If Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t make the Chase – and right now, it certainly isn’t looking good – how will the No. 8 team perform the rest of the season?
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race and 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 a select few were thinking following the Sharp Aquos 500 at the California Speedway.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon won the inaugural race at Fontana in 1997, and has won two additional Cup races here. He finished second at the track this spring, and has top-five finishes in half of his 14 Cup starts.
Sponsors spend a ton of money getting their name and logos painted onto cars in the Nextel Cup series. Some of them pay more than $30 million, in fact, just to spend a full season on the hood of a top-flight team. However, it appears as though some people in the garage area feel as though that large amount of cash is purchasing more than paint on a car, or perhaps a simple sponsor appearance at a national office. No, that type of money appears to take a team one step further – to the point of purchasing favoritism from the ones who make the calls in NASCAR each weekend. Sound a little crazy to you? It doesn’t to Jack Roush, the legendary NASCAR car owner who had no problem raising such concerns on live television last weekend.
For some, the racing at Bristol Saturday night was the best it has been in years. For others, it was a Bristol race in name only, with no fireworks and little excitement. But no matter which side of the fence you are on, there were plenty of winners and losers coming out of the annual madhouse that is Thunder Valley in late summer. Carl Edwards added another 10 bonus points to his Chase count, and should get extra points for sticking the backflip on Bristol’s high banks after his second win of the season. On the flip side, Denny Hamlin’s fried engine left him with just his second career DNF. In between, what could have been a big night for a points shakeup amongst the Chasers instead never materialized, with no driver falling out of, or moving into, the playoffs.
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race and 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 a select few were thinking following the Sharpie 500 on the newly repaved Bristol Motor Speedway.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I watch The Godfather, Part II – one of my favorite movies – you always watch certain things and hope for the ending to be different. Fredo can be a very likable character at times, and you can slip and find yourself thinking that maybe he won’t make the same mistakes this time around. No matter what, though, any hope you have that things will change always falls by the wayside. There will be no movie remake – and you already know what the ending will be, no matter how much you try and convince yourself otherwise. That’s where we are in NASCAR’s 2007 Race to the Chase. We all know the answers – but there’s too much hope for a different ending to allow ourselves to admit the truth.
In this very column two weeks ago, I gave Kurt Busch a pretty hard time. His Pocono Victory Lane celebration, with its scripted victory speech and fake beer swigging, was not only pre-meditated, it was downright fake. So to be fair, I must acknowledge that Kurt’s straight-up rundown of the last 100 laps and compulsory ‘Thank Yous’ at Michigan were well done.
In short: You drove one helluva race, Kurt, and – by ditching the forced pitchman routine – you scored mucho points with the casual fan by simply being yourself. And the fact that you actually opened the beer bottle before you took a swig was almost, dare I say it?, Junior-esque.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won five Cup races at Bristol, but only one of those wins was in the August Night Race. Still, with 18 top-10 finishes in 29 starts here, Gordon figures to be a factor Saturday night.
With only three races remaining before the 2007 Chase for the Championship begins, the question of who will be the final qualifier for the 10-race playoff became a little more clear on a foggy and soggy Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, Michigan. For the second time in three races, Kurt Busch drove the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger to Victory Lane, in a performance that, while not nearly as dominating as his win two weeks earlier at Pocono, was convincing nonetheless that a playoff push has come ever closer to paying off.