Today’s Question: Team Red Bull released AJ Allmendinger from his 2009 contract this week, rather than expand to three Sprint Cup teams with he, Brian Vickers and Scott Speed. Was it the right move to let AJ go after just two seasons?
The last few weeks have definitely been filled with many learning experiences. In the Truck Series, I made my first start at Bristol Motor Speedway in the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota for Bill Davis Racing. We had great success there, as I won my first Craftsman Truck Series pole and finished third. I will tell you that Bristol is one of my new favorite racetracks. The place is incredible with how all the seats surround the entire place — there is no other venue like it. The racing was great as well. It’s close to a two-groove racetrack, and the competition is exciting. I’m looking forward to going back there next year. For now, though, our next focus for the Truck Series will be on Las Vegas, where I will make my next start on September 20th.
The Sharpie 500 featured by far the fewest number of leaders (three) since the introduction of the CoT. Passing for the lead can be difficult with the new car on bigger tracks, but was that the case at Bristol… or was it just that uncompetitive at the front?
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.386 seconds ahead of Todd Bodine to win the O’Reilly 200 presented by Camping World Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch survived multiple late race restarts and a green-white-checkered finish to win at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Scott Speed, Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford rounded out the top five.
The Watkins Glen race had several road-course ringers in the field but, as usual, a Sprint Cup regular won the race. Is there really any advantage for replacing a team’s full-time driver with a road-course specialist?
Scott Speed has certainly spent a large part of his life living up to his last name. After years of success in go karts and road racing culminated in a full-time ride in Formula 1, this California native appeared destined for the fast track of auto racing success. But after a change in direction was made with his Toro Rosso program, Speed’s focus turned from open-wheel to stock cars — and it hasn’t taken him long to pick up the pace. He won in the Truck Series in just his sixth career start — taking the checkered flag at Dover — and a runner-up finish Saturday at Pocono gave him the lead in the ARCA Re/Max championship standings. At this point, it’s not a matter of if this talented 25-year-old can make it to the Cup Series… it’s a matter of when.
The Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers at Kentucky Speedway marked the halfway point of the Craftsman Truck Series season, and it’s also the perfect time to take a look at the year so far and what to expect for the remainder of the season.
The New NASCAR: Some love it, others revile it, but everybody’s got an opinion. The Car of Tomorrow has its share of detractors and supporters, as does the television coverage and what has become the “over commercialization” of the sport in recent years (Which always strikes me as funny — here’s a sport that is based almost entirely on corporate America’s advertising and sponsorship dollars, and it’s accused of being over commercialized). Anyways, now that car brand identity has all but vanished, we are essentially watching 43 billboards race against the backdrop of a four-hour-long infomercial each week.
As the Sprint Cup Series tackled the Infineon Raceway last weekend, four full-time teams pulled their regular drivers, installing substitutes that they felt would post a better result and score valuable points in the race to stay in the Top 35. DEI pulled Regan Smith for Ron Fellows, Chip Ganassi Racing pulled Reed Sorenson for Scott Pruett, and Haas CNC Racing moved Scott Riggs into the No. 70 while putting Max Papis in the No. 66. As the race started, the No. 66 and the No. 70 found themselves outside the Top 35, while the No. 01 was 30th in owner points and the No. 41 was 32nd. And, despite the efforts of these road ringers, the No. 66 and No. 70 left Sonoma outside the Top 35, while the No. 01 fell to 31st and the No. 41 to a precarious 35th. While the struggles of these four teams speak volumes as to how antiquated the practice of entering road course specialists in Cup races has become, it speaks to a larger issue, and that is the need of Sprint Cup teams to be consistent with the drivers they put behind the wheel. There are numerous Cup teams this season that have attempted to improve their performance with substitute drivers and driver by committee, yet none of them have managed to find improved performance as a result.
In a Nutshell: Ron Hornaday Jr. took the checkered flag 0.283 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to with the Sam’s Town 400K Friday night. The driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet held onto the lead through a green-white-checker finish to score his first career Texas Motor Speedway victory. Johnny Benson, Jack Sprague and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five finishers.