Q: I know Kansas lost out on getting the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but we sure showed everyone we mean business in the sport. I thought the show was fantastic. I didn’t get a chance to get tickets this year like my family has in the past, but I hope this puts an end to the talk of taking Kansas out of the Chase. We belong! – Mary in K.C.
A: The only track of similar size and shape to Kansas that I like better is Charlotte, and Kansas has supplanted Atlanta as No. 2 on my list. I think they do a great job there and the races are spectacular. This may have been the most exciting finish to a NASCAR race since Carl Edwards won in Atlanta. I agreed with the decision not to send the Hall of Fame to Kansas City, but it would be a criminal shame if this track is ever removed from the Chase lineup. Fortunately, I don’t think that will happen.
Q: Am I crazy to think Mark Martin breaks the bad luck, wins at Talladega and goes on to win the championship? – Maxwell Smart
A: I’m kind of feeling you, Max. I don’t think it’s out of the question at all. I have to admit that Mark is my own personal favorite to win it, although I don’t think he will in the end. Talladega is going to be huge for a lot of people. Martin surely hasn’t had good luck there lately; maybe if he stays away from Jimmie Johnson, he’ll get through it.
A: Not many people, if they’re smart. For one, the Morgan-McClure cars haven’t exactly been golden at plate tracks lately, despite what they used to do when they still ran Kodak colors on the cars. Of course, we all know Bodine’s reputation, too. Frankly, if he makes the race, I don’t think he’ll get out of the rear pack anyway. Same for Eric McClure in the No. 04. As an aside, this may have been the best thing for Wimmer, because he’ll either pick up a primo Busch Series ride or get his foot in the door with one of the other (and more competitive) Cup teams in 2007.
A: It’s been so long since Schrader won that honestly, I’d never predict him to do so. I’d love to see it, and I suspect 99.9% of the garage would as well, but it would be a pretty big undertaking. As for your comment, though, I agree. Getting “Fatback” McSwain onto the box for Schrader’s team has done wonders. Labonte had been struggling after Todd Parrott left, but when Paul Andrews moved over from the No. 45 and supplanted interim chief Greg Steadman, they’ve slowly been putting things back together. I don’t think Labonte is going to win this year, but he’ll run strong. For that matter, the Andrews move shook up Kyle Petty‘s team for the better and if they can just quit running into bad luck, they may get back into the Top 35 in owner points. Sterling Marlin, though, has had a horseshoe stuck up his rear end the last month, catching cautions at the right time and generally being the beneficiary of Petty’s bad luck, and it doesn’t look like Petty is going to catch him. Maybe he’ll catch David Stremme instead.
Q: What the (expletive deleted) (another expletive deleted) is wrong with Johnson? – Spaz Right!
A: There was a guy I went to school with, a wide receiver on the football team. If we were playing a patsy that week, he would catch 10-15 passes for about 240 yards and two or three touchdowns. But when it came time to play the big rivals, he’d get wound so tight that you could bounce him off the wall like a superball. He’d end up dropping half of what you threw to him, and the rest of the time he just wasn’t very effective. At the end of the year, he’d have great stats, but they were gotten during all the easy games. I’m not saying Johnson is that bad, but the available evidence we have suggests that he, his team, or both, wait until the end of the year and then they step on each other’s necks. Johnson has got too much talent to finish his career without a title, but then again, that’s what a lot of people have been saying about Martin for the better part of 20 years. What’s wrong with Johnson is that he and his team simply don’t know how to win the Big One. If he wants to prove me wrong, he can show me… but that doesn’t look like it’ll happen anytime soon.