1. The Other Big Three – American automakers GM, Ford, and Chrysler have just about reached the panic stage, as their financial well-being becomes a critical concern. GM stock has lost approximately 75% of its value over the last year, Ford Motor Company has seen a 50% decline of stock value in the last three months, and Chrysler is expected to either file bankruptcy or sell off what profitable segments of the company they can. NASCAR’s Chairman and CEO Brian France, speaking on whether there’ll be continued support from the “Big Three” in the sport considering their financial crunch, summed up the situation by saying, “…we’ll just have to see.”
Once the checkered flag flew, it was Denny Hamlin scoring the Winn-Dixie 250 win, his third in the Nationwide Series for 2008. Hamlin’s victory also marked the ninth of the season for JGR’s No. 20 team.
“I’ll do it” Famous last words, and apparently they had just come from my lips. I was with the No. 28 U.S. Border Patrol team and driver Kenny Wallace a few minutes before the start of the Camping World RV Sales 200 on Saturday when I said those words, and I’d uttered them in response to the team’s realization that they were short a pit crew member–specifically they needed someone to hold the pit sign that tells the driver where to stop. So, before my brain could actually process what it was doing, my mouth said, “I’ll do it.”
The New NASCAR: Some love it, others revile it, but everybody’s got an opinion. The Car of Tomorrow has its share of detractors and supporters, as does the television coverage and what has become the “over commercialization” of the sport in recent years (Which always strikes me as funny — here’s a sport that is based almost entirely on corporate America’s advertising and sponsorship dollars, and it’s accused of being over commercialized). Anyways, now that car brand identity has all but vanished, we are essentially watching 43 billboards race against the backdrop of a four-hour-long infomercial each week.
Cup drivers scored the first seven finishing positions and eight of the top-10 spots Saturday, with Tony Stewart scoring a relatively easy win at Loudon.
Up until 2003, before the sport’s “Drive for Diversity” began, NASCAR had been contributing to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition, supposedly to help increase the number of minorities in auto racing. So far, no one can cite any specific achievements of that partnership, which reportedly cost NASCAR $250,000. The late NFL star and minister Reggie White, someone who was not often accused of insensitivity to the plight of blacks in his life, said out loud that Jackson’s association with NASCAR was a fraud: “It’s really disappointing to me that Jesse and his organization would take a quarter of a million dollars from NASCAR and not do anything with it to try to get black drivers into the sport.”
My Jay Robinson Racing team continues to find our way. This is a new situation for me to try to make our team better. We went to Nashville and we were competitive to where we were able to finish 16th, on the lead lap which was a feather in our cap. We’re pointed in the right direction. That was a good run for us. Our team was happy–I didn’t think I would ever be happy with a 16th-place finish, but I thought it was good for our team.
After Nashville, we went to Kentucky and had a fuel pump break at the drop of the green flag-the very first lap. That was disappointing because the goal on our team is to finish every race in the top 20. When I do that–finish in the top 20–that really makes us feel like we’re headed in the right direction. But life goes on there and you move on.
After Joey Logano convincingly scored his first Nationwide Series win at Kentucky Speedway in only his third series start, talk ignited about when, not if, he should move to the Cup series. While there were plenty of Frontstretch readers out there that stressed the need for Logano to remain in the Nationwide Series for 2009 before making his jump to Cup, I was not one of them. Kentucky had me convinced that should Logano keep putting a hurt on the Nationwide Series field, he could and should be moved to the Cup series next season. After watching this past weekend’s race at Milwaukee, however, I’m going to need to step back from that assertion.
Kevin Harvick’s bonzai move at the end of the race at Infineon could be the difference between both he and Tony Stewart making the Chase three months from now. Was that move over the line, and does it paint the No. 29 team in the most trouble of all 17 Chase contenders?
1. Still Able To Get ‘Er Done – 1995 Busch (Nationwide) Series Champion and 1996 Winston (Sprint) Cup Rookie of the Year Johnny Benson won for the third consecutive time at the Milwaukee Mile in the Camping World RV 200 Craftsman Truck Series race Friday evening. With the win, Benson maintains his CTS points lead in the drivers standings by 50-points over Todd Bodine. Benson has 10 wins in since moving to the CTS in 2005 after not being able to any longer secure a competitive Cup ride. Is the Craftsman Truck Series where Cup veterans are sent to die… or do they sometimes get another chance?