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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice? … Ugly Johnson Jeers, Picking Apart Purses, And Short Fields?

*Did You Notice?* … The crowd cheering like crazy the second Jimmie Johnson’s Lowe’s Chevrolet came to a stop in Turn 3? After a savage wreck, Johnson was left to endure his first DNF at an unrestricted track since the Coca-Cola 600 in 2008, when A.J. Allmendinger’s failing brakes left him using the No. 48 like a dart on a bulls-eye entering the turn. Now, I don’t have a problem with fans booing a guy they don’t like, but everything changes when a driver’s health is in question. Seeing that wreck live, I can say unequivocally it was the hardest hit I’ve seen someone take in person at Darlington since the repaving. Remember, this track is the same one where Steve Park suffered a serious head injury under _caution_, a reminder that crashes can happen anytime, anywhere.

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Did You Notice? … Ford’s Flop, Veteran Victory Droughts, And Silly Season Ends Early?

*Did You Notice?* … That with so much focus surrounding Jeff Gordon’s 38-race winless streak, we’ve forgotten about a lot of big-name drivers riding even larger droughts? We’ve knocked off two big ones (Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick) in the month of April, both of whom hadn’t won since the 2008 and 2007 Daytona 500s, respectively (and you think there’s no curse… yeah, and Miss Cleo can actually see the future). But in a world where only a select few have been visiting Victory Lane as of late, there’s still plenty with droughts that have lasted more than one year. Here’s a look at some top-level veterans dying in a desert filled with no winning hardware...

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Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Purse Problem, Who Loses The Plate Lottery, Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … NASCAR’s convoluted purse system gave more to the third-place finisher than the actual winner? Check out the purse money from Sunday’s Nationwide Series race at Talladega: *1)* Brad Keselowski - *$40,445* *2)* Joey Logano - $41,850 *3)* Kevin Harvick – *$43,250* What the…? Yes, I know the logical answer: Keselowski doesn’t run some contingency sponsors, stickers you need to put on your car that’ll up the total you win over a race weekend. But those new to NASCAR, or simply curious about the sport, aren’t equipped with that extra set of knowledge. Instead, they look at those numbers scratching their head, or simply laugh, shrug their shoulders, and crack a redneck joke.

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Did You Notice?… Earnhardt’s “50-Mile Mess,” And “Chasing” NASCAR Points & Drugs

*Did You Notice?* … What Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said in a moment of frustration after Monday’s race? NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver never fails to tell it like it is, and in a moment of passion jumped into some political incorrectness that vocalized what we’ve all been thinking: "I was having fun until all those cautions kept coming at the end," he said. "We run 450 miles to sit there and settle it in a bunch of mess there at the end of the race... and it is kind of stupid."

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Did You Notice?… Petty’s Certain Death, Roush Suckerpunched, And Earnhardt’s New Prodigy

*Did You Notice?* ... How Richard Petty Motorsports is facing almost certain death? I'll never forget (Tom) when I got the call. It was December of 2008, and I'd just had my third source verify Petty Enterprises was being sold just months after being bought by Boston Ventures. That day, as news of my report spread like wildfire, the buzz in the room instantaneously changed from excitement to sadness. All anyone could talk about is Petty stories, memories, and worries about the future for the man known simply as The King. All the while, it was the most exciting and depressing moment in my career. I couldn't help but think, "We'll never see Petty own a race car again."

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Did You Notice? …The Difference A NASCAR Decade Makes?, Feed The Rich, And…

*Did You Notice?* … What a difference a decade makes? In this slow off week, I figured we’d do something a little different to show how much NASCAR has changed in the past ten years. So I figured, with so much worry over Jimmie Johnson's seemingly limitless success as of late, why not take a look at the top 10 in points through six races of 2000 and see where all those drivers are now? Enjoy. *2000 Point Leader: Bobby Labonte.* Driving for Joe Gibbs that year, Labonte would go on to win his only championship on the heels of four wins, 19 top 5s, and 24 top 10 finishes. At 36, he looked to be on the precipice of a long, extended run challenging Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, and others for several titles. *2010:* Turns out, that would be the peak of Labonte’s career. He hasn’t finished the year inside the top 5 in points since, leaving JGR in 2005 for Petty Enterprises and several other failed ventures.

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Did You Notice?… Martinsville’s Second Swan Song?, Silly NASCAR Warnings, And Roush On QVC?

*Did You Notice?* … Martinsville’s finish was one of the best we’ve had in the past several years, causing longtime fans to breathe a little easier about its future? I wish I could say I’m with you on that one. Certainly, if these decisions were based on racing alone Martinsville would be assured a second date _forever._ But as we all know, businesses don’t survive without making money, and with profit margins down at ISC that’s going to become more of a focus than ever before. This much we know for 2011...

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Did You Notice? … It’s Not Just The Economy, Stupid; Tony The Terrible?, And Testing

*Did You Notice?* … The debate raging on over all the empty seats at Bristol? Everyone’s trying to figure out if the answer lies in the economy, a different style of racing, or just plain ol’ fan disinterest. So, which is it? I’ve heard some strong, compelling arguments for #1. People claim that tough times mean tough choices when it comes to Bristol. After all, it used to be the hottest ticket in sports, where even the cheap seats didn’t come cheap. The lowest price for Bristol single-day walkup tickets was $93 – compared to a $40 seat currently available for Richmond’s Saturday night Cup show in May.

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Did You Notice? … Talladega Testing Confusion, Four NASCAR #1s, And Mayfield Pops Up?

*Did You Notice?* … We learned everything and nothing from this Talladega test … at the same time? In many ways, NASCAR’s choice to squeeze this experiment onto the schedule was good for two reasons: 1) The cars started out too fast with the initial plate package offered (a flat, 4.5-inch spoiler with two-inch extensions on either side, paired with a 66/64ths-inch restrictor plate). Those caused speeds well in excess of over 200 miles an hour.

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Did You Notice? … Edwards “Probation” Green Lights Driver Aggression, Gibbs Falls Behind, And NASCAR’s Dangerous CoT

*Did You Notice?* … That while the fans are broken up about Carl Edwards’ penalty (or lack thereof), the drivers really aren’t all that upset. Take a look at this cross-section of Tweets about the incident: *Brian Vickers:* I bet the 12 will think twice about wrecking anyone again! *Kyle Busch:* (retweeting Matt Yocum’s opinion in support of his own) Coulda woulda shoulda...jeeeesh.People want the gloves off, drivers show more personality, and now they complain. Nothing happened. move on. *Michael Waltrip:* Good call #nascar. You can't ask the driver to take their gloves off one week and then tell 'em to put 'em back on the next. *Scott Speed:* You go #nascar!!! 3 race probation for Edwards! Awesome I love it!!! I bet Keselowski is scared now.

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