While Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck teams were home this Easter weekend — spending quality time with family and catching up on March Madness — the Nationwide Series spent Saturday afternoon roaring around Nashville Superspeedway, the series’ sixth stop this season. While this column is normally reserved for discussing the trends of the hottest and coldest teams in Sprint Cup, on this off week we’ll take a quick look at what’s going on in the other series; and considering who’s raced most recently, Nationwide plays a prominent role in the column to come. Come in and see who else is sharing that fire in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not. At this point, we take a look at which non-Buschwackers, or Nationwhackers, or Insurance Adjusters, or whatever they’re called now, in NASCAR’s other two premier series.
Probably the best thing about racing television coverage over the Easter weekend, in my humble opinion, was the introduction of “NASCAR Confidential” by SPEED on Sunday evening. This was a fresh look at the 2008 Daytona 500, with some insights from some interesting people, including legendary photographer Warren T. Taylor. Taylor hasn’t missed a Great American Race, and he’s one of the truly unique characters in the sport that’s come up through the years. For my part, I also enjoyed Jay Howard’s explanation of the pre-race show presentation. Anybody who has ever helped try to choreograph a pre-event show from anywhere, including the local track level, has to have wondered what it must be like in a situation like that.
1) Takes One To Know One! – Megastar comedian and TV personality Jeff Foxworthy talked NASCAR in a CNN interview this week, attempting to persuade host Glenn Beck that instead of taking in a race at Daytona, he would be better served going to Talladega, Ala. for his stock car racing experience. In fact, Foxworthy claimed that five minutes in the Talladega infield on race day gives him about two hours of standup material. How would he know? The folksy Foxworthy was actually the Grand Marshal of last April’s Aaron’s 499 at the superspeedway. The Georgia native described the infield scene for that race as “wild,” and anointed the NASCAR enthusiasts that habitat that area of the track as “Redneck Royalty.”
As everyone watching saw last Sunday, there was a marked difference in Tony Stewart’s post-race demeanor between Atlanta and Bristol. After being dumped by Kevin Harvick at Bristol, which relegated him to a 14th-place finish in a race he dominated for most of the day, Stewart said as little as possible; a few sentences sarcastically taking the blame for the incident, and he was out of there. There probably wasn’t anything he could say on television that described how he felt, but the fact that Harvick and Stewart are good friends had to be even more conflicting. What can you say after being punted by someone who is going to wax your back in two days?
I’m definitely feeling a lot better about our performance in the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine so far in 2008, especially compared to where we were at this time last year. Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole has made a lot of changes in the off-season and we are a different team this year, and it shows. I can’t begin to tell you how much easier it is for me to be locked in the Top 35 in points, it makes for a much calmer Friday afternoon.
Well folks, it’s that time of year again! It’s time to get creative and dye those Easter eggs! For all you hardcore NASCAR fans, I hope this week’s column will give you a few ideas on where to hide all those eggs that you actually put racecar numbers on. (Don’t be ashamed, everyone does it. It’s just that no one talks that much about it!) Plus, it’s a great way to familiarize all the young’uns with the current drivers and their sponsors. Going a step further, if you get those little tykes (and the grownups, too) reasoning out where they’re most likely to find, say, the No. 26 Crown Royal egg, you’re creating not only a fan, but a more intelligent fan at that!
Q: Is the front splitter made of the same carbon fiber that the rear wing is made of? My friend says it is made of wood, but I thought that was changed before the car made its competition debut.
Today’s Question: In the wake of several big name teams not making the Top 35 (Jamie McMurray – No. 26, Kyle Petty – No. 45) is it fair to allow owner points to be transferred DURING the season so these drivers get themselves a guaranteed spot — while their teammates are assured entry with a past champion’s provisional?
It’s been some years since I became a devout NASCAR fan. Unlike some of my readers out there, I wasn’t raised on the local dirt track at the end of the street. Auto racing came to me through the Wonderful World of Sports, and later via a little cable box on top of the TV. I can only remember being dazzled by the Indy 500, but not by any billboards or the pretty colors on the drivers’ uniforms. In fact, as a young ‘un, I could tell you their names… Rutherford, Unser, and Mears. But not who paid for their appearance on my Saturday afternoon sports program. It was entirely about the “Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat,” nothing more. And so it should be.
Despite the rain washing the track clean on Saturday, Sunday’s race — the second on Bristol’s new surface — seemed more competitive than the fall race last year. Is Bristol back after a brief hiatus? Or do teams just have a better handle on the new car?