Pepsi 400 News and Notes

Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

Pepsi 400 PostQ    
Thanks in large part to qualifying getting cancelled due to rain Tony Stewart moves to the No. 1 spot on the PostQ forecast. Stewart is one of the top restrictor plate drivers and gets a boost by starting 6th on the qualifying grid. He did rank in the top 10 on the Speed chart during the practice sessions on Thursday but was not among the quicker cars when qualifying was eventually cancelled. Still, the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet should be among the front runners as Stewart has posted 10 top 10s in the last 14 restrictor plate races.

Ryan Newman also makes a pretty big jump from the PreQ forecast to the PostQ forecast. This, in large part, was not due to the qualifying session getting cancelled but rather the fact that Newman paved the way on the Speed chart ranking No. 1 overall. He was, however, a long way down the list before qualifying was cancelled sitting 35th out of the 39 cars that did take the track. Newman is not known for his restrictor plate prowess but has been running much better of late. He could factor into the Pepsi 400 finish this Saturday night.

Although Evernham Motorsports has been relatively quiet this season Elliott Sadler could make a splash this weekend. The #19 Dodge Dealers Dodge has been solid during the practice sessions ranking 13th on the Speed chart but he does have to start in the middle of the pack thanks to his 22nd rank in the point standings – where lots of problems occur. Sadler, however, has shown he has a car that looks like it can get to the front. Looking for a sleeper driver keep Sadler in mind.

A driver that ranked very high on the PreQ forecast but took a big drop on the PostQ forecast is David Gilliland. Gilliland will start well pack in the back due to the rainout of qualifying as he will begin the night in the 32nd position. He was even worse on the Speed chart sitting in the 39th position. Gilliland has shown that he can run up front on restrictor plate tracks but it would be wise to avoid the youngster this weekend.

The other David, Ragan that is, also makes a big move down the PostQ forecast. Like Gilliland, Ragan will be starting well back in the pack where, once again trouble usually occurs as cars have little time to avoid problems that start in front of them. Ragan ranked a little higher on the Speed chart than Gilliland but it looks like it will be a long night for the driver of the #6 AAA Ford.

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Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

Green Flag: Pepsi 400

Since NASCAR altered the points structure for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, winning is the only thing that matters, and with nine races to go until then, the gloves are coming off. The standings will be reset at New Hampshire for the 10-race playoff, with every driver receiving the same number of points. The only exception is a 10-point bonus for each race won during the regular season, which means that second-place is truly the first loser in the field.

This type of single-mindedness on the drivers' part has the capability to create havoc on the course. Fuel mileage gambles and two-tire pits stops are rarely employed on a track with massive drafting packs of more than 30 cars and taking a risk in traffic can easily cause a "Big One" crash.

Tier One

This certainly won't catch anyone by surprise, but points are points and your job is to earn them. Tony Stewart is likely to earn the maximum allowed by NASCAR. Aside from his single mistake this spring in the Daytona 500, he's been perfect here for more than three years with a streak of finishes seventh or better in six consecutive races and he's gunning for his third straight victory in the Pepsi 400. He has the best average running position on the track of 8.1 during the past five races and has spent the most time in the top 10, which makes him the closest thing to a lock fantasy owners will find.

The mystique surrounding Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) is returning with both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. carrying streaks of top finishes into Daytona International Speedway. The driver of the No. 8 has scored eight top-15 finishes in his last nine attempts, and that gives him confidence at exactly the right time. Last week, he was dominant in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway before he was shuffled back in traffic and his record on the restrictor-plate SuperSpeedways is legendary. He's fallen on hard times on these in recent seasons, but mostly that has been attributable to bad luck and not a lack of horsepower.

We're going to change our mind on Jimmie Johnson before the green flag waves. By the numbers, he should be one of the favorites. He has the second-best average running position on the track during the past five races of 9.7 and has spent nearly as much time in the top 10 as Stewart, but he's developed an aggressive streak on the big tracks that very well could hurt him. Sometimes a driver can trigger the "Big One" crash and avoid it, but just as often, he gets swallowed up by it.

Tier Two

With Earnhardt experiencing trouble in recent seasons, it's been difficult for DEI to show the dominance it had on restrictor-plate SuperSpeedways in the early part of the decade. That has hurt the performance of the number two ride and kept Truex from showing his strength, but with a victory and four top-three finishes in his last four oval track starts, he also has confidence leaking out of his pores. In nine previous big track starts, Truex has either been slowed or stopped by crash damage or blown an engine five times, but in the four races he kept out of trouble, he has one top-five, two top-10s and a 16th to his credit.

