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Thinkin’ Out Loud

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 »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Martinsville Spring Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Martinsville Spring Recap

*The Key Moment:* Jimmie Johnson ran down Denny Hamlin with fifteen laps to go. He then moved the No. 11 car aside, with both cars getting sideways and smoking the tires before Johnson pulled ahead to take the lead. *In a Nutshell:* There’s nothing so wrong with the new NASCAR racing the sport’s oldest race track can’t fix it. Cars and drivers running side by side and nose to tail? Can I get a hallelujah, brothers and sisters? *Dramatic Moment:* In addition to the key pass for the lead, mention must be made of Denny Hamlin’s kamikaze lap 455 pass on Johnson going into turn one on a restart. That was classic stuff, the likes of which we don’t see often enough in this era of points racing. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Is This the Same Bristol?

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Is This the Same Bristol?

*The Key Moment:* Kyle Busch was able to hold off teammate Denny Hamlin in the final two lap shootout that decided the race. *In a Nutshell:* Geographically, it’s in the same place, but this joint just doesn’t seem like Bristol anymore, does it? *Dramatic Moment:* Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya actually got annoyed with each other and did a little rooting and gouging. Relatively speaking, everybody else acted like choirboys on a field trip to a basilica. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* You know, if you look at it dispassionately *the racing at Bristol* is actually way better as far as side-by-side racing and passing rather than a constant series of wrecks -- but it’s just not as much fun, is it? Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Kobalt Tools 500

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Kobalt Tools 500

*The Key Moment:* Kurt Busch dominated the race, but a late caution and a two tire stop put Carl Edwards at the head of the pack. Busch was able to easily retake the lead when the green flag flew with two laps left. *In a Nutshell:* It looks like this new Dodge engine is going to work out all right. *Dramatic Moment:* Kurt Busch pretty much had his way all afternoon, but that final caution flag gave the rest of the top 5 cars a final shot at him. A crew member of Marcos Ambrose’s team made an ill-advised stroll onto the quad-oval grass to retrieve a wayward tire, trapping many competitive cars a lap down during a cycle of green flag pit stops. Read More »