1 – Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Pep Boys Auto 500 – laps 322 to 329.
1. Hendrick’s Half – If you add up all the races that Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won this year – Jimmie Johnson’s eight, Jeff Gordon’s six, and one each for Kyle Busch and Casey Mears – you’ll see that Hendrick drivers have won 16 of 33 races – just under half of the all the races this season.
There may have been little change in the Top-35 picture this week as far as positions go – but just 40 laps into the race at Atlanta, the gap between 35th and 36th narrowed substantially. With an eventual “locked-in” spot for the first five races of 2008 on the line, engine problems struck Dave Blaney’s No. 22 on lap 39, bringing out the race’s second caution and moving Bill Elliott and the No. 21 team 56 points closer to the coveted bubble position. To see how close the No. 21 team is to Blaney, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
A couple of weeks ago, after my personal favorite Dale Jarrett announced he would be retiring from Cup competition following the spring Bristol race in 2008, I transitioned into fan mode and penned a column explaining just why DJ was my favorite all these years – thanking him for being an all-around classy guy. Also in that column, I mentioned that a few years ago I had selected another driver to step up as a new favorite when DJ hung up his racing helmet. That man is Carl Edwards.
Racing On Heels: What will the well-dressed fashion maven be wearing at the track this year? A pair of NASCAR ladies’ pumps, of course! As described at the NASCAR.com Superstore, “The black and white checkered pony hair pumps are made of imported Italian metallic patent leather, and feature signature tire tread flexible molded soles with the 4-color NASCAR logo. The pumps have a 3″ heel with racing flags and soft padding for long-lasting comfort.” Price? Just $99.99 a pair plus shipping.
Q: Hi Matt. I seem to remember that some drivers were hesitant to the idea of NASCAR mandating that they wear a HANS device in the wake of Dale Earnhardt’s death. Since then, the drivers seem to have become more accepting of it, as I can’t remember the last time I heard a complaint (via the media of course). Has the HANS device simply become an accepted part of the safety innovations of the last few years to the point that the drivers view it as just “part of the uniform?” And can you tell me exactly how it works?
What has transpired since the start of the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup by the No. 8 Budweiser team is nothing short of a half-hearted commitment to performance. And no, this is not all about the string of engine failures, common knowledge as to what’s supposed to be their continual Achilles’ Heel. Instead, this is about a team that has packed it in, content to collect sponsorship fees, paychecks, and simply move forward to make preparations for next season – with little to no regard for what happens now. And although I am often accused of being negatively biased in my opinion of Dale Jr., rest assured that I believe this is clearly a team effort. No doubt, DEI is every bit as culpable in the pathetic late-season performance being put forth as Junior himself.
10. There IS a God after all!
Statistically, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have combined to win 41 races over the last four seasons – making them the two best drivers on the circuit in that category. Just 53 points separate them with four races left, setting up what should be a dramatic finish to the title – but fan reaction has ranged from plain disinterest to downright detesting this battle. Why?
3 – Consecutive Martinsville wins for Jimmie Johnson, a feat also accomplished by Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Richard Petty. Next spring, Johnson will have the opportunity to make it four in a row, which would tie the record held by Fred Lorenzen.