Friday , February 27 2015
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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice… Gaughan’s No Rookie, Daytona Can Be Bought, And We All Needed A Vacation

*Did You Notice…* How this year’s offseason went extensive periods without any sort of NASCAR in the news? Yeah, it was merger central all the time with Richard Petty, Chip Ganassi, George Gillett, and Teresa Earnhardt … but beyond that, there really wasn’t all that much to write about. And you know what – that was great. Because for the first time in years, people were actually given a chance to _miss_ stock cars going round in circles. We didn’t have to hear about the big test at Daytona just one month after the overhyped banquet tried to plaster its way over every television screen in America. We didn’t have to hear about all these one-off tests in which drivers were preparing for a new season within two weeks after the old one ended. It allowed fans a chance to breathe; and while yes, there’s still plenty of cynical doubters still out there, even the ones who have railed against NASCAR for years have uttered phrases like “I miss racing” heading into this year’s Speedweeks. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Layoffs Still Looming, Testing Hope, And Changes At Yates

*Did You Notice?* … Yates Racing is cutting down to just two cars for next season? I’ve heard that talk for awhile now, and the move would put the beleaguered David Gilliland on the chopping block. If it’s a battle between Gilliland or Kvapil for that spot, however, it’s a no brainer that Kvapil gets the nod. Not only has the No. 28 car run better than the No. 38 for most of the season, but Gilliland endured a flurry of late season crashes and mechanical failures in between intentionally wrecking Juan Pablo Montoya at Texas. Failing to finish eight times this season, Gilliland has yet to develop into the type of star power driver some expected after a surprising Nationwide (then Busch) Series win at Kentucky back in 2006. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Hendrick Layoffs, Ratings Reality, And Gordon’s Age?

Did You Notice? … Hendrick Layoffs, Ratings Reality, And Gordon’s Age?

*Did You Notice?* … Jeff Gordon in the pre-race show on Sunday? When ESPN was interviewing him, I’ve never seen the guy look so old. Heck, he was talking about having breathing problems in his car! It’s hard to believe as a guy who was just a wide-eyed kid when a 21-year-old Gordon took the wheel the day of Richard Petty’s last race. But at 37, Gordon’s not such a young pup anymore when it comes to the new NASCAR. Of the Top 25 in the current point standings, only Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, and Tony Stewart are older – and in Stewart’s case, it’s only by a matter of a couple of months. Someone asked me recently why Hendrick has kept the slow-to-develop Landon Cassill lying around. My answer? With Gordon, I’m sure he understands that you get to the point where you never know what the future might bring. 2009 will mark Gordon’s 17th full season on the Cup tour… and sometimes, you’ve got to wonder if he’s willing to go past 20. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Who’s Making Fans Turn Away, Why Martinsville’s Lost, And Marc Davis Debuts

Did You Notice? … Who’s Making Fans Turn Away, Why Martinsville’s Lost, And Marc Davis Debuts

*Did You Notice?* … NASCAR’s TV ratings at Martinsville were down significantly this weekend, an overnight 2.9 as compared to a 3.3 in 2007? That low rating isn’t going to do the Virginia track any favors when it comes to whether it keeps a second date beyond the 2009 Cup season. Personally, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the circuit, a short track bullring that epitomizes racing the way it ought to be. But just like with other tracks that have lost dates through the years, NASCAR fans need to start putting their money where their mouth is – or in this case, their remote – before it’s too late. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Sorenson Could Be Casey Atwood, Part II … And Two Teams Better Than One For Big Four

Did You Notice? … Sorenson Could Be Casey Atwood, Part II … And Two Teams Better Than One For Big Four

*Did You Notice?* … The sneaking suspicion that Reed Sorenson’s move to Gillett Evernham Motorsports equals the second coming of Casey Atwood? In light of the official announcement Sorenson’s headed to GEM, I can’t stop thinking about the comparison between the two. For new fans, some background: both were rookies in the Cup Series at 20 years old, driving for what equated to be middle-of-the-pack teams. At the time of Atwood’s rise into the Cup Series, Evernham Motorsports was in their first year of competition, spearheading Dodge’s return to the series after more than 20 years on the sidelines. But Atwood’s maturity level just wasn’t there at the Cup level. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Gordon’s Sudden Slide, What NASCAR’s Schedule Hides, And Hamlin’s Bad Side

Did You Notice? … Gordon’s Sudden Slide, What NASCAR’s Schedule Hides, And Hamlin’s Bad Side

