The Cup series heads to the heartland of America this week for the annual running of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Having taken place every year since 1994, this event has quickly become the second-biggest race on the schedule, if not in prestige, at least in purse money. Increasing fan support does nothing but help the race’s growing reputation, too; hosting the largest crowd on the circuit at estimates of nearly 300,000 fans, the Brickyard is certainly a jewel that any driver wants to have on their resume at the end of their career.
After a one-week breather, Nextel Cup racing resumes this week with just seven races remaining until the end of the regular season. Heading into that final stretch, who among the top 12 is the most vulnerable to drop out and why? And if someone does fall out, who slips in their place?
In what has become the quickest and most dramatic rise and fall of a race team in recent NASCAR history, Ginn Racing has fans, drivers and other owners in the NASCAR garages wondering what in the world has transpired with the team that had been showing so much promise since the drop of the green flag at this years Daytona 500. Since owner Bobby Ginn purchased the two-team organization formerly known as MB2 Motorsports from its previous majority owner Nelson Bowers barely a year ago, what the NASCAR community has witnessed is an illusion, a highly calculated gamble, based on maintaining an appearance of stability to gain acceptance within the sport in hopes of securing significant outside financing, money that was desperately needed to continue the charade.
10. He was seen entering the NASCAR trailer with a resume in hand.
Now that we have survived the final off weekend of the year, it’s time to turn our focus to the upcoming seven-race slugfest that will determine the field for the 2007 Chase for the Championship. Obviously, there are certain drivers that are all but locked into the field barring some sort of meteor hitting their race shops. But the expansion to a field of 12 this year has widened the door for more of these wheelmen to try to make a name for themselves and stake their claim to a piece of NASCAR history.
At Memphis the truck was in the top five on each practice session and running really good. I had an early draw for qualifying, went out and was the fastest of the trucks that went out before me. I was pretty optimistic and thought we had a really nice piece but got knocked out early. Some dramatic things happened during that particular wreck that have just never happened to me before. We exploded a battery and the battery blew the back of the truck off. The crew did a fantastic job fixing it but we lost two or three laps in the pits when we had to install a new battery. We just made laps and finished where we finished.
Today’s Question: Earlier this week, it was announced that Aric Almirola will be headed to Ginn Racing to share a Cup ride with Mark Martin for the rest of 2007 and beyond. Was this the right move for Almiola’s future, or was he wrong to slam the door on an opportunity with one of the top teams in Cup, Joe Gibbs Racing, a team he drove for in the Busch Series up until this surprising turn of events?
A few days ago, my esteemed Frontstretch colleague and friend, Mr. Mike Neff, made the assertion that it is the driver that makes the sponsor. While that may be true for some lesser known products, I don’t believe the separation of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Budweiser should prompt Anheuser-Busch to be searching through the St. Louis-area Yellow Pages for a cheap bankruptcy lawyer just yet.
This year is unique in that most of the silliness centers not with the drivers, but the owners. We have the Ray Evernham/George Gillette deal that has been ongoing for all of a decade and may never get done. There are also investment firms popping up right and left in the garage, milling about like pit lizards, trying to buy into someone, anyone’s race team. Problem is, these investment firms don’t know a front clip from a fuel pump. They also don’t realize that teams need sponsors… not someone to split the utility bill with them.
It’s now been six years since Chicagoland hosted its first Nextel Cup race. Are you disappointed in the progress being made as the track has aged, and should improvements be made a la Homestead and Las Vegas to make the facility more competitive?
10. Let Medallion Financial Corp. sponsor the race, featuring 43 selected cab drivers as the drivers while the actual drivers ride shotgun and try to give them advice. (Great for the Diversity program, too!)
Perhaps Clint Bowyer, presently setting 10th in driver points in only his second full-time season in the Nextel Cup Series, can fill the void that the recent retirement of Rusty Wallace, as well as the gradual and/or soon expected final retirements of popular veterans like Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd or Ken Schrader have or will create for fans of those drivers. Bowyer, a native of Emporia, Kan., possesses some similarities to the group that could legitimately tag him as an “old school” racer as time passes by and he begins to adjust to life on the Nextel Cup side of the fence.