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Thinkin’ Out Loud

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2010 Bristol Night Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – It’s rare a race is won entering pit road, but Kyle Busch aggressively pushed the limit, passing leader Jamie McMurray as the two entered the pits for the final sequence of stops. The 18 team got Busch out well ahead of the No. 1 car and from there Kyle was off to the house.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: August Michigan Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – Kevin Harvick pushed Denny Hamlin around Tony Stewart after the final restart, then on lap 189 passed the No. 11 car and drove off into the sunset. *In a Nutshell* – I kind of feel like Charlie Brown saying, “You know what, it wasn’t such a bad little race after all,” but some of that is written off by the diminished expectations I bring to any Michigan event. *Dramatic Moment* – The last thirty laps featured some decent racing amongst drivers and teams with various pit strategies, points agendas, and temperaments. Whether that was enough excitement to pay off a relatively brief three-hour time investment for the fans is open to debate.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2010 Watkins Glen Recap

*The Key Moment* – Juan Pablo Montoya dominated at the Glen, with Marcos Ambrose doing his best to keep the Colombian native honest. But on the restarts, Ambrose was nowhere near as fast or flawless as JPM, and that ultimately made the difference. *In a Nutshell* – Yes, you can road race stock cars. You can also drag race trash trucks, but why bother?

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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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