A lot of shorter observations than usual, so I’m calling this the Odds ‘N’ Ends edition of Did You Notice this week… *Did You Notice?* … That California Speedway’s date realignment on the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule did nothing to address the quality of racing at that facility. I will say the Labor Day date was always a horrible weekend for them. Not only did people in L.A. have other things to do, but the heat is pretty unbearable that time of year. I worked the race in 2007, and it was agonizingly hot during the entire four days we were out there. With temperatures reaching upwards of 105-110 degrees, there was little if anything air conditioning could do for fans, media, and drivers alike. But moving its date from September to October won’t bring people back if the racing remains well, as crappy as it was. I’m really intrigued to see what the attendance in September’s going to be after the “weepers” in February turned a 12-hour rain delay into a debacle of a Sunday half-show. It’s clear the track needs to be torn up and rebuilt, with graduated banking the perfect solution if ISC would only fork out the money to pay for it. Read More »

Did You Notice? Junior Stressed Out? Said Rained Out? And Why Did McDowell Pout?

Did You Notice? Junior Stressed Out? Said Rained Out? And Why Did McDowell Pout?

*Did You Notice?* ... That Dale Earnhardt, Jr. looks a little haggard lately? In virtually every single interview I’ve seen him do over the past two months, Junior’s answers are so slow and meticulously constructed it feels like he’s processing the question in slow motion. I feel like it’s either one of two things – it’s either Junior’s stressed out, or he’s still adjusting a bit in his new role at the more politically correct Hendrick Motorsports. Remember, the Most Popular Driver is also in the midst of figuring out his own identity after leaving the family-owned team and the comfort of a beer sponsor for two backers in Mountain Dew and the National Guard in which he’s expected to be a role model for kids _and_ adults. Add in the increasing demands of his JR Motorsports team, and it’s clear Junior’s got a lot on his mind these days. Read More »

Did You Notice? … NASCAR And Politics, Raining On Goodyear, And Penske’s Nasty Divorce

Did You Notice? … NASCAR And Politics, Raining On Goodyear, And Penske’s Nasty Divorce

*Did You Notice?* … Ryan Newman’s comments during and after the Pocono race on Sunday? During the rain delay, he criticized his team for the choice they made to bring his car down pit road (a move which turned out to be the right call). Then, after the race, these were his comments concerning a 14th place finish, a run which actually bumped him up the points ladder to 15th position: "Strategy was important, but our Avis Dodge was disappointing. It would not go [no horsepower] down the straightaways. You’re not going to win races like that. It’s disappointing." It’s clear Newman’s no longer holding back what he feels about the operation; and with the possibility the team will need a new sponsor next season due to the Verizon/Alltel merger (remember, Sprint can block Verizon’s sponsorship) is it really in Penske’s best interest to employ a driver who has no incentive _not_ to throw his team under the bus anymore? Read More »

Did You Notice? … The Busch-Edwards Rivalry That Isn’t, Truex’s Public Posturing, And Touting Terry Labonte?

Did You Notice? … The Busch-Edwards Rivalry That Isn’t, Truex’s Public Posturing, And Touting Terry Labonte?

*Did You Notice?* … That halfway through the season, Carl Edwards has finished second in a Sprint Cup race three times – and all three of them have been to Kyle Busch. Edwards likes to play this up as a rivalry, but right now, Busch is putting on a good ol’ fashioned butt whooping -- whether you want to admit it or not. Right now, Edwards trails Busch in wins (six to three), points (149), Top 5s (11 to 7), and Laps Led (900 to 396). Only in Top 10s does Edwards have a razor-thin edge – 13 to 12 – but that’s not going to be enough if he wants to overtake the No. 18 when it really counts in November. Still, for those who despise Busch’s dominance during the first half of the Cup circuit, there’s hope Edwards can bounce back. So far this season, he’s won twice on tracks 1.5 miles in length – that’s one more than Busch, who paced the field at Atlanta but finished well behind the No. 99 at both Texas and Las Vegas. Since five 1.5-mile race tracks make up the ten race Chase, that should give Edwards a bit of an edge. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Kyle Busch Throws Away The Win, NASCAR’s Discrimination Lawsuit Stalemate, And Jeremy Mayfield: MIA

Did You Notice? … Kyle Busch Throws Away The Win, NASCAR’s Discrimination Lawsuit Stalemate, And Jeremy Mayfield: MIA

*Did You Notice?* … That amidst all the Silly Season talk, no one’s brought up the name of two-time Chase participant Jeremy Mayfield? Since parting ways with Haas CNC Racing earlier this season, Mayfield’s been nowhere to be found. Did his difficult divorces from Penske Racing and Gillett Evernham Motorsports permanently damage his stock on the open market? While I think that might have made an impact, in an era where talent is at a premium and men like Mark Martin are going back to full-time racing at 50, you’d have to think there’d be a spot open for Mayfield somewhere. A good writing friend of mine brought up this crazy scenario... Read More »