Another questionable debris caution late in the race Sunday bunched up the field and led to an exciting finish at California. But is NASCAR losing credibility with the fact they may be “engineering” finishes with these yellow flags?
Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) have found their debut as competitors in the Nextel Cup Series challenging, to say the least…but probably not entirely surprising. Two races into the 2007 season, the manufacturer has two drivers positioned in the coveted Top 35 in the point standings, namely Team Red Bull’s Brian Vickers (34th) and MWR driver Dale Jarrett (a more secure 28th). However, after the fifth race at Bristol in early March, inclusion on the Top-35 list will be based on the current season’s owner points. And at that time, the enormous value for MWR and Toyota of Dale Jarrett’s much talked about defection from Robert Yates Racing at the end of 2006 will become clear for everyone to understand.
As the Nextel Cup Series put its second race in the books last weekend in California, a state known for wildfires surely did its part to fuel the flames of several of Nextel Cup’s hottest drivers. This week’s surprising contingent listed as currently burning up the tracks includes a 48-year-old veteran who continues to steal center stage, as well as a 21-year-old rookie using a combination of luck and racing smart to fight his way towards the top of the charts.
0.679 – Matt Kenseth’s margin of victory over Jeff Gordon at California Speedway (in seconds).
Congratulations to Brian Vickers and Team Red Bull for a top-10 finish in their first points race of the year. Vickers spent the latter part of 2006 under rancorous conditions at Hendrick Motorsports, and his new 2007 team was unable to qualify for the Daytona 500 last week.
Perhaps Michael Waltrip bit off a little more than he could chew. Debuting a three-car operation with a brand new manufacturer, Waltrip has just one car in the Top 35 in owner points after California. Dale Jarrett is leading the charge but sits a dismal 28th. A devastating late-race crash dropped rookie David Reutimann to 42nd in the standings, while Waltrip is drowning in a sea of misery after failing to make the event. It is unlikely he will find his head above water and in the Top 35 at any point in the 2007 season – even after just two races. While Michael Waltrip Racing is having its share of problems, a number of championship teams are still continue to struggle – including the sport’s prodigal son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
As far back as April of last year, rumors have run rampant that one manufacturer was on the brink of pulling out of NASCAR. Back then, after GM announced a $10.6 billion loss for 2005, many speculated that Chevy would be the one to pull out. Of course, GM vehemently denied such talk, putting to bed the same type of rumors that Ford is now facing with increasing intensity.
First, I’ve heard some say this Daytona 500 was a snoozer for the first 150 laps. While I don’t necessarily disagree, I think with this aero package and tire compound, we should have seen it coming. Please, NASCAR, don’t make any crazy new alterations to the plate packages, though; you got the finish you wanted in the end, and in terms of safety, cars grinding into a single file parade beats all of them running in one giant pack of 43 cars for three hours.
While Sunday’s race provided a wild, exciting finish, the Daytona 500 wasn’t too kind to many people playing fantasy racing. With pre-race favorites like Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch all finishing 30th or worse, you wouldn’t be alone if you found your team struggling to earn points in week 1. But a new week and a new track are ahead of us and there is plenty of time to make your way back up to the top. So what drivers can help you strike gold in California this weekend and which ones will likely make you go bust? Let’s find out in this week’s Fantasy Picks N Pans.
Should NASCAR stay consistent with NOT throwing the yellow on the final lap if the wreck happens behind the leaders, as they did in the Daytona 500?
10. No. 29: Kevin Harvick – A permanent smile impregnating the entire interior.
Controversial races to the checkered flag in both the Daytona 500 and the Chevy Silverado HD 250 Craftsman Truck Series events have left me dumbfounded as how such a successful organization as NASCAR can all too often demonstrate such poor judgment. It seems to me that the organization masquerades as a top-notch, professional sports entity.