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Thinkin’ Out Loud

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Toyota/Save Mart 350

*The Key Moment:* Kasey Kahne held off Tony Stewart on no less than four restarts at the end of the race to claim his first victory in over a year. *In a Nutshell:* Everything some fans love and other fans hate about road course racing was featured in a single event. *Dramatic Moment:* Those final ten laps were about as exciting as it gets. Unfortunately the action was spread over so much topography it was tough to keep up with who was hitting who where. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* The *double file restarts* did in fact spice up the action at Sonoma without any of the wholesale carnage some drivers predicted. Oh, there was enough bumping and banging going on to make the typical mosh pit look like a Church Sunday social but no field decimating wrecks. But if I hear the term “Shootout Style” added after “Double File Restart” one more time I’m going to take a cordless drill to my eardrums. Even Wally Dallenbach seemed to admit just how ridiculous the term has become. With all the *left front camber* some teams were running it’s a wonder their tires would last ten laps. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Michigan Spring Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Michigan Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap to hand a win to Mark Martin. *In a Nutshell:* To paraphrase Leonard Ginth-Parnell of Saturday Night Live’s “Master Bad Theater” skits: “Putrid, simply, putrid. Ultimately without any socially redeeming moments. This is about as bad as it gets.” *Dramatic Moment:* Waiting to see who would run out of gas on the final lap while trying to avoid drowning on a mouthful of one own’s spit after perhaps the most boring race in the history of mankind. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Pocono 500 Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Pocono 500 Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Tony Stewart’s guys got him out on the track first after the last caution flag pit stop. Stewart nursed an incredible 41 laps out of a tank of fuel to hold onto victory. *In a Nutshell:* I guess it’s a matter of semantics. An “exciting” finish is two drivers battling door to door for the win off of turn 4. A tense finish is waiting to see who runs out of gas on the last lap. *Dramatic Moment:* Over those last final laps it appeared that most of the lead lap cars would run out of gas but few did. It was early in the race but Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle waged a hell of a battle up front there for awhile. Waiting to see if Jeff Gordon was going to get his fool head taken off by the rearview mirror of that Ford truck passing behind him in his post-race TV interview. You’d think a race car driver would have a bit better situational awareness. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Spring Dover Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Spring Dover Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Coming up on two laps left to race, Jimmie Johnson powered around the outside of Tony Stewart to retake the lead. *In a Nutshell:* Ever hear of a Cow-patty sandwich on whole wheat bread? The top and the bottom of the race weren’t bad... but everything in the middle was pretty tough to swallow. *Dramatic Moment:* Those final ten laps watching Johnson storm back to the front were about as good as it gets. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: All-Star Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: All-Star Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* With two laps left, Tony Stewart powered by Matt Kenseth to take the race lead, then drove off into the sunset. Or he would have... but it was already dark out. *In a Nutshell:* Prior to the final ten lap segment, the racing featured all the intensity and drama of a typical Brady Bunch episode. *Dramatic Moment:* I’d guess what everyone is going to be talking about is Kyle Busch forcing the three-wide situation that wrecked Jeff Gordon. Watching the No. 24 car come back up across the track in heavy traffic with the driver’s side door panel facing oncoming cars was frightening. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* OK, I’ll admit it. *I never thought Tony Stewart or Ryan Newman were going to win* a race this year after deciding to leave established teams for Stewart-Haas Racing. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Darlington Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Darlington Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Mark Martin was able to gap Jimmie Johnson on the final restart with an old school approach of braking early and accelerating hard out of the corners... a lesson I’d guess Johnson isn’t going to forget anytime soon. *In a Nutshell:* New car, new tires, new track surface... same old Darlington. *Dramatic Moment:* This is Darlington. The dramatic moments start in the first corner of the first lap and keep piling up throughout the race. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond Spring Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Kyle Busch battled his way past Jeff Gordon on the fourteenth restart. After a couple tense laps battling the No. 24 and lapped cars, he drove off from the field to score his 15th career win in the Cup Series. *In a Nutshell:* Happy Birthday to Boos. *Dramatic Moment:* There were about three and a half hours worth of them. The racing after each restart late in the race was particularly intense. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* See, it is possible to have *an exciting race* without huge packs of cars, putting a car into the catchfence, and sending fans to the hospital. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Talladega Spring Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Talladega Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Carl Edwards had the lead when Brad Keselowski got a fender inside of him off turn four on the final lap. Edwards moved to block the No. 09 a little too late, going for a terrifying ride into the catchfence off of Ryan Newman’s car while Keselowski drove to Victory Lane. *In a Nutshell:* Bread and circuses, folks. Stop the madness before someone on either side of the catchfence dies needlessly. *Dramatic Moment:* I hate to say it... but waiting to see if the No. 99 car would enter the grandstands. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Phoenix Spring Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Phoenix Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Mark Martin was able to quickly dispatch Ryan Newman on the race's final restart, and Tony Stewart never generated the steam to catch him. *In a Nutshell:* Martin’s victory is a feel good story, but it doesn’t hide the fact Phoenix wasn’t much of a race. *Dramatic Moment:* With passing so hard and track position so important, the first few laps after a restart are about all we have left in this sport that resembles real racing. The pyrotechnics in the air weren’t the only fireworks after the race. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Texas Spring Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Texas Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Jeff Gordon emerged from the final round of pit stops with the lead as Carl Edwards' No. 99 team fumbled the ball badly, dropping their boy to eleventh. *In a Nutshell:* Jeff Gordon won for the first time in 47 races. You knew it was coming eventually -- just not at Texas. *Dramatic Moment:* Jimmie Johnson did his damnedest to keep Gordon honest in the final ten laps, but came up short. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* *“Wide Open Spaces”* makes for better cowboy songs than races. The gaps between even drivers in the top 10 often seemed eternal at Texas. Read More »