The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder…After the Bud Shootout by Tommy Thompson -- Sunday February 10, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder…After the Bud Shootout

Tommy Thompson · Sunday February 10, 2008


1. Bad Karma For Robby. Robby Gordon seems to have been bit with some bad karma as of late. Last month, he lost approximately $4.5 million when the Dakar Rally was canceled due to the threat of terrorism in Mauritania, an unforeseen bill which prompted him to admit that the loss hit the Robby Gordon Motorsports “slush fund” pretty hard. Now, he may be looking at a fine from NASCAR for a situation not of his making. It seems that Gillett Evernham Motorsports, RGM's new partner, sent an unapproved nose for his recently converted Ford-to-Dodge race car, one that officials wasted no time in confiscating from the No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge. A couple of pondering points here, though; will GEM reimburse Robby Gordon for any fine that comes from the illegal part … and how cool would it be to have a $4.5 million slush fund?

2. Boys Will Be Boys. Habitual “bad boys” Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart were once again at each other's throats after wrecking in Friday's practice leading up to the Bud Shootout, possibly facing fines and penalties to be dished out early next week. But really… didn't we all enjoy it? The intrigue now is that they've forced the sanctioning body to define what Chairman Brian France meant in last month’s back-to-basics proclamation, saying, in effect, that it was important to allow drivers to be themselves if they hoped to win back some of the longtime fans who have become increasingly disgruntled in recent years. To fine, or not to fine?

It’s Dale Ea — I mean Kasey Kahne driving the No. 8 — I mean, No. 9 — Budweiser Ch — oh, I give up.

3. Seeing Red - Admit it, didn't all of us at least once during the Shootout mistake the No. 9 GEM Budweiser Dodge for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.? If the answer is no… well, then… neither did I!

4. Fair and Balanced. Were the cries to “Bring Back FOX” that were so prevalent during ABC and ESPN's debut last season justified? Or is it even clearer after the first race broadcast of 2008 on FOX, that really… they all have plenty of room for improvement?

5. Mark Martin For UN Ambassador. Though it seems that DEI and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were able to agree on little else but to part ways last season, they both seem to recognize that Mark Martin is A-OK. Not only has Martin agreed to a new contract that will see him continuing to drive Earnhardt, Jr.'s former DEI No. 8 ride on a part-time basis through 2009, but Junior recently signed Martin to drive his Hendrick / JR Motorsports No. 5 Nationwide Series entry in selected races this season. You wonder what the guy could accomplish with that whole Middle East mess…

6. Those Of Such Little Faith. All the talk by the FOX broadcasters (led by the affable Darrell Waltrip) expressing surprise as to how well the Car of Today performed in race conditions at the Shootout seemed a little strange to me. Is this the first time these guys have gotten to see the car? And while we’re at it… when will it be OK to stop calling this race car the “car of today?”

7. It's a ‘Yota! During the closing laps of the Shootout, as Tony Stewart challenged for a Budweiser Shootout win, was anyone factoring in the fact that he was competing with Toyota power for the first time? I don't think so… it just looked like Tony Stewart racing up front once again, a sign this new Camry is doing nothing to slow him down.

8. Hey, What Is This Guy Doing Here? Ken Schrader — who was relegated to part-time status last season after losing his ride with the Wood Brothers — raced his non-top 35, No. 49 BAM Motorsports entry to a 15th place finish Saturday night. Schrader was eligible for the race by virtue of his two past Shootout wins in 1989 and 1990; boy, that was a long time ago!

9. The Wheels On The Bus Go… Two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson begins his title defense by starting on the pole for the 50th Annual Daytona 500. Talk about coming out of the box with a full head of steam…

10. Is The Strike Over? Could a striking Hollywood-type Writers Guild of America member have wrote a better script for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fans than his Bud Shootout win? It almost seemed like divine providence for those that have supported Little E in his move from DEI to Hendrick Motorsports. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding" … and Dale Jr. seems to have dished up a heaping bowl of "I-told-you-so- pudding" for everyone to sample.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


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02/11/2008 08:14 AM

Tony didn’t have alot of help in drafting on Saturday night , yet still hung in there for the win . In fact , on the last lap , Gordon dropped in behind Tony to block any effort by any other car to help the 20 draft to the lead . The Toyotas are gonna be very strong this year .

02/11/2008 08:36 AM

LOL, yeah a 4.5 million slush fund would be cool! There is definitely more than one driver in the garage that envies Robby for what he gets to do, when he wants to do it, and HIS way.

GEM just KILLED him though. Any infraction on the COT, no matter how little or big, has been 100/100,000/6. (100 pts, 100,000 fine, 6 weeks suspension for crew chief).

All for a part that was given to him to put on his car! There is no advantage to the new nose, and it was within the templates, but it was an unapproved part, whihc GEM should have never shipped. I hope Nascar is lenient, but I doubt it.

02/11/2008 08:56 AM

As much as I like Tony Stewart, I can not, and Will not root for ANY Toyota. What Brian hasn’t ruined in nascrap, toyota will

Travis Rassat
02/11/2008 09:29 AM

I’m starting my own conspiracy theory: Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart have a side bet going on to see who can give more money to charity this year…

Tony Stewart to Mike Helton: “Hey Mike, Kurt and I have an idea to help out the NASCAR Foundation and make for some great TV…”


02/11/2008 12:37 PM

Smoke is a great plate racer. He would have many plate wins by now if he would only have had a teammate to help at the finish. The only plate races he has won were when his car was totally dominant – no help needed. After the shootout, Junior even said he wouldn’t have won if not for Johnson’s help. Who was behind Stewart? – Gordon, no help there. Historically, Stewart’s best teammate at plate races has been Junior. I think Kyle Busch will be the missing link in Gibb’s plate race success. Look for more plate wins by Gibbs drivers going forward.

Kevin in SoCal
02/12/2008 01:21 AM

Yes, I agree with #10. If the conspiracy theorists who think NASCAR is scripted and Hendrick is the star of the show needed more proof, they got their proof Saturday when Dale Jr. won for Hendrick in his first race for his new team after a long winless drought. What a fairy tale that has been written, just like Dale winning in July 2001.

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