The Frontstretch Newsletter SPECIAL EDITION: November 19th, 2010

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Nov 20, 2010, 12:12:50 AM11/20/10
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THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
November 19th, 2010
Volume IV, Edition CCLVI

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Stories to Watch: Saturday
by Tom Bowles

- You know the drill, boys and girls. Here's the racing schedule reprinted for your convenience...

Saturday, November 20
Time    Telecast    Network
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Nationwide Series Qualifying SPEED
1:30 - 2:30 PM Sprint Cup Series Practice SPEED
3:00 - 4:00 PM Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour ESPN2
4:00 - 4:30 PM NASCAR Countdown ESPN2
4:30 - 7:30 PM Nationwide Series Ford 300 ESPN2
7:30 - 8:00 PM Sportscenter at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship ESPN2

The Nationwide Series finale is anti-climactic for the driver's championship; Brad Keselowski has that one wrapped up. But for the owner's title, it's a barnburner as Roger Penske's No. 22 team (with Keselowski) actually trails the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 by 41 points.

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REMINDER: THE FRONTSTRETCH LIVE BLOG THIS WEEKEND!

The Cup Series heads off to Homestead-Miami Speedway.  After nine months and 35 races, the championship comes down to three different drivers separated by a mere 46 points, and each one will be fighting to take home the big trophy at the end of the day.
 
Can't get to a television to see the race?  Or are you just sick of what you're hearing? Well don't be afraid to watch a different way - by joining some of your favorite Frontstretch writers for commentary, opinions, polls, and at-the-track insider information you can't get anywhere else as you follow the race LIVE from your computer.  The action starts at 3:00PM on Sunday afternoon, so feel free to drop on by.  And remember, viewer posts are always welcome, so don't be shy -- participate!

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Today's Top News
by Tom Bowles

Busch Takes Truck Race, Owner's Championship

Kyle Busch recovered from contact with Johnny Sauter, hitting the wall midrace only to bounce back and win Friday night's Ford 200. Taking the lead from Ron Hornaday on the final restart, Busch pulled the perfect sidedraft, charging ahead on Lap 131 and never looking back in cruising to victory. That clinched the owner's title for his self-owned operation, Kyle Busch Motorsports, in its first season over Germain Racing and the 2010 Truck Series driver's champion: Todd Bodine.

"I don't know how he does it," said Hornaday of the winning move that caught him by surprise. "I wish Johnny had damged him a little more [laughs] so he couldn't come back and beat me."

For Busch, the title was an emotional one not only for him but crew chief Eric Phillips, the head wrench coming full circle at the same track where good friend John Nemechek was killed in a 1997 wreck. For Phillips, it was Nemechek who gave him the chance in this business, a start that's now led to his first career championship in Trucks as a crew chief.

But will he and Busch have another opportunity? Backing for the No. 18 Truck is secured for only five races next season, and the future of the organization remains in question without proper funding.

"The sponsorship market's really tough," he said. "With all the people I've been able to talk to, I can't get the pen to the paper. I'd have three full-time trucks fully funded right now if I could just get them signed up and ready to go. But once you get them [companies] down to committing ... it's hard to get them ready to do it. They're just not doing anything."

"I wish I had better news."

For Bodine, the title was a mere formality after mathematically clinching at Phoenix. The final margin stood at 207 over second-place Aric Almirola, with Johnny Satuer finishing in third place.

"I don't know what to say," claimed Bodine after the race, before noting the never-give-up attitude of the team and commitment of the Germain family in funding the car out-of-pocket when the No. 30 came up with limited sponsorship money. "I never thought I'd be a one-time champ, let alone a two-time champ. This championship is validation for the first one. Everyone can do that once in awhile; to come back four years later and do it again, and do it in an even more domination [fashion], that was validation for us."

"Everyone on this team was on a mission," said Bob Germain. "Mission accomplished."

