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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice? … Red Bull’s Risk, Kyle Bails, And Manufactured Johnson Drama

*Did You Notice?* … Team Red Bull’s willing to take some chances now that their regular season is shot? The move to switch crews between Scott Speed and Casey Mears wasn’t surprising … it’s expected. Not only have both cars lagged behind the curve all year, but with Brian Vickers sidelined and Scott Speed 26th in points making the Chase is about as likely as the Miracle on Ice. GM Jay Frye understands how that leaves this team in a unique position. In a story that’s going to be out on Frontstretch tomorrow, our Jay Pennell talked with a number of people in and around the Red Bull organization in the wake of Brian Vickers’ departure. Everyone had a different take, but the running theme remained the same: roll the dice!

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Did You Notice? … Charlotte Indy Double Duty, A Boring 600, & Retiring w/Dignity

*Did You Notice?* … Bruton Smith’s $20 million offer for 2011 and beyond to any driver who wins both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day? That’s opened up a whole other can of worms and stirred the pot for a handful of drivers anxious to get their hands on that money. In what would likely be a public relations boon for both series, you’d like to think all parties involved would work together to make this happen. But which drivers would actually bite at the chance to make history? Considering the difficulty the IndyCar guys have had jumping into the stock car level, you’d have to think the NASCAR boys would have a better shot of pulling it off. Here’s five I’d love to see in double duty next year...

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Did You Notice? … Mayfield’s Next Move?, Silliness Surrounding Sacks, And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … Jeremy Mayfield’s lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality? That’s important to note as his case burns to the ground outside Federal court. In his decision to dismiss the case, Graham Mullen focused not on the actual defamation claims themselves but on a waiver form Mayfield signed to participate in as both driver and owner within NASCAR. Think of that form as a “get out of jail free” card, withholding the sport from liability in the event a driver violates a rule. It gives them the discretion to act, enforcing their penalties without fear from the other party taking them to court.

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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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