I hate the CoT. I physically hate it. As British automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson might say, “It is wayward, its front splitter is utter rubbish, and the rear wing is stupid.” A series that once celebrated and thrived on ingenuity, differentiation, and brand identification has now devolved into a bastardized IROC series, starring the ugliest thing this side of an El Camino. While NASCAR’s premier division continues to plod along, refusing to input changes to a wholly unlikable car that have been pleaded for by competitors, there was some question as to when the CoT would make its way to the “middle” division in NASCAR, the soon-to-be-former Busch Series.
Did You Notice? How sometimes a driver change isn’t really all you need? Throughout 2007, Kenny Wallace was running Furniture Row Racing cars that were down on horsepower, as the No. 78 team’s engines were being made in-house. Well, one month after Wallace’s release, and new driver Joe Nemechek “magically” convinces the team to switch over to a Hendrick leasing program!
Which one of the non-Chasers is in the best position to spoil the championship party at Dover? Read on to find out who in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, outside the Chase. One note before we begin, unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).
At a press conference Tuesday, Kasey Kahne will be introduced as the front man for the most popular beer in the world. The 27-year-old from Enumclaw, Wash. inherits the role of Earnhardt, as the series’ Most Popular Driver is off to hawk PepsiCo products instead for 2008 and beyond. The multi-year deal has the beer company now sharing space with Allstate, replacing Dodge Dealers as the primary sponsor of Kahne’s No. 9 car after seven years on the hood.
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find; the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
0 – points that Jimmie Johnson leads Jeff Gordon by in the Nextel Cup point standings. Technically, they are tied, but if this was the end of the season, Johnson would get the nod for having more race wins.
1. Brad’s Big Blunder – Fans have not exactly warmed to Brad Daugherty, the former NBA All-Star player and Busch Series team owner turned NASCAR TV analyst. But Daugherty made a big blunder on today’s pre-race show when he opined that none of the Chase contenders could catch the top three drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. “To come from the bottom, it’s insurmountable. It cannot happen. It’s too big of a deficit because those guys don’t make mistakes. It’s not going to happen,” he said. WRONG. Just ask Clint Bowyer – he shot from 12th to fourth in just one race, and is now only five points out of third. Anything can happen over the course of 10 races and there’s more to it than not making mistakes – there are cut tires, engine problems, pit road issues, getting caught up in other people’s wrecks, and many other variables that can hurt any Chase driver… even the top three favorites.
As the checkered flag flew Sunday at Loudon, 43 drivers crossed underneath the start/finish line, a simple act which in itself made history. It’s the first time ever in NASCAR’s modern era that all participants in a 43-car starting field have finished a race. Sure, the sport’s had other events where no cars have dropped out (a 37-car race in North Wilkesboro is one such example, from 1996) but nothing compared to this race, one that felt, well, different.
The Chase may have just begun this week in New Hampshire, but the race for the 35th position in owner points has been in full swing all season long… and the gap is getting narrower. The difference between 34th and 36th now stands at just 82 points – and while the Top-35 battle does not garner as much coverage as the top 12, with a potential spot in the 2008 Daytona 500 at stake, it certainly deserves it. Who are the other teams fighting to stay in contention for the 35th and final spot? Check out this week’s new look edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
For much of Sunday’s race, it looked like it would be a long day for Ragan and his AAA crew. After starting in the 38th position, it took the No. 6 car nearly half the race to work its way out of the lower third of the field. However, slow and steady proved to be what won the race for Ragan on this day; never faltering, adjustments from crew chief Jimmy Fennig continually kept making the car slightly better each run, pushing it to the point where his driver could finally pop his head inside the top 20 in the race’s waning laps.