1) Tony Stewart (Four First-Place Votes) (Last Week: #1) – Home Depot wants us to smell the Smoke. Bet they won’t put THAT slogan in Tony’s armpits!
Kyle Petty and Denny Hamlin got into it at Dover recently, after Petty confronted Hamlin in his car following a nasty incident that sent both drivers to the garage for repairs. Who should be apologizing to who – if anyone – and should NASCAR take action for this incident?
When looking at the schedule of the 10 races in the Chase, most people would have pointed to Talladega as the track where both wrecks and bad luck could turn the tide in the championship. But in Dover on Sunday, it was the Monster Mile played tough as the new Talladega asphalt, taking a swing at some of the biggest names in the sport – and making contact. By the end of the day, 13 caution flags had waved, and four Chasers found themselves finishing 20th or lower. As is always the case when some people find misfortune, others reap the benefits.
Tension proved its existence at Dover, as a Kyle Petty – Denny Hamlin crash resulted in an off-track altercation, a special run by Roush Fenway Racing’s “forgotten man” nearly resulted in a win, and an old legend of the sport, Mark Martin, came up with his best finish since Daytona. So, as the series moves on to the Midwest for this weekend, which drivers are best suited to make the most noise on the Kansas prairies? Read on to find out who in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, outside the Chase. One note before we begin, unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).
1/2 – The fraction of an inch that NASCAR allows cars to be below the minimum height requirement following a race. Dodge Dealers 400 winner Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Office Depot Ford was lower than that, failing post-race technical inspection. Any fines and/or point penalties are expected to be announced by NASCAR Tuesday afternoon.
1. Car of Too-Massive? – Dover was considered an extremely narrow racetrack when the “old” car was in use. Is the Car of Tomorrow – four inches wider than the old car – just too big and boxy to run on a tight track like this? The race, which Dale Earnhardt Jr. described as “bizarre and weird,” had 13 cautions (only three for debris) and two extended red flag clean-up periods. What say you, race fans?
If you don’t think those drivers fighting to get – or remain – inside the Top 35 in car owner points are feeling any pressure with eight races remaining… think again. Kyle Petty’s obvious frustration towards Denny Hamlin following a lap 204 crash was without a doubt the expression of a disappointed driver trying hard to hold his spot in the field… not only for now, but ultimately for the first five races of 2008. The accident that ended Petty’s day drops the No. 45 team to just one point away from the 35th and final guaranteed starting position, leaving them more vulnerable than they’ve been in quite sometime.
Today I would like to use this weekly column to send a personal and public “Thank You” to Mr. Robert Yates. You see, his selfless giving of the number 88 to the Hendrick organization for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to use, has actually helped solve many of my own personal problems. Granted, it’s probably not the personal problems my friends and kin would think I should worry about, but they were things that were lingering in a dark corner of my mind and it is good to be rid of them.
Today’s Question: Should We Care That Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gets The No. 88 for 2008?
Anyone hear about a little press conference that took place yesterday in Dallas? You may not have heard much, as it only involved the sport’s favorite son… plus some new friends from PepsiCo and the National Guard. There was also something about a number, what was it, No. 88? Seriously, I think I speak for the majority of race fans out there, well, the die-hards, anyway, when I say, “Thank you for finally laying everything out on the table!” We can now refocus and move on with the rest of our lives.
10. Damn, did I leave the iron turned on again?
Clint Bowyer’s first career NASCAR Cup win Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway has catapulted the Emporia, Kan. driver into the limelight. His feel-good win came at an opportune time for NASCAR, as the first race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship was otherwise – well, frankly pretty uneventful. But to me, the second-year Cup driver’s win goes to the very essence of what has allowed NASCAR to succeed – it was an all-American winning in what is perceived as an all-American sport.