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Voice Of Vito

Johnson’s Fourth Title In Striking Distance, Yet Talladega Remains a Game Changer

Johnson’s Fourth Title In Striking Distance, Yet Talladega Remains a Game Changer

In last Wednesday's edition of "_The Voice of Vito_,":http://www.frontstretch.com/vpugliese/28038/ I stated my grievance with the media at large for celebrating the coronation of Jimmie Johnson as the 2009 Sprint Cup Champion following his third straight Chase victory at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. I did my best to channel the spirit of Dennis Green and his well-known “If you’re going to crown them, then crown their ass!” rant while coach of the Phoenix Cardinals. With righteous indignation, I dismissed the stories and articles that were celebrating Johnson’s fourth straight championship before even half of the races had been run as being lazy and irresponsible. So, what happened? Right, Jimmie Johnson made me look like an idiot. Dominating Martinsville, he led 164 of the first 362 laps before finishing second to Denny Hamlin at the very end. At least he had the decency to not win and completely embarrass me. Read More »

Media Crowning Johnson Champion Halfway Through Chase Lazy and Irresponsible

Media Crowning Johnson Champion Halfway Through Chase Lazy and Irresponsible

My uncle owns and operates an industrial lighting company, and has an interesting way of motivating people. Whenever they express the futility of the task at hand, he comes back and says, “You should probably just give up and quit, man. It’s too hard.” Somehow, I think the rest of the media does not have that reverse psychology or that air of thinly veiled sarcasm in mind when they repeatedly state that the championship Chase has all but been decided, and that the final five races – half of the playoffs – are all but a formality for the No. 48 team of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. Read More »

Danica Patrick, NASCAR, and IndyCar: Motorsports’ Torrid Love Triangle Heats Up

Danica Patrick, NASCAR, and IndyCar: Motorsports’ Torrid Love Triangle Heats Up

Ah, the torrid love triangle. It is the thing of tawdry soap operas, trashy romance novels, and maybe even the topic of water cooler conversation involving your co-workers. Now, coming to a racetrack near you, it is the recurring theme and headline of many a motorsports article. This one is no different, for even I have succumbed to the drama gripping the two top series in American racing. No doubt, the trio has made one heck of a movie trailer this year: "Danica Patrick, the IndyCar Series, and NASCAR." Coming soon to a theater near you, it's the all-consuming romance that threatens to tear each racing series apart. Read More »

Not In The Chase? You’re Far From A Second-Class Citizen

Not In The Chase? You’re Far From A Second-Class Citizen

When the call came down from race control Sunday at Kansas Speedway for Brad Keselowski to be mindful of how he was racing against the Chase competitors, it was as if somebody took a jack handle to a hornet’s nest. More than a few NASCAR fans were up in arms over this admonishment from the race stewards to the non-Chase driver after getting an eyeful of the bright red No. 42 Target Chevrolet -- and nearly paying the price. Juan Pablo Montoya initially passed Keselowski through Turns 3 and 4, but the two got a little close in the process and made contact, leaving a donut on the side of Montoya's car and a warning landing smack in the rookie's lap. _Is this is what it’s come finally to,_ you may be asking yourself right now, _NASCAR dictating who is allowed to race and who isn’t?_ _If you aren’t a Chaser, you might as well not even be out there, right?_ Not so fast. Read More »

Overlooking The Obvious: Media Largely Ignoring Compelling Chase Stories, Handing Johnson Title Prematurely

Overlooking The Obvious: Media Largely Ignoring Compelling Chase Stories, Handing Johnson Title Prematurely

Is there be a more fickle sport than NASCAR? One moment you are an up and coming driver, brimming with a burgeoning career, celebrated by fans both young and old. Then either as a victim of your own success or by making contact with someone more popular, you draw the ire of the grandstands, receiving the type of greeting one expects will await Roman Polanski upon his impending return stateside. While the inverse of that can also be true (witness Darrell Waltrip and to some extent, Dale Earnhardt, Sr.), the flavor of the month syndrome seems to have hit home hardest during the 2009 Chase for the Championship. The 10-race playoff format, whose detractors are rivaled only in their number and intense sincerity by those who oppose government-dictated healthcare, have already turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the hoopla of hype circulating throughout NASCAR the past few weeks. Considering how the Chase has been portrayed by many in the media the last few days, it would be for good reason, too. Read More »

Strong Chase Starts Not Always A Recipe For Championship Success

Strong Chase Starts Not Always A Recipe For Championship Success

Following his fifth win of the season at Loudon this past Sunday, Mark Martin was sure he was dreaming. He had just won a race on one of the five tracks he had yet to score a victory on in the Sprint Cup Series, firing the first round in the 10-race Chase most never thought he'd be a part of again, much less lead the standings heading into Dover this weekend. In three prior playoff appearances, his best finish was a seventh in 2005, so this would surely help get things rolling towards that title that has eluded him in three different decades, right? “It’s a great way to start, but it’s one of 10, and it ain’t that big of a deal …” Ah, _there_ he is. The old Mark Martin... Read More »

Pugliese The Prognosticator: A Comprehensive Guide To The 2009 Chase For The Cup

Pugliese The Prognosticator: A Comprehensive Guide To The 2009 Chase For The Cup

Following weeks of speculation, rationalization, and wild-assed guesses, the field for the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship Chase is now set. This week, the Dirty Dozen has been performing the requisite New York City media stops, making appearances on just about any talk show or television program you care to mention before the first round is fired at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. After weeks of fretting over Kyle Busch making it in or Matt Kenseth hanging on, the focus shifts to obsessing over who will prevail in the final 10 races and become this year’s Sprint Cup champion. So, just how do I see this whole thing playing out? Read More »

Fuel For Thought – Making The Case For Fuel Injection In NASCAR

Fuel For Thought – Making The Case For Fuel Injection In NASCAR

Progress and change. Both are touchy subjects, and more often than not have no bearing or influence on the other. One can fly in the face of tradition while the other may support and reinforce it. I’ll spare you the political diatribe (for now) however, and cut to the chase where in NASCAR, the opportunity to make some gains may be on the horizon. While many oppose the thought of abandoning the iconic Holley four-barrel carburetor for computer controlled fuel injection, I think it is a change worth exploring for a number of reasons. Read More »