There are easier picks at this tier, but we are going to go out on a limb and say that Ray's Racers are going to have a pretty good day. Neither Elliott Sadler nor Kasey Kahne have had much to crow about since finishing sixth and seventh in the Daytona 500, but the plate tracks play by their own rules. These two drivers are not prone to making mistakes on the SuperSpeedways, and that means they will not trigger the "Big One."

Other than his victory in the 2003 Pepsi 400—which he claimed via a rare fuel mileage run—Greg Biffle has been miserable on the plate tracks. That is his only top-10 and very few top-15s have followed as well. The speed chart at Daytona is essentially meaningless, but it can confirm suspicions and the No. 16 was only 18th in average velocity at 183.09 miles per hour during 68 laps. A top-20 is about all you can expect from him.

Tier Three

David Gilliland is about the only driver that we can truly get excited about in Tier Three. This Young Gun has gotten progressively stronger in every restrictor-plate race he's run. Granted, that is only three events, but his resume is already more impressive than drivers with many more starts. In his first attempt last year at Talladega SuperSpeedway, Gilliland sat on the pole and stayed out of trouble all day to finish 15th. This spring, he was once again on the pole for the Daytona 500 and finished eighth. Back at 'Dega this spring, he tied Jeff Gordon to the thousandth of a second in qualification and rolled off the grid from the outside of the front row before finishing fourth. He might just continue to improve, and Daytona is notoriously kind to first time winners.

In addition to Sadler and Kahne, Joe Nemechek and David Ragan earned the first—and so far, only—top-10 in the Daytona 500 and they are offered as proof that any driver is capable of walking away with a decent finish on this wild card track if he stays out of trouble. We have no better reason to green flag them as any other driver in Tier Three, so if you have a personal preference, you should certainly feel free to play a hunch.

Tier Four

Your choice in this tier is going to boil down to one thing only and that is instinct.

This tier is filled with dark horse candidates, because several of the drivers get their powerplants from well established organizations such as Hendrick Motorsports (Jeff Green and Sterling Marlin) and Joe Gibbs Racing (Tony Raines). This tier also has the third DEI mate Paul Menard and David Reutimann, who was running comfortably with the leaders before his engine exploded at Talladega this spring.

Experience counts on the big tracks, so perhaps that should be the deciding factor, and if so Marlin gets the nod from those drivers listed above, but don't forget that Bill Elliott is also in Tier Four, driving the Wood Bros. No. 21.

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Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

McMurray ends 166-race winless streak with Daytona victory
July 7, 2007

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -Jamie McMurray ended a massive losing streak in dramatic fashion, beating Kyle Busch by a bumper to the finish line of the Pepsi 400 on Saturday night.

McMurray snapped a 166-race winless streak by drag racing with Busch for much of the final two laps at Daytona International Speedway. The cars appeared to touch several times on their final trip around the famed track, and McMurray nosed across the finish line a mere 0.005 seconds ahead of Busch.

It denied Busch a shot at a rare double victory - he won the rain rescheduled Busch Series race 12 hours earlier - but finished second in the main event.

McMurray drove off to Victory Lane for the first time since 2002, when he scored his only career victory as a replacement driver for an injured Sterling Marlin in Charlotte. The win came in McMurray's second career start, a NASCAR record, and anointed him as the sport's newest star.

But expected success never followed as McMurray struggled through the next four seasons. Those down times were not lost on him in an emotional Victory Lane.

``I always said for five years, however long, there would never be another victory like Charlotte,'' McMurray said. ``And you wait so long to win. Every driver out here can tell you how special it is. I started crying, and I said, 'Why are you crying?' Because I was so happy.''

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Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

Ten Points to Ponder ... After Daytona (Pepsi 400)

1. Cup Confusion – So, it’s official. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series becomes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting in 2008 – the third different series sponsor in five years, which makes things pretty confusing! Case in point – when Tony Stewart won the title in 2002, we said he won the Winston Cup. In 2005, we called it the Nextel Cup. If Stewart wins the title next year, it will be the Sprint Cup. Would it make too much sense to simply give the trophy a permanent name, like the NASCAR Cup, instead of renaming it every time the sponsor changes? Or maybe in honor of Bill France, Jr., it could be named the France Cup by _____ (insert sponsor here).

