given away in just 4 days - that Gillette has re-stocked us with 250 more! So go to the Frontstretch.com homepage,and click on the Gillette link to take the ProGlide Challenge. Gillette will then send you their new ProGlide razor, to compare against your current razor. But hurry, because there will be no third chance. Once they're gone, you'll have to wait for them to hit store shelves like everybody else!

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Coming tomorrow in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Phil Allaway
-- Grading the Pack, Part III: Teams by Tom Bowles and Danny Peters
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more!

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Tomorrow on the Frontstretch:
 
Voices From the Heartland by Jeff Meyer
Jeff Meyer just couldn't stay away forever and is making a special appearance to fill in for Matt McLaughlin this week.  He'll have a variety of stories that have affected the NASCAR world since he went on break in mid-February.

Dialing It In by Jay Pennell
Jay is back this week with another commentary that is sure to make you sit up and take notice.

Fanning The Flames by Matt Taliaferro
Athlon Racing's resident editor-in-chief is here, and he's amped to answer your Questions in our Fan Q&A. Do you have something you'd like to ask Matt? Don't sit on the sidelines! Send it to matt.ta...@frontstretch.com, and you just may see your question in print next week!

Fantasy Insider: All-Star Week by Mike Ravesi
Did your fantasy racing team take a hit at Dover?  Well, Mike has just what you need to know when choosing your teams for the Showdown and All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

What's Vexing Vito by Vito Pugliese
Vito's back this week to take a look at super subs of the past as well as Casey Mears' stint subbing for Brian Vickers last weekend at Dover.  He'll also debate about whether this opportunity could be his ticket back into NASCAR.
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