Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel 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 Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Which drivers kept their hot streaks intact, and which ones found themselves skidding to a halt on the hard concrete surface of a paperclip slugfest turned Demolition Derby? Read on to find out who’s heating up and cooling down among the non-Chase drivers heading to Atlanta this weekend…
October has not been a good month for the Wood Brothers team. It all started back in Talladega, when Ken Schrader tagged the wall following a cut tire; it was a tragic set of circumstances that resulted in the No. 21 car falling out of the Top 35 in owner points. Sadly, that was only the beginning.
It’s been a difficult second half of the season for Dave Blaney and the No. 22 team; they’re busy jockeying for the 35th and final “locked in” spot in car owner points with the No. 21 team and their driver combo of Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader. But last week, Blaney had his best finish of the year, surviving a hairy Talladega race to finish third and build momentum he carried over to the following week at Lowe’s. Finishing sixth, his second consecutive top 10 and his third consecutive top 15 gave the No. 22 some distance from a handful of cars chasing him. Now, for the first time in this stretch of the season, Blaney finally has breathing room, moving into 34th in the standings, 39 points ahead of 35th and a crucial 148 ahead of 36th.
1. Lucky at Lowe’s – Jeff Gordon is a great racecar driver, but even the best sometimes need a bit of luck, as Gordon acknowledged in his post-race comments from Victory Lane: “I can’t tell you how many times we tried to give this one away. I was having trouble with the [fuel] pickup on the banking. Even on the last [restart], the tires spun so bad, Clint Bowyer could have gone right by me.” Gordon pulled out the win despite two cautions and a red flag in the last 16 laps of the race, a green-white-checkered finish, an almost-empty gas tank, and a group of talented hard chargers right behind him, including Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards.
After observing one restrictor-plate race with the Car of Tomorrow package, should there be changes made for future events at Talladega? Also, which type of restrictor-plate racing was better – the old car or the new car?
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel 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 much-anticipated UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
While the same thing would have occurred in Daytona this July if it weren’t for the rain, on Saturday it was the go-or-go-homers sweeping the top eight spots in the field for Sunday’s race – the first time in the rule’s short history that’s happened. The reason for the somewhat strange lineup comes from the fact that this was an impound race, meaning that the final practice session for the weekend would be before qualifying, not after; and once the session was over, cars couldn’t be touched before Sunday’s event. That meant those teams “locked” into the field worked all weekend on race set-ups and drivability in the draft, while those on the outside of the Top 35 worked in qualifying trim – creating a huge speed differential at the restrictor-plate facility.
When it comes to the Top 35 nowadays, it’s really become more about separating the “3” out of that number than anything else. For the past month, the battle has stood amongst three teams within Petty Enterprises (No. 45), Wood Brothers/JTG Racing (No. 21), and Bill Davis Racing (No. 22). Whatever the driver behind the wheel, they’re fighting hard for the final two spots within that coveted 35-team window – as well as the automatic qualifying exemption that goes with it. As the season winds down, regular readers of this column know how much the intensity level has simply been ratcheted up – the stakes are just as high as if they were competing for the coveted Nextel Cup trophy.
10. “Look at that! Kyle’s glasses are all steamed over. Ya think he’s upset about something?” – Anonymous Hamlin Crew Member