Each week, Frontstretch Staff Writer Becca Gladden looks at the prior weekend’s NEXTEL Cup race from a reporter's point of view, covering the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the race, the drivers, the TV coverage and even the commercials! Check back here every Wednesday for Becca’s fun and thought-provoking commentary.
Who ... had the racing quote of the weekend? My vote goes to Carl Edwards. When asked if he was happy with his second-place finish at Michigan in terms of the “big picture” of Nextel Cup points, Edwards replied that the only “big picture” he’s interested in is a big picture of Victory Lane. Way to go, Cousin Carl!
What ... is Kasey Kahne’s good luck charm? Apparently, starting on the pole. Kahne has five wins in the Cup series, and four of them have come from the pole. The only exception was his Charlotte victory a few weeks ago, which he won from a ninth-place starting spot. By the way, has anyone noticed that the under-the-radar 9 team has four wins this year in just 15 races and is currently third in points?
When ... are track owners going to start replacing the inside walls with SAFER barriers? Without a doubt, they have done an admirable job with the outside walls, but Jeff Fuller’s violent hit on the inside wall in Saturday’s Busch race points out the need for even more safety measures to be taken, and the sooner the better.
Where ... is the UPS sponsorship going next year, now that Dale Jarrett is headed to a Toyota team in 2007? Rumor has it UPS will be sponsoring Greg Biffle and the 16 car next season. I wonder if Biffle’s sponsors would consider a joint venture in which UPS drivers would start delivering Subway sandwiches along with their packages?
Why ... are so many talented young drivers changing teams, often in the middle of a season and/or contract? In 2005, Jamie McMurray left Ganassi for Roush, while Kurt Busch left Roush for Penske, both a year before their contracts were supposed to expire. At this point in the 2005 season, Busch was 9th in the standings, while McMurray was 11th. After last Sunday’s race at Michigan, Busch sits 16th and McMurray 15th in the standings this year with their new rides. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Casey Mears from leaving Ganassi, taking the place of Brian Vickers, who’s leaving Hendrick. Will they fare any better than McMurray and Busch? Time will tell, but if any of the young drivers asked my opinion, I would advise them that there is something to be said for riding out the bad times and not jumping ship too soon, and for loyalty to a set of sponsors, a team, and especially a car owner.
How ... erratic has the performance of the 24 team been in recent weeks? Consider this: In the past six races, Jeff Gordon has three finishes of 12th or better, alternating with three finishes of 34th or worse (all DNF’s). If the Dupont team doesn’t achieve greater consistency over the summer, Gordon runs a real risk of missing the Chase for the second year in a row.
Rebecca (Becca) Gladden is a freelance writer covering NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series for two of the internet’s most popular racing websites. You can visit Becca’s website at www.RebeccaGladden.com for a complete listing of her articles, polls, unique NASCAR news, and more!
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