There is a danger lurking in the shadows at your local NASCAR track. It’s more dangerous than a flipping, burning racecar. It’s more insidious than a soaked tire. It’s scarier than Jimmy Spencer in a Speedo. It’s… Invisible Debris!
It could have been ugly. We got lucky; but it could have been tragic. The 2007 Daytona 500 was marred with crashes. There was no Big One, just a bunch of Little Ones, but a couple of those looked deceptively bad. Bottom line… there was nothing about those crashes in that race that made it fun to watch.
It’s a lot like the first day of school. You believe in possibilities-it’s a brand-new year, and anything can happen. And, poised to start the 2007 NASCAR season on Sunday, it feels a lot like that indeed.
Penalties, penalties everywhere at Daytona. NASCAR handed down a total of five of them on Tuesday and Wednesday, the most severe coming late Wednesday afternoon when the sanctioning body announced a penalty against the team of driver Michael Waltrip following a strange substance in the intake manifold in both pre- and post-qualifying inspection. NASCAR confiscated the Toyota Camry, and when the substance appeared a third time, levied suspensions, point fines, and a monetary fine on crew chief David Hyder.
Also on Tuesday, four crew chiefs were suspended for unapproved aerodynamic modifications, including all three top wrenches for Evernham Motorsports. Rodney Childers (Scott Riggs) and Josh Browne (Elliott Sadler) were suspended for two races and fined $25,000. In addition, both drivers and Evernham lost 25 owner/driver points for violations found prior to qualifying.
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. told the racing world on Wednesday that he wants majority interest in DEI, it brought to a head a contract-and life-dispute that has likely been brewing far longer than most of us know. Six years after the death of Dale Earnhardt, the empire is as big as it ever was – three Nextel Cup entries in the stable, the most popular driver in Dale Jr., the race results improving every week of last season. But has DEI traveled the road that Earnhardt had envisioned?
I have a split personality. No, don’t call the men in white coats. Neither one of us is violent. But I have noticed that sometimes, the race fan and journalist in me puts me at odds with the driver fan in me. Some race fans don’t have this problem as they are simply driver fans to the point where if their guy is winning or losing, nothing else matters. Not the rules, not the lack of parity in the sport, and certainly not tradition or facts.
Wake up, NASCAR fans! Race season is just around the corner – and the roar of the engines at Daytona is the reminder we all needed, right?
Although specifics have yet to be released, this much is clear: NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter confirmed that the sanctioning body will award more points for winning a race and that more drivers will be in the Chase, changes that I find clearly unnecessary.
In the weeks since this year’s Nextel Cup championship was decided in favor of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, I’ve heard a lot of people complain about him. The reasons why are as diverse as the crowd of Manhattanites currently welcoming the world’s fastest growing sport on wheels for the yearly awards banquet.