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Kurt Busch & Joey Logano 1-2 for the All-Star green...but the Brian Vickers mystery deepens

  Kurt Busch: He won Atlanta, he's on the All-Star pole....can he win the $1 million? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   All NASCAR's big guns are primed for Saturday night's 150 miles of All-Star mayhem. Well, all but a few – Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya among them, who will be under the gun in Saturday's 60-mile Showdown prelim.
   The top two from the evening's 7:30 p.m. ET opener will get the final spots in the 9 p.m. finale.
   Drivers, to a man, are politically correct about this All-Star thing, even though privately they may have different opinions. It's not a points race, it's a sometimes zany event, and, yes, it does pay $1 million to win...but there just doesn't seem the good ol' circus atmosphere about this thing any more.
   When R. J. Reynolds' T. Wayne Robertson created this thing, back in 1985, it was so over-the-top, so outrageous. And then some of those first few events – remember that 1987 classic – were pretty wild and crazy.
   Lately though, despite all the fireworks and PR hoopla build-up -- which this week has gone on nearly a full week and still won't be officially over till sometime Sunday afternoon, after the inductions in NASCAR's new Hall of Fame downtown --, there simply doesn't seem to be that much pizzazz.
   Now that could all change in a heartbeat, if Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards decide to get into it, or Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer, or Joey Logano and Biffle, or even Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who have had their moments this season too.

   What it's all about: $1 million to the winner (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  But, to be honest, a lot of these teams are going to be using this race, these series of short sprints, to test stuff for next week's Coke 600, the real deal with points. For one thing, all the Ford teams will be using that new FR9 motor (apparently still in some development); for the 600, NASCAR's longest race, it looks like only the Wood brothers will be using the new FR9. And gambling like that may be in the cards for others too; Denny Hamlin blew an engine two laps into practice and will have to start at the rear of the field.
   Maybe, to spice things up, NASCAR ought to give the All-Star winner a 100-point bonus Saturday – after all, $1 million doesn't really go that far any more, but 100 points, now that's worth wrecking a guy for.
   NASCAR used to be a wild and crazy sport, and some of the sport's new stars have been having a blast this week listening to old-timers, here for the Hall of Fame celebrations, recount some of their escapades.
   Back in the good ol' days of the sport, when Hal Needham was doing those Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run movies, some of that was Hollywood art imitating life – some in this sport would do outrageous things during race weekends....like driving a car into a motel swimming pool.

  Greg Biffle: needs to turn things around this season. Wonder if he's up to driving a rental car into a motel swimming pool, like NASCAR men did in the good ol' days? Not with Twitpicers lurking everywhere these days (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   However these days, Biffle says, everything's been toned down: "I tell you what -- maybe about 10 or 15 years ago I might have done something like that. 
   "With Twitter and Facebook and all the social media and the internet, it’s a little too dangerous to do things like that...because it just spreads like wildfire, and everybody knows in about 38 seconds what went on.  
    "Back then it was probably six months before somebody found out, and by then it's old news: It's like 'Who cares?  That was six months ago.'"
     Heavy rain washed out Friday night's All-star qualifying, and the grid was set by draw, with Kurt Busch and Joey Logano starting 1-2 Saturday...and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s run of tough luck continued – he drew 18th. The format: a 50-lap opener, with a mandatory four-tire pit stop on lap 25, a stop that must be under green, then two 20-lappers, followed by the 10-lap finishing sprint. The field must pit after the second 20-lapper, and the lineup for the start of the shootout sprint will be set by the way the drivers come off pit road. All restarts are double-file.
   Fan voting for the wild card All-star entry seems hot and heavy, with more than one million votes. Who's leading? Sprint officials said that as of noon ET Friday, the top-five in alphabetical order: AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Elliott Sadler.


  Casey Mears: Brian Vickers' good bud gets Vickers' ride, for a while, maybe the rest of the season, while Vickers recovered (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR

  Of course the real story this week is not another couple of events in the well-extending opening month of the new Hall of Fame http://www.nascarhall.com/ , but Brian Vickers – a bright, articulate, polished, and talented 26-year-old NASCAR star, a Sprint Cup tour regular since 2003 – who has just lost his entire season, because of mysterious blood clots in his lungs and leg that will sideline him the rest of the year.
    Mark Martin: "I truly, truly feel for Brian. It's just unbelievable to be in a situation where you can't drive a race car...and I can't imagine what that's like to deal with....on top of being young and a fit, young man. 
    "It's something I don't understand yet. The condition, I really don't completely understand. 
    "Our coach, Mark Maldin, came down with the same thing over the winter. So we were already in tune with it and with what he had been through; but he's not a young man by any means.
     "It's a little bit of a strange condition.
    "My heart goes out to Brian.  I'm glad he's okay. But I can't imagine what it's like to be knocked out of your seat – It's our lives, guys, and it's got to be devastating for him.
    "On the other hand, at least he’s healthy, to a good degree.  He isn't completely disabled, like something that might keep you from driving otherwise.
    "I know that Mark (Maldin) hasn't been to the race track this year. It is a fairly serious condition, and they don't want him sitting for long periods of time, or anything like that. There are limitations on what the doctors want him to do right now."
    The fact that Vickers' doctors don't seem to know what caused the dangerous clots in his leg, that moved up to his lungs last week, may worry some drivers, since presumably there might be some relation to his racing.
   "I'll be curious to learn some of the results," Kurt Busch said. "My mom just had surgery and had a clot in her legs. So I know it's a serious matter."
   Jeff Gordon agrees: "I think all of should be (interested in learning the cause of Vickers' problem), because if it is something that has to do with traveling and flying and anything that is contributed from the race cars, how our seats are molded, anything like that.
    "If it is racing related or lifestyle related, then I want to know about it because I don't want it to happen to me. So I am very interested to find out."

  The starting grid for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star race

    (Set by draw)

   Kurt Busch
   Joey Logano
   Brad Keselowski
   Jamie McMurray
   Kyle Busch
   David Reutimann
   Jimmie Johnson
   Jeff Gordon
   Casey Mears
   Ryan Newman
   Tony Stewart
   Denny Hamlin (must drop to the rear, engine change)
   Kevin Harvick
   Matt Kenseth
   Mark Martin
   Kasey Kahne
   Bobby Labonte
   Dale Earnhardt Jr.
   Two spots for top two finishers in 60-mile Showdown
   Last spot for fan vote

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  Not a good sign: Denny Hamlin's crew changing an engine in his All-Star car (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Energy Drinks and Blood Clots?

Mike, check out some of these stories that are correlating the drinking of energy drinks with blood clots.




Wouldn't this be one heck of an ironic story if it's the sponsor's product that is assisting/causing the driver's health problems.

We've all been googling

We've all been googling everything about all this we can, of course.
When we asked Brian's specialist, Dr. Steven Limentani about these articles, he was pretty sharp about dismissing the claims, and pointing to limitations in the articles, particularly that 2008 Australian article:
"You look at that abstract -- and an 'abstract' is a preliminary finding which has not undergone peer review, and it may be interesting, and presented in a limited fashion so people can think about it -- speculated, but did not -- I repeat, did not -- show an effect on cardiovascular pulmonary function. And nowhere in that abstract did they describe anything referring to a thrombosis (blood clot)."
Limentani said the article described a study in which Red Bull was given to "30 healthy volunteers... with no controls - we don't know what would have happened if they had drunk a glass of milk or cup of coffee or ginger ale....That particularly abstract was, A, very preliminary, and, B, didn't show one iota of evidence that in any way pertains to what has happened to Brian Vickers."

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