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Did You Notice? The Myth of Roush Lawsuits, Strong Starts & Cheering Diversity

Did You Notice? That in the midst of the rumors surrounding Bill Davis Racing, it was revealed sponsor Caterpillar may be close to giving up the ghost and jumping ship to a top-level team for 2009? Namely, Joe Gibbs Racing. Now, let’s see, the No. 11 already has solid sponsorship from FedEx, the No. 18 is set with M&M’s, and the No. 20 has Home Depot. So, where are they going to go? Certainly not on one of those cars; perhaps Joey Logano‘s full-time Nationwide/part-time Cup sponsor for 2009 has been inadvertently revealed? This is something you want to stay tuned on.

Did You Notice? That the “rogue” comment from Roush Fenway Racing accusing Toyota of espionage got printed in a magazine that doesn’t exactly make racing its main priority each edition? Not that I don’t think the quote shouldn’t be given proper merit, but don’t you have a sinking feeling people are taking this issue and running with it? For a team that didn’t appeal an oil cover penalty that could have easily been overturned by the fickle NSCRC, I initially find it hard to believe a lawsuit’s going to come out of this situation from Roush. And you’re telling me that for three weeks after Vegas, all of us weekly beat reporters missed this story to the point it got buried in a non-racing exclusive magazine? Kudos to this publication if that’s the case; and if it is, I will totally admit I was wrong. But right now, I think it’s some leftover steam Jack Roush blew off a few weeks ago after the penalty that didn’t find some air time until a slow news week. Sure, he’ll run with it now that it’s public, they have to. But as far as I’m concerned, just call me when the lawsuit gets filed, and I don’t expect that phone to ring.

Did You Notice? That five races in, Dodge’s strong start has petered out somewhat? Yeah, Penske Racing and Kasey Kahne are still going strong, but everyone else is a bit of a question mark. Most disappointing is Chip Ganassi Racing; after all the hype surrounding Reed Sorenson‘s Daytona brilliance, he hasn’t scored a top-15 finish since. Now 26th in the standings, Sorenson’s dropped far behind even open-wheel teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who himself hasn’t finished better than 15th all season long. Elliott Sadler has faded, too, with the lowlight an Atlanta race in which he turned an ill-handling car into a giant wrecking ball. On the other hand…

Did You Notice? Toyota’s strong start extends to more than just Joe Gibbs Racing. To tell you how far these programs have come, this time last year not a single one of their teams were locked within the Top 35 in owner points. Now, seven of their nine full-time teams are solidly in the field; only Dave Blaney‘s single-car BDR operation and the struggling No. 84 Team Red Bull car are out of the loop. Michael Waltrip – even with a crew chief change effective this week – has looked somewhat competitive, and every one of his three cars will possess a “locked-in” spot for the first time in their two-year history. Ditto for Brian Vickers and the No. 83 car, what a good effort by those guys.

Did You Notice? That neither of those makes – both of whom have been talked about religiously for the “Most Improved” title – are holding a candle to either Chevrolet or Ford in the manufacturer standings. Right now, it’s Chevy and Ford tied with 31, then Toyota with 26 and Dodge with 22. So, don’t write off the Bowtie Brigade just yet; or even the Blue Ovals, for that matter.

Did You Notice? That whenever a woman tries to break into NASCAR – like the case of Chrissy Wallace this week – it’s always negative press (did she earn her keep, can she keep up with the Big Boys, how did she get her ride, etc.) Why? Would having a Danica Patrick in this series actually be a bad thing? At this point, I don’t care how when it comes to minorities in this sport; I just want it to happen, and for them to be successful. So, let’s cheer for Chrissy, not chastise. Also, I think it’s ironic that Mike Wallace‘s daughter is at the forefront of the diversity movement, seeing as it was Wallace himself who was accused of deliberately spinning out the first female polesitter ever in the NASCAR Busch Series, Shawna Robinson, back in 1994. Wallace was accused of some chauvinistic comments back then; I wonder how he feels about all that now.

BOWLES: NCAA CINDERELLAS A REMINDER OF NASCAR’S GLASS SLIPPER

Did You Notice? Kenny Wallace left his Fitz Motorsports ride last week because of a lack of sponsorship money; supposedly, the deal with Shark Energy Drink was distribution-based, and the funding needed to run the car never materialized. So, Fitz said he would be “scaling back” to a one-car operation while he looked to find sponsorship elsewhere; but if that’s the case, why was Ruben Pardo trying to qualify that very same car at Nashville before he wrecked?

I’ll tell you why; to start and park it. For no longer does “scaling back” mean not bringing the car to the track in the Nationwide Series; it means, “we’re not just going to try and run the full race until we get the money, because we can fill the field and collect some of the purse.” And if you’re wondering if and when I’ll stop pointing this out, it’s not going to be anytime soon. This concept is wrong; it goes against the very nature of competitive sports. Can you imagine if the No. 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament stopped playing after five minutes of the game just because they had no chance? OK, sometimes it feels like that way anyway, but do you see my point? I thought the concept of racing was to be the fastest car, not collect a paycheck.

I know the Nationwide Series is in tough shape sponsorship-wise, I totally understand that. And I know the economy is tough, but I’d rather see short fields than cars pull it in before the first pit stop. What sort of sham are you selling the fans?

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