What a typical NASCAR vacation: The circuit takes a one-week hiatus from on-track action only to turn up the volume away from it. The Ginn/DEI merger not only shuffled the driver deck and taught prospective owners a thing or two about life in the bigs, it opened a spot in the owner points standings for the Wood Brothers. The recipient of the Lucky Dog in all this chaos, the Woods went from previously finding themselves in a seemingly insurmountable 225-point hole, relying on driver-for-hire Bill Elliott‘s past champion’s provisionals (or pure speed) to make the show each week.
The Woods’ No. 21 now sits in the 35th position as Bobby Ginn’s No. 13 car owner points have been dissolved. With Dave Blaney and Scott Riggs knocking at the door, just seven and 67 markers back, we once again have a race within the race and, undoubtedly, the biggest break the Woods and the Toyota contingent have caught all season. What was just a short week ago a non-issue will now be one of the most highlighted battles on the track and in qualifying each week.
Speaking of which, the U.S. Air Force, Motorcraft, Little Debbie, Valvoline and Caterpillar all send their thanks, Bobby. Too bad they can’t send you money.
I send my thanks as well for the questions and comments this week.
Q: Six of the last nine Brickyard winners have gone on to win the Cup title, Jimmie Johnson in 2006, Tony Stewart in 2005, Jeff Gordon in 2001 and 1998, Bobby Labonte in 2000, and Dale Jarrett in 1999. What do you make of this trend, and who do you think is capable of pulling off the Indy-Chase double play this year? – Rush Rocket
A: Interesting in that the trend is the total opposite of the Daytona 500, where only two 500-winning drivers have gone on to win the Cup in the last 10 seasons. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what to make of those numbers, Rush, but I believe it has something to do with teams bringing their “A” Game.
Indy is a crown jewel; it’s a win drivers strive for their entire career. I think the preparation, competition and focus get ratcheted up when they hit the Brickyard and you see the best teams, the big money racers, rise to the top. I also would venture to guess that winning the Brickyard, the first of 17 straight races to complete the season, gives teams a tremendous shot of momentum.
Can anyone pull the Indy/Nextel Cup double this year? Well, quite honestly if you don’t think the No. 24 is capable you haven’t been watching very closely this year.
Q: I have a question that I’ve not been able to get an answer to… maybe you can help. One of the big “plusses” touted for the CoT is that, with the ‘claw’ template, it keeps teams from twisting the bodies of the cars as they do now for aerodynamic advantage. If the templates for the present car were connected into one large template, would that also eliminate the twisting of the present bodies? – Sally B.
A: Yep. And had NASCAR developed a claw template for the standard car built with a slightly taller greenhouse, put the wicker strips back on via 2001, raised the spoiler to about eight inches and implemented the new safety features, there would be no need for the sanctioning body’s CoT. I mean seriously, why not just deliver a crate body to each team every Tuesday, tell them to bolt it on and load it in the hauler?
A: I’d like to believe they could, but with the way each has been kicked to the curb in the past in favor of younger, more marketable drivers (how’s that working for ya, Coors?) it may be a stretch.
I heard Sterling in an interview yesterday say he was having no luck getting calls returned from his former employer and that his hands were tied until he could secure a release from his current contract with them. Nemechek, meanwhile, is rumored to be in the No. 08 E&M Motorsports Dodge at Indy this week (good luck with all that, Joe).
Speaking of which, here’s a thought if you two are listening: Go truck racing, guys. The Craftsman Truck Series would be a perfect fit for both of you two and vice versa. Why waste time attempting to qualify a start-up car with no sponsors, no points, and no clue when you’d be a shoe-in for a top 10 truck ride? That’s where the best racing is these days, anyway.
I’m out, guys. Here’s hoping ESPN hits their marks this weekend.
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