While this one was posted the same night of the race, I can't guarantee that all the reviews are going to be posted this way. 7:00pm Here we are at the palatial Race Guy Mansion (if it's good enough for Simmons to use, it's good enough for me to copy) for the Clash... er, the Shootout. I don't know why, but I still refer to it as the Clash. For at least the 1st 3 years of Nextel as title sponsor, I called them Winston Cup cars, so this is nothing new to me. 7:02pm I agree with Darrell. It seems like Fox has been covering Nascar longer than 8 years. After 8 years of coverage, I think Fox does it better than anybody else right now, but the Gold Standard of Nascar coverage will probably always be ESPN with Ned and Benny as analysts. 7:03pm Ok, here's the beginning of this "Return to our Roots" campaign from Brian France. Nascar says that they're going to allow the drivers to show more emotion this year, as a direct response to what the fans have said they want to see. On Friday, Junior flatout said that he didn't believe them. I don't believe them, either. So, Tony and Kurt wreck, and after they show their emotions, Nascar takes them to the hauler. <insert eyeroll here> (no smiley since I have to save them for the end of the post). That deserves a "Whatever". Personally, I think the fans don't even know what they want, but at least Nascar is taking the step of saying, "We're going to try and give you what you asked for." Is there any group of fans that complain more about their sport than Nascar fans, your faithful reporter included? I really don't think we know what we want. 7:05pm Kurt Busch is running his Martinsville car, and I'm very interested to see if it makes a difference. With this new car, it's not supposed to. The teams are supposed to be able to make adjustments to the splitter and the wing that should allow a short-track car to run on a superspeedway. Definitely something to watch. 7:18pm Kevin Harvick states that there is no side-draft anymore. That is definitely something to watch, too. 7:27pm Chris Myers takes the lead in the category of Most Obscure Pop Culture References of 2008 with an "All About Eve" reference. "All About Eve"? A 58 year old movie reference is the best you can do? Myers really needs the writer's strike to be over. 7:30pm I love the commercial where the guy's car dies in front of the jewelry store just as his needy, clingy girlfriend says that she seems them spending the rest of their lives together. I can almost hear the voiceover asking, "Want to get away?" 7:31pm Fox replays memorable moments from the Busch Clash over the years and there were apparently only 3. I have 3 of my own. In the '91 Clash, Earnhardt went from 6th to 1st in less than 2 laps in the 1st segment and won it. For the 2nd segment, they inverted the field and Earnhardt went from last to 1st in less than 2 laps and won. You can see it here, but the video quality is horrible. In the '93 Clash, Earnhardt won both segments again, going from 15th to 1st in 5 laps. Following the above link will also let you see the '93 race, but that video quality is horrible too. My absolute favorite line of the race was from Ned Jarrett, when Earnhardt took the lead in segment 1. :thumbs: My 3rd Clash moment is the 2002 race where Earnhardt gets a huge bump draft from Kurt Busch to take the lead on the high side. Very exciting moment in the race and I think it propelled Junior to the win. BTW, 2 weeks after that horrible wreck that Ricky Rudd had in the '84 race, he drove to victory at Richmond with his eyes taped open. 7:37pm It is very strange to see the #8 and know that Junior isn't driving it. 7:38pm After a brutal '07 season, it was nice to see Michael up front. 7:39pm I like the announcers shutting up through the first lap. I wouldn't mind if they were silent more often. 7:41pm DW must be seeing something that I don't, because I don't see the new cars moving around anymore than the old cars did. 7:43pm Junior taking the lead! Attaboy! 7:44pm DW makes it seem like Michael and Junior are working together. Would somebody please tell Darrell that cars running side by side aren't working together? I think Darrell's just giddy because Michael's actually racing on the track. 