After observing one restrictor-plate race with the Car of Tomorrow package, should there be changes made for future events at Talladega? Also, which type of restrictor-plate racing was better – the old car or the new car?
I wanted to leave all of these 10 blank, but the editors – while agreeing that the list would indeed be factual – also felt that it would be a “cop out” on my part, and insisted I actually list something this week. Apparently, they are onto me… note that they (the editors) are NOT on the list!
Race fans, imagine this… Jimmie Johnson is leading Jeff Gordon by one point at this year’s season-ending race at Homestead, Florida. Johnson runs one spot ahead of Gordon on the track, when all of a sudden, he receives an order over his in-car radio from Chad Knaus instructing him to let his teammate move ahead. Dejected, Johnson obeys the edict, watches the No. 24 swing by, and remains helpless as Gordon goes on to win his fifth NASCAR Cup championship. Sound crazy? It is actually not as far-fetched as it seems.
1) Jeff Gordon (Six First-Place Votes)
Was going to either win, or become a hood ornament on Tony Stewart’s Chevy in a daring last lap pass for the win.
0.066 – Jeff Gordon’s margin of victory over teammate Jimmie Johnson in the UAW-Ford 500.
1. Masterful Move – Jeff Gordon clearly demonstrated not only why he has 80 career Cup wins, but is now in sole possession of the title “most career plate wins” in NASCAR history. Gordon turned a push from Dave Blaney into a sweet move to the middle, getting out from behind teammate Jimmie Johnson to sneak away with the victory. Tucking his rear bumper just in front of a charging Tony Stewart, Gordon gave Stewart no choice but to push him to the win. Gordon now has 12 restrictor plate wins, passing the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., who had 11.
While the same thing would have occurred in Daytona this July if it weren’t for the rain, on Saturday it was the go-or-go-homers sweeping the top eight spots in the field for Sunday’s race – the first time in the rule’s short history that’s happened. The reason for the somewhat strange lineup comes from the fact that this was an impound race, meaning that the final practice session for the weekend would be before qualifying, not after; and once the session was over, cars couldn’t be touched before Sunday’s event. That meant those teams “locked” into the field worked all weekend on race set-ups and drivability in the draft, while those on the outside of the Top 35 worked in qualifying trim – creating a huge speed differential at the restrictor-plate facility.
Barely a week after I wrote about how Anheuser-Busch is severing almost all ties with the sanctioning body of NASCAR after the season – opting instead to focus on its Budweiser sponsorship of Kasey Kahne – a viable replacement has been found for the support series its leaving behind. NASCAR CEO Brian France announced Wednesday that Nationwide Insurance will become the new entitlement sponsor for what is currently known as the Busch Series.
“We are thrilled that we had the opportunity to select a partner in Nationwide Insurance who is as excited as NASCAR about taking the NASCAR Nationwide Series to even higher levels of popularity,” said France. “Nationwide Insurance is an ideal partner for NASCAR, advocating safe driving and already serving millions of NASCAR fans with its auto, health, and life insurance. The company has a real passion for NASCAR, which will benefit our fans and all participants in our industry.”
Wow, what a week. The Kansas race still has fans buzzing, while 2008 plans have become just as much of a hot-button topic: why just yesterday, Kyle Busch got a new sponsor (M&M’s), Scott Riggs a new home (Haas CNC Racing), Ganassi Racing a new open-wheeled Scotsman (Dario Franchitti), and the Busch Series a new title sponsor (Nationwide). Oh, and did I mention Talladega is up next, with four, count ’em, four, drivers attempting to qualify for their first plate race (in the midst of the Chase, no less). Geez, just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder…
Watching the end of Sunday’s weird, wacky Kansas Cup race, I was as stunned as anyone to hear Jimmie Johnson say in his immediate post-race interview that he didn’t think Greg Biffle won the race. “He was clearly out of gas,” said Johnson. “I feel terrible for Greg. He’s been working so hard to win a race and he was up there in position to win it. But if you don’t maintain pace car speed, you don’t hold your position. And it was clear to everyone that he couldn’t do it. If he could have, he would have stayed on the bumper of the pace car to the finish line. So in my opinion, where he coasted across the finish line relative to the other cars that could maintain pit road speed is where he should finish.”