Today’s Season Preview Topic: At 50 years old, Mark Martin is attempting the unthinkable: a return to full-time racing in the Cup Series. With good equipment underneath him (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets), is he capable of putting together a run at the Chase (and if he gets there, the championship)? Or is it too little, too late for this sport’s version of Dan Marino?
Today’s Season Preview Topic: After an up-and-down first full season with the Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR implemented no changes to the design over the offseason. Will that result in better racing in 2009 as teams get a handle on the new car, or will no testing lead to necessary midseason changes to increase the quality of racing?
Today’s Season Preview Topic: Some observers have already anointed 18-year-old Joey Logano as the next great driver on the NASCAR circuit. But last season, he struggled mightily in a handful of Cup starts for Hall of Fame Racing. Is this kid capable of taking the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota back to the front… or is he the second coming of Casey Atwood?
Today’s Season Preview Topic: With the economic crisis front and center these days, all three of NASCAR’s top-three series are struggling to fill the fields. What should the sanctioning body do to cut costs and get both teams on the track and fans in the stands… or have they already done enough?
Robby Gordon finished all but four races on the 2008 Sprint Cup schedule, with one DNF because of engine troubles and the other three because of wrecks.
After losing M&M’s sponsorship to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team and Busch, it was simply an uphill battle for David Gilliland to get financial backing in 2008.
Once again, something I read on the website Dayton Speedway Lives brought back some memories. A photographer named Scott McIlwain wrote about his experience attending the last Dayton 500 in 1979, and mentioned that Glenn Ohlmann was the winner. Ohlmann was from Louisville, and was a regular competitor at the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway as well as in ASA. We lost Glenn to cancer not too many years ago. If I might be pardoned for paraphrasing a line Richard Burton spoke in The Longest Day, the thing that bothers me about being one of the few is the way we keep getting fewer.
I found myself taking issue with something that was said during last weekend’s telecast of the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix. After a couple of bad restarts with some cars being wrecked, Dale Jarrett made the comment that the rule is that the leader can speed up anytime between the restart line and the start-finish line, and that the flagman is to throw the green when the leader does so. If that’s so, things have sure changed.
Once again, one thing leads to another. In trying to explain how easy it is to misjudge a slower speed after you’ve been traveling really fast, I mentioned that I first heard the phrase “You lose your reference to zero” from Dick Trickle. He said that after the first ASA race at Milwaukee, on May 7, 1978. We had never run on anything bigger than a 5/8-mile track, so it stands to reason that most of our guys had never seen the kind of speeds they were experiencing on that big ol’ mile. Neither had I from the flagstand, actually. When the first car went out to qualify, I threw the green flag and then told the tower to wake me up when he got to turn 3.
While surfing the web, I ran across a video of the big wreck they had at Daytona in the Sportsman race back in 1960. They started 68 cars. Speeds were a then-incredible 150 mph. Banjo Matthews and Fireball Roberts were one-two at the start-finish line when the trouble started behind them in turn 4. At the end of the first lap, there was only 31 cars left in the race. That’s right, 37 cars in all damaged or destroyed without completing a full lap. As I understand it, miraculously, there were no serious injuries, just cuts and bruises. This is still known as NASCAR’s most spectacular accident. Sure gives a new meaning to the “Big One.”