One year ago, Texas equaled triumph for a Joe Gibbs Racing operation cocking back to deliver what they thought was NASCAR’s equivalent of a knockout punch. While Jimmie Johnson’s team imploded, their pit road area turning into a deleted scene from _Days Of Our Lives,_ driver Denny Hamlin won the race, crew chief Mike Ford talked some trash and the four-year title reign for Johnson’s No. 48 was left hanging by a thread. JGR, whose risky move to Toyota once cost them superstar Tony Stewart, was on the verge of handing the manufacturer their biggest piece of hardware yet. Add in Joey Logano finishing fourth that day at age 20, along with three-time season winner Kyle Busch, just 25 that Sunday, the organization posed a triple threat of twenty-something drivers peaking years from reaching their prime.
_As the Sprint Cup Series made its second visit to the mile-and-a-half oval in North Texas, points leaders Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards duked it out on the race track and in the standings. But what about the guys a little further back in the garage? One week after Martinsville offered hope, it wasn’t pretty for the sport’s gang of underdogs. It’s a struggle for these teams on intermediates, but amidst the rubble of some awful performances there were a few rays of sunshine we’ll start out with in this edition of David vs. Goliath._
As I grow older, autumn tends to be a time of almost morose reflection on the past. The arrival of autumn means it’s almost time to pack away the beloved Harley for the season, with no more romps in the Nova or Trans Am until the first heavy spring rain washes away all the road salt from a wearisome winter. This weekend here near the Lancaster-Chester County border, autumn collided with a very premature winter in the form of eight inches of snow. In a way, it was handy. Rather than raking leaves, we’ll be hauling away branches still laden with them. There was plenty of time to contemplate how to do so on a long cold, night with no electricity, temperatures in the 20s, howling winds and near whiteout conditions most of the evening while berating myself for neglecting to pick up a spare pack of smokes or fill the kerosene can.
*Did You Notice?* … 5-Hour Energy and Aaron’s Rents, combined are giving Michael Waltrip Racing funding for a total of 38 races next year? More than anything else, that sobering reality is why Reutimann will be packing his bags and heading to the sidelines for 2012. Despite being signed to a multi-year deal, rumors are running rampant at press time 52-year-old Mark Martin has been signed to take over the No. 00. The car will then scale back to a partial schedule, likely under the Aaron’s sponsorship while some of those contingency, smaller primary deals like Best Western can be used to help fund the No. 15.
*ONE: Chase Overshadowing Just How Good This Race Was*
Tony Stewart’s unlikely come from behind triumph at Martinsville this Sunday earned a tremendous amount of airtime, both for how dramatic a comeback the No. 14 team made over the course of 500 laps and how Smoke is having one of his patented hot streaks at just the right time in 2011… the fall, not the summer. There’s definitely plenty of story there; Stewart not only stole the win from Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps, he also fired a shot across point leader Carl Edwards’ bow in Victory Lane, saying he wasn’t going to let the driver of the No. 99 sleep for three weeks.
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where discussion of new wrinkles in race coverage is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series returned to Martinsville Speedway for their fall race weekend. Wrecking, of course, not commercials appeared to be the main subject throughout each broadcast; but for fans, one special adjustment gave an added boost to their viewing experience.
Let’s delve in and find out just how well this adjustment turned out.
Twice every year, modern NASCAR returns to the only track remaining on the list from the original Strictly Stock schedule. With every visit to Martinsville, stock car racing’s every effort to become more efficient, more savvy goes out the window in favor of beating and banging. It’s another one of those tracks where the gap in equipment diminishes, where attrition can do crazy things to the running order at race’s end. This Sunday was no exception.
“Jack can be pretty blunt,” said David Ragan last Saturday speaking of Roush Fenway Racing owner, Jack Roush. Oh yeah? Well so can I (and usually am in this column!)
I hate Fords! Have most of my adult life. Why? Not because I’m some fanatic about Chevy, but because every Ford I have owned in my adult life has been nothing but a pain in the butt POS! As I’ve written before, I vowed long ago never to have a Ford, titled in my name, sitting in my driveway ever again. Well, maybe….but it better be from the early 70’s or older!
Talladega has come and gone with the typical controversy that lingers afterword. Much of the talk this week has been about team orders, the negative impact of riding around in the back, Jimmie Johnson’s chance at six straight titles going south, and Carl Edwards looking to secure his first ever Sprint Cup. Lost in all of this madness has been the recent surge from non-Chase contender Kasey Kahne. The soon to be Hendrick driver endured a rough summer that eliminated any chances of him qualifying for the postseason, but the last month has been one of the best of his career. With just four more races until the 2011 season concludes, Kahne appears to be making a statement for next year.
@Kenny_Wallace: I guess I am tweeting for therapy, Our whole family is here at Hospital, Our Dad is not good :( Pray Hard Please for “Russ Wallace” @mw55 (Michael Waltrip): I respect #NASCAR. We broke a rule. I am sorry. We will learn from it, and make sure a mistake like this never happens again. …