TOP STORY NO. 5: NASCAR RATINGS DOWN

 I never thought I would compare Brian France to old women, but one of the most important commercials of all time is a pretty good comparison to a reality that faces race fans, sponsors and participants. When it comes to NASCAR, where's the beef? What happened?NASCAR ratings took another hit in 2009. According to Jayski's analysis, the hits were across the board. FOX lost 1.5 million viewers from 2008 to 2009, a 15 percent hit. TNT, ESPN and ABC each lost about 400,000 viewers, about an ...

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TOP STORY NO. 6: TALLADEGA TURNS INTO THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE

Growing up, I was horrified by the Bermuda Triangle, to the point where I didn’t want to travel there for fear of getting swallowed by some sea monster. The myth of the Bermuda Triangle might be diminished, but it appears to have a wicked step-cousin that is growing out of control. Racing fans call this evil Talladega, our No. 6 top story of 2009. What happened?Both races at the track were a mess. I’ll let the video speak for Brad Keselowski’s first win at the expense of Car ...

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TOP STORY NO. 7: DALE EARNHARDT JR. GETS CLOBBERED

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reminds me of Mike Tyson. Both have larger-than-life personas. Both have been successful. But Tyson never achieved his full potential (greatest heavyweight not named Ali) and it’s beginning to look like Dale Jr. won’t get there either. That reality is our No. 7 story of 2009. What Happened?Dale Earnhardt Jr. stunk, and he did so with the best equipment out there. In his second season with Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt Jr. had as many DNFs (five) as top 10s. Cr ...

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TOP STORY NO. 8: TONY STEWART HAS A WHOPPER OF A SEASON

Tony Stewart threw down some whoppers this year, literally and figuratively. Not only was Stewart involved in the single best promotion of the year - the Burger King lie detector and promotional school campaign - but he also stunned the NASCAR world with his work on the track. As a result, Whopper Man is the No. 8 story of 2009. What happened?Stewart left the stability of Joe Gibbs Racing and a Home Depot sponsorship to become a driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing. Before Stewart arrived, Haa ...

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TOP STORY NO. 10: RETURN OF MARK MARTIN

Everybody loves a good comeback. And boy-oh-boy did Mark Martin get all Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from “Friends") on 2009, enough to merit the No. 10 top story of  the year. What happend?Martin, who is 50 for those wondering, kicked ass. After racing a part-time schedule in 2007 and 2008, Martin signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the red-headed stepchild car. Martin turned that stepchild into a Brock Lesnar man-beast. He won five times and had 21 single-digit finishes. Martin ...

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