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Bunched is beautiful

Some race fans think love bugs are warm and fuzzy.

Some people want to squash the annoying menaces. Kill 'em.

But the haters better get used to the sight of two cars, bunched together in tandem racing at restrictor-plate tracks. Resistance is futile. It's a fun and exciting deal.

Trevor Bayne's late charge to win at Daytona.

Jimmie Johnson's frantic push to tie a record for the closest finish in NASCAR history.

And people have a problem with that?

Apparently so.

"It's not as good as 40 dudes in one pack," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "Give me that any day over this."

Earnhardt is among a handful of drivers and a number of fans who don't see the point of tandem cars racing in circles for a couple of hours until things get exciting. They want to bring back the days of cars bunched together in one big pack … racing in circles for a couple of hours until things get exciting.

Unless you have some bizarre affinity for the combustible "Big One" — and I presume some folks do — the new style trumps the old. It is safer, just as exciting and brings a new strategic element into the mix.

The Hendrick tag-teams of Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, and those of Earnhardt and Johnson, did the smart thing by hanging back until there were about 15 to 20 laps to go before making a move. It serves no purpose — other than to get points for leading laps — to stay with the front of the pack. It is more dangerous and far more combustible.

Clint Bowyer — the guy who Johnson stung by 0.002 seconds — was understandably unhappy with the way things played out. But he has just as much right to plot the same strategy if he takes the ego out of the equation.

It's a learning curve for everybody.

Carl Edwards lamented after the race that he should have blocked the bottom in the closing laps when he was hooked up with Roush teammate Greg Biffle.

"The only way to win these races is to experience those finishes like that and gain that knowledge," Edwards said. "The last two laps, I learned more than in the last three or four races here."

Gordon, Johnson and Martin are among the sharpest minds in NASCAR. Some folks might chuckle at the notion that Earnhardt would be worthy of that distinction, but he is a team player and smart enough to share in the glory of the Hendrick empire.

He is third in the Cup standings, finally combining his potential with the savvy that Hendrick brings.

Earnhardt might not like it much, but there are spoils that come with the strategy.

The Hendrick cars finished 1, 3, 4 and 8 at Talladega.

Expect more of the same in Daytona come July unless other teams embrace the power of the love bugs.

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