The Frontstretch: Bowles-Eye : Did You Notice? Offseason Edition Number II by Thomas Bowles -- Monday December 17, 2007

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Bowles-Eye : Did You Notice? Offseason Edition Number II

Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday December 17, 2007


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Did You Notice … That no matter what Race of Champions event you set up, it’s impossible to leave it biased towards a particular breed of drivers? The knock on IROC was always that the cars there were too NASCAR-focused, therefore providing an advantage to those drivers with a stock car racing background.

Well, apparently after years of stock car drivers making a mockery of championship races over here … what goes around comes around. The Race of Champions Nation’s Cup - set in England over the weekend - featured Nextel Cup champ Jimmie Johnson competing against Germany’s Michael Schumacher in a one-on-one race. The problem? The cars they competed in were rally-style vehicles; and the recently-retired Schumacher has had plenty of time to putz around with them. Not so for Johnson – and his lack of experience shined through when he got smoked by the German F-1 champ.

Turns out Schumacher’s team would beat the American duo of Johnson and X-Games legend Travis Pastrana - making it to eh finals before losing to Mattias Ekstrom in the Nation’s Cup. But does it really matter? I mean, if you put Schumacher in a stock car you’d better believe he’d get his butt kicked similar to what happened this weekend; no matter how talented you are, a lack of experience will always bite you when you’re competing against the best in a specialized field.

The way I look at it, with IROC gone I don’t know if a Race of Champions is really necessary anymore. It’s like trying to make football, baseball, and basketball athletes compete against each other - each type of competition will give an advantage to one of them based on how they have to play their sport. It’s the same with these racing All-Star events - just because each person has “racer” next to their name doesn’t mean they have the same collection of strengths and weaknesses.

Did You Notice … That since Ginn Racing merged with DEI, it’s like the former Ginn program has become subservient to the wants and needs of the larger company? Some influence Bobby Ginn is having over there; no one’s even heard a peep from him other than those secret settlements he gave former drivers Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek, and reportedly more crew members who suffered financial injustice at the result of this “merger.” After such a strong year working together with Mark Martin - and the love Martin showed for Pemberton - you have to wonder whether Pemberton’s recent departure was the result of frustration over DEI draining everything Ginn had to offer down the tubes … in favor of their own system. That’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to seeing what Martin could do with such a savvy crew chief in their second season together.

Did You Notice … Well, I didn’t want to keep bringing this up … but there’s still thirteen Cup cars that haven’t announced primary sponsors for all 36 Cup events: the No. 00 of Michael Waltrip Racing (David Reutimann/TBD); the No. 01 of DEI (Regan Smith); the No. 4 of Morgan McClure Motorsports (Driver TBD); the No. 7 owned and driven by Robby Gordon; the No. 10 of Gillett Evernham Motorsports (Patrick Carpentier); the No. 21 of the Wood Brothers (Marcos Ambrose/TBD); the No. 27 of Bill Davis Racing (Jacques Villeneuve); the No. 28 of Yates Racing (Travis Kvapil); the No. 38 of Yates Racing (David Gilliland); the No. 40 of Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti); the No. 49 of BAM Racing (John Andretti); the No. 66 of Haas CNC Racing (Jeremy Mayfield); and the No. 70 of Haas CNC Racing (Scott Riggs).

Yup, that’s right; one quarter of the field has no primary sponsorship announced. No one else is concerned about this? Really? I know some announcements are being held back; but I’d bet a trillion dollars not all of these cars have decals when we get to Daytona. It’s just too much money - and sponsor space - left blank.

Did You Notice … The July race at New Hampshire will go an extra lap? They’re calling it the Lenox Industrial Tools 301; and apparently, they really will go 301 laps instead of 300. I guess the track wanted to do something unique before the teams go racing in Las Vegas instead in 2009…

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

12/17/2007 10:34 AM

Schumacher must have had months of secret practice to be able to beat Jimmy ( The Whiner ) Johnson ? Heres another senario, one that is actually based in reality . Schumacher simply beat Johnson . They both had the same amount of experience in rally cars . NONE . Johnson got whipped . Pastrana didn’t go out in the fist round ! Sounds like you think the ROC/IROC concept can’t possibly be any good because your favorite driver lost . And don’t be so sure that Schumacher would “ get his butt kicked “ in a stock car .
Pemberton is a good crew chief . But so are Tony Gibson and Doug Richert . I don’t think Mark Martin will be at any disadvantage at all without Pemberton . Ginn hasn’t been heard from because he is involved in name only . He sold Ginn Racing , went to the bank , and hasn’t thought about stock car racing for one moment since .