2. Sprint to a new wireless provider – The same week that Sprint announced its new NASCAR sponsorship – amid great fanfare and flourish – I read an article entitled, “Sprint Dumps Problem Customers.” The “problem?” Apparently, some Sprint customers have been calling Sprint Customer Service too often. The offenders will receive a Dear John letter from Sprint stating in part, “The number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs.” Maybe Sprint should take the million dollars they’re planning to give away in the “SprintSpeed Million” sweepstakes and invest in some customer service reps.

3. They say there are no coincidences – Earlier this week, long before the Pepsi 400 qualifying controversy, I penned a column at Insider Racing News entitled, An Open Letter to NASCAR Officials About the Top-35 Qualifying Rule.
I called on NASCAR to either change or eliminate the objectionable policy. Now, a report is circulating that NASCAR might do just that, changing the number of locked-in teams to 30 or even 25 (I suggested 21). Nice to know someone out there is listening!

4. “Just show me the beer, the bathrooms and the race cars” – That is roughly what a fan in Daytona told a FOX News reporter who asked about his interest in presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani’s visit to the racetrack. With astute political opinions like that, is it any wonder that politicians are stumping at NASCAR races, courting what the FOX reporter termed the all-important “conservative NASCAR types?”

5. Tony Irony – You can’t help but chuckle at Tony Stewart, who hit teammate Denny Hamlin from behind going into turn four on Lap 15, wrecking both cars, and then said of Hamlin, “I don’t know if he knows the definition of ‘team’ right now.” I think that’s what they call in psychological circles “projecting.”

6. Gracious Gordon – One thing I’ve noticed about Jeff Gordon – he is quick to compliment a competitor for a job well done, something very few other drivers do on a consistent basis. It was Gordon who congratulated McMurray and team on their victory during his first post-race interview, which he was under no obligation to do. It’s not a big a deal; I just think it shows a certain level of class.

7. Petty Insensitivity – Am I the only person who found it a little callous that so much was made about this being the first Daytona race since 1965 without a Petty in it – even asking Kyle Petty about it right before the race? The fact is, if not for the tragic loss of Adam Petty – son of Kyle, grandson of Richard – in a racing accident in 2000, there likely would be a Petty in this race and in many races to come. I think Kyle showed tremendous restraint in not pointing that out.

8. Holdin’ it Wide Open – What did you think of TNT’s experimental “Wide Open” coverage? So far, I’ve heard mixed reviews. While everyone likes the concept of not missing the race for those long, tedious commercial breaks, the actual execution left something to be desired. So did the commercials themselves, although I found the Miller Lite ad making fun of debris cautions kind of amusing. Let me know what you thought of TNT’s broadcast.

9. Kyle versus Kenseth? – While the majority of post-race coverage about Kyle Busch was about his claim that his Hendrick teammates hung him out to dry at the end of the race, did anyone notice the ugly battle between the 5 and the 17 during much of the event? Don’t be surprised if somewhere down the road Matt lets Kyle know he was unhappy with the way Busch raced him. Remember, you heard it here first.

10. Boy, oh Bowyer – Richard Childress driver Clint Bowyer led a race-high 55 laps, finishing 7th. By way of contrast, winner Jamie McMurray led all of 3 laps. Why the disappointing finish for Bowyer? The No. 07 fell back after an ignition box failure while leading and never fully recovered. Asked what real-life event he could compare the problem to if it happened while driving on the freeway, Bowyer semi-joked, “Well, throwing up.” Hey, I’ve had kids do that! It’s not a good thing.

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Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud : Pepsi 400 Edition
Thomas Bowles

Editor’s Note : Due to a death in the family, Matt McLaughlin continues his hiatus from Thinkin’ Out Loud. Managing Editor and contributor Tom Bowles filled in again this week; in the meantime, please keep the McLaughlins in your thoughts and prayers.

The Key Moment: Carl Edwards looked three-wide but thought better of it on the last lap, leaving teammate Jamie McMurray free to catch the perfect side draft and hold on to beat Kyle Busch to the line in what turned into the third-closest NASCAR finish in the past fifteen years.

