1. Aye, Aye… Captain! – The United States Navy has announced the formation of an 88-person Boot Camp as a recruiting gimmick dubbed the “Dale Jr. Division,” in conjunction with the Navy’s sponsorship of the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide team. Dale Jr. will drive the No. 83 JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide series Chevrolet at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 24th to kick off the recruiting campaign; selected recruits will then be sent to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois in August, at which time Earnhardt Jr. will commission the division. Following the completion of the seven-to-eight week course, Earnhardt Jr. will again visit “his” recruits.
All branches of the Armed Forces have or are sponsoring NASCAR race teams. However, no current full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series has ever served in the active military… including Junior himself.
2. Fries With That? – NASCAR has allowed Checkers/Rally’s to opt out of its Official Burger of NASCAR agreement; the move is one of several motorsports sponsorship deals that the company has decided to discontinue. As a result, it was reported in the departure that NASCAR’s marketing folks are scrambling to find a replacement in its quick-service restaurant category.
Checkers/Rally’s has been the Official Burger of NASCAR? Will the sport be able to survive being burger-less? Stay tuned…
3. I’d Pay To Do That! – Humpy Wheeler, master promoter of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, announced a “burnout” competition at this year’s All-Star Race festivities to be held in mid-May. The event will require Clint Bowyer and four other drivers (yet to be named) to perform two 360-degree burnouts and then race into a faux victory lane. The winning driver of the contest, to be determined by fastest time, will be able to designate which charity he would like to have the $10,000 in prize money donated.
Humpy would probably have no problem in recruiting outspoken driver Tony Stewart to burn out as many Goodyear tires (with which he has expressed his dislike) as he can get away with. Who knows; Stewart might even match the donation as a sign of appreciation for being allowed to participate in the tire-shredding competition!
4. In Your Face… ACLU! – Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, took the pole position for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. The Denver, Colorado-based race team, chronically sponsor-challenged, was 44th in the championship owner points going into the race; however, they had a possible top 10 clinched until being involved in a last-lap melee that relegated him to a 25th-place finish. Nemechek’s racecar was “sponsored” for the weekend by the Christian-based Focus on the Family and National Day of Prayer.
Seems that the struggling outfit had some prayers of their own answered with a much-needed start and points day.
5. No Hard Feelings – David Stremme subbed for defending Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti in his old Ganassi Racing No. 40 ride Sunday, finishing 28th after being caught up in a last-lap crash. Stremme drove the No. 40 for two seasons before being dumped in favor of Franchitti. Stremme is now under contract to Penske Racing as a test driver and to Rusty Wallace in the NASCAR Nationwide series. Stremme said of the current relationship between he and his former employer, “He [Ganassi] gave me an opportunity to come down here [and race a Cup car], and he’s still a friend of mine. There was just some sponsorship stuff that went on toward the end of last year where we couldn’t continue the relationship, and we both moved on. It’s situations like this where I’m able to step in and help them out for this weekend, where I appreciate them giving me the call – and we’ll see where things end up. But this is just a one-race deal. That’s all this is, just to help them out. But this is just a one-race deal.”
NASCAR is all business!
6. Just Bluffing? – Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Stewart, who is now in his 10th season with Joe Gibbs Racing, the only Cup team that he has ever driven for, is hinting that he may not resign with the organization when his contract expires at the end of ’09. Additionally, rumors are swirling [which Frontstretch reported in the newsletter last week] that he may ask to opt out of his contract early to pursue other offers, including some that involve Stewart acquiring at least partial ownership of a Sprint Cup team. Some speculate that Stewart may be posturing in his contract renewal talks with JGR to leverage a better deal.
Where there’s Smoke… isn’t there usually fire?
7. Forget The Truck – Roush Fenway driver and fitness fanatic Carl Edwards seems to be of interest to the United Parcel Service, presently sponsor of David Reutimann‘s No. 44 Toyota. UPS has let it be known that they would be interested in sponsoring the No. 99 Ford of Edwards should Roush Fenway Racing and present sponsor Office Depot not be able to negotiate a new sponsorship deal.
Ladies, don’t you just know that Edwards will be featuring his physique in company attire – complete with UPS’s signature brown shorts – prominently in UPS commercials should a deal be reached?
8. Anti-Climatic? – When NASCAR implemented the green/white/checkered rule in 2004, the purpose of the rule, as explained by NASCAR, was to give fans better odds of watching a race finish under actual race conditions… and not under yellow.
So… why does NASCAR not have GWC finishes when a caution is thrown on the white-flag lap, requiring drivers to not race back to the finish line as occurred yesterday at Talladega?
9. Good Hands… And More – Eventual Aaron’s 499 winner Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray, while in a three-abreast battle, bounced off one another and appeared to be headed for a harrowing out-of-control wreck that could have possibly involved many more in the race field. Amazingly, both drivers regained control of their cars; and Busch, though getting sideways, seemed to never lift and motored on to challenge for the win. Only three laps later, the 22-year-old phenom, seemingly unshaken, overtook race leader Juan Pablo Montoya.
Is the kid that good, or is it the Car of Today?
10. Is This Getting Repetitive? – Kyle Busch wins another NASCAR race this season.