One of the most serious crashes of the season caused a red flag on Lap 113, when John Jackson lost it off Turn 4 and slammed head-on into the barrels lining the entrance to pit road. Every single one was virtually destroyed, along with his Chevy but Jackson came out OK.

In the Rookie of the Year battle, Austin Dillon coasted to victory over Justin Lofton and Jennifer Jo Cobb. Dillon won twice and collected 16 top-10 finishes en route to fifth in the final standings. For more, check out Beth Lunkenheimer's Tracking The Trucks breakdown of this 200-miler following the weekend.

Kahne Takes Fourth Pole Of 2010 In Season Finale

To critics, Kasey Kahne's time at Red Bull appears as a one-year internship, a gateway to a multi-season Hendrick Motorsports deal in 2012.

But for those expecting him to treat it like that ... they're sadly mistaken.

Kahne made an early statement he'll be trying to get the most out of his tenure at RBR, getting a jumpstart on 2011 by winning the pole for Sunday's Ford 400 down in Homestead. It's his fourth pole of the year and first with his new organization in just their fifth race together; Kahne joined up with the program for Martinsville last month after a public conflict with former team Richard Petty Motorsports led to his mutual release.

"It feels good to be able to have a good weekend," he said after clocking in with a pole-winning time of 176.904 MPH. "I see what Red Bull's all about. I see how they do it and learning about their parts and pieces and race cars; they have really good stuff, and they have good people. It's just a matter of a little bit of direction and some leadership and we're working on that. I think we get through just a little bit here and a little bit there and we can be a strong team next year, and a strong company."

The Washington native isn't the only driver winding up the year with momentum. Phoenix winner Carl Edwards qualified second, looking to go back-to-back and lock up fourth in points at the same track he won to close out the 2008 season. Jamie McMurray, a surprising Bill Elliott, and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-5 qualifiers.

Sixth was Jimmie Johnson, taking a small step towards a possible fifth straight title by easily outpacing his competitors. Kevin Harvick ran 28th and point leader Denny Hamlin a disappointing 37th, giving the No. 48 a cushion its driver hopes never to relinquish Sunday.

"We came down really well organized with scenarios we wanted to work with on the car if the handling went a certain way and stuff worked as we had hoped, which was nice to see," he said. "So, I'm excited about how we'll start the race and then I'm also looking forward to practice tomorrow. There's some work to do there and we'll get on top of things and have some fun."

Hamlin's frustration showed after his lap, racing through the garage at high speed and revving the engine a bit. But he calmed down in front of reporters, claiming "our car is gonna be fine tomorrow. We know that. This is a track you can pass. We're looking forward to that part of it. Friday has just never been our strong suit and so we gotta battle back again."

With that, he was off to the Miami Heat game while Johnson went off to relax, the now-challenger claiming he slept great Thursday night while remaining relaxed heading into the weekend. As for Harvick, he could be seen on Truck Series pit road helping direct his KHI teams of Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Elliott Sadler Friday night; in other words, business as usual.

David Reutimann, Mark Martin, David Ragan, and Regan Smith rounded out the top-10 qualifiers. Two cars failed to make the field: Patrick Carpentier (No. 26) and Michael McDowell (No. 46).

News And Notes

- The future of Latitude 43 Motorsports remains a mystery for 2011. Despite a long list of financial problems, with several former drivers and crewmen insisting they haven't been paid, a source within the team says they're "in talks" with potential investors and companies about returning for next season. Using seven drivers in 2010, the team posted just one top-10 finish, with Boris Said in Watkins Glen and dropped out of the top 35 in owner points early in the season. No word on who would drive the car if it continues on; as noted above, Patrick Carpentier failed to qualify Friday to end their season two days early.

