NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tommy Thompson

Thompson in Turn 5: Tony Stewart Rude, Crude & 1 of the Best

I’m not sure who I rank as the best all-around driver I have ever witnessed do battle on a racetrack; but of the three at the top of my list, only one is still active... Tony Stewart. (Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt round out my own personal all-time top three). That's not a particularly controversial list of picks, to be sure - and certainly easy enough to defend. Of course, that's just as long as the debate is confined to how each of these drivers handle themselves while in the driver's seat of a variety of differing types of racecars... either on dirt or asphalt. For how they behave outside the racetrack is a whole different story altogether.

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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

1. How Low? - "When times are tough, there are certain things that are lower on the priority list than others," said Dodge Motorsports senior manager Mike Delahanty in announcing that the company would not support any Craftsman Truck Series teams beginning next year. Actually, the only truck team that the manufacturer still funds was Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia. Dodge had previously enjoyed success in the series with the late Bobby Hamilton, winning a CTS championship with him in 2004 and then with Ted Musgrave and Ultra Motorsports in 2005. Low Priority? Is that an insult to the Craftsman Truck Series... or what?

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Thompson in Turn 5: Richmond a “Must-See” Event

Expecting fans to sit through all 36 scheduled point races and the two exhibition races in a 52-week year is asking way too much and generally won’t happen. Unlike journalists, whose editors expect them to sit up and pay attention for every lap of every race, the average fan at some point will exercise their right to take a breather from NASCAR’s action and drama. Maybe spend some time matching names to faces of their family members or propping up the porch with some new 4x4s before it collapses. However, this coming Saturday evening is not the time to mend family relationships or be concerned with the fact that the house is close to being condemned by the city. Fans’ full attention should be on the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Pepsi 500 at Fontana

1. Thanks For The Memories - Felix Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, never one to mince words, took a potshot at sponsor of the No. 42 Texaco Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya. Texaco, after 20 years of sponsoring a NASCAR Cup team, has announced that they have made a business decision to allocate their advertising dollars elsewhere and will no longer sponsor a Sprint Cup team. “They (Texaco) have focused on other things. We really didn’t get that much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great, for us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money,” said Sabates. Oh Felix... Texaco says thank you, too.

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Thompson in Turn 5: Edwards & Busch… Like Mayfield & Earnhardt

The bump-and-run maneuver -- as demonstrated by Carl Edwards Saturday night in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol to gain the win -- is without a doubt the sorriest, most low-rent passing tactic in the book. The maneuver requires very little skill, but lots of brashness coupled with minimal regard for sportsmanship. However, for only the second time in over 40 years of following the sport of stock car racing, I applaud the culprit and simply write it off as poetic justice.

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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Bristol Night Race

4. Cats Land On Their Feet... Too - Casey Mears, with just one win to his credit during stints with Ganassi Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, has been selected as the newest driver to the Richard Childress Racing stable of drivers that already includes Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick. How many lives does a driver have?

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Thompson in Turn 5: Jeff Gordon & Others Still Figuring Out How to Approach the Chase

Immediately following NASCAR’s announcement in 2003 of the new championship points format -- the 10-race Chase -- I found myself fully on board with the plan. I supported the decision by the new management regime headed by Brian France because, in my estimation, it was a smart business move to insure there were no more forgone conclusions as to who would win the championship by September -- allowing for more fans to stay tuned in as the NFL season began. Certainly, the move was designed to put some pizzazz into the championship fight, hoping to force the Chase-eligible drivers to run hard every second of every race up through the last lap at Homestead in November.

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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 3M Performance 400 at Michigan

1. Give Backs - After five years on the sideline, the Southern 500 is back! Well, sort of. Track officials have announced that next year's Mother’s Day weekend race will be renamed the Southern 500 -- replacing the Dodge Avenger 500. The track lost the traditional Southern 500 date to the Fontana, Calif. racetrack in 2004. However, since the loss of one of NASCAR’s most prestigious races, the track has improved its infrastructure and fans have rallied, selling out its lone race on the Sprint Cup schedule the last four years. OK, Darlington’s got the crowds back, the Southern 500 back... now, all they need is the Labor Day weekend back! Southern 500 at “The Lady in Black” on Labor Day weekend under the lights would be sweet!

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Thompson in Turn 5: No “Mind Games” Intended Towards Kyle Busch – Just the Truth

Wholly based on genuine observations and candid comments made by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson leading up to Kyle Busch’s convincing win last Sunday at the Watkins Glen International road course, some in the news media and apparently Kyle Busch himself believe that his former Hendrick Motorsports teammates are engaging in some form of psychological warfare against him to distract him from his task at hand – winning the 2008 Sprint Cup championship. However, it is doubtful that either four-time Cup champion Gordon or the current back-to-back defending champion Johnson, neither with degrees in psychology, but with Masters in wheeling racecars, were up to anything more diabolical than analyzing theirs and others chances of wrangling the driver points lead away from the 23-year old Busch by Homestead in November.

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10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Centurion Boats at the Glen

1. Artifacts - Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., has agreed to contract terms with his current employer that will keep him with the organization and his team at least through 2009. Last week, rumors had Truex Jr. agreeing in principal to resigning with DEI, leading to a vehement denial from Truex Jr. himself and a reported heated discussion with DEI’s President of Global Operations Max Siegel, who was accused of leaking the story to media outlets. But Friday, it was Truex who was singing a far different tune.

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