Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? The 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon & Beyond

Did You Notice? How sometimes a driver change isn’t really all you need? Throughout 2007, Kenny Wallace was running Furniture Row Racing cars that were down on horsepower, as the No. 78 team’s engines were being made in-house. Well, one month after Wallace’s release, and new driver Joe Nemechek “magically” convinces the team to switch over to a Hendrick leasing program!

In one sense, good for Nemechek… he’s been doing a nice job getting settled in with a team that seems to be acclimating to his driving style well. But wouldn’t you think Wallace would have had a much better chance to succeed with Hendrick motors in the car? Just goes to show you sometimes the first thing new blood brings to a team is nothing more than common sense.

Did You Notice? How it’s gotten so bad in terms of sponsorship dictating rides, it’s even filtered down to the Busch Series. Just check out two different scenarios that happened this week… first off, the No. 25 Rensi Motorsports car releases David Gilliland. Not all that newsworthy… except that’s a move that Frontstretch learned was going to happen months ago. Unfortunately for team owner Ed Rensi, when he went to fire Gilliland, he found out current sponsor freecreditreport.com wasn’t so happy about it… specifically since they had a commercial out featuring a driver they’d no longer have behind the wheel.

So, that left Rensi in a tough spot where he had to keep a driver he already knew he didn’t want. Of course, once the sponsor said they wouldn’t be back in 2008, it took less than 24 hours for Gilliland to officially be on his way out the door. It’s just too bad the car owner couldn’t make the decision of his own free will.

Then, on the other side of the Busch Series garage, you have Brent Sherman, who came to McGill Motorsports with funding but never could quite do anything with it. But now that Sherman’s out of the car, McGill is out the money, too; so by releasing their driver, it’s putting them in jeopardy of closing down. What a tough, tough world in this sport today.

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: In NASCAR, It's Better to Be Marketable Than Good

Did You Notice? That John Andretti made the race in Friday’s qualifying, only to be sent home when the car failed post-qualifying inspection for being too low? Not only was that story not as widely reported as it should have been during the race itself, but it’s always interesting to compare that to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson‘s inspection failures at Sonoma… failures that still allowed them to make the race anyway due to their team’s Top-35 qualifying exemption.

Hmm… don’t you think that if you’re being accused of bending the rules, you’d lose that exemption? It’s like those guys can go around with a special police badge… do they shoplift, NASCAR catches them, they turn around and yell, “Exemption!” and the powers that be cower and run away like pussycats? I’d like to know these things.

Did You Notice? That since Tony Stewart is finally giving David Ragan his due (he went and congratulated Ragan following his third-place finish at Richmond), he’s got to find another rookie to pick on. Looks like it’s AJ Allmendinger. Check out this quote from Tony after the race at Loudon on Sunday:

“We got around, one guy in particular with yellow stripes on the back of the car – I am not going to say any names, but it has a bull on the side of it – you don’t know where he is going when you get there most of the time. He is getting better.”

Ooo, nice backhanded compliment at the end, Tony! In Allmendinger’s defense, at least he was doing something to try and keep people awake on Sunday.

Did You Notice? That with Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s acquisition of the No. 88 from Robert Yates Racing, that frees up the possibility the team might go back to the famed No. 28 next season. There’s plenty of reasons that’s special, but follow me here for a second, video-game buffs… anyone who has the NASCAR ’05 video game knows that EA Sports made a mistake. Among the drivers you can choose from is Travis Kvapil in a No. 28 BANG! Racing Toyota car, as the game assumed the Truck Series team he was driving for would move up to Nextel Cup the following year (it never happened, although it was heavily rumored at the time).

What’s the big deal? Well, three years later, we could now see Kvapil driving an as-yet-to-be-named No. 28 Nextel Cup car in the end, anyways! How ironic is that? OK, maybe it’s just a minute little detail, but still… that’s what this column is all about.

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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