Did You Notice? How quickly everyone got the heck out of dodge as soon as the NASCAR season is over? You didn’t hear a peep from much of anyone over the past week – because we were all on vacation! Yes, it’s the holidays, but the sigh of relief uttered by everyone who’s a part of the sport is yet another sign the Cup season is as lengthy as it’s ever going to get.
Did You Notice? That Ken Schrader popped up over in the Gillett Evernham camp this weekend? Patrick Carpentier mentioned him as one of the drivers most responsible for allowing the rookie to adapt to the track so quickly. That could only mean good things for the veteran; Schrader currently is without a ride in any of NASCAR’s top three series, and could benefit immensely from developing a relationship with Evernham and Dodge. Even though the 52-year-old struggled throughout the course of the season with the Wood Brothers – he hasn’t won a race since 1991 – you’d like to think he’d have a few more NASCAR starts left in him, given the right opportunity and a limited schedule.
Did You Notice? The degree to which Roger Penske is trying to force Sam Hornish Jr. into a Cup Series ride for next season? After his sixth DNQ at Atlanta, the team was even talking about switching rides with Kurt Busch for ’08 so that Hornish could have the comfort of being locked into the Top 35 next season – not suffering through the pressure of having to qualify on speed. Um… what?
Did You Notice? That even with all the driver changes in motion for next year, there has been just one primary sponsor announced for 2008 that’s new to the sport? Sure, a few old faithfuls are moving on up from the Busch Series; 3M is increasing its involvement to sponsor the No. 16 Cup car next year, for example. But most of the sponsorship movement has been in the form of recycled material.
Did You Notice? That NASCAR mismanaged another late-race issue Saturday night? OK, try and follow me here… a crash by Johnny Sauter with 11 laps to go became an opportunity to throw the red flag, as Jeff Green’s blown engine left oil splattered all over the racetrack. Clearly, that’s understandable; NASCAR was making an effort to keep the racing surface safe for everyone involved. However, usually when a red flag is thrown, you stop the cars until the racetrack is ready to go back to green. Well, the cars were restarted with 10 laps to go – and they ran an additional five laps under the yellow flag.
Did You Notice? How quickly Greg Biffle was ready with a story when he exited his car in Kansas’ Victory Lane? Whether you believe NASCAR made the right call or not, listening to the way in which the No. 16 driver handled the scenario certainly made it hard to believe that car would have lasted another three laps. I’d put $10,000 on the line to see that car started in the current condition it was on Sunday after hearing Biffle speak.
Did You Notice? How sometimes a driver change isn’t really all you need? Throughout 2007, Kenny Wallace was running Furniture Row Racing cars that were down on horsepower, as the No. 78 team’s engines were being made in-house. Well, one month after Wallace’s release, and new driver Joe Nemechek “magically” convinces the team to switch over to a Hendrick leasing program!
Did You Notice? That in the final restarts of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, Carl Edwards had none other than Elliott Sadler – Kasey Kahne’s teammate – lining up beside him on the inside every time. But even though Sadler could have made himself a roadblock – opening the door for second-place Kahne to make a move – he instead bowed out of the way, a remarkable statement of a class for the Virginian who’s had a tough year himself on the Nextel Cup circuit.