Q: Can you please clear up something for me? Since the No. 8 team is shut down, I wonder why NASCAR would not have asked or told Teresa [Earnhardt] to let the number follow Dale Jr. If NASCAR owns the numbers, what’s to stop them from making that call. Now there is another great car number that won’t be on the track, and a lot of us feel that it should still be with Dale Earnhardt Jr. That number will always be identified with him.
With the Samsung 500 victory at Texas, Gordon has now posted 82 career Cup Series wins. By comparison, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, his closest rival in the career win category of drivers competing full-time in NASCAR’s top series, has exactly half or 41 victories to his credit. Even though Johnson has performed at a prolific pace during his relatively short 262 starts at the Cup level – having yet to experience a significant and seemingly unavoidable win-drought in his career – he does not enjoy any significant win percentage advantage over Gordon. With 16-years and 554 starts in NASCAR Cup competition under his belt, Gordon has a winning percentage of 14.86%, a sum just under Johnson’s winning rate of 15.65% amassed since he began campaigning in the Cup circuit full-time in 2002.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the No. 8 Chevrolet team of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will be scuttled immediately, removing themselves off the entry list for the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway next Saturday night. And with the news everyone has expected for days now becoming official, two separate issues that had been “hot-button topics” over the last two seasons have converged and been simultaneously resolved in a most unceremonious manner.
After 17 starts at the 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval, Jeff Gordon won for the first time at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, snapping a drought of 47 races since his last win at Lowe’s back in October, 2007. It was a welcome relief for both driver and crew chief Steve Letarte, who – after being credited with Gordon’s six wins and incredible 30 top 10s that year – was suddenly made out to be a pariah by the end of 2008. In just a 12-month span, Letarte became a source of anger, not elation, for many who pointed the finger at Gordon’s slump straight through to the guy on top of the war wagon.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
That Junior has visited victory lane far less than expected since his joining Hendrick Motorsports has been, to say the least, a grain of sand in the Junior Nation oyster. And everyone has a theory why the winless streak continues – from too many off-track distractions to an inadequate crew chief to the ever-comical “he’s driving the R&D car,” as if Rick Hendrick paid millions to hire the most popular driver in NASCAR to test brake setups. Proud members of the anti-Junior Nation gleefully suggest that Earnhardt is simply a mediocre driver. So what’s the real answer?
The record books will show that Jeff Gordon earned the pole at Martinsville this weekend. But he did so without having to turn a lap in anger, instead relying solely on his point lead when arriving at the track to get the spot. With rain washing out the chance to qualify, some folks will say that Gordon earned the pole based on his performance this season to date. In all honesty, Gordon hasn’t qualified outside the top 10 at Martinsville since 2002, and he’s won four pole positions in that period – so it’s likely the No. 24 car would have been starting at or near the front anyway.
I have always maintained that Martinsville is the true litmus test for the opening months of the NASCAR season. Daytona is the Super Bowl of motorsports, and it is easy to get caught up in the hype of the grandest race on the schedule. A win can make a season or define a career (just ask Derrike Cope), but how many first-race finishes have we seen be a little more than a flash in the pan or a fluke of restrictor-plate luck? Just because you catch a pocket of air or get ran into from behind hard enough does not a season make. By the time the series rolls around to the oldest track on the circuit, the .526-mile paperclip in Virginia situated by some railroad tracks and stacked to the rafters with pink nitride-cicles served under the guise of edibility known as a “hot dog,” the contenders and the pretenders are usually exposed for what they truly are.
With their bumping and banging for the lead on Sunday, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson were able to make big gains up the Power Rankings ladder. But were they enough to push Jeff Gordon off the top spot? Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton were among those who took it on the chin at this short track. Read on to see how far they slid – and which new drivers drove their way up the list – in this week’s edition of the Frontstretch Power Rankings.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.