7:46pm I don't get the Toyota truck commercials where they do crazy things like swing enormous steel beams at the truck. It doesn't look like a computer simulation to me, but I don't believe for a second that they put the drivers of the trucks in danger like they would be if those things were for real. 7:48pm Tom Brad... uh, I mean... Derek Anderson! Randy... oh right... Chad Johnson! The AFC! The NFC! It's the most worthless all star game in sports! On Fox! 7:50pm I completely agree with DW. I thought Junior would be chomping at the bit to get things underway and go to the front in his first race with his new team. I remember the press conference when Junior announced he would be going with Hendrick and he was downright giddy. During winter testing, Junior spoke volumes without saying a word when he flew down to Daytona on a day that he didn't have to be there in order to work with his new team. That move told me how much he wants to win and how he's willing to put in the kind of effort required to win. 7:51pm Jamie McMurray had a nice save and DW and Larry talked about how the big wing is the reason that the drivers will be able to save cars like that. I don't know if they're right, but it's worth watching. 8:02pm Heh. Junior taking over and carrying the camel. BTW, I saw something a couple of weeks ago that tells me something about Junior and his new teammates. Apparently, his teammates got wind of Junior up on a camel to film a commercial and Jimmie Johnson cracked on him about it. Women don't necessarily get this, but I guarantee that every guy that reads this review knows that Jimmie busting Junior's chops is exactly what guys that are friends do to one another. Good sign, I think. 8:11pm I'm not sure what set this thought off, but one of the smartest things that Fox ever did was to make sure that the former drivers and crew chiefs brought that perspective to the telecast. As good as Ned Benny (the Gold Standard for analysts) were, they were former drivers and didn't have the crew chief perspective to bring to the table like Hammond and Larry Mac do. 8:17pm Harvick may be on to something, because the side-draft technique didn't work at all on the pass that just made happened. 8:21pm Ok, help me and Steve Byrnes understand something. Carl Edwards was told to do what the leaders did. Junior and Blaney stayed out, so Carl did too. So, why was Byrnes acting like Carl made a mistake? Every driver that came in on this caution was behind Carl, so it sounds like he did exactly what he was supposed to. Either Steve Byrnes is confused, or I am. 8:22pm Toyota just swung their truck around like it was on a centrifuge. I officially call BS. 8:29pm Somebody forgot to tell Junior that you can't side draft anymore. As it's been said many times, the apple didn't fall far from the tree on how Junior drives restrictor plate races. 8:38pm Give credit to DW for pointing out that the tires are getting old and the cars are sliding around more. Junior's driving up on top because he's trying to find some grip. 8:50pm There's no way in the world that 2 tires was the right call when everybody else is getting 4. If you won't be able to hold the great track position you picked up when you got 2 tires, then what good was it to get just 2? 8:53pm DW: I knew a guy who once said "That car don't know where it is." Obviously a quote from Junior Johnson, one of the greatest drivers and car owners in Nascar history. 8:57pm DW just said that it will take 3 cars to get around Tony and I don't believe that for a second. 9:03pm They just asked Harvick to make a prediction and he declined. What's so hard about making a prediction? I'll make one. I think Junior's going to win.* 9:05pm They just noted that Jeff is going with Tony. Well, who, exactly is Jeff Gordon supposed to go with when there's no hole up top for him to get behind Junior or Jimmie Johnson? His only choice was to go with Tony if he wanted to stay up front and fight for the win. Junior wins! Woohoo! :thumbs: :thumbs: :thumbs: How about that? First drive out with Hendrick and he gets a W. How about that driver? How about setting a record for most laps led in the Shootout? What a race. This excellent win brings me to the 2 things I want this year from driver #88. #1, I want my driver to be relevant on the track again. He hasn't been relevant on the track since 2004. While the Daytona 500 will be very difficult for me to watch because I care about it so much, it's a far better feeling than watching him putter around in the middle of the pack with a subpar car, sigh sadly, and wonder what he could do if he had a good car and team behind him. #2, I want him to shut his critics up. At the end of 2008, I want the only sound from Junior's critics to be the sweet sound of silence. *Before the last restart, I really did write that I thought Junior was going to win.