1. Drive It Like You Stole It! – According to police in Mooresville, N.C., thieves broke into the Roush/Yates engine shop last week, loading three race motors into a stolen Penske rental truck. The Ford engines taken were specially prepared for the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series.
Don’t you just know that there is some Bubba in a barn somewhere in North Carolina trying to stuff one of those brutes into a rusted-out 1981 Ford Ranger?
2. Heap Of Trouble – In the aftermath of the post-race melee that erupted after Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr spun the Germain Racing Toyotas of Todd Bodine and David Reutimann during the September 13th running of the CTS event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NASCAR has dealt out its fines and penalties for the incident. Three crew members sat out Saturday’s Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350, hit with suspensions that last until September 24th: Mike Hillman Jr., crew chief for the No. 30 truck driven by Bodine; Mark Hillman, crew member for the No. 30; and William Divel, crew member for the No. 11 truck driven by Starr. Also, Hillman Jr. has also been fined $2,500 and had his NASCAR probation extended through Dec. 31, while Mark Hillman and Divel have also been fined $1,500 and also placed on probation through the end of the year. Additionally, Starr has been fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
But that’s not all. Richard Gay, crew chief for the No. 11 truck and Jason Overstreet, crew chief for the No. 9 truck driven by Reutimann, have both been fined $1,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31st. Two crew members – Brandon Hopkins for the No. 30 and Tony Jilson for the No. 9 Germain CTS teams, have also been placed on probation until Dec. 31st. And if that’s not enough, all three team owners – Steve Germain of the No. 30, Tom DeLoach of the No. 11 and Bob Germain of the No. 9 – have had their entire teams placed on probation through the rest of the Truck Series season.
If only our nation’s judicial system worked so swiftly and decisively!
3. Gentleman Rules Apply – Claire B. Lang, the well-respected NASCAR reporter for XM Radio, opined on the fracas between Starr and crew members from the Germain Racing organization that entered Starr’s pit box and confronted Starr while he was still strapped in his race truck. Wrote Lang, “Members of several teams said that they are not even to confront another driver – or ask him why he did something verbally – and that the level of pulling another driver out of his vehicle would definitely result in them being fired. The team haulers of the No. 48 and the No. 18 teams are parked next to each other in the garage here. The team guys said to me that they get along really well, and that if their drivers got in a fight they would not think it was their place to get involved in it… unless a driver came to their pit area, and then that is their turf. What happened violated an unwritten rule. You fight for your team – you’d do anything for your team – but a crew member does not confront a driver.”
Sounds like some pretty solid unwritten rules there… to let drivers settle their differences. What are the unwritten rules in this case, though? Would it have been acceptable for both Reutimann and Bodine to confront Starr together and jerk him out of the cockpit of his race truck… or would the unscripted etiquette dictate that they take turns whoopin’ up on him?
4. Chicken Soup – On Saturday, NASCAR announced a new random drug testing policy beginning with the 2009 season. Beginning in January, all drivers participating in preseason testing in Daytona for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series will be tested – along with all racing officials and crew members planning to be at the track on a weekly basis. Thereafter, about a dozen drivers and/or crew members will be randomly selected for testing at most scheduled race events, with the process to be handled by an independent, third-party agency.
But despite the tougher rules put in place for next year, there remains no list of prohibited substances that the sanctioning body will test for. “We’ve never had a list. It states right now in our policy that cough medicine could be abused if you’re taking that too much, and it’s going to affect the safety on the racetrack. That won’t change,” said NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnell. “We’ll test for anything. Our experts are very familiar with prescriptions people may be taking and legitimate medications, but we will not have a list.”
What a bummer for drivers and crews… February is right at the height of the cold and flu season!
5. Really… Nothing Happened! – The two NASCAR officials accused of exposing themselves in former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant’s $225 million harassment lawsuit have reportedly now been fired after having been placed on administrative, paid leave. However, NASCAR continues to deny the charges that Grant has asserted in court papers, in which she alleged both sexual harassment and racial discrimination from these men.
Ummm, guys… why are they being fired, then?
6. More Than Just Colleagues – During last week’s race at New Hampshire, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. once again – as he often does when frustrated – ranted and raved on the radio to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. concerning his No. 88 Chevy’s dropoff in performance as the race continued. Junior’s profanity-laced tirades have his boss, Rick Hendrick, concerned and talking to his high-profile driver during the course of races recently in an attempt to calm him down. “They’re cousins and they’re like brothers, and they can bust [out] and say things; but when you have got millions of people listening, Tony gets some unfair [criticism],” Hendrick said. “If [Dale] doesn’t want Tony to go anywhere, if he’s put a stake in the ground that he wants Tony Eury Jr., then he needs to treat him a little bit better on the radio.”
Ahhhh… don’t worry, Rick. Those two already tried the splitting up thing – and it didn’t work so well for either one of them!
7. Every Man For Himself! – Roush drivers Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards put on one heck of a good show Sunday over the last 20 or so laps of the Camping World RV 400 from Dover, Del. The three Roush Fenway stablemates battled one another for the win like three drivers intent on winning the 2008 Sprint Cup – but not so much like teammates. As a result, the Ford drivers provided some of the best racing for the win we’ve seen all season, bumping, banging, and rubbing one another before sweeping the top-three spots.
No “team orders” rock!
8. Apparently… Winning Isn’t Everything – Though Kyle Busch notched his 19th NASCAR win of the season in its top three divisions during the Nationwide Series race at Dover Saturday, he finished dead last Sunday in the Sprint Cup event. Busch, who finished 34th at New Hampshire a week earlier after suffering mechanical problems, blew an engine 173 laps into the Camping World RV 400. The 23-year-old had entered the 10-race championship playoff seeded No. 1, but after just two events, he now finds himself 12th in driver championship points. “At this point, it doesn’t matter [if I think I have a chance to win the title],” Busch said after falling out of Sunday’s race. “Same thing happened two years ago – exact same thing: Wrecked at Loudon, blew up here. So where did we end up [in 2006] – dead last.”
Wow! 19 wins for Busch and he’s not threatening for a championship in Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Craftsman Trucks. Isn’t that just strange?
9. Comin’ On Strong! – Jack Roush isn’t the only team owner leaving Delaware with a deserved smile on his face! Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick finished in sixth place Sunday, with Clint Bowyer taking eighth and Jeff Burton ninth in the Camping World RV 400. Burton, Harvick and Bowyer are now fourth, fifth and sixth in the Chase standings, respectively.
Don’t look now, Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick… but there is another superpower knocking at the door!
10. Calling All Clairvoyants – After a late-race pass at the Monster Mile, Biffle has now won his second race in a row… and the first two races of the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup!
Alright, tell the truth…who predicted the Biff winning at both Loudon and Dover? And better yet, who predicted that the winner of the first two races of the Chase would not be your championship points leader?