Did You Notice? That the way Kyle Petty’s career is ending is very reminiscent of… Darrell Waltrip? Before I covered this sport through TV and print, I made no secret of the fact Waltrip was my favorite driver. His fall from grace in the years leading up to retirement (save for a few races in ’98 with DEI) was painful to watch, especially for a kid that idolized him growing up.
There was a stunning admission made by Patti Petty, wife of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, reported Sept. 29 in the Winston-Salem Journal. With a few choice words, she changed the landscape of racing’s royal family, giving us pause to reconsider what, to this point, we’d assumed was a fully functioning unit. But perhaps functional is no longer the right word to use in this case. It seems Petty will soon depart from Petty Enterprises — a team he once helped run — but is not doing so voluntarily.
4. Like A Swiss Watch? – Non-Chase eligible driver Martin Truex Jr. led 29 laps at the Kansas Speedway, and spent a large segment of the event battling for positions within the top 10 before a broken transmission on lap 231 of the 267-lap race relegated the driver of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 1 Chevrolet to a 43rd-place finish. Truex was the ONLY DNF on the day. Since its inception, NASCAR has held exceptionally long races to test the limits of not only the drivers, but the machines as well. Apparently, 400 miles of high RPM racing is “no sweat” for today’s precision engineered racecars… how about 800 miles?
It was rather fitting that Greg Biffle’s sponsor this week was Turbo HD from Dish Network with the way he dusted Jimmie Johnson. I was reminded of The Dukes of Hazzard episode when Bo and Luke have to retrieve Cale Yarborough’s stolen turbo with special pop-it valve (to date, nobody is sure what this means) that was stolen by the Jethro Brothers. Apparently, the Jethros must be in cahoots with Roush Fenway Racing, as it appears to have found its way onto Biffle’s No. 16 Ford Fusion. Just look at the impromptu power move he put on the No. 48 car! But while things were looking up for the one they call, “the Biff,” some of the other Chase contenders were looking only at the immense virtual load of manure they were about to have dumped on them — not unlike Biff in Back To The Future.
The latest news out of Petty Enterprises Inc. has Chad McCumbee penciled in to drive the No. 45 Dodge in place of Kyle Petty at Pocono. This is the second unscheduled absence in as many weeks by the 30-year NASCAR Cup veteran, and very possibly an indication that his career as a driver may abruptly be coming to a close. The 48-year-old Petty, who for the second year in a row took six races off to be a color analyst for TNT’s Sprint Cup broadcasts, had also been scheduled to race last week at Indianapolis. Instead, two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte — who relieved Petty during his TV sabbatical — drove the car in what was an apparent last-minute decision by team management. At the very least, the son of stock car legend Richard Petty appears far from a lock to drive for the team in 2009 — or even for the rest of 2008.
1. The Other Big Three – American automakers GM, Ford, and Chrysler have just about reached the panic stage, as their financial well-being becomes a critical concern. GM stock has lost approximately 75% of its value over the last year, Ford Motor Company has seen a 50% decline of stock value in the last three months, and Chrysler is expected to either file bankruptcy or sell off what profitable segments of the company they can. NASCAR’s Chairman and CEO Brian France, speaking on whether there’ll be continued support from the “Big Three” in the sport considering their financial crunch, summed up the situation by saying, “…we’ll just have to see.”
Over the last couple of years Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered his own version of an epic drought, as NASCAR’s most famous son hadn’t won a race for more than two whole seasons. While Earnhardt finally got his win — a fuel-mileage triumph at Michigan on June 15th — the streak lasted for a stretch of some 76 races, or 404 days for those so mathematically inclined. It’s fair to say the “Dale Jr. Drought” did not have the financial and societal effects of the Dust Bowl, but for those caught up in both — the workers so graphically depicted in Steinbeck’s tome and Junior Nation — it must have felt, for a while at least, as if it was never going to end. But end both did; and surprisingly enough, in each case the world continued to revolve safely on its axis.
Petty Enterprises’ announcement on Wednesday that they had sold a portion of the family business that has been around as long as NASCAR has been on the track was not really a surprise. But on some level, it is a disappointment. Boston Ventures, by all accounts, is a wealthy, stable company with pockets deep enough to fund new technology for the two-car team, and are even talking already of adding a third team to the stable. That part is help sorely needed. Petty Enterprises was a team that time had nearly passed by.
When asked if the races at Pocono Raceway should be shortened to 400 miles, track owner Dr. Joe Mattioli said that the 500-mile races are done for television, and that the networks want the extra 100 miles to sell more advertising. Is there merit to this argument, or are the races at Pocono so long as to be detrimental to TV? Based on this week’s race, is there any reason for Pocono to stay at 500 miles?
Today’s Question: The past few years in the All-Star Race, the series has used a fan vote to select one driver not previously eligible to participate in the main event. Do you think that’s a fair way to do it, or should each driver qualify based on his or her own merit?