Advertising is a fickle business at even the best of times. Long hours, low pay, huge stress, and the odd co-worker who’d stab you in the back at the drop of a hat are just some of the daily occupational hazards. Believe me when I say it’s not all martinis at lunchtime on Madison Avenue – far from it. But occasionally, amidst the machinations of one of the most cutthroat professions in the world, there are brilliant days – the sort of days that remind you why you got into the industry in the first place. For me, those days came when we made TV commercials with the NASCAR drivers you see each weekend.
The big news for the week from bubble land involved the No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet previously driven by Jeremy Mayfield. On Monday, Haas CNC Racing announced that the team and Mayfield agreed to part ways after the No. 70 car fell out of the Top 35 in owner points. According to team General Manager Joe Custer, “Jeremy stepped into the seat and did everything we asked him to… and more. Ultimately, we were unable to provide him with the right balance, handling, and speed he needed to be successful.”
Today’s Question: Jeremy Mayfield was removed in place of Johnny Sauter at Haas CNC Racing this week. Was this move the right call to turn a struggling program around… or did the team simply not give Mayfield enough of a chance?
10. $450.00 for new shorts and driver’s suit, by Michael McDowell. (Uniforms and Work Clothes)
Did You Notice? Well, you couldn’t have noticed this one. But I was absolutely appalled by an incident I saw in the garage Friday at Texas. Kyle Petty – already coming off a rather traumatic week in his driving career – was talking animatedly on a cell phone while walking down by his trailer. All of a sudden, out of nowhere a fan runs him down from over 50 feet away, with a picture in hand, a marker, and obnoxiously asking for Petty to sign. Now, I understand the urge for athletes to sign something as much as the next guy; but wouldn’t you want your one meeting with your favorite driver to be more of a “special” moment? And don’t you think there’s still some rules of common courtesy that need to be followed — especially when you’re in the middle of a working garage on a Friday?
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made its annual spring journey to the Lone Star State for the running of the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend. They tell me that everything is bigger in Texas; and apparently, this adage can be applied to the problems of some bubble teams. There’s bickering at Petty Enterprises, sponsor issues at Michael Waltrip Racing, and Chip Ganassi seems to be of the belief that there needs to be some personnel changes on his No. 40 team currently driven by former open wheeler Dario Franchitti. All of this only seven races into the year; who says Silly Season in NASCAR ever stops?
Early results are in, and there are some “locked-in” teams that will find themselves digging out of a hole in the next four races to work on keeping their status. Not only that, but teams outside the Top 35 started working hard to change that disadvantage for race six of this season — when the current owner points for 2008 will be used and allow them to sneak back into the race lineup. So, without further ado let’s check out our Top 35 results for this week — we’ll start with some of those cars “locked-in” but a little nervous about how it’s going to go this next month or two.
Last week in this column, I talked about the teams on the outside of the Top 35 looking in. This week, I’m going to touch on some of the teams that wound up just inside the Top 35 last year. If past performance is any indication, they’re the ones most in jeopardy of being on the bubble this season; and with the competition closer than ever, I’ll rate the chances I think they’ll have at still being locked in by race six — or if they’re headed towards some frantic Friday afternoons instead.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: As always, 2008 will be a year when several driver contracts are on the verge of expiring. So, which driver starts the season on the “hottest seat,” and why?
In a year where Jeremy Mayfield only managed to qualify 13 times in 32 attempts for Bill Davis Racing while driving the No. 36 360 OTC Toyota, his switch to the Haas CNC Racing No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet was by far the high point of the season.