In A Nutshell: In the last restrictor plate race with the old car, there was a push for us to remember the good times. As the Big One stayed away, racing took precedence over wrecking in what became the second edge-of-your-seat finish at Daytona this season.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week:

Looks like crew chiefs punished for pushing the envelope have continued to take things a bit too far. On the heels of pictures surfacing showing Tony Eury, Jr. perched on a trailer in the infield during his suspension, NASCAR changed its rules this week to force penalized crew chiefs not just out of the garage – they’re no longer allowed on the track premises. While such a move needed to be made in order to save public face, don’t be fooled into thinking it makes a real difference. With Trackpass, RaceView, and all the other technology available to teams nowadays, is it really going to matter whether Eury’s working from his laptop in the infield – or from the nearest hotel? Text messaging can occur from anywhere, anytime – and expect the Hendrick boys to continue to take advantage of it while their head men spend the next four weeks on the sidelines.

Looks like Tony’s temper is on the prowl again. Coming into the weekend looking for his third straight Pepsi 400 win, Stewart’s chances took a turn for the worse when he clipped leader – and teammate – Denny Hamlin coming out of turn four just 15 laps in. The end result sent both cars behind the wall for repairs while collecting an innocent Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the mess. Smoke pretty much was smoking out of his ears as his car sat in the garage; funny thing was, though, Stewart got in front of a camera and blamed the man he hit for the wreck! His post-crash tirade against Hamlin spewed a surprising hatred for a driver he helped tutor into the weekly Top 5 contender he is today.

Not only were his comments ridiculous, but that little temper tantrum made me wonder just how much pressure Stewart might be feeling over at JGR. Look at the stats over the past year (July to July), and Stewart’s and Hamlin’s numbers are nearly identical – 3 wins, 11 Top 5 finishes. It’s Hamlin, not Stewart, who looks like the best challenger to Jeff Gordon for the title this point. Everyone assumes Stewart will turn up the heat in the summer, because that’s what he’s done in the past – but is the momentum clearly on Hamlin’s side instead? Should Hamlin continue to threaten his No. 1 spot on the Gibbs totem pole, that’s the type of thing that I could see driving Stewart crazy as time marches on.

OK, so tell me this again; Nextel gets to change its name without so much as a whimper, but feels free to sue when Cingular changes its name to AT & T? It’s not that the name change from Nextel Cup to Sprint Cup isn’t allowable; it’s perfectly legal, as the contract the company signed with NASCAR specifically provided for one name change over the 10-year period they serve as title sponsor. That’s different than the Cingular / AT & T situation, which Nextel claims is unallowable due to the very same contract they signed with the sport. Still, regardless of what’s down on paper, it’s hard to prove your point to the general public when you wind up doing the exact same thing you’re fighting against.

So, Kyle Busch feels a little on the outs at Hendrick. I’ll say; he spent most of his post-race comments trashing anything and everything associated with a team he’ll be leaving behind at the end of the season, going so far as to assume he’ll be “shut out of team meetings this week.” Well, Kyle should take a look back in the mirror over the last ten laps of that race; at one point, the Hendrick cars stood 1-2-4-5 with McMurray in the middle. The only reason no one helped Kyle over the last ten laps is because they were doing what every good race driver should in the race’s final stages; go for the win themselves. I find it interesting that in the same post-race discussion, a driver calling for team unity actually spent a good bit of time bashing the equipment and capabilities of his own car. Seems a little hypocritical, don’t you think? Also, take note of the extensive conversation Busch was having with Martin Truex, Jr. in the Daytona garage. Nothing official yet, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what they were talking about.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kevin Harvick was had himself in position to contend for a rare Daytona sweep, until Juan Pablo Montoya put his weekly episode of “My Life As A Giant Wrecking Ball.”

With Harvick down for the count, it was Clint Bowyer who appeared to have his first win all lined up for Richard Childress Racing; he led a race-high 55 laps on the night. But a sudden electrical problem dropped him off the pace for half a lap, just long enough to put him back in the pack and out of position come crunch time.

Speaking of all crunched up, that would describe Sterling Marlin’s car after a possible Top 10 finish turned hard right towards the outside wall, courtesy a cut Goodyear tire.

Casey Mears appeared to have the perfect drafting partner, running up front with his best friend Jimmie Johnson charging to second…just in time for the No. 48 to hang him out to dry with a handful of laps to go. I didn’t see Casey complaining about not having a teammate to draft with after the race, though…Kyle better run and tell him how he was wronged!