- The Long John Silver's logos over at Tri-Star Motorsports have been dropped for a reason: former owner Bob Jenkins is no longer involved with the program. A source says the sponsorship money came to an end at Bristol in August, with Mark Smith operating the two-car Nationwide team out of his own pocket ever since. Next season, FRM has no plans to reenter the sport's second-tier division, leaving Tri-Star working to find backing for its Chevrolets. Jason Keller and Tony Raines have driven the majority of races this season, but with neither driver bringing funding to the program the future for both is unknown.

- Michael Annett's hiring at Rusty Wallace, Inc. - made official Friday, in a move that will replace Brendan Gaughan in that two-car stable - should come as no surprise. Annett and Steven Wallace are close friends outside the racetrack, with both desiring to run together for some time in a lower-end version of LeBron-Dwayne Wade over on the NASCAR side. With the possibility of short fields in 2011, RWI is also desperately seeking funding to move Wallace up to the Cup level on at least a part-time schedule; Wallace was quoted Friday as saying he'd try "desperately" to get his son in position to qualify for the Daytona 500 in February.

- As for Gaughan, he claims he'll move over to the Truck side of things in 2011 with his father's South Point resort sponsorship pairing up with the strong chassis and engines of Germain Racing. As of now, Germain will field at least three full-time efforts next season in the series, with Truck champ Bodine, Gaughan, and Max Papis. The Germains are singing a different tune, however, saying they've "had talks" but a deal has not yet been finalized for 2011. The Nationwide No. 15 team Annett drove for them this season will now cease to exist.

- Seen around the garage: Ken Schrader, walking and talking with President Mike Helton. The 55-year-old former Cup regular for Fenton, Missouri remains without a full-time gig in any of the sport's top three circuits for 2011.

Have news for Dave, Beth and The Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at ashl...@mail.com with a promising lead or tip.

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Frontstretch.com would like to thank Star Coach Race Tours for their hospitality at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Our Frontstretch staff who attended the race was welcomed to take advantage of Star Coach's state-of-the-art motor homes, food and beverage all from the convenience of the track infield. The best part is that fans can take advantage of this unique service as well! Visit www.starcoachracetours.com for more information about their all-inclusive race weekend packages! We know you'll love the experience!

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TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:

Keep Your Hands to Yourself! NASCAR Struggling to Let Championship Weekend Unfold in Homestead
by Bryan Davis Keith

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FRONTSTRETCH TRIVIA:

Q.
In 2002, CART returned to Downtown Miami to race on a 1.387 mile circuit based around Bayfront Park.  For reference purposes, Bayfront Park is effectively right next to Bicentennial Park, where the 1995 street race was held.  However, this circuit suffered from some problems in one part of the track during the weekend.  What happened?

Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
 
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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Coming Monday in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Ford 400 Race Recap from TBD
-- Big Six: Ford 400 by Amy Henderson
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, Stat of the Week and more!

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Monday on the Frontstretch:
Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Ford 400 by Matt McLaughlin
Matt will be here with his overall thoughts about the action from Sunday afternoon's season finale from Homestead-Miami.

The Cool Down Lap by Doug Turnbull
Another Monday morning commentary to make you sit up and take notice.
 
Fact or Fiction by Mike Lovecchio
Mike takes a look at the biggest stories of championship weekend and analyzes them in a way only he knows how to.

Running Their Mouth: Ford 400 by Summer Dreyer
Did he really say that?  You bet he did! Summer brings you the most interesting, unusual, and downright crazy quotes to come from the drivers after Sunday afternoon's race from Homestead-Miami.
 
Bubble Breakdown: Tracking The Top 35 In Car Owner Points by Brock Beard
Brock takes a look at the backmarkers battling for the 35th and final "locked in" spot and sees how their performances pay off at Homestead-Miami, setting the stag for who's locked in for the 2011 Daytona 500 and the first five races of the year.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Ford 300 by Bryan Davis Keith
Bryan has all the post-race analysis you need after Saturday afternoon's Nationwide Series race from Homestead-Miami.

Tracking the Trucks: Ford 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer
Beth has all the post-race analysis you need after Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race from Homestead-Miami.

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