News that driver Paul Menard and his father’s sponsor dollars will soon part ways with Dale Earnhardt Inc. seems to lend credence to the prediction by many that the company’s demise was inevitable. Old prophecies spurred by DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt’s failure to come to contract terms with her stepson have returned, with observers saying the worst is still to come for an organization which they claim forced the sport’s most popular and bankable personality to leave them behind.
10. They are hoping to get in with a good team… like Chip Ganassi or Michael Waltrip Racing.
Given that the finish at Kansas was one of the best of the year, has the track matured to the point it deserves a second date – or was this not good enough? And if an ISC track is to lose a date at Kansas’s expense, which should it be?
It was another week, another mechanical problem for Kyle Busch this weekend at Kansas. Busch is going through one of the most surprising slumps in recent history, dropping from the points lead to 12th in a manner of three weeks. But while Busch continues to struggle, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle continue to fight for the title. The big three all finished in the top three this weekend, but it was a Johnson win that gave the No. 48 team the points lead heading to Talladega next weekend. To see who has the best chance of catching the two-time defending champ, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
A great example of the SportsCenter ignorance of NASCAR occurred during Sunday’s 7 and 11 p.m. episodes. The top stories of the show centered around the open playoff spots being fought for in MLB. This is understandable, as several were still up for grabs going into Sunday’s final day of the regular season. If only ESPN covered NASCAR’s playoffs like they do baseball’s, more outsiders would likely find interest in the sport and help to boost NASCAR on ESPN’s ratings — but that’s a whole other story altogether.
4. Like A Swiss Watch? – Non-Chase eligible driver Martin Truex Jr. led 29 laps at the Kansas Speedway, and spent a large segment of the event battling for positions within the top 10 before a broken transmission on lap 231 of the 267-lap race relegated the driver of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 1 Chevrolet to a 43rd-place finish. Truex was the ONLY DNF on the day. Since its inception, NASCAR has held exceptionally long races to test the limits of not only the drivers, but the machines as well. Apparently, 400 miles of high RPM racing is “no sweat” for today’s precision engineered racecars… how about 800 miles?
As NASCAR headed to Kansas this past Sunday, the big news from the bubble teams left many scratching their heads, as Team Red Bull is about to let AJ Allmendinger go. According to the driver himself, he’s “almost 100% sure he’ll be out of the car after Kansas” after turning down a one-year deal to remain with the team in 2009. Yet even in the midst of such a tough situation, Allmendinger still found time to leave his team a parting gift. What was it, exactly, and how did the other fellow bubble dwellers fare in the Midwest? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
The Dover race caused me to do something I hadn’t done for quite some time. I dropped everything I was doing and tuned out the conversations around me, captivated by what was taking place. Probably much to NASCAR’s surprise, the Chase had nothing to do with the great racing. You could argue that the new car played a part – it is visibly much more difficult to pass with it – keeping Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards close to each other for many laps. I won’t speculate further on that. And the close quarters at a shorter track makes the argument against the cookie-cutter speedways’ prevalence in NASCAR, as if it needed to be made. But what was most responsible for such a quality show, one that is the exception rather than the rule?
Got another question this week, after I was talking about myself and Shorty Miller, the irrepressible flagman/starter from Ohio. Did I ever drop a flag on the track? Oh yeah, once or twice. Twice at the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville, where the cars were so close to the outside wall sometimes that a flag could snag on them.
After watching Greg Biffle put a hurtin’ on the field at both Loudon and Dover, that got me thinking: How has the top Chase finisher in each season’s first two playoff events fared in the final standings? It’s been widely reported since Biffle’s New Hampshire triumph that Kurt Busch, in 2004, is the only driver to win the first Chase race and go on to win the Cup. However, had any driver claimed top fives in the first two events (sans a win at Loudon, of course) and still gone on to take the big prize?