The Frontstretch Newsletter SPECIAL EDITION: November 21st, 2010

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Nov 20, 2010, 10:21:46 PM11/20/10
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THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
November 21st, 2010
Volume IV, Edition CCLVII

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Stories to Watch: Sunday
by Tom Bowles

- It's the day you've been waiting for ... dreading ...  or ready to cheer. The last day of racing in Cup for 2010!

Sunday, November 21
Time    Telecast    Network
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM NASCAR Now, Pre-Race ESPN2
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot SPEED
12:00 - 1:00 PM NASCAR Countdown ESPN2
1:00 - 5:00 PM Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 ESPN
7:00 - 8:00 PM The SPEED Report _SPEED_
8:00 - 9:00 PM NASCAR Victory Lane Fueled by Sunoco _SPEED_
10:00 - 11:00 PM NASCAR Now, Post-Race _SPEED_

As your 1,000th reminder, Denny Hamlin remains 15 points in front of Jimmie Johnson for the championship. Either one will clinch if they win and lead the most laps in the race regardless of what anyone else does. Hamlin can also clinch regardless of anyone else if he runs second and leads the most laps. Harvick sits 46 points behind, forcing a complicated series of scenarios for him to even have a chance at the title.

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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 1:00PM 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 Wins Nationwide Race, Owner's Championship For Joe Gibbs Racing: Eyes Season Sweep

For some, 13 is the unluckiest number on the planet. But for NASCAR's Bad Boy, it's now a number he can throw out with pride. Kyle Busch dominated the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, setting a record with his 13th victory in the sport's second-tier division by beating Kevin Harvick to the checkers at Homestead. Leading the final 22 laps, the outcome was never in doubt down the stretch as the win also punctuated an owner's title for a Joe Gibbs Racing team over Roger Penske and 2010 Nationwide champion Brad Keselowski.

Busch was thrilled over the accomplishment, his second straight involvement in a championship after winning the owner's title on the Truck side for his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports team Friday night.

"To win as many races as we have this year and do it in such a dominating fashion," he joked. "I only look to my guy on the far right [owner J.D. Gibbs] and say why didn't we run that the whole year?"

This time, it was a limited schedule for the reigning driver's champion, with Brad Coleman filling in the remaining races. The dutiful part-time assistant during the season, he also played the role of comic relief in the post-race press conference.

"I feel blessed to have a backup driver like Kyle Busch," he joked. "When I decided not to do the full season, I was worried who was going to pick up the slack. This man stepped up and made it happen."

While Busch coasted to the checkers over Harvick, it was Brad Keselowski in third who officially clinched the title. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., the series Rookie of the Year was fourth in this race with Trevor Bayne rounding out the top 5.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow," said Busch, whose quest for the weekend sweep will be interesting - a direct conflict to a teammate's bid for the title and precious points the No. 11 will need. "We have to work as hard as we can to try to win the race. Then secondly, we'll work towards trying to make sure we can do everything we can as a team to get Denny Hamlin a championship."

For more information and details on this race, be sure to read Bryan Keith's column linked below and on the front page of the Frontstretch.com website.

Homestead News And Notes

- Speed-wise, the two top title contenders were headed in very different directions Saturday. Johnson was 3rd, then 11th, and 22nd in the three practice sessions over the weekend while Hamlin was 30th, 6th, and 4th. But all both drivers along with third-place Harvick (31st, 19th, 29th) exuded confidence after their runs, keeping their cards close to the vest while saying all the politically correct things that give the public perception their car is capable of winning the race. Whether they actually believe that or not in private - especially in Harvick's case, although he claimed "his car didn't slow down" over long runs - who knows. It did seem Harvick benefited from running the Nationwide race, however, winding up a strong second and claiming he learned some "nuances" in the track that should help him work his way through the field from 28th starting spot.

Meanwhile, Jeff Burton paced the field in a Happy Hour that should closely resemble the conditions we'll see tomorrow. The Richard Childress Racing driver, nursing a winless drought that's been in place since Charlotte in October, 2008 pulled off a lap at 169.545 miles an hour to top the charts. Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex, Jr., Hamlin, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top 5.

- Kevin LePage and Mac Hill Motorsports will be leading the charge of Nationwide teams Monday closing their doors. LePage, who start-and-parked in all but one race this season, confirmed the move while lamenting the possibility of short fields in the sport's second-tier division in 2011.

"NASCAR seems to think there's going to be 45 cars at every race," he said. "But I don't see how that's possible...with the purse cuts and the [additional expenses of] the CoT."

The Vermont native, a former driver on the Cup side for such powerhouses as Roush Racing, feels strongly that smaller teams like Mac Hill are getting squeezed out by the sport's recent changes. Claiming there's only a handful of companies to go around, the down economy combined with declining attendance has taken a toll on teams now unable to survive the fight with other top-tier Truck, Nationwide, and even Cup operations for the smaller, $2-$3 million-a-year sponsors.

"NASCAR has a $100 million profit every year," he claimed. "You'd think they'd put some of it back in their race teams."

- Brian Keselowski is also among those car owners in flux, although he's highly optimistic the K-Automotive team will be back in some shape or form in 2011. "I don't know what I'm going to do," he joked. "But it'll be something!" The team is working on acquiring a Nationwide CoT for next season, but hasn't yet decided whether they'll try more Cup races after making a handful of attempts this Fall. As with most teams this time of year, sponsorship is needed to ensure their short-term stability in the sport.

- Penske Racing's Cup plans appear at the moment to be just two full-time teams for 2011. In a press conference Saturday night, team owner Roger Penske claimed the plan is for two Cup and two Nationwide teams next season, with sponsorship being actively sought for Sam Hornish, Jr. to at least run a part-time Cup schedule. A full-time Nationwide slate for Hornish is also possible depending on funding.

- Turns out the reports of PRISM Motorsports shutting its doors could be greatly exaggerated. Team owner Randy Humphrey told Jayski.com the team is working on its plans for 2011, and a source claimed one option could be similar to what's being batted around at RPM: a brief end-of-season shutdown followed a re-opening closer to Daytona testing in January. The team has employed a handful of drivers this season, but the two-car team appeared to struggle following Dave Blaney's departure in August. In the last ten races, they were a woeful 7-for-18 in trying to make the field with Mike Bliss and Jason Leffler handling the majority of driving duties.

Have news for Tom 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:

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Ford 300
by Bryan Davis Keith

NASCAR's Rookie Filled With Potential, Foiled By Economic Reality After Season Finale
by Tom Bowles

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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.

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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