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NASCAR winds down the Race to the Chase

From the Crossville Chronicle – Crossville, TN. Friday August 31, 2007

By Joe Dunn /
As the Nextel Cup teams head to California with only two races left before the ‘Chase to The Nextel Cup Championship’ begins in New Hampshire on September 16.
The top twelve teams ‘lock’ into the Chase following next weeks race at Richmond International Raceway, but the odds of the present 12 changing are pretty slim. With 2 wins, it appears that Kurt Busch is about 99% safe of holding the 12th spot. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was trying to make a late charge to unseat Busch, but with a 158 difference between 12th and 13th, it seems an impossible task, especially in light of the surge that Busch is on.
Ricky Rudd will pass a milestone this weekend as he starts his 900th Nascar Nextel (Winston) Cup race. Ricky is second only to Richard Petty in all time starts, but he will not catch Petty as he announced last week that he will Retire after the 2007 season.
With the Bristol race behind us, many fans expressed disappointment with the lack of aggressive racing and the bumping and banging the track is noted for. The bumping and banging was down for sure, but the aggressiveness was far from down. The number of passes were nearly three time the average and for the first time in many years drivers were able to run more than one groove, in fact there was a lot of 3 and sometimes 4 wide racing going on. Yes the drivers are more cautious than in years past, but that has to be attributed to the ‘Chase’. I, like many old time race fans, do not care for the Chase. This format tends to lean more toward the stick and ball fans and ignores the old Nascar traditions. But that will not deter true race fans who cheer on their favorite drivers.
On the LOCAL RACING SCENE, Crossville Raceway announced last week that they were closing for the season effective immediately. To say local racers and fans alike are disappointed would be an understatement. The economic conditions were cited as the major cause as the track fought high gas prices as well a reputation of a track with a spotty past. 2007 was the best and most racing this track has seen since the days of J Paul Smith’s ownership. The track was gaining every week, but the financial backers appear to have lost patience with the slow progress. A big loser in the whole deal was track operator Al Varnadore, who was shocked at the closing. “When we started into this venture, I said that it was going to be at least a 2 to 3 year process to turn this track around.” said Varnadore last week. “I thought those guys understood that situation, had I known they expected the success to happen within 1 year, I would have never got involved.” Varnadore was packing earlier this week to head back to his other track outside of Tampa, FL.
This Saturdays $3,000.00 Advance Auto Parts Thunder Series Race schedule at Crossville has been moved to Wartburg Speedway. The program will include a $2,000 Sportsman race as well as $500 to win in the Street Stock and Mini Stock features. There will also be a $500 to win front Wheel Drive feature sponsored by On Pit Road Racing Photos. Racing action Saturday starts at 7:00 pm (EDT). The Saturday race will replace the previously scheduled race to be held Monday at Wartburg.

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