Did You Notice? That no matter what Race of Champions event you set up, it’s impossible to leave it biased towards a particular breed of drivers? The knock on IROC was always that the cars there were too NASCAR-focused, therefore providing an advantage to those drivers with a stock car racing background.
Well, apparently after years of stock car drivers making a mockery of championship races over here , what goes around comes around. The Race of Champions Nation’s Cup – set in England over the weekend – featured Nextel Cup champ Jimmie Johnson competing against Germany’s Michael Schumacher in a one-on-one race. The problem? The cars they competed in were rally-style vehicles; and the recently-retired Schumacher has had plenty of time to putz around with them. Not so for Johnson – and his lack of experience shined through when he got smoked by the German Formula 1 champ.
Turns out Schumacher’s team would beat the American duo of Johnson and X-Games legend Travis Pastrana – making it to the finals before losing to Mattias Ekstrom in the Nation’s Cup. But does it really matter? I mean, if you put Schumacher in a stock car you’d better believe he’d get his butt kicked similar to what happened this weekend; no matter how talented you are, a lack of experience will always bite you when you’re competing against the best in a specialized field.
The way I look at it, with IROC gone I don’t know if a Race of Champions is really necessary anymore. It’s like trying to make football, baseball and basketball athletes compete against each other – each type of competition will give an advantage to one of them based on how they have to play their sport. It’s the same with these racing all-star events – just because each person has “racer” next to their name doesn’t mean they have the same collection of strengths and weaknesses.
Did You Notice? That since Ginn Racing merged with DEI, it’s like the former Ginn program has become subservient to the wants and needs of the larger company? Some influence Bobby Ginn is having over there; no one’s even heard a peep from him other than those secret settlements he gave former drivers Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek and reportedly more crew members who suffered financial injustice at the result of this “merger.”
After such a strong year working together with Mark Martin – and the love Martin showed for Pemberton – you have to wonder whether Pemberton’s recent departure was the result of frustration over DEI draining everything Ginn had to offer down the tubes, in favor of their own system. That’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to seeing what Martin could do with such a savvy crew chief in their second season together.
Did You Notice? Well, I didn’t want to keep bringing this up, but there’s still 13 Cup cars that haven’t announced primary sponsors for all 36 Cup events: the No. 00 of Michael Waltrip Racing (David Reutimann/TBD); the No. 01 of DEI (Regan Smith); the No. 4 of Morgan-McClure Motorsports (Driver TBD); the No. 7 owned and driven by Robby Gordon; the No. 10 of Gillett Evernham Motorsports (Patrick Carpentier); the No. 21 of the Wood Brothers (Marcos Ambrose/TBD); the No. 27 of Bill Davis Racing (Jacques Villeneuve); the No. 28 of Yates Racing (Travis Kvapil); the No. 38 of Yates Racing (David Gilliland); the No. 40 of Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti); the No. 49 of BAM Racing (John Andretti); the No. 66 of Haas CNC Racing (Jeremy Mayfield); and the No. 70 of Haas CNC Racing (Scott Riggs).
Yup, that’s right; one quarter of the field has no primary sponsorship announced. No one else is concerned about this? Really? I know some announcements are being held back; but I’d bet a trillion dollars not all of these cars have decals when we get to Daytona. It’s just too much money – and sponsor space – left blank.
Did You Notice? The July race at New Hampshire will go an extra lap? They’re calling it the Lenox Industrial Tools 301; and apparently, they really will go 301 laps instead of 300. I guess the track wanted to do something unique before the teams go racing in Las Vegas instead in 2009.
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.