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Scanner Static : NASCAR Fan Q & A · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday December 6, 2006
Q: I just wanted to come back and see if you were going to congratulate Jimmie Johnson on winning the championship, since you didn't think he could do it. He proved all you Earnhardt fans wrong once and for all. I hope Rick Hendrick is laughing all the way to the bank. Ralph
A: I'll give Johnson his due, because no one handed him that championship; he earned it. And now that he's broken through, look for more in the future from him. But please, for the last time, quit trying to paint me as a Earnhardt diehard. That's not me…that's my father-in-law.
Q: I'm happy for Jimmie Johnson, but more happy that some of his critics now have to shut up. It should have been fairly apparent that bad luck was the only thing that had stood in his way in the past. And since he drives for Hendrick, he drives for one of only two or three teams who could possibly win this thing this year. Who else could have done it? Grow340
A: Using your criteria, Jeff Gordon, for one. He also drives for Hendrick, has had a ton of bad luck over the last 24 months and was in the Chase. What separated Johnson from Gordon was that Johnson went out and took it from the field in 2006.
Q: I can't believe Sterling Marlin finished outside the top 35 in owner points. I hate he'll be on the outside looking in next year. Is there any chance the 88 may not run, so he could slip up into the standings? Mary T.
A: I think Robert Yates fully intends to field two cars next year. But if he doesn't, rest assured he'll find a buyer for that owner points slot and won't just give it up freely.
Q: What went wrong for Jack Roush this year? I was sure Matt Kenseth was going to win the Chase, but he almost disappeared once it got going. And poor Mark Martin finished badly again. But the biggest surprise to me was that Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle didn't make the Chase at all. What gives? Sharon McClanahan
A: I think what went wrong with Roush was Ford. About midseason, people started talking about Ford having some inherent issues that none of its teams could get past. It certainly seemed to affect RYR, and the Wood Brothers never did seem to be able to get going. Jack Roush has the top Ford team without a doubt, but aside from Kenseth, no one made any real noise for him this year, not even Martin, really. Ford has some explaining to do over the offseason. But just when I say the Blue Oval is teetering on the cusp of non-competitiveness, here comes Robby Gordon to switch to Ford from Chevy.
Q: Who's your advance pick for the Cup winner next year? ryaj84762
A: I can't even give you my advance pick for driver for half these cars, much less a Cup winner at this point. But seriously, I would have to consider Biffle and Edwards the prime competitors from the Ford camp, with Stewart and Harvick from Chevy teams and Kahne from a Dodge team. And as a darkhorse to compete for a slot in the Chase? I'm going to go far out on a limb - Bobby Labonte. I think he's going to finish in the Top 15 at worst.
Think Bobby Labonte is primed for a shocking repeat performance of his 2000 championship run? Think your own Ford Fusion could have run better than their Nextel Cup cars this year? Email Jess at email@example.com and let him know…or send along another NASCAR-related question or comment, and you could end up in this very space in the coming weeks!
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Jess no longer contributes to the Frontstretch, but you can still read all his articles on his archive and bio page.