The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder...After The Pepsi 500 by Tommy Thompson -- Monday September 1, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder...After The Pepsi 500

Tommy Thompson · Monday September 1, 2008


1. Thanks For The Memories – Felix Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, never one to mince words, took a pot-shot at sponsor of the No. 42 Texaco Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya. Texaco after 20-years of sponsoring a NASCAR Cup team has announced that they have made a business decision to allocate their advertising dollars elsewhere and will no longer sponsor a Sprint Cup team. “They (Texaco) have focused on other things. We really didn’t get that much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great, for us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money,” said Sabates.

Oh Felix…Texaco say’s thank you, too.

2. The Driver Or The Equipment? – Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that Reed Sorenson, the 22-year old Peachtree, GA. native presently driving the No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge would move to GEM in 2009. Sorenson’s three-year contract with Ganassi expires at year’s end. Felix Sabates, proving that he is not limited to only slamming major oil companies, said of the young driver, “I think Reed is today as good as he’s ever going to be. If someone else wants to put him in a car, fine with us…”

And how about those three (oh no wait…two…The No. 40 Franchitti team shut down) Chip Ganassi Racing teams with Felix Sabates…Felix? Are they ever going to get better…or is that the best they’re ever going to be?

3. Theology – The September 4th issue of the magazine Rolling Stone contains an article featuring Tony Stewart titled, “Where There’s Smoke..NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart brawls, cusses, eats way too many doughnuts and (ususally) drives a race car better than anyone on earth. How did a potbellied prima donna become the soul of auto racing?” The profanity laced article quotes the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, with the use of crude language describing his primary interests, “(crude expletive for women), money and race cars. That’s pretty much all I care about.” Stewart also divulges that his parents are concerned about him contracting a sexually transmitted disease. “…Rolling Stone is an edgy magazine, and it was an edgy article. Nobody forces that in front of anybody, so if you don’t like what you’re reading, don’t read it,” said Stewart when asked if he was concerned that some might find the article offensive.

Apparently Stewart’s hasn’t let his 10 year relationship with born-again Christian and team owner Joe Gibbs influence his personal life.

4. Very Best Friends For… – To mark Jeff Burton’s 500th NASCAR Cup Series start at Sunday nights Auto Club Speedway a “roast” was held at the track in his honor. ESPN’s Allen Bestwick served as Master of Ceremonies with driver’s Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer participating as “roasters” along with Burton’s team owner Richard Childress and team sponsor AT & T’s executive Tim McGhee helping out as well. Noticeably absent from the event were any of the veterans former teammates from his more than 10 years at Roush Racing (Roush Fenway), including Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, longtime friend and mentor Mark Martin, and Roush himself.

No word as to whether any of Burton’s former colleagues bothered to send a card.

5. Get This…NASCAR – NASCAR’s announced change in the format for the Budweiser Shootout exhibition race at Daytona in February has the sports most popular personality questioning the sanctioning bodies decision. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said of NASCAR, “They just don’t get it…” in response to the announced plan to run a 25-laps, and then after a break, a 50-lap final segment. “They want us to run around for 25-laps first, like a 25-lap segment, that would be cool. But then with 10 laps to go, all or nothing. That’s what the fans want. That’s what the drivers want.”

Maybe NASCAR ought to consider his opinion. Certainly admonishing him and giving him one of their “you need NASCAR more than NASCAR needs you” speeches would not be advisable. And besides…Why not a 10 lap shootout?

Kyle Busch celebrates ’08 season win number 18 over the three top series.

6. Number 18 for the No. 18 – Though there was no Sprint Cup win for the series point leader Kyle Busch, he was able to take some solace in winning Saturday’s Nationwide Series Camping World RV Service 300 at Fontana, CA. The controversial 23-year old scored his 18th NASCAR victory of the year spread out through the sanctioning bodies top three divisions. Busch who finished 7th in the Pepsi 500 and still leads the Sprint Cup Series point standings has eight wins in the series, seven victories in the Nationwide Series with Saturday’s win, and three more visits to victory lane in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Eighteen wins! That would be a decent career for some drivers!!!

7. Yesterday’s News? – Jeff Gordon, a four-time Cup Champion and winner of 81 races in his career has still not won in 25 attempts this season. Gordon finished 15th in the Pepsi 500 Sunday night at the Auto Club Speedway and slipped one position to 10th in points, behind teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr.(one win, fourth in points) and Jimmie Johnson (three wins, third in points). Gordon now finds himself in a position of possible elimination from the Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship field should he finish poorly at Richmond International Raceway next Saturday night .

