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Thinkin’ Out Loud

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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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Dover Spring Race Recap

*The Key Moment:* Jimmie Johnson had a dominant car, but a rare unforced error by the four time champ (speeding on pit road) handed the win to Kyle Busch. *In a Nutshell:* Once Johnson was penalized Kyle Busch put an old fashioned butt-whooping on the field. *Dramatic Moment:* There were damn few of them, huh? For one brief period, the Nos. 18 and 48 cars ran each other hard around lap 350.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Darlington

*The Key Moment:* Denny Hamlin’s crew got him off pit road first while two of his chief competitors, Jeff Gordon (missed pit road trying to enter) and Jeff Burton (ran over an air line exiting his stall) basically took themselves out of contention on the last round of stops. *In a Nutshell:* Buy her all the flowers, candies, and cards you want, but even on Mother’s Day weekend the Lady in Black is one mean mother. *Dramatic Moment:* When Joey Logano spun exiting the pits early in the final set of pit stops, it triggered more chaos than a flash flood at the Alka-Seltzer factory.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond Spring Recap

*The Key Moment:* Kyle Busch outgutted Jeff Gordon on the final restart to take the lead from the outside lane. Having dominated the first half of the race, it felt somewhat appropriate for Busch to fight back and take the win at the end. *In a Nutshell:* Sedate night’s all right for napping, get a little sleeping in… *Dramatic Moment:* On lap 230, Jeff Burton passed Kyle Busch, indicating to the rest of the field this event had turned from a merry-go-round ride into a race. Busch led 221 of the first 229 laps. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* Some drivers drove well and others poorly. Kyle Busch won the race. But the *true hero this weekend was Heath Calhoun*, an Iraqi vet who lost both legs to a roadside bomb yet refuses to let misfortune slow him down.

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

*The Key Moment:* Kevin Harvick, running second, brushed leader Jamie McMurray’s rear bumper fifty yards from the checkers, getting the No. 1 car squirrelly and passing for the lead and the win. *In a Nutshell:* Lots of passing, lots of lead changes, but still so contrived with the plates you hope none of the neighbors caught you watching the race. *Dramatic Moment:* Three green-white-checkered restarts at the end of a Talladega race? The No. 42 car’s Tums sponsorship was perfect, because fans and crew chiefs had to be gobbling fistfuls of the tablets.

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

*The Key Moment* – Denny Hamlin muscled his way past Jeff Burton on the final restart and held off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson to claim his second win in the last three races. NASCAR officials must have had their flights booked, because they didn’t even bother to throw a debris caution on the final two laps to let Johnson win. *In a Nutshell* – You know, if you only watch the final twenty minutes of these things the racing isn’t too bad this year. *Dramatic Moment* – On a restart with 17 laps to go, some cars had four fresh tires and others had two. Some major scrambling ensued; Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart got to arguing over real estate, and Carl Edwards weighed in for the same acreage when Stewart got sideways. The resulting wreck decimated some very competitive cars.

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