1. Not Keepin’ Up With The Times – This past week, Kyle Petty took on NASCAR for not being able to control the number of teams an owner operates, as well as keeping a level playing field for smaller organizations. Petty cited the recent alliance of Stewart-Haas Racing with Hendrick Motorsports as an example, nicknaming the new team “Hendrick South.” The son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty also made reference to “partnerships” between Roush Fenway Racing and Yates Racing, along with Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc., too.
“They just went from super teams to mega-teams,” said Petty. “The thing that NASCAR tried to eliminate, they couldn’t, because everyone is getting around the rules. And if you think any different, you’re wrong.”
Perhaps expansion by some owners is excessive… but after almost 59-plus years, Petty Enterprises is only operating TWO teams! Maybe that should be the bigger issue for Kyle.
2. Oh… Godfather – Almost apologetically, mega-team owner Jack Roush blamed the move towards expansion on Hendrick Motorsports, citing the assistance/collaboration between HMS and Joe Gibbs Racing when JGR entered NASCAR in 1991. Roush also explained that the bigger a team is, the better it is because of what he terms “economics of scale.”
“And as owners want to retire from this sport, it’s not straightforward how you get out of this business – it’s like the mafia in a way,” Roush said. “The only way you can get out is in a pine box. So, for us to have affiliations that allow us to have economics of scale, once Hendrick started it, he put the rest of us in a reactionary mode.”
Mafia? Gee, Jack… maybe ya’ll need to “off” someone!
3. Healthy Sarcasm – Sports page headlines across America this week announced that Ron Hornaday, the defending Craftsman Truck Series champion, had admitted to ESPN The Magazine reporter Shaun Assael that he had used testosterone in 2004 and 2005. Seems that Hornaday had been suffering with health problems, though, and had used the steroid cream in an effort to remedy what was eventually diagnosed as Graves’ disease – a potentially serious health concern.
“We don’t see where Ron did anything wrong,” announced NASCAR official Jim Hunter, in defense of a judgment not to suspend the driver. “Our substance abuse experts have told us the prescription Hornaday used did not enhance his performance or impair his judgment. It is our understanding Ron had a very serious health issue, which is continuing to be addressed.”
Thanks to ESPN The Magazine for getting to the bottom of the story. Otherwise, Hornaday probably never would have felt pressured to make his personal and private medical information public.
4. Back On Track – Three-time CTS champion Hornaday won the Camping World RV Rental & Winnebago Sales 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday. It was Hornaday’s second series win in a row, and came on the heels of a very stressful week of defending himself against insinuations of improper use of steroids. Hornaday acknowledged his sponsors, his CTS team owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick, his wife Lindy and others for backing him up.
“A long week,” he repeated several times. “And I’ve got to thank everybody for supporting me on this deal and all those racers. Thank you.”
It was Hornaday’s fifth victory of the season, allowing the three-time series champion to narrow points leader Johnny Benson’s advantage to just 74 points. Hornaday’s 38th win is the most victories by any driver in the history of the CTS – but could any of the other 37 victories have been any sweeter after the week Hornaday had?
5. Just Like Playing Ball – Following the conclusion of the CTS race at NHMS, crew members of Germain Racing – taking exception to Red Horse Racing driver David Starr sending their drivers Todd Bodine and David Reutimann into the wall – entered Starr’s pit area and set off a brawl. At one point, officials seemed to have calmed the opposing crews, but then more violence erupted and punches were landed – even jostling NASCAR officials attempting to break up the fight. The actions of many involved have some sports journalists and fans lobbying for severe penalties, including permanent suspensions.
Ahhh, come on! It’s called a “donnybrook” and is a common occurrence… in baseball!
6. The Campaign Trail – Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and wife Cindy visited NHMS Sunday, addressing drivers and crew chiefs at the mandatory pre-race meeting prior to the running of the Sylvania 300.
“I just want to say thank you [for the ovation], but most of all, I want to thank you for your support for the men and women in the military,” McCain said. “It’s remarkable. It’s uplifting to these young people. When I am in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’re watching you. You are their role models. You are their heroes. And they are ours. So, I just want to say that NASCAR and the heroes and the competitors and the teams are supporting the men and women who are serving in the most exemplary fashion – I thank you, God bless you, and God Bless America.”
It is not known if NASCAR will afford McCain’s opponent for President, Barack Obama, equal time in the spotlight.
7. Can’t Be Too Careful – Security was understandably tight for Senator McCain’s visit at New Hampshire. Helicopters were seen flying overhead, extra police were on the ground, and surveillance cameras were mounted – even on the NASCAR trailer itself. Drivers and crew chiefs were also checked with metal detector wands before entering the required pre-race meeting.
How would you like to have to wait behind a crew chief at a metal detector checkpoint? Please take the ½ wrench out of your right-rear pocket… you will have to put the ratchet on the table, sir… I know it’s just a screwdriver, but… they may be steel-toed work boots but you’ll… sir, please remove your headphones… are those lugnuts in your shirt pocket?
8. A Lesson In Humility? – 18-year-old Joey Logano’s much anticipated and delayed debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finally came Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire. Logano drove the ill-handling No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota to a 32nd-place finish, three laps off the lead, while getting penalized for dragging a jack out of his pit box and half the length of pit road. Logano, slated to replace Tony Stewart next season in the usually competitive No. 20 Home Depot for JGR, is scheduled to drive the No. 96 Toyota – 39th in owner points – in four more races this season.
There should be no problem with the young driver appreciating good equipment after four more outings like Sunday’s.
9. Starting Over – For the first time in four and a half months, the driver of the No. 18 JGR Toyota, Kyle Busch, is not the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader. In fact, Busch leaves New Hampshire eighth in points – 74 out of first. The unpopular Busch finished 34th in the Sylvania 300 after suffering mechanical problems that caused him to spin and receive a pit-road penalty.
Considering the large number of fans that regularly display their dislike for the 23-year-old Busch… is it safe to say that there are considerably more fans of the Chase to the Sprint Cup points format now?
10. Getting Good – Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards leave Loudon, New Hampshire tied at the top of the leaderboard after the first of 10 Chase to the Sprint Cup races. Eight of the top-10 positions went to Chase participants, battling one another often side by side. Longshot Greg Biffle powered by defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson with 11 laps remaining; however, Johnson continued to apply the heat before crossing the finish line a half-second behind the driver of the Roush Fenway No. 16 Ford.
OK, NASCAR. Nine more races just as good… please?