The news this past week that Jamie McMurray is job hunting probably does not come as a great surprise to many. Though McMurray has denied such speculation, critics have had him with one foot out the door of his Roush Fenway ride ever since the beginning of 2008. Currently 22nd in the Cup standings with just two top-10 finishes, the 31-year-old Joplin, Mo. native simply has never lived up to the hype that surrounded him in 2005 as a player in perhaps the silliest of Silly Seasons in NASCAR history.
The notorious “Monster Mile” jumped out and attacked the competition Sunday when Elliott Sadler came down on the No. 38 of David Gilliland on lap 18, triggering a massive pileup that ended the days for a number of Chase contenders before they could even get into a rhythm. Aside from Sadler’s blunder, though, it was Kyle Busch who once again stole the headlines by claiming his fourth win of the season. Busch is undoubtedly the hottest driver in the series right now; but how does his start stack up against Jimmie Johnson’s impressive start to 2007? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup to find out.
In the immortal words of one Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.” The star of the 1980s silver screen was right: life does move fast – and so does NASCAR. With the checkered flag flying on the Coca-Cola 600, we’re exactly a third of the way through the 2008 season, just 14 races away from the start of the Chase. So it’s as good a time as any to take a look at the hits and misses of the season so far. Who has driven it like they stole it? Who has run ho-hum, and who has flat out sucked? Find out the answers below, as I hand out awards for the first four months of the season to date.
In the last 10 Richmond races, the winner has started within the top 10; so, pay special attention to qualifying if you have the opportunity to build your team on Saturday. With that in mind, which drivers will help you get over the fantasy hangover from Talladega, and which ones will leave you reaching for more aspirin? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out how you should put the Band-Aids together to allow the restrictor-plate wounds sufficient time – and points – to heal.
Sunday’s race at Talladega resembled the atmosphere of a short-track slugfest, with cars exchanging punches at a cool 190 mph across NASCAR’s fastest facility. While the restrictor plates were still in place, the excitement they produced was unrestricted, as drivers didn’t hesitate to bump and bang their way to the front in the third race with this current package. While a single line freight train was a legitimate fear – the fall race resembled a parade for the first 300 miles until drivers started taking chances – it turned out there was no reason to worry as the car came into its own. 52 lead changes among 20 drivers illustrated that competition, not conservatism, had returned to restrictor-plate racing.
After what many had hoped would be a good old-fashioned Texas shootout turned into a king sized snooze fest, the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway this Saturday night for the first short track battle under the lights of the season. With the exception of Jeff Gordon’s dismal performance, Texas didn’t offer many surprises with no major upsets appearing in the top 10. But the close confines of the 1-mile track in the Valley of the Sun, could have plenty of surprises in store for the drivers in this week’s race. So which drivers will rise from the ashes to bring success to your fantasy team and which ones will wilt in the desert heat? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out.
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?
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all 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 the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
For those who haven’t heard, this week NASCAR denied Michael Waltrip Racing’s request to swap owner points between the No. 00 and the No. 44. This means that after 41 races, David Reutimann finally got himself solidly up in owner points, only to have his team owner drop him back to 34th. John Darby, Sprint Cup series director stated that, “Point swaps are typically granted only when there’s a change in business function, or when an owner is trying to reorganize during the offseason. This was never meant to be used to give a driver the best position he can get.” With this ruling, let’s take a look at who this week’s Winners and Losers are after the Goody’s Cool Orange 500.
10. A Roush Fenway internal memo titled “How To Get Into And Stay In The Top 35” in Michael Waltrip’s back pocket.