NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? Greg Biffle’s Bump, Penske in the Dumps & Multi-Car Expansion Trumps All

Did You Notice? In the wake of the RCR sponsorship announcement on their long-awaited fourth car, the widening gap in NASCAR between the haves and the have nots? Let’s assume for a second that Joey Logano does so well in the Nationwide Series this year, Joe Gibbs Racing chooses to start up their fourth team for the 2009 season. That means you would have no fewer than five organizations at the four-car limit: Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Roush Fenway Racing (five teams), Gibbs, and Childress. Behind them, you’d have another four programs with three cars, at least two of which are also looking to expand in 2009: Penske Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

Did You Notice? The Myth of Roush Lawsuits, Strong Starts & Cheering Diversity

Did You Notice? That in the midst of the rumors surrounding Bill Davis Racing, it was revealed sponsor Caterpillar may be close to giving up the ghost and jumping ship to a top-level team for 2009; namely, Joe Gibbs Racing. Now, let’s see, the No. 11 already has solid sponsorship from FedEx, the No. 18 is set with M&M’s, and the No. 20 has Home Depot. So, where are they going to go? Certainly not on one of those cars; perhaps Joey Logano’s full-time Nationwide/part-time Cup sponsor for 2009 has been inadvertently revealed? This is something you want to stay tuned on.

Did You Notice? Jamie McMurray vs. Casey Mears, The Woods Shedding Tears & More

Did You Notice? There’s a difference between the problems faced by Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray, both of whom have had disastrous seasons. Mears’ issues have been partially based on overaggression. He crashed at Daytona making the wrong move at the wrong time going for the lead, then again at Bristol when he smashed into leader Denny Hamlin while trying to get his lap back. How much can you fault a driver for going overboard, giving it all he’s got? Then again, is three wrecks in five weeks too much? That’s the question for Hendrick moving forward.

Did You Notice? Robbie Reiser Hasn’t Lost a Beat, Newman Feeling the Heat… From Montoya & Old Friends Reunite?

Did You Notice? That lost within the weeklong penalty furor surrounding the No. 99 was the quiet and successful substitution of Bob Osborne with Robbie Reiser atop Carl Edwards’ pit box? Reiser’s the man for the next six weeks while Osborne is on suspension, and it clearly looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat since transitioning into a General Manager’s role at Roush Fenway Racing last November, finally leaving Matt Kenseth’s side as head wrench at the No. 17 after nearly a decade together. Ending that long relationship was tough, and Sunday showed how the past still sits in Reiser’s mind, he called Carl “Matt” just as much as his real name.

Did You Notice? Money in NASCAR Makes a Difference, Stewart’s Unique Hairdo & Oddsmakers Don’t Know What They’re Doing?

Did You Notice? How insane Las Vegas security was this weekend? All I can tell you is that both the garage area and pit road were policed like any citizen within 50 feet of anyone important was about to incite a terrorist attack; it didn’t matter whether you were a fan or had a hard card in your hand. I don’t know what it is about Sin City, but it always seems to bring out the worst in both security and parking volunteers at the track. Vegas is also known for one of the worst traffic nightmares on the circuit, and this year was no exception, in part because of how the Speedway chose to route traffic out of the event. SAFER barriers aren’t the only things that need to be added to this facility – some improved escape routes, competent temporary employees, and a few more lanes of highway around this track would be nice, too.

Did You Notice? JJ Yeley vs. Kyle Busch? Good vs. Bad Teammates? Robby vs. Reality? & More

Did You Notice? That other than Jeff Gordon’s lucky break on the final lap, there were a total of zero engine failures at California Speedway Monday? It’s only the third time in the track’s history that’s happened; the lack of mechanical problems were especially notable in this case, considering there were all sorts of debris and dirt littering the track over the course of a wet weekend.

Did You Notice? The Busch Brothers Playing Nice? Newman Making College History? & More…

Did You Notice? That on the final lap of the Daytona 500, you had both Kyle and Kurt Busch giving up on their own chance to win the Great American Race, instead choosing to stay in line behind their teammates while attempting to push them to the win. That selfless act was followed by an emotional, humble Kurt Busch in Victory Circle, where he celebrated with winner Ryan Newman while bursting with gratitude for the opportunities he’s gotten over at Penske Racing.

Did You Notice? CoT Equality, Newman Backing Stewart?, Harvick Speaks Out… & More

Did You Notice? That after Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch tangled on the track, Ryan Newman was seen engaging in lighthearted conversation with Stewart on his way to the NASCAR hauler? It’s not like the two drivers can’t talk to each other – they’re friends – but to make that type of move in public, five minutes after your teammate felt like he was wronged on the racetrack? Hmm, even if the wreck wasn’t mentioned, you have to wonder about the relationship Newman and Busch have at Penske after that.

Did You Notice? That Gillett’s Well On His Way to Building His Dodge Empire?

Did You Notice? That back in July, one of the things new owner George Gillett repeatedly emphasized for his new Dodge teams was a need to expand from three to four cars. That, more than anything else, appears to play into this move to “partner” with Robby Gordon’s No. 7 over at GEM. Trust me, Petty Enterprises was not the only team Gillett pursued in a merger over the past six to eight months; I’ve been told of at least one other car owner who was on the table but never publicly mentioned in the fall. By the end of the season, though, it was all Petty, all the time – and even after the public denial of a Gillett merger by the Pettys late in November, Gillett’s expansion dream never died. He just started looking elsewhere, and a deal appeared to fall into his lap when Gordon lost $4.5 million following the cancellation of the Dakar Rally a few weeks back.

Did You Notice? Dale Jr.’s Memorabilia Was Gone? & That’s Not All That’s Missing…

Did You Notice? All the hubbub surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “missing memorabilia” at DEI? Of course you did, because that’s all everyone keeps talking about these last few days – during an offseason where news has been so slow people are resorting to manufacturing some.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from