The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Improvements, Declines and Lateral Moves in 2006 by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday October 26, 2005

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As I noted a few weeks ago, the 2005 'Silly Season', one of the buesiest in years, has seemed to spiral right past Silly and head straight towards the Ridiculous. Fortunately, as the race season draws to a close, I think the time has come to downgrade from 'ridiculous' to something a bit milder...perhaps 'crazy' would be a good term. At any rate, as the moves are beginning to come to an end, the time has come to share with you my assessment of who made the right changes and who didn't for 2006...

IMPROVEMENTS

Bill Davis Racing #23 - Adding Michael Waltrip to the BDR stable is definitely going to be a big plus. Not only do they get Mikey's driving talent and gift of gab, they also get, perhaps more importantly, his sponsor NAPA to finally get that second team back up and running full-time.

NAPA - I also give NAPA a thumbs up for sticking with Mikey through thick and thin, although in his defense, you will never find a guy more willing to promote something than Michael Waltrip!

Michael Waltrip - Without question the move to BDR will be beneficial to Michael, as I think he was beginning to feel a bit like a second class citizen at DEI. Look for Mikey to be in the Chase next year.

MB2 Motorsports #14 - The hiring of Sterling Marlin for the former number 10 car is a HUGE improvement in both talent and class! Paired with Joe Nemechek as a teammate, these two could really go somewhere in '06. The classy part is giving Marlin a first rate ride with the number 14 on the doors. For those who don't know, 14 was the number of Sterling's father, Coo Coo, who recently passed away.

Sterling Marlin - MB2 has shown that they value Marlin's talent and experience by signing him for a ride in what will more than likely be his last one. Here's to wishing Marlin and whatever sponsor is bright enough to sign on, the best of success in the next few years!

DEI #1 - Moving Martin Truex, Jr. and his team intact to Cup in '06, certainly isn't going to hurt one bit. If DEI can get what seems to be some internal demons exorcised, this could be a strong, strong team next season.

Martin Truex, Jr. - Not that his moving up to Cup is a big surprise, but here is the kid we've all been waiting for! Show us what you got!

Richard Childress Racing - Dave Blaney is not a bad driver, but naming Clint Bowyer to replace him in the #07 Jack Daniels ride is going to reap rewards. Bowyer, in my opinion, will be one of the next big 'superstars!'

Chip Ganassi Racing - The only thing this organization has done right is to bring Reed Sorenson up to a full 2006 Cup schedule. Let's hope it's not to early for this 19-year-old and, more importantly, let’s see how long Ganassi can hang on to him!

Penske Racing - While 2006 is still up in the air for the Miller Lite car, my gut feeling is that Kurt Busch will be driving it in '06 and paired with Newman. All in all, getting Busch is a big plus, and the new Penske team could be a powerhouse with two drivers that actually want to work together. Getting Busch there in '06 could prove costly, though!

Joe Gibbs Racing - While rumors are flying about Bobby Labonte's future with JGR, I think the decision to let Jason Leffler go was the right one. The guy who would most likely agree with me is...

Denny Hamlin - Here is a guy who seems determined to grab this opportunity and hang on for the ride! Where J.J. Yeley has failed to shine, wrecking out of his handful of Cup chances, Hamlin has stepped up to the plate and delivered 2 consecutive Top 10 finishes in his first three Cup starts! Even Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson can't say they've done that.

Jamie McMurray - Getting away from a floundering Ganassi team to sign with Roush can only be a good thing. If Jamie can get away before 2007, that'll be even better!

DECLINES

Roush Racing - I give Jack Roush a thumbs down, not for losing Kurt Busch, but for switching horses in midstream and deciding to put McMurray in the 97 instead of the 6. Mark Martin was doing Jack a favor by agreeing to drive one more year so he (Martin) could be the one to hand over the keys to Jamie. Switching around and deciding to move Todd Kluever to the 6 is a case of Jack taking advantage of Mark.

Kurt Busch - Penske is a good team and Busch's move there could be OK, but the way Kurt did it and the reasons he gave (better souvenir sales) are disgusting.

Chip Ganassi Racing - David Stremme to replace Sterling Marlin? Give me a break! And while we're on that subject, let's call out...

Coors - For going along with the idea and labeling Marlin as "too old" to drink their beer. You'll never see me with a Coors in my cooler!

Chip Ganassi Racing (again) - For treating Casey Mears like a piece of dirt. Wake up Casey! They gave your ride to Sorenson. Yeah, Casey still has a ride, but for how much longer? Ganassi isn't smart enough to hang on to anyone good for too long.

NASCAR - Well, just for being NASCAR, and not about the racing anymore!

LATERAL MOVES

Evernham Motorsports - They get a new sponsor and driver with the addition of Scott Riggs and Valvoline. Only time will tell if being with Evernham will benefit either one.

MB2 Motorsports #10 - Hey, they lost Riggs and Valvoline, but they got Sterling Marlin, and that is an improvement as I stated earlier.

DEI #15 - The DEI #15 will now be piloted by Paul Menard, who just happens to have his own built-in sponsor. Unfortunately for Menard this gig is scheduled for only 7 Cup starts in '06. Paul will have to really shine to make it a full time job.

Bill Davis Racing #22 - BDR announced that Scott Wimmer has not been asked back into the seat of the #22 for the 2006 season. Hopefully BDR can find a quality driver for this quality ride. I say, bring back Ward!

Obviously there are many more moves that one could comment about in this crazy sport, but my fingers are tired of typing. Please feel free to let me, and the world, know your thoughts by providing your comments in the space provided below. It's time for YOU to type till YOUR fingers are tired!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff

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M. B. Voelker
10/27/2005 10:13 AM
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Kurt Busch has never said anything about his reasons for signing with Penske. Notorious motormouth Rusty Wallace said some things and, since what Rusty said reflects poorly on Kurt, the haters have latched onto those comments as if they were pure, Gospel truth.

rolls eyes
Joe Gallo
10/27/2005 02:24 PM
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Thank U for Giving the honor He truely deserves!!!!!He has not received the recognition for many years. if U have ever shaken the mans hand you will know he deserves recognition. Gnassi can have His new found BOYS.Thank You again!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Roger Hopwoood
10/27/2005 06:33 PM
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Don’t agree w/you about Mikey being in the top 10 next year, but it is a good move on his part to get away from DEI. BDR isn’t that strong of a team, wit Dodge pulling all tech support for his alleged MOPAR secrets going to Toyota
Zach
10/27/2005 07:49 PM
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Hey Jeff it’s Zach from Bristol. Alot of your comments look like the ones i had the other day. i’m glad to see that you agree with me. the Roush thing is stupid. Ganassi is an idiot. and Kurt Busch is a greedy little elf.
glide
10/27/2005 09:36 PM
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Hey, Kurt Busch is a great driver. The guy has proved that for sure. However, Penske has not shown he can win a championship with lots and lots of good tools. Kurt has won his only championship and that is that
Georgi Carnicella
10/29/2005 06:21 AM
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Hey,thanks for the support of Sterling. Stremme can’t finish a busch race nevermind win won!! Ganassi is an idiot, but…Sterling can now go on to win races!!

 

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Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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