NASCAR Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Pepsi 400 at Daytona

1. Cup Confusion – So, it’s official. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series becomes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting in 2008 – the third different series sponsor in five years, which makes things pretty confusing! Case in point – when Tony Stewart won the title in 2002, we said he won the Winston Cup. In 2005, we called it the Nextel Cup. If Stewart wins the title next year, it will be the Sprint Cup. Would it make too much sense to simply give the trophy a permanent name, like the NASCAR Cup, instead of renaming it every time the sponsor changes? Or maybe in honor of Bill France Jr., it could be named the France Cup by _____ (insert sponsor here).

2. Sprint to a new wireless provider – The same week that Sprint announced its new NASCAR sponsorship – amid great fanfare and flourish – I read an article entitled, “Sprint Dumps Problem Customers.” The “problem?” Apparently, some Sprint customers have been calling Sprint Customer Service too often. The offenders will receive a ‘Dear John’ letter from Sprint stating in part, “The number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs.” Maybe Sprint should take the $1 million they’re planning to give away in the “Sprint Speed Million” sweepstakes and invest in some customer-service reps.

3. They say there are no coincidences – Earlier this week, long before the Pepsi 400 qualifying controversy, I penned a column at Insider Racing News entitled “An Open Letter to NASCAR Officials About the Top-35 Qualifying Rule.” I called on NASCAR to either change or eliminate the objectionable policy. Now, a report is circulating that NASCAR might do just that, changing the number of locked-in teams to 30 or even 25 (I suggested 21). Nice to know someone out there is listening!

4. “Just show me the beer, the bathrooms and the racecars” – That is roughly what a fan in Daytona told a FOX News reporter who asked about his interest in presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani’s visit to the racetrack. With astute political opinions like that, is it any wonder that politicians are stumping at NASCAR races, courting what the FOX reporter termed the all-important “conservative NASCAR types?”

5. Tony Irony – You can’t help but chuckle at Stewart, who hit teammate Denny Hamlin from behind going into turn 4 on lap 15, wrecking both cars, and then said of Hamlin, “I don’t know if he knows the definition of ‘team’ right now.” I think that’s what they call in psychological circles “projecting.”

6. Gracious Gordon – One thing I’ve noticed about Jeff Gordon – he is quick to compliment a competitor for a job well done, something very few other drivers do on a consistent basis. It was Gordon who congratulated McMurray and team on their victory during his first post-race interview, which he was under no obligation to do. It’s not a big a deal; I just think it shows a certain level of class.

7. Petty Insensitivity – Am I the only person who found it a little callous that so much was made about this being the first Daytona race since 1965 without a Petty in it – even asking Kyle Petty about it right before the race? The fact is, if not for the tragic loss of Adam Petty – son of Kyle, grandson of Richard – in a racing accident in 2000, there likely would be a Petty in this race and in many races to come. I think Kyle showed tremendous restraint in not pointing that out.

8. Holdin’ it Wide Open – What did you think of TNT’s experimental “Wide Open” coverage? So far, I’ve heard mixed reviews. While everyone likes the concept of not missing the race for those long, tedious commercial breaks, the actual execution left something to be desired. So did the commercials themselves, although I found the Miller Lite ad making fun of debris cautions kind of amusing. Let me know what you thought of TNT’s broadcast.

9. Kyle versus Kenseth? – While the majority of post-race coverage about Kyle Busch was about his claim that his Hendrick teammates hung him out to dry at the end of the race, did anyone notice the ugly battle between the No. 5 and the No. 17 during much of the event? Don’t be surprised if somewhere down the road Matt Kenseth lets Kyle know he was unhappy with the way Busch raced him. Remember, you heard it here first.

10. Boy, oh Bowyer – Richard Childress driver Clint Bowyer led a race-high 55 laps, finishing seventh. By way of contrast, winner Jamie McMurray led all of three laps. Why the disappointing finish for Bowyer? The No. 07 fell back after an ignition box failure while leading and never fully recovered. Asked what real-life event he could compare the problem to if it happened while driving on the freeway, Bowyer semi-joked, “Well, throwing up.” Hey, I’ve had kids do that! It’s not a good thing.

Remember, this commentary isn’t the only column Becca Gladden does; make sure to catch her Big Six in the Monday edition of the Frontstretch Newsletter. If you’re not getting the newsletter, you’re missing out on all the latest news, information, and commentary from some of your favorite Frontstretch writers. How could you NOT sign up for something that’s FREE! Gravitate here to add your name to the list today.

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