Jeff Gordon – Gordon won this race last year and has top five finishes in four of his six starts at Chicagoland. With a 10th-place average finish, Gordon doesn’t beat around the “Busch,” although some days, we are sure he’d like to.
Jamie McMurray’s win: Long time coming, or lucky son-of-a-gun?
Saturday was supposed to be the luckiest day of the year – July 7th, 2007 (7/7/07). On that fateful night, some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers were lucky, indeed, finding no problem pulling the lever and hitting that jackpot on the slot machine of restrictor-plate racing known as Daytona International Speedway. While Jamie McMurray snagged the biggest payout, Kyle Busch discovered you make your own luck, and for all the talk about numerology, Clint Bowyer ended up just where he was destined to… in seventh place. In the midst of it all, Saturday night’s race provided the usual restrictor-plate fireworks that we’ve all come to expect. There were teammate squabbles, finger pointing, bashed-in race cars and fiery tempers, all of which led to a gambler’s delight on wheels – one of the closest finishes ever recorded in NASCAR history.
Saturday night was an encapsulation of so many things that are good and bad about teammates. Some drivers helped their teammates succeed, some ended their teammate’s night, and some just couldn’t get out of each other’s way. With the driver movement that is already set to take place at the end of the year, the dynamics of how soon-to-be-former teammates will interact in the future are beginning to take shape now. Saturday night, we learned the end result of those departures could be not just hurt feelings… but even some irreparably damaged relationships down the line.
Editor’s Note: Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race to capture 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 some select few were thinking after the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
0 – Number of Hendrick teammates that helped push Kyle Busch’s car in the draft during the closing laps of the Pepsi 400. Kyle was still able to finish second with brother Kurt Busch’s help and by driving a strong racecar – one that was capable of running up front without another car tucked directly behind (or under) him.
The screaming on the radio was so deafening, Jamie McMurray couldn’t clear his head. The third-closest finish in NASCAR history had just taken place, and the 31-year-old from Missouri had seen too many close calls go against him to count his chickens before they hatched.
Carl Edwards looked three-wide but thought better of it on the last lap, leaving teammate Jamie McMurray free to catch the perfect side draft and hold on to beat Kyle Busch to the line in what turned into the third-closest NASCAR finish in the past 15 years.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon’s Daytona record speaks for itself; he’s won a total of six points races there, most recently the 2005 Daytona 500. With the Hendrick teams on a roll at the plate tracks, that should make Gordon an automatic contender, right? Not quite; it has to be pointed out that Gordon has finished outside the top 25 in two of the last four points races here.
The Nextel Cup circuit heads to Daytona this week for NASCAR’s traditional Independence Day extravaganza. Held on the 2.5-mile tri-oval to mark the end of the season’s first half, the 400-miler gives us a chance to take stock and look back on what’s been a wild and wacky beginning to ’07. Even though the race is no longer held ON the 4th of July, it still involves a prolonged celebration of our country’s independence nonetheless.
As for your fantasy team, it’s a bit of a crapshoot; the Pepsi 400 is a completely different race from the Daytona 500 that kicked off the season. This race is during the heat of the Summer and is run completely at night. It is also the final restrictor plate race in the old-style car — the final plate race of the year at Talladega will be run with the Car of Tomorrow.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has three wins at Loudon, but none since 1998. In fact, his third-place finish at NHIS last fall put to bed a streak of three straight finishes outside of the top 10. But overall, Gordon has 13 top 10s in 24 career starts at this track – and do you want to bet against a Hendrick driver at a CoT event?
The Nextel Cup Series heads to the Northeast this weekend to the cozy confines of New Hampshire International Speedway, the 1.058-mile flat track in Loudon, N.H. The eighth Car of Tomorrow race of the season, this weekend up north is likely to send the usual CoT cast of characters near the front of the pack. But pay particular attention to those championship contenders on your fantasy team; those drivers will certainly be focusing their efforts even more keenly on this track this weekend with the Chase in mind.