Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito: Chevrolet Thriving in NASCAR Amidst Struggles

Hendrick Motorsports is planning on running four special paint schemes amongst its teams this weekend to commemorate 100 years of Chevrolet on their centennial anniversary this year. It is a good time to be a part of the Bow-Tie brigade again, having just won last weekend at Kansas, clinched the manufacturers title and trailing Carl Edwards by only one point in the Sprint Cup standings.

Ironic since a new book coming out by New York Times reporter Bill Vlasic titled, Once Upon a Car details how in July 2008, then-GM CEO Rick Wagoner (not to be confused with the Jeep Wagoneer) approached Ford Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally about merging together. The offer was promptly rejected. Guessing that book won’t be appearing on the hoods of any of the HMS rides at Talladega in two weeks either.

Speaking of which, maybe all of the Chevrolet teams should race-wrap their cars in some of the more memorable Chevys of years past. Jimmie Johnson driving a wrapped up 1969 COPO 427 Camaro, Jeff Gordon in a vinyl-veneered 1970 LS6 Chevelle SS. Clint Bowyer in a 1981 Citation probably doesn’t feel much different being put out to pasture at MWR in what looks like one of Steve Wallace’s cars with a different number on it. The number of the guy he once called, “The Worst Driver in NASCAR” – his owner, Michael Waltrip.

It was revealed this week in Charlotte that following the fallout from Turner Motorsports releasing driver Reed Sorenson – and ultimately losing sponsor Dollar General – it turns out DG is headed to JGR; which might cause an OMG moment for those used to seeing HD on the hoods of the new TRD engines.

WTF am I talking about? Dollar General is replacing Home Depot for 10-12 races in 2012 for Joey Logano, which may further speculation regarding the involvement of the home improvement giant as a primary sponsor at Gibbs, which has become increasingly frustrated with this guy from Lowe’s consistently beating their car.

Logano was rumored to be on the hot seat earlier this year during the courtship of Edwards that never exactly materialized – or until Ford showed up with burlap bags full of Benjamins with generic dollar-bill symbols emblazoned upon them. Might Home Depot be pulling a slow-motion Peter Griffin type walk-away before breaking into a dead sprint out the door?

Speaking of Sponsors, the lineup at Richard Childress Racing next year that prompted Bowyer’s departure is still a head scratcher. Here you have arguably the second most sought after free agent after Edwards beat a hasty retreat, one who was earlier in the season rumored to be on Red Bull’s short list, comes bearing 5-Hour Energy money, but can’t keep his seat at an organization where he has been arguably the most consistent and productive driver since 2008?

Never mind he’s had to give up his team on three occasions at RCR, still makes the Chase and wins Nationwide titles, yet still the numbers don’t add up and you’re shown the door? No offense to Jeff Burton, but pulling Wheaties money and sponsorship, which appeared on Bowyers car this year as well? Bowyer is being positive however and apparently has things in their proper perspective. “I owe a lot to Richard.” Bowyer said he was surprised and disappointed when Childress told him no, but Bowyer has no hard feelings.

“I was in an auto shop in Kansas when he called me the first time,” Bowyer said. “He changed my life, and I’ll always be grateful. But, it was time to move on.”

About the author

Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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