The Top 15 vote-getting drivers for this Wednesday and every Wednesday during the full 2008 season.
There were no dramatic changes in the point system for the Championship Chase format, nor was there much relief for teams outside the Top 35 that are disadvantaged in qualifying for races. It seems that the rules committee did not deem it necessary to look at further tightening the championship provisional rules, or curbing the increasingly commonplace practice of “team orders” being given to manipulate the final race results. These issues, among others which surfaced during the 2007 race season, seemed in need of more than a passing glance. That’s not to say that the powers that be sat idle in the offseason; however, they seem to have fallen short on some of the rule changes they did make.
The 50th Daytona 500. It’s an upcoming milestone for everyone — teams and fans alike — but I’m going to go out on a limb and say some are so busy preparing for the first five races of the year that this 50th anniversary thing is a little detail that may be lost to them. Instead, many are focused on making the magical 35th position in points: owner points, that is. For the new fans out there, owner points are what individual teams get from their respective driver’s performance. When NASCAR talks about granting qualifying exemptions for the Top-35 teams, that means the car and not the driver makes the differentiation. For example, 2007 Chase Cinderella Clint Bowyer would be forced to qualify on speed for the last race at Homestead if he attempted to move from the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet — a car he helped maneuver to third in the owner standings — to the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota that never earned an exemption all season long.
Mark Martin wasn’t shy with his comments about single-car runs following the first day of Winter Testing in Daytona, going as far as to call the session a “waste of his time” and “idiotic.” Well, Martin and each of the 26 drivers on hand for Session 1 got their wish Tuesday afternoon, when NASCAR allowed the teams to participate in drafting practice one day earlier than expected.
In the 13 races before the Chase began, Kurt Busch turned his season around, scoring two wins and seven top-10 finishes to work his way up to 11th in points – just in time for the start of the Chase.
The week-long banquet celebration just concluded its 27th year in New York City amidst rumors it could be moved elsewhere. With no racetrack in the immediate vicinity, does the banquet belong in the Big Apple?
Editor’s Note: With the 2007 Nextel Cup season complete, it’s now time to take a look back. This week, veteran writer Matt McLaughlin winds up the process started last Monday with his annual race review, analyzing each event of the season and giving us his take on how good – or bad – they really were. Today marks part three of the four-part series.
10. Kevin Harvick – “Finally, I’ve decided to join the Ricky Rudd Fan Club. I’ll miss you, Ricky!”
Each week, we’ll go through 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 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has top-10 finishes in four of his six starts at Homestead, including a second-place result scored here in 2004. For those looking for a little drama, Johnson did crash out here in 2005 en route to 40th place.