Hey race fans, it’s that time again – with the regular season nearly half complete, the two weeks of racing at Charlotte is as close to a midterm break as we’re going to get. As such, it’s the perfect chance for Frontstretch Staff Writer Matt McLaughlin to evaluate most full-time drivers’ seasons in Nextel Cup and give them a report card on their progress. In Part Four of his four-part series, Matt finishes off his alphabetical look at drivers’ seasons, studying the perplexing case of Elliott Sadler and examining the clear cut failure of a certain driver who’s failed to qualify 11 straight times.
_For Part One of Matt’s Driver Report Cards, please click here
_For Part Two of Matt’s Driver Report Cards, please click here
_For Part Three of Matt’s Driver Report Cards, please click here
Elliott Sadler – C. The Sadler/Evernham alliance showed some promise at first but this year the Evernham team is clearly out to lunch. You can't blame Sadler. The 9 team isn't living up to potential either and is in even worse shape by far. Unless Ray can get this ship righted quickly I suspect Sadler is about one career change away from being a legitimate title contender in the truck series title chase.
Johnny Sauter – D. Well he looked good in the All Star Race and the All Star Open but that pays precisely zero points. With an average finish of 26th this year, Satuer seems headed back to the Busch series. If any owner will still have him.
Ken Schrader – D. Schrader has started eight races this season and has failed to finish three of them. His best finish to date is 19th at Martinsville. The line on Ken Schrader has always been if you put him aboard an ailing mule he'd find a way to race it. It looks like he's doing so this season.
Reed Sorenson – D. Another young driver with a high profile sponsor failing to live up to expectations. And things seem to be remaining status quo rather than improving. If I were him I'd be looking for a ride with a Toyota TRD truck team PDQ.
Tony Stewart – B+. Like the proverbial "little girl with a curl" when Stewart is good he is very, very good, but when he is bad he's horrid. Seven top 10 finishes to date this year are offset by four finishes of 25th or worse. And, yes, once again, Stewart's report card must note "does not play well with others." NASCAR took him behind the woodshed and paddled Tony's butt for his comments concerning phony debris cautions during the week after his second place finish at Phoenix.
David Stremme – C. Stremme is another driver who tends to run races better than he finishes them. Part of that is his fault (though he does seem to have harnessed his aggression a bit better this season) and part of that is his team's fault. They seem surprised every time he enters the pits still running the race. The fact remains he's led just one lap this season and in the battle of the beers, Coors Light is running a distant third.
Martin Truex, Jr. – C. Truex seems to be posting a decent result almost every other race but those off weekends are killing his title chances. With DEI thrown into disarray all of a sudden, I feel Truex would be wise to follow the teams' namesake out the door ASAP. If he doesn't feel the same maybe he should talk to Steve Park.
Brian Vickers – D. You think this guy spends some sleepless nights contemplating why he ever left Hendrick Motorsports to drive for a Toyota team? Or at least drive for them part time. Vickers has managed to qualify for just five races.
Kenny Wallace – F. Well at least he remains popularâ€¦.he really likes himself by all accounts. OK, Wallace doesn't have much to work with, but with his results to date you have to wonder why he's bothering.
Michael Waltrip – Z-. OK, let's recap. Waltrip has failed to qualify for ten of this season's eleven races. At Daytona he got caught with doctored fuel and gave his sponsors a major black eye. Easter weekend he got into a bizarre single car late night accident and ran off despite having been told the police were responding by a concerned good Samaritan. I mean seriously, what the Hell does he do for an encore? Yet every time you flip the channel you see this guys leering mug and hear him prattling on an unending litany of sponsor plugs. I compared this guy to Paris Hilton and got some angry emailsâ€¦.all from Paris Hilton fans.
J.J. Yeley – C-. The once proud 18 titlist team has fallen upon hard times and become the bargain basement of Joe Gibbs racing. Yeley has shown some improvement with his average finish this year 22nd compared to 25th in 2006, but those aren't the sort of stats that get your picture on bubblegum cards. More than once this season Yeley has been running better than his finishes indicate but this is a result oriented business. You can't be "almost pregnant."
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