12/17/2007 11:06 AM

After reading quotes by Jimmy Johnson at espn regarding his total lack of success at the ROC , it sounds like he needs to get his massive ego in check . The drivers he lost to have no more experience in those cars than he does , and the type of cars change during the event . Stop the cry baby routine and take losing like a man . You are embarassing yourself and the USA .

Steve Cloyd
12/17/2007 12:35 PM

So Schumacher “had plenty of time to putz around with them?” Nice journalism. Did you even bother to look into how much he “putzed around with them” before you implied in print that he did? Your ASSumption that Johnson only lost because he didn’t practice them as much as Schumacher wreaks of a blatant NASCAR bias. There are maybe 2 or 3 Cup drivers right now that could run an F1 car competitively. Johnson isn’t one of them in my opinion.

Fact is, they were equally prepared cars and the best driver won. Johnson wins regularly in cup largely because he has the superior car prepared by superior people.

Cup drivers are not the best drivers in the world. They are (presumably) the best drivers in North America.

12/17/2007 01:57 PM

From what i’ve seen of the results in the Race of Champions event , Johnson was beaten by Bourdais, the cart driver . I doubt Bourdais had much time to practice in rally type cars . The crying by Johnson is his true character coming out .

12/17/2007 04:01 PM

The #7 car has confirmed primary sponsorship from Jim Beam for 13 Sprint cup races this year, including the Daytona 500. RGM will have the season covered with sponsors, Robby just hasn’t announced them all yet.

Tom Bowles
12/17/2007 04:13 PM

In response to a few of the comments listed here …

From the actual website describing one of the cars used:

FIAT will be supplying its Grande Punto S2000 Abarth, a champion car that counts the European FIA Rally Championship, the International Rally Challenge and the Italian Rally Championship amongst its titles.”

These are European Rally Cars, and their handling characteristics are far different than a stock car. these weren’t “super secret” vehicles; they are similar to other cars used in racing series throughout Europe.

I stand by my comments; dislike Johnson all you want, but my overall point wasn’t about him. It’s about how it’s impossible to create a Race of Champions series that doesn’t favor one particular breed of driver; because every type of racing, Formula One, IRL, NASCAR, Drag Racing, etc. is different. And all you’re doing in any ROC-type series is giving those drivers who drive cars closest to the ones you provide a competitive advantage over everyone else.

Johnson was outmatched from the start – but I’d bet bottom dollar Tony Stewart would be too, as these cars seemed to play to the strength of open wheel vets. And of course Pastrana would do better – seeing as, you know, he drives rally cars.

Tom Bowles
12/17/2007 04:15 PM

Also, 4×4s be careful what you assume; remember, Robby had several sponsorship deals he thought he had in place last offseason, but then watched them fall through (Monster Energy Drink comes to mind, as well as the fiasco with Nextel over the Motorola sponsorship).

Until everything is officially announced … nothing is certain.

12/17/2007 05:32 PM

I’m afraid i don’t follow your logic . You insist that the ROC was developed to favor one particular type of driver by letting him compete in the cars he is most familier with . Eckstrom, who won the event for the second year in a row has vast experience in touring cars . Not rally cars as far as i can find out . Schumacher , and Bourdais , ( the driver who soundly beat Johnson ) have no experience whatsoever in full bodied race cars of any kind . On that alone , i’d say the ROC is a great success .
There were at least three types of cars in the ROC competition , including Aston Martins .
As i’m sure you can understand , the ROC as well as the IROC needed cars that were fast , but reliable and easy to tune . The fact that the cars they chose happen to be similar to the cars that some of the competitors race on a regular basis , does not always give those drivers an advantage .
A J Foyt , Bobby Unser , Mark Donohue , Mario Andretti , and Tony Stewart all won IROC races because they were great all around drivers , not because of experience , or lack thereof, in the IROC style of car .
And Johnson acting like a little girl about some supposed advantage that Schumacher had, is the mark of a driver that probably should’nt have been invited to the ROC in the first place .

12/17/2007 09:49 PM

You are right Tom, until officially announced it can fall through. But sometimes even when it is announced it can be sabatoged – the Motorala sponsorship you cite is a perfect example. NASCAR &/or Nextel screwed Robby on that one. There’s no reason his sponsorship should have been disaproved so late on that deal – especially when Motorola provides so many of the devices to both Nextel and Nascar.

Monster did sponsor Robby in 2007 at the Sonoma race. From what I hear, Monster will be sponsoring Robby for bothe road course races in 2008.

But we will see, won’t we.

J Furjanic
12/18/2007 10:24 AM

Poor Jimmy…….guess he’s not as good without a ‘creative’ Crew Chief modify….errrr preparing his cars and calling the shots!


Contact Tom Bowles

Recent articles from Tom Bowles:

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