Just as the Daytona 500 brings stock car racing roaring back to life, it also marks the beginning of the 2009 season for hundreds of thousands of fantasy racers across the country. And just as every driver in the 500 field needs a strong finish this Sunday to kick off their campaigns, every fantasy racer wants to get a jump on their competition the first weekend of the season. Picking a restrictor-plate race is never easy – but Frontstretch’s own Bryan Davis Keith and Mike Neff are nonetheless going to bump-draft you to the front of your respective leagues.
With 2009 offering one last chance to shape the story of the decade, more outlandish stories beg to be written. Jimmie Johnson will be looking to set a record never thought possible, especially under the Chase playoff format – four consecutive Sprint Cup titles. To do it, he’ll need to fend off perhaps the strongest field of challengers he’s ever had, with Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch the trendy picks to break his streak. In the background looms one of the better rookie battles of the decade in Joey Logano vs. Scott Speed: NASCAR’s handpicked future messiah against the quirkiest newcomer it’s had in years.
Welcome to the first 2009 edition of Running Their Mouth! 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 Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick assumed the lead milliseconds before the caution flag flew, signaling the end of the race. With the convoluted new format and dearth of attendance and excitement Saturday night, is it time to just call this Shootout silliness off?
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, we couldn’t stop talking about the massive Silly Season upheaval due to Dale Jr.’s imminent departure from DEI. The moment word came down, there was… Chaos! Insanity! Panic in the streets! Entire wardrobes had to be replaced, cars underwent new paint jobs and shrubberies were chopped down. At the family dining table, arguments ensued over lost sponsorships, car numbers and blown engines. It wasn’t pretty… but it was passionate.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started strong, but couldn’t close the deal. He was Hendrick’s best driver all spring; but once summer heated up, the No. 88 began to tail off.
When the question “what is the biggest news story of 2008” came up, plenty of things came to mind in the short time provided for answers. Easily, Jimmie Johnson’s third straight title was the winner, but there were other memorable moments, including: the mess at the Brickyard; the meteoric rise and fall of Kyle Busch; a winless season for Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth; and Johnny Benson and Clint Bowyer winning titles in the lesser series. However, after our chat I got to thinking (always a dangerous thing). Memory is short, and we tend to forget things at an astonishing rate. Most of us couldn’t remember what we wore two days ago, unless we had set clothes for each day of the week. With that in mind, there are some memorable moments in the 2008 season that we’ll have most certainly forgotten by 2013.
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.
Tough times have arrived for U.S. corporations, and thus NASCAR as well. This has prompted some of the sport’s best known and respected personalities to come to the aid of stock car racing’s most important partner – the U.S automobile manufacturers. As the heads of the Big Three car builders gathered in Washington D.C. yesterday with hats in hand to beg for further financial aid to stay afloat, a “grassroots” campaign kicked off within the NASCAR community to encourage fans to support Chrysler, Ford and GM in their quest to be the next segment of the U.S. economy to get in on the new trend of taxpayer-backed loans.
After 36 points-paying events, nine months, and 14,493 miles of racing, the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is finally in the books. When the smoke cleared, it was Jimmie Johnson winning his third consecutive championship, tying Cale Yarborough as the only drivers in history to accomplish that feat. Behind him, Carl Edwards finished second but won the most trophies, with a total of nine checkered flags captured throughout the year. In contrast, Jeff Gordon snapped his streak of at least one win per season at 14, while Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were some of the other notables who got shut out of victory lane. However, none of those drivers mentioned got left out of our final Power Rankings poll of the season. As you might expect, Johnson was unanimously voted number one on our list; but where did the other drivers mentioned wind up? Read on to see if your wheelman shone in the Florida sun or got sand kicked in his face in the final edition of our 2008 Power Rankings.