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Dropping the Hammer: My Dream All-Star Race(s)

This is a column I likely should’ve written two months ago, in the lead-up to NASCAR’s All-Star Race at the resurrected North Wilkesboro Speedway.

But at the time, I was more caught up in the simple fact that what I just stated in the previous sentence was even happening.

So now, as I sit in my living room with Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game playing as background noise, it seems as good a time as any.

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For the last few years I’ve had a very specific NASCAR dream, one that could be applied to the preseason Busch Light Clash or the All-Star Race.

And thanks to Denny Hamlin‘s recent bracket challenge, my appetite for it has only grown.

It’s very simple and one I wish would’ve happened about seven years ago.

Who: Brad Keselowski vs. Kyle Busch.

What: Five laps. Scuff tires.



OK, maybe not anywhere, but it’s tempting.

Truly, my dream always occurs in one place: On a hot summer evening at Darlington Raceway, as the sun sets in the west, creating what I like to call “Days of Thunder Hour.”

In my mind, Keselowski and Busch, one of NASCAR’s most heated rivalries of the last 23 years (but one that’s sadly cooled off in the last five), face off in a match race to end all match races.

It’s the culmination of a series of matchups determined via a bracket like the one that was made up for Hamlin’s contest.

But instead of hypothetical matchups taking place over the course of five or six races, they play out head-to-head, five laps at a time.

It doesn’t even have to end with a single one-on-one matchup.

It could end in a Final Four race, 10 laps for the prize.

I don’t know how you’d go about setting a hypothetical bracket for this tournament. I’m paid to write, not plan logistics.

I just know that if you provide the opportunity for a potential showdown between Keselowski and Busch, whether it’s in the first round, second round or ideally the final one, I’d be there with bells on.

It would be the perfect opportunity to rekindle old feuds or ignite a new one.

Heck, there’s sort of a precedent for this, although it wasn’t an official NASCAR event.

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Way back in 1986 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut, two guys named Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip went head-to-head for five laps racing for $1,000.

It was … eventful.

Imagine that now.

With current drivers.

Racing for a sum much larger than what I make in a single paycheck at my full-time job.

At Darlington, Bristol Motor Speedway or North Wilkesboro.

Or, heck, what if you did it at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina?

What better place for two drivers to send the crowd into a frenzy than the one nicknamed “The Madhouse”?

Sounds like an absolute blast to me.

Now it’s your turn.

What’s your dream matchup?

Choose your fighters.

Pick your arena.

Five laps.


2023 is Daniel McFadin’s 10th year covering NASCAR, with six years spent at NBC Sports. This is his third year writing columns for Frontstretch. His columns won third place in the National Motorsports Press Association awards for 2021. His work can be found at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and SpeedSport.com. 

The podcast version of “Dropping the Hammer” is presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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My dream All Star race takes place at the very same Stafford as the Waltrip-Earnhardt match race. Top 10 in points from all three national series, in the cars (and trucks) from those series, going at it on a Saturday night for 75 laps. Maybe throw 10 Whelen mods in for further interest.

Last edited 10 months ago by Christopher
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