NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Sadler’s Last Stand, Diversity’s Shocking Surprise & NASCAR Free Agents Losing Hope

Elliott Sadler was released from Gillett Evernham Motorsports in favor of AJ Allmendinger, and promptly filed suit for breach of contract. Does Sadler have a leg to stand on, and what can he hope to gain – or stand to lose – from the suit?

David Starr Driver Diary: Another Season in the Books

So, here we are, at the end of another season in the Craftsman Truck Series! It’s only been two races since my last entry. The race at Phoenix was just OK for us and we struggled a lot with front grip. Our Zachry Toyota Tundra wasn’t too bad, but right there at the end, Kyle Busch and about four or five other drivers pitted for tires, and then we had a caution that hurt us a little, too. We probably would have finished ninth or 10th, but we lost some spots at the end to the guys with newer tires. At Homestead, we decided to try something new set-up wise, and it wasn’t very good. We really struggled. We were moving forward and making some progress, but it wasn’t enough to get us the finish we wanted. When you try new things for a race, you learn a lot of stuff – sometimes good, sometimes bad. But in the end, that’s what will help us next year.

Rick Crawford Driver Diary: I’ll Keep an Eye on the Casino For You…

We ended the year in Homestead at Ford Championship Weekend without the finish we were looking for at all. It was just one of those things where the truck was running good through the day and then halfway through the race, we had a mechanical part failure inside the engine. I’m not looking at that as being a determining factor. We’ve used these particular Roush Yates engines for the last three years, and I think that’s only the second issue we’ve had with them. I think that’s a really commending story from a racecar driver and team to an engine builder. We hated that it happened in that particular race, but they’d been great engines up until then.

What’s Vexing Vito: Yay! The Season is Over! I’m Devastated

I’m conflicted. The 2008 NASCAR season is finally over. “Finally” for me has a few different meanings. Mainly, it has been a hectic and exhausting year, balancing working and writing while trying to maintain some semblance of a semi-normal social life. Secondly, because this has been, after 26 years of watching this sport, the most painfully long season I can remember. I feel that there were more lows than highs unfortunately, but then again, such is the sad state of affairs we find our self in at this point in history. I am also taken aback by some of the irony – or coincidence – whatever label you wish to apply to it, that I have seen this year in NASCAR.

Mirror Driving: 2008’s Biggest Moment, 2009’s Testing Nightmare & Judging Johnson in 2050

Jimmie Johnson became the second driver ever to win three straight NASCAR Cup championships by clinching the Cup at Homestead. Does that cement Johnson’s place among the best ever in the history books, or is the jury still out?

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Ford 400 at Homestead

2. Circling The Wagons – Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Inc. announced last week that they will merge their operations for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series, creating an organization known as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The newly formed team is expected to field four cars. Presently, Ganassi has Target on board next season for his No. 41 team, with a driver yet to be named for next season. Additionally, Juan Pablo Montoya will have Wrigley’s back in ’09 for select races, but still is looking for sponsorship for the remainder of the year. DEI has Bass Pro Shops returning to the No. 1 Chevy driven by Martin Truex Jr. and no primary sponsorship to date for the No. 8 assumed to be driven by Aric Almirola. Rumors abound that Montoya may actually drive the Target car, with Almirola inheriting the sponsorship from Wrigley’s for his own team.

Tracking the Trucks: 2008 Ford 200 at Homestead

Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 0.232 seconds ahead of rookie Brian Scott to win the Ford 200 Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After starting 18th, Bodine took the lead with just four laps remaining and held on through a green/white/checkered finish to score his third win this season. Meanwhile, Johnny Benson finished one position ahead of Ron Hornaday to win the Truck Series championship by seven points (Benson was seventh, Hornaday eighth).

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Craftsman’s Tenure Ends in Style

Here we are at the end of yet another year of Craftsman Truck Series racing. It sure has been fun watching Ron Hornaday Jr. and Johnny Benson swap the top spot in the standings. With just one race remaining on the schedule to settle it all, the championship is still up for grabs. Benson currently leads Hornaday by just three points. Statistically speaking, Hornaday definitely has the edge going into Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both drivers have one win to their credit, but Benson’s win came more recently – he closed out the 2007 season with a win at the 1.5-mile track. However, in eight starts, Hornaday has finished outside the top 10 only once; Benson has run four races and finished outside the top 10 twice.

Voice of Vito: You Were Always On My Mind – Johnny Benson Ponders His Future in NASCAR

A lot of things must have been going through Johnny Benson’s mind Friday night at Phoenix. Chief among them was probably, “…why did I just do that…” midway through a race while preparing to absorb the impact of a blast into the wall between turns 1 and 2 – with innocent bystander TJ Bell in tow (or plow, as the case may be since Benson was in front of him… and he was driving a truck). He was also probably wondering what he was going to have to do in order to finish in front of Ron Hornaday this weekend at Homestead, to win the 2008 Craftsman Truck Series title that, for all intents and purposes, should have been on the shelf after Ron’s first-lap, self-induced wreck that same night. Instead, heading into the final races of the season, Johnny suddenly holds a scant three-point lead over Hornaday. But most important of all, he was also probably thinking, “…what am I going to do next year?”

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix

1. Monkey See… Monkey Do – The nip and tuck championship battle between Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson Jr. continues after the two squared off at Phoenix Friday night in the Lucas Oil 150. The fact the two Craftsman Truck Series drivers continued their points fight was made more remarkable after Hornaday incurred significant damage to his Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet on the first lap of the race. Repairs to Hornaday’s truck took 29 laps to complete, and he wound up finishing 25th, 34 laps down. However, a lap 87 wreck with TJ Bell sent Benson behind the pit wall for extensive work on his Bill Davis Racing Toyota. The current point leader did return to the track to salvage a 26th-place finish in the final running order – winding up one position behind Hornaday.

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