It may not make for an exciting finale at Homestead this Sunday, but however you calculate the points, it’s hard to argue against a third title for the No. 48 team – they’re the class of the field again. So, with 2008 all but done and dusted and just one race day trophy to run for, I’m going to take a look forward at 2009 to see what we can expect next year in terms of storylines; because as far as 2008 goes, I’m just about done. In fact, scratch that, I am done – especially after ABC cut from the race to America’s Funniest Home Videos. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about how little ABC thinks of NASCAR, then I don’t know what does.
In the last couple of years, Formula 1 races have acquired a not necessarily undeserved reputation for being little more than two hour-plus processionals; a battle between the haves and the have-nots – the technological and financial titans who win with monotonous regularity and the smaller, upstart manufacturers with no hopes of winning whatsoever. But for a series so often derided as boring, Sunday’s season finale was anything but dull.
This is my 50th column for Frontstretch, and with just three races to go in 2008 I’m fast approaching the end of my rookie year as a NASCAR columnist. I’m not sure the esteemed editors are quite ready to pull the Yellow Stripe off my back bumper (traditionally, the sign that denotes a first-year driver) but with the season to all intents and purposes done and dusted, and while we wait for the coronation of King Jimmie Kenneth Johnson for a third time, there isn’t much to get too excited about or indeed good topics to wax lyrical on. With that in mind, I’m going to take a look back at my third column, 10 Wishes for NASCAR Heading Into 2008 to see how many wishes the NASCAR Genie granted me. I’ll list the initial wish first, then discuss how it either broke down or went swimmingly in 2008.
Jimmie Johnson’s gonna three-peat, becoming just the second driver in NASCAR history to do so (joining the immortal Cale Yarborough, who won back-to-back-to-back titles (1976-78) some three decades ago). All that we’re waiting for now is the corpulent lady to belt out a little number, right? Well, maybe not quite yet.
There are just 33 days left (and 14 races across all three series) in the 2008 NASCAR season, and we’re getting inexorably closer to the time of year the prizes are handed out. So, with a little over a month left in the season, let’s take a look at where things stand, post-Charlotte, in NASCAR’s top-three divisions.
Back home in England, sports trophies in my favorite sport of football (OK, soccer on this side of the pond) are simple awards. They are made of sterling silver, are Cup shaped, and rise to a mere two-to-three feet in height. In a nutshell, they are exactly what you would expect a sports trophy to be. At least, that’s what I thought until I became involved with NASCAR — and realized things work slightly different for them. Over the past couple of years I’ve been wowed — and not so wowed — but the many and varied offerings doled out in Victory Lane. So with that in mind, and in honor of the sheer level of creativity, here’s my unscientific list of the Top 10 NASCAR trophies that drivers would love to add to their collection.
It’s an intriguing stretch of three races that follow the unique challenge of the Monster Mile. First up, it’s a trip to Kansas City and the archetypal 1.5-mile circuit of Kansas Speedway. Then, it’s on to Talladega (which really needs no explanation) and finally, to the Saturday night lights in Charlotte at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. While history has shown the leader after five races is not always the leader after 10, it’s a key trio of races that can break Chase hopefuls and set others up perfectly for the stretch run. So, without further ado, let’s look at the three upcoming tracks and why they’ll make or break this year’s title…
When NASCAR does make a rare appearance in New York, I make sure I find a way to join in the fun. This rare occasion was the Pre-Chase NASCAR Media Tour, when the top 12 drivers came into the city for a whirlwind two-day extended Q&A session. The location for the Media Event was the Hard Rock Café in the heart of Times Square, where each of the drivers had TV interviews with satellite links on the stage of the auditorium — as well as radio and print interviews. In addition, the drivers attended some Fan Q&As with a handpicked crowd of NASCAR aficionados.
Over the next couple of months, there’s plenty of time to see how the Chase unfolds with all its drama — manufactured or otherwise. But before the gentlemen fire their engines at Loudon next Sunday, let’s take a quick look at those who didn’t make the Chase, and particularly those who started the seasons with pretensions of making the final field of 12.
66 drivers have started their engines at Sprint Cup level this season. From the high banks of Daytona to the high banks of Thunder Valley the Sprint Cup season has been in part thrilling, part farcical but for the most part, despite all the flaws (yes, even the really obvious ones), still utterly compelling. With 24 down and 12 to go, we’re exactly two-thirds of the way through the season and just two races from the start of the 2008 Chase. So for no better reason than a statistical milepost, it’s time to take a look at who’s leadings all the laps and who’s struggling to keep up with the back markers as I grade the pack after two trimesters.