NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Scanner Static: Dover Cements Its Place in the 2006 Chase

Q: I’ve heard some people who want to replace the Dover race with something else because it’s not a “Chase-worthy” track. Hello, did they actually watch the race Sunday? That was the best finish to a NASCAR race in quite some time. Is there any way to get both Dover races in the Chase? – DelaDella

A: Asking for both Dover races to be put in the Chase is a little much, but there’s no question that Sunday’s race was one of the best of the year. Between the drama of Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, the incredibly professional, tense and superbly-driven finish of Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth, and the uncertainty of both pit strategies and fuel mileage, the race kept me on the edge of my seat most of the day. And while I’ve got the floor for a moment, I’d like to stump for another similar track, Nashville Superspeedway, to be included in a future Cup schedule, because the track offers the potential for a similar finish.

See also
Frontstretch Breakdown: 2006 Dover 400

Q: Heard Robby Gordon was going to move to Ford next year. Here’s my question: How will anyone tell? It’s not like he’s competitive. – Dan440

A: Robby still hasn’t decided what he wants to do. I think what he needs to concentrate on first before picking a manufacturer is simply forming an alliance with someone, perhaps Cal Wells, and commit to running three cars. I don’t think any team running fewer than three can compete for the title consistently anymore. And, yes, I include Penske in that statement. DEI knows it, too, and that’s why they’re expanding.

Q: Who’s going to drive the No. 6 next year? Everyone Jack Roush trots out there wrecks out. – Bill Witt

A: The longer this drags on, the more I wouldn’t be surprised by seeing Mark Martin return in a part-time role to that team next year. I think the best bet they’ve tried so far has been Todd Kluever, but that’s not saying much – David Gilliland looks more ready than Kluever, and Gilliland isn’t ready himself.

Q: Burton has been my favorite driver for years. I’m so glad to see him in the thick of things this year! What kind of chance do you think he has?Bonnie

A: Prior to this weekend, I thought Burton would finish seventh or eighth at year’s end. Now, I’m not so sure. He got really fired up by the report of cheater wheels on his car, and with Kyle Busch and Kahne going backwards (along with Jimmie Johnson – shocker!), I think he may have a real chance. My first pick is still Kenseth; he’s certainly got the luck going for him, because even though he ran out of gas, he still finished 10th Sunday. Those two, Kenseth and Jeff Gordon, are my new picks, with Martin having an outside shot.

See also
Bowles-Eye View: Jeff Burton Living Out Dale Earnhardt's Dream

Q: Just how many different drivers are going to be in the No. 61 this year, anyway?Chuck

A: Good question. Maybe it’s some kind of NASCAR driver training program. Or maybe it’s like the Petty Driving Experience. Show up, pay your entry fee and you, too, can drive the No. 61. They go through drivers more often than the Phoenix Cardinals go through starting quarterbacks.

Q: What’s the deal with Ryan Newman? How did that team go from Chase contenders to running in the middle and the back of the pack this year? I guess Rusty Wallace leaving hurt them more than they thought it would.LiteEmUp

A: Their problem, in my opinion, is threefold. One, it’s now a two-car operation rather than a three-car operation (although the No. 77 was technically a separate team last year, it was a de facto Penske unit) and when you don’t have as much information to share, it hurts. Two, they spent so much time trying to run the Intrepid in the early part of the year that they got behind. And three, I think they thought they’d skate through this year after Wallace retired and the team-versus-team turmoil went away. That obviously didn’t happen. Some people use conflict as a motivator; maybe Newman’s team is like that.

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