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Thinkin’ Out Loud

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Pocono-2 Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – Greg Biffle and the No. 16 team chose to go with two tires on their final stop, made with 30 laps to go under a yellow flag. Shortly after the restart, Biffle was able to get his car into the lead - and clean air - then drove off from the pack. *In a Nutshell* – What’s worse than a tedious race? A tedious race delayed and interrupted by rain. *Dramatic Moment* – With passing at a premium at Pocono and, in fact, in most Cup races, drivers tended to let their knuckles drag and threw couth out the window during the restarts, scrambling to make up whatever positions they could.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Brickyard 400 Race Recap

*In a Nutshell* – This was a race that started out slowly but eventually petered out altogether. *Dramatic Moment* – Biffle and Montoya waged an extended battle for the lead well ahead of the rest of the pack, even if neither of them ended up winning. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* OK, Indy is a huge track with lots of seats. OK, the economy sucks. OK, there’s *empty seats* at practically every track this year. OK, it was very hot Sunday in Indy. But there’s no getting around the fact there were huge swaths of empty seats at the Brickyard. Forget about the heat, the economy, and whatnot. Why isn’t Indy selling out? There’s a sign as you enter the garage area that reads, “Welcome to Gasoline Alley.” Well, there ought to be a sign posted at the track entrance that reads “No Passing Zone Next 400 Miles.”

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Chicagoland Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – On lap 213, David Reutimann finally prevailed after a protracted battle for the lead with Jeff Gordon. Reutimann drove on to an easy win while Gordon faded to third. *In a Nutshell* – Well, there’s one way to waste a perfectly good summer’s Saturday night. Maybe they should have called this race the Lifeless 400. *Dramatic Moment* – In an otherwise uneventful three hours, I guess that battle between Reutimann and Gordon was the best action of the evening, hard-fought but clean. Unfortunately, the key pass occurred while fans at home were watching commercials.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Firecracker 400 Recap

*The Key Moment* – Kevin Harvick got just enough of a jump on the final restart that he left the rest of the field battling furiously for second. *In a Nutshell* – Bread and circuses, baby. *Dramatic Moment* – Anytime you have a green/white/checkered restart at a plate track, it’s fixing to get ugly. The lap 148 wreck that decimated half the field will make the highlight reels on SportsCenter all week. After all they’re not going to be talking about Tiger’s dominant performance in Newtown Square. (My hometown)

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: New Hampshire-1 Race Recap

_Editor's Note: Matt McLaughlin is on vacation this week. Senior Editor Amy Henderson filled in; look for Matt to return next Monday after Daytona._ *The Key Moment:* Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch put on a clinic of how to race at the finish, with Johnson using a bumper just enough to give the No. 2 a little wiggle with two laps to go - just enough to get by. *In a Nutshell:* Johnson dominated all three practice sessions, then made little noise in the early going on race day. But in classic No. 48 fashion, Johnson found the front when it counted, winning his fifth race of 2010 and the 52nd of his career.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Sonoma Race Recap

_Editor's Note: Matt's on vacation for the next two weeks. For this edition, good buddy and our Voices From The Heartland writer Jeff Meyer fills in, with Tom Bowles adding in a few odds 'n' ends to round things out._ *The Key Moment:* Marcos Ambrose slipped out of the pits on lap 80 just ahead of Jimmie Johnson - who pitted one lap earlier - giving him the track position edge on the No. 48 and setting the stage for an absolutely crazy and heartbreaking finish. *In a Nutshell:* A surprisingly refreshing, right-hand turn change of pace from last week’s ultra-snoozefest.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Michigan-1 Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Denny Hamlin got a huge jump on the final restart, then drove off into the sunset like the rest of the field was on tricycles. *In a Nutshell:* A pathetic if predictable parade. Almost utterly devoid of any moments that could cause even mild amusement. *Dramatic Moment:* Waiting to see if it was going to rain.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Pocono Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* On lap 188, Denny Hamlin, who dominated the second half of the race, reasserted himself by retaking a lead he wouldn't relinquish. *In a Nutshell:* After three hours of tiresome triangular tedium, folks are sure going to be discussing those last 35 laps for awhile. *Dramatic Moment:* Due to a cornucopia of strategies during the final caution periods, the fastest cars ended up mired in traffic in the waning laps. The fastest of them won, but a bunch of the rest ended up scrap on the final lap.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2010 World 600 Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Kurt Busch’s No. 2 team got him off pit road first after the final caution flag flew with 19 laps left to run. *In a Nutshell:* It’s Ganassi 1, Penske 1, after 1,100 miles of racing on Memorial Day weekend. *Dramatic Moment:* Jamie McMurray drove doggedly to run down Busch in the final 19 laps. In fact, the two battled hard the final 100 laps of the race. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* OK, it wasn’t a great *Indy 500,* but it was still the Indy 500. Congratulations to Dario Franchitti.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: All-Star Race Edition

*The Key Moment:* When Kyle Busch and teammate Denny Hamlin got to arguing over the lead and the No. 18 car hit the wall, Kurt Busch took advantage of the situation and shot from fifth to the lead in one lap. *In a Nutshell:* A perfect example of this year’s Cup racing to date… ninety percent tedium followed by ten percent terrific. *Dramatic Moment:* When they dropped the green flag with ten laps to go, you had to figure there were going to be fireworks and there were.

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