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Random NASCAR thoughts following a cross country trip that served as this year's vacation.

Still reaching out – Heading east from Southern California on the Interstate system, not only were there lower gas prices but an absence of NASCAR news on local radio stations. My ride didn't have Sirius XM radio as my regular ride, so I figured that might be trouble.

I was.

In my travels over the years, I tend to tune in to local stations to get an idea of what the rest of the country, particularity the Southwest and Middle America, listens to. As usual, there were plenty of talk shows (ranging the entire political spectrum) and call-in sports talk shows. Whenever a NASCAR question was asked, it always seemed to be cut short by a commercial break, scheduled or not.

Another surprise was the lacks in newspapers, a major personal disappointment. The results were minimal at best in most publications. Only in certain metro papers, on a weekly basis, was there news about the various disciplines.

As a longtime newspaper guy, I can see why our once loyal readers have turned to social media for their news about the sport. The best NASCAR writers are now on the Internet, with perhaps the exception of USA Today's Jeff Gluck, who can also be found on the 'net.

Not a hard sell – Of course there were many fans who thought they might be finally rof of Danica Patrick after Go Daddy announced the end of its sponsorship earlier in the year. As the season went on, and no indication from Stewart Haas Racing about a new deal, there was plenty of concern.

But none of that emulated frm Kannapolis, N.C.

On Tuesday, SHR ended the suspense with its announcement of a multi-year agreement with Nature's Bakery. It was a major win for not only Stewart and SHR, but also for the sport.

Like her or not, Patrick is good for NASCAR. She generates plenty of interest for not the sport but also her sponsor. She has a tremendous amount of female fans – young and old – and that's critical since, like it or, women usually control the family's purse strings. Furthermore, numerous jobs were saved knowing she will race in the future.

Nature's Bakery, new to the sport, will soon see dividends on its decision to align with Patrick. One can only imagine the results if she ever wins a race.

Fuel mileage races – Perhaps I'm in the minority when it comes to these type of races as I actually enjoy them. Not a steady diet of such events, mind you, but enough to stop the boredom of most of the televised races. Fuel races are the events that test drivers, crew chiefs and pit crews and their strategies at virtually every level.

Sure, road course races can result in an economy run as it takes longer to run a lap than to dip into the pits. However, on a superspeedway, making those pit calls can sometimes be very dicey, which adds an element we really enjoy.

It's not just gas the car, put on new tires and make adjustments. There is a real thought process involved and quite often it's the veteran crew chiefs who are just slightly ahead of their colleagues. Yes, there have been unexpected winners at times, but that makes the race even more exciting.

With the pressure mounting with each race, drivers are taking more chances and that usually results in a late yellow flag period that can change strategy and create a mad dash for the checkered flag.