Remember when Rick Hendrick was accused of providing Gordon with better equipment than that his teammates were receiving?

8. Whoops…There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant – The No. 08 EM Motorsports Dodge driven by Johnny Sauter qualified 43rd and last for the Pepsi 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. The single-car team is based out of Toccoa, Georgia and had attempted 10 times previously to qualify into a NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season without success. According to Sauter, the small operation owned by John Carter cannot afford to participate in test sessions and essentially uses practice and qualifying dates at the tracks as test sessions. “He was pumped up,” Sauter said of Carter’s reaction to learning that the No. 08 had made the field. “He puts everything he can into this program. To me, it’s rewarding to see it pay off for him. He’s invested a lot of time and money into this, and obviously he doesn’t have the money that a lot of other teams do. He just keeps coming back, he keeps persevering.

Johnny Sauter, in the No. 08 FUBAR All Natural Drink Dodge finished 42nd – completing 161 of the 500-lap Pepsi 500. Sometimes small victories are the best kind.

9. Don’t Bother Looking In The Mirror – Six drivers are now guaranteed berths in the 10-race Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship shootout following the Pepsi 500. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer, currently 12th in points leads David Ragan by 17 points and Kasey Kahne by 44 points going into Richmond. Denny Hamlin has a cushion of 93 points over Bowyer in 13th, Denny Hamlin…

Too much math…Kahne, Ragan, Bowyer, Hamlin, J.Gordon and Matt Kenseth all need to put the pedal to the medal and drive those racecars like they stole them at Richmond next Saturday night or they may get a head start on preparing for next season!

10. Starting To Look Familiar – In a dominating performance, pole sitter Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag Sunday night winning the Pepsi 500 at Fontana, CA. 2.5 seconds ahead of runner-up Greg Biffle. Johnson, the defending back-to-back Sprint Cup Champion, broke the previous record for most laps led set by Biffle in 2006 by leading 227 of the 250 laps at the Auto Club Speedway. It was Johnson’s third win of the year.

Ummmm…is three-peat a word?

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09/01/2008 01:01 PM

Just how dumb can Felix Sabates and Chip Ganassi act? Dumb and Dumber. Who else wants to support that ragged mess they call a racing team?

09/01/2008 09:26 PM

I’m trying to imagine why ANYONE could possibly care what Felix Sabates says . He is a one hit wonder . Was moderatly successfull at one point many years ago in NASCAR , and has been living off of it ever since .

09/01/2008 11:55 PM

Ganassi Racing should stick to open wheel where its entries aren’t just backrunners. Maybe Ganassi could take Juan Pablo Moncolumbian and his arrogant attitude (see the chewing gum commercials) with him.

All this team is doing in NASCAR seems to be getting in the way.

09/02/2008 09:42 AM

jaymatt, I’m pretty sure those are commercials, making them not necessarily accurate. All I’ve seen of JPM behind the scenes in NASCAR (as opposed to F1) is humility and hard work.

And surprise surprise, GEM is releasing Carpantier, despite seeing consistent improvement from the rookie. Whatever happened to helping a driver develop? Instead we get multi-time losers like Casey Mears, Reed Sorensen and JJ Yeley continuing to get rides when they’ve proven NOTHING in the seat.

Kevin in SoCal
09/02/2008 02:43 PM

Reed Sorenson has multiple Busch/Nationwide wins to his credit, so he’s not a total loser. Mears has one Busch win in 2006 and one Cup win in 2007, and JJ Yeley hasnt won a thing in NASCAR.

Mike In NH
09/02/2008 03:13 PM

At least Carpentier – who could well win the ROTY “competition” (such as it is) this year, has something a lot of the racers nowadays don’t have – personality. He’s a genuine goofball, though he’s also a determined racer. He promised to run naked down pit lane when he won a Cup race, and darn it, that’d be pretty funny to see. Didn’t he run down pit lane wearing a barrel or box when he got that pole?

If Marcos Ambrose can get a Cup ride, why can’t he? I hope he at least gets a NW ride.

Ganassi needs to just get out of Cup racing, his ego and mouth can’t cash the checks they’re writing.

09/02/2008 10:44 PM

Reed Sorenson. I think with a good mount under him, that good ol’ Southern boy could amount to something. He got attached early to a bunch of losers and it’s hard to get away from a thing like that. I don’t know that GEM is the place for him to be either. I would like to see him at Childress.

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