As previously mentioned, Denny Hamlin’s and Tony Stewart’s on-track spat didn’t just affect them; it wrecked the day of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., as well as Reed Sorenson and Bobby Labonte before the race was even 10 percent complete.

The “Seven Come Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Looks like Jamie McMurray’s nice guy image finally paid off for something. Carl Edwards had every inch of horsepower to pull alongside McMurray on the last lap…but chose to push his teammate to the win instead.

Matt Kenseth’s car looked like it couldn’t draft past a dump truck all night long, but somehow, some way, he put himself in the right spot to steal an eighth place finish at the end.

Kasey Kahne had an in-race sponsor change; the “I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” Dodge became “I Pronounce You All Torn Up” after a lap three tangle with Jeff Green. But a number of lengthy stops on pit road to get it fixed, along with a late-race tire strategy, propelled Kahne to a surprising ninth-place finish with a car that looked more like it should have been racing in the Modified series.

David Ragan watched all the other rookies either hang in the back of the pack or find their way into trouble all night long. While they struggled, he simply shined; he followed up his fifth-place run in February with a 12th-place finish Saturday night.

Worth Noting

* McMurray’s victory ended a 166-race winless drought. Only Jeff Burton (175) and Sterling Marlin (170) have gone longer in between victories in NASCAR’s modern era.

* Kyle Busch (2nd) had his first Top 5 finish since Richmond in May.

* Kurt Busch (3rd) also had his first Top 5 finish since Richmond in May. In the past seven races, he hadn’t finished better than 12th.

* Carl Edwards (4th) had his first Top 5 finish at Daytona in six career starts.

* Jeff Gordon (5th) now has finishes of 9th or better in 13 of the last 14 races.

* Both of Kasey Kahne’s Top 10 finishes this year have come at Daytona – a track where he had never run better than 11th at before this season.

* David Gilliland (11th) had his best finish since Talladega in April.

* Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (36th) has three consecutive finishes outside the Top 10 at Daytona for the first time in his Cup career.

* Tony Stewart (38th) led a total of 658 laps this season – but just 11 of those have occurred in the last six races.

What’s The Points?

If this were the old system, Jeff Gordon would be cruising to his fifth championship. Even with a 43rd place finish, Denny Hamlin held onto second place in the standings – but he now trails Gordon by 277 with eight races until the Chase begins. The rest of the Top 5 avoided wrecks and held serve, with Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Burton all over 380 points out of the top spot.

In the second group of five, Carl Edwards blew by Tony Stewart for sixth, while Kyle Busch moved up two spots to eighth. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. each dropped a spot to ninth and tenth, respectively.

Clint Bowyer used Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s wreck to put some distance between 11th and 12th; the gap now stands at 102 points, with Junior holding down the final slot in the Chase. Junior himself now stands only 49 ahead of Jamie McMurray, who moved up one spot to 12th with his win. Ryan Newman is only 61 back in 14th place.

Overall Rating (with a one being a stinker and a six being a classic): Even though restrictor plates lead to man-made racing, you can’t help but give this one five-and-a-half cans of your favorite beer. You can’t ask for a better finish at a track steeped in both history and tradition.

Next Up:
The second half of the season begins in earnest in the Upper Midwest, as the teams head to Chicagoland for another edition of the cookie-cutter 400 in a track that’s supposedly in the Chicago market – but over an hour away from the city itself.

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Re: Pepsi 400 News and Notes

RacingOne Rewind: Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A look back at Jamie McMurray's second career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory in Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway including news, notes and observations by the RacingOne staff.

Inside Line
In the final restrictor plate race using the current car, Jamie McMurray got a nose past Kyle Busch to win the Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway by a margin of .005 seconds

Key to Victory Lane
McMurray was able to overcome a pass through penalty for passing below the yellow line on lap 30 for the win. He quickly marched back through the field where his teammate Carl Edwards gave him a little help on the last lap to get ahead at the checkered flag.

Zero to Hero
After multiple repairs after an early crash with Jeff Green, Kasey Kahne was able to battle back to finish ninth for his second consecutive top-10 finish at Daytona.

Hero to Zero
Pre-race favorites Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin were both eliminated from contention in an accident on Lap 13 that began when Stewart bumped Hamlin in Turn 4. Two-time defending race winner Tony Stewart finished 38th while Hamlin, last week’s winner at New Hampshire International Speedway, finished 43rd.

