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Thinkin’ Out Loud

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2011 Bud Shootout Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – On the final lap, Denny Hamlin made an ill-considered move to dip (well, hell, actually he dove headfirst) below the yellow line coming to the stripe, cementing the win for Kurt Busch. *In a Nutshell* – I haven’t heard of a two-by-two procession like this since Noah loaded the ark. *Dramatic Moment* – Well, four cars racing off of turn four to the checkered flag was pretty intense. Too bad only one of them was racing.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Homestead Season Finale Recap

*The Key Moment – The Race:* When Martin Truex, Jr. fell off the pace with an equalized tire, Carl Edwards lost the only competition that could keep him honest all day and drove on to an easy win. *The Chase:* On the 24th lap, Denny Hamlin hit Greg Biffle and went spinning. The team never got back up on their heels afterwards, with their indecision on whether to pit during the ninth caution driving the final nail into their coffin.

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

*The Key Moment* – With 47 laps left, Carl Edwards passed Denny Hamlin to take a lead he’d never relinquish. *In a Nutshell* – For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe a horse was lost… and for the want of a gallon of gas, the battle was lost. How about the war? *Dramatic Moment* – Edwards and Hamlin had a protracted battle for the lead running side by side, unusual to see for a points leader in the penultimate race of the season.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Texas Fall Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin squared off in a three-lap shootout at the end of the race that had the fans at home and in the stands on their feet. *In a Nutshell* – The race took a long time to reach a simmer, but it boiled over nicely there at the end. *Dramatic Moment* – Watching Matt Kenseth sail it into the corner in a do-or-die move looking for the lead there after the final restart. The move worked too well, though, and Kenseth was forced to get out of the gas to make the corner, handing the win to Hamlin.

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

*The Key Moment* – Juan Pablo Montoya pushed Clint Bowyer past Kevin Harvick just as the caution lights illuminated, freezing the field on the last lap of the race. *In a Nutshell* – All the excitement NASCAR and plate racing can contrive with half the carnage. Call it Talladega Lite. *Dramatic Moment* – When Jeff Burton got sideways in the pack, it looked like the wreck might decimate the field.

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

*The Key Moment* – After the two of them were running nose-to-tail, then side-by-side for a dozen laps, Denny Hamlin finally passed Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 471. *In a Nutshell* – There’s nothing so wrong with the new NASCAR an old racetrack can’t fix it. *Dramatic Moment* – There were about 500 laps worth. The crowd really seemed to eat it up when Dale Earnhardt took the lead on lap 285 and led the race for the next 90 circuits. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* Some newer fans who read my columns note an occasional touch of negativity in them. More than once they (and you know who you are) have asked me, *“What exactly is it you want out of a race?”* Well, kiddies, review your tapes of Sunday’s 500-lapper. That there will do quite nicely, thanks.

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

*The Key Moment* - Tony Stewart ran out of gas coming to the white flag, handing the race lead and win back to Clint Bowyer, who had dominated the first two-thirds of the event. *In a Nutshell* - The race is not always to the swift, or the battle to the strong… *Dramatic Moment* - With passing at a premium at NHIS during extended green-flag runs, action tended to get heated on the restarts. Such luminaries as Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, the Brothers Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, Chasers all, found themselves spinning or dodging wrecks on those restarts.

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

*The Key Moment* – Kyle Busch made a late-race surge after teammate Denny Hamlin, but licked all the red off his M & M's candy (and burned all the good out of his Goodyears) in a determined charge that ultimately fell short. *In a Nutshell* – Not too much drama other than ESPN hopelessly beating a dead horse, claiming that Bowyer was balanced on the edge of a razor trying to make the Chase when he'd all but secured his place in the title hunt by halfway. But there was some good old fashioned side-by-side racing and passes for the lead all the same.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Atlanta-2 Edition

_Editor's Note: Matt McLaughlin is off this week for Labor Day Weekend. Beth Lunkenheimer filled in for Atlanta's edition, with Managing Editor Tom Bowles adding the stats and points update Matt usually throws in on the bottom of his Monday column._ *The Key Moment:* Tony Stewart's crew helped him gain three spots on pit road in the crucial final stop of the night, allowing him to join Carl Edwards on the front row for the restart. From there, Stewart finally managed to keep his tires from spinning coming up to speed, easily pulling out ahead of Edwards by more than a second to score his long-awaited first victory of 2010.

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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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