1. Car of Too-Massive? – Dover was considered an extremely narrow racetrack when the “old” car was in use. Is the Car of Tomorrow – four inches wider than the old car – just too big and boxy to run on a tight track like this? The race, which Dale Earnhardt Jr. described as “bizarre and weird,” had 13 cautions (only three for debris) and two extended red flag clean-up periods. What say you, race fans?
2. War of the Words – You never know where the next rivalry will come from… but Kyle Petty versus Denny Hamlin? Racing on very different agendas – Hamlin for a title and Petty for a Top-35 spot – the two had an angry exchange in the garage and through the media after Hamlin wrecked Petty on lap 204. “I watched the Busch race yesterday and I knew Denny was sick – I just didn’t know he was hallucinating and needed three lanes to get up off the corner, because he ran all over us,” said Petty. Countered Hamlin, “I think a lot of it was his frustration over this whole Top-35 thing, but we’re racing for bigger and better things. Hopefully one day if they get it turned around I can exchange the favor, but right now we’re the guys racing for the championship.”
3. Shake and Bake – There was a huge shake-up in Chase points Sunday, with just one driver, Kyle Busch, maintaining his spot (fifth) in the standings. The biggest mover was Carl Edwards, who gained five spots to third, while Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Hamlin each lost three places to fourth, 10th and 12th respectively. Notably, the top-four drivers – Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Edwards and Johnson – are now separated by just one point each.
4. A Sea of Green – If there was any concern about whether Junior Nation would adapt to Dale’s new number, sponsors, and paint schemes, the question was answered resoundingly on Friday’s “Trackside” show on SPEED. With Junior as a guest, the broadcast drew its biggest live audience ever, all wearing the new aptly named “Kelly Green” color representing Junior’s co-sponsor, AMP Energy Drink. And kudos to Robert Yates for his gracious decision to part with the number 88 – a very classy move on his part.
5. Do the Math – Edwards victory gave Jack Roush his 100th win as a NASCAR Cup owner. Jack’s first Cup win occurred in 1989 with Mark Martin at Rockingham, and his current total places him only behind Petty Enterprises and Rick Hendrick among active teams. But there is unfinished business at press time; Edwards’s car failed post-race tech, and the No. 99 team could be penalized by NASCAR on Tuesday. The win won’t be taken away, but there may be a points deduction – stay tuned!
6. Color Matters – As the Dover race wound down, teammates Edwards and Greg Biffle were lining up first and third for a restart. Biffle playfully revved his engine behind Carl, but Edwards was unfazed. “It’s hard to intimidate somebody in a light blue car,” he joked, referencing Biffle’s baby blue Nintendo Wii paint scheme.
7. Best for Biffle – Speaking of the Biff, his second-place finish at Dover was his best run all year. “It was a pretty good day for us,” said Greg matter-of-factly after the race. “We had to make a lot of changes to the car to make it good. I had a great opportunity at the end, and had I been able to get by [Mark] Martin before the last yellow flag came out, I may have had something for Carl at the finish.” Behind him, Martin came in fourth, delivering the highest-ever CoT finish for DEI’s No. 01 Army team.
8. Commercial Free, Unless… – Wasn’t it strange to hear Jerry Punch announce with great fanfare that the race broadcast was going to be “commercial free for the final 40 laps” – only to have a red flag bring on a flood of subsequent commercials? I guess what he meant to say was that the broadcast would be commercial free, unless there was an opportunity to run a whole bunch of commercials.
9. Wrong, Rusty – I actually felt embarrassed for Rusty Wallace when he interviewed Kasey Kahne in the booth during qualifying on Friday. Kasey was wearing a “Vitamin Water” hat and Wallace commented that Budweiser must not be enforcing the same restrictions as most beverage sponsors regarding a driver promoting a competing beverage product. Clearly uncomfortable at the awkward question, Kahne gently pointed out that this is still 2007, and Vitamin Water IS his sponsor – the Budweiser deal doesn’t start until 2008. Oops.
10. Do You Smell Smoke? – Here’s another ticklish sponsor issue – How do you think the makers of Old Spice deodorant, currently running an ad campaign that prominently features Stewart’s armpits, will react to Home Depot’s new ad promoting Tony as a Chase contender. The Home Depot ad’s tagline? “Uh, oh! We smell Smoke!” Um, is that a good thing?
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