Rookie of the Race
David Ragan, who finished 12th, was the top finishing rookie again at Daytona. Saturday’s finish marks the eighth time he took top rookie honors in 2007.

After starting 32nd, David Gilliland finished 11th. Robby Gordon started the night 25th and wound up finishing 15th.

Pit Stops
* Jamie McMurray captured his second career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win in his 168th start. Detailed Active Driver Wins

* McMurray won the 98th race for car owner Jack Roush. Detailed Active Car Owner Wins

* McMurray became the fifth driver to win at DIS from the 15th position. He also became the 29th driver overall to win a race from that position. Starting Position Facts

* McMurray won the 3rd race of the season for Ford. It was also the 579th overall win for the manufacturer. All-Time Manufacturer Wins

* Kyle Busch’s second place finish matches his career best NEXTEL Cup Series run at Daytona International Speedway. Last season, he finished runner-up in the Pepsi 400 as well.

* Kurt Busch recorded his third top-five and fourth top-10 finish of the year.

* Carl Edwards scored his career best finish at DIS with his fourth place result.

* Jeff Gordon’s fifth-place finish is his sixth consecutive top-10 result, a streak which began at Dover on June 4.

* Despite winning the 2003 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Greg Biffle recorded only his second top-10 finish in 10 starts at the 2.5-mile track.

* With his seventh place result, Clint Bowyer lowered his average finish at Daytona International Speedway to 10.2 in four starts.

* Matt Kenseth added his 12th top-10 finish in only the 18th race of the 2007 season.

* Kasey Kahne’s only two top-10 results this season have been at Daytona.

* Jimmie Johnson now has eight top-10s in 12 Daytona starts.

* The 160-lap race saw 28 lead changes among 12 drivers and an average speed of 138.983 mph.

* Eight caution flags were thrown for 30 laps.

* The Pepsi 400 lasted 2 hours, 52 minutes, 41 seconds.

Lug Nuts
* Kevin James - best command to start engines ever!

* Bet Denny Hamlin gets a call from his mother after that mess with Stewart - "Oh Denny."

* Kyle Busch will have to have his mail start being forwarded from Hendrick Motorsports this week.

* Kyle Petty is great in the television booth but FYI KP - it's "Hendrick" not Hendricks." Next week in Chicago, it's Soldier Field too, not Soldiers.

* What a difference four months makes at Daytona, huh Kevin Harvick?

* Ray Evernham has to thank his lucky stars he still has Kasey Kahne in his stable after watching Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler Saturday night.

Garage Talk
* "I didn’t know that I won. I actually hit the wall after crossing the start-finish line, and I wasn’t sure I won; there was so much screaming on the radio and I couldn’t tell. I didn’t know if we were screaming because we were happy or we were screaming because we didn’t know if we won. So, I was trying to just hold it all in until I was positive that we’d won." -Jamie McMurray.

* "I felt like I won. Just to know how hard Jamie works, to know how close that team’s been." -Carl Edwards

* "I guess I'm the outsider looking in now and I'm probably not going to be invited into the team meetings next week so I think bliss is over at Hendrick Motorsports for Kyle Busch. We'll get ready for 2008." -Kyle Busch

* "All of a sudden he just stops on the exit of (Turn) 4 in front of 42 cars and I guess expects all of us to drive around him. I don't know. It's tore up two really good race cars. He tried to crash us on Friday in practice and didn't get it done so he finished it off today." -Tony Stewart’s view on his incident with Denny Hamlin

* "Like I said last week, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Tony Stewart is Tony Stewart. He's a great race car driver and he can drive the wheels off of anything. And when he says something, we're just going to believe it." -Kyle Busch

* "It’s every man for himself. The only thing that I’ve told the guys, the only orders are that you should make an effort to be respectful and to not exacerbate somebody else’s problem by causing him to wreck, except for the last corner of the last lap. Then all bets are off. They can do whatever they want." -Jack Roush on what instructions he gives his drivers.

RacingOne Rating
On a scale of 1 to 10 ice cold Pepsi's, we'll give Saturday night's Pepsi 400 a solid nine. That may have been the best race of the season and although some don't like restrictor plate racing, Saturday night was an electrifying 400 miles from start to finish. Mother Nature finally cooperated, a photo finish and a driver winning for the first time in nearly five years. Doesn't get much better than that. Now it's a trip to the Windy City (or somewhere close anyways) with next weekend's trip to Chicagoland Speedway.

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