Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

1. Still Able To Get ‘Er Done – 1995 Busch (Nationwide) Series Champion and 1996 Winston (Sprint) Cup Rookie of the Year Johnny Benson won for the third consecutive time at the Milwaukee Mile in the Camping World RV 200 Craftsman Truck Series race Friday evening. With the win, Benson maintains his CTS points lead in the driver standings by 50 points over Todd Bodine. Benson has 10 wins in since moving to the CTS in 2005 after not being able to any longer secure a competitive Cup ride.

Is the Craftsman Truck Series where Cup veterans are sent to die… or do they sometimes get another chance?

2. Long Time Ago! – Bill Davis Racing will lose the Caterpillar sponsorship on its No. 22 Toyota at the end of the 2007 season. “Cat” will move its sponsorship to the No. 31 Chevrolet of Jeff Burton at Richard Childress Racing. “Caterpillar and Bill Davis Racing have enjoyed a long and successful partnership throughout the last 10 seasons, and we are proud of everything we’ve accomplished together, including wins in both the Daytona 500 and Southern 500,” said team owner Bill Davis.

Possibly that’s the problem… Ward Burton drove the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing “Cat” car to victory at the Southern 500 in 2001 and the Daytona 500 in 2002.

3. Catch Me If You Can… Copper! – The No. 28 Yates Racing Ford sported a replica California Highway Patrol car paint scheme for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Sunday. Driver Travis Kvapil finished 22nd on the day. The sponsorship was only for one race and the CHP’s hope that the NASCAR exposure will aid the department in its current recruitment campaign.

Just how strange was it for the other NASCAR competitors to see a cop car in their rearview mirrors… and “gun it”?

4. Just A Hobby? – Two-time, semi-retired Cup champ Terry Labonte, subbing for aspiring part-time TV race commentator Kyle Petty put the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge into the starting grid at Sonoma with the 11th-fastest qualifying time before finishing 17th. Labonte was the only driver in the race lineup that has participated in all 20 NASCAR Cup races held at the 1.99-mile 10-turn road course.

Semi-retired? Part-time race commentator? Where’s the commitment guys?

5. Down Under – Personable Australian Marcos Ambrose pulled double-duty competing at Milwaukee in the Nationwide Series Camping World RV Rental 250, finishing 16th, and the Sprint Cup Series road-course event at Infineon Raceway finishing 42nd after battling with the leader before being relegated to the pits after 83 laps. Ambrose, fastest in practice and qualifying seventh, had the No. 21 Woods Bros. entry looking like it did in its heyday, when Dan Gurney drove the famed No. 21 to victory at the now-defunct Riverside road course four times in a row (1964-1967).

The Nationwide regular is the sixth Australian and first since Geoff Brabham in 1994 to qualify for a NASCAR Cup race.

See also
Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Marcos Ambrose Steals the Show, But McDowell Tops the Rookies at Sonoma

Don’t bug him! Yes, there is such a thing as a Tasmanian Devil; they are carnivorous marsupials about the size of a small dog found exclusively on the island of Tasmania in Australia. And a Billabong is a small, still body of water similar to a pond adjacent to a larger moving body of water.

6. Part-Time Work Wanted – Vice President of Motorsports Operations at Dale Earnhardt Inc., John Story has let it be known that Aric Almirola, who is ride-sharing the No. 8 Army Chevrolet with veteran Mark Martin, will be in the car full-time next season. When asked what that would mean to Martin’s future with DEI, “We have five guys that we’d like to run full-time, but Mark doesn’t want to run a full-time schedule,” Story said. “So he’s looking at wanting to do something very similar to what he’s doing now. That’s the challenge we face. We talk every day about what we can do to try to make it all work.”

What other team needs a cagey veteran that can make mediocre equipment look downright competitive?

7. Hard Habit to Break – Sears Point Raceway was renamed Infineon Raceway in 2002. Infineon Technologies, a Neubiberg, Germany headquartered semiconductor technology company purchased the naming rights for a period of 10 years at that time.

Now seven years later, is it a forgone conclusion that most will still continue to refer to the track as Sonoma or Sears Point at the time Infineon completes its 10-year agreement?

8. Go Figure – For the second time this season, owner/driver Robby Gordon did not have primary sponsorship for his No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Dodge until Camping World stepped up at the 11th hour. It is surprising is that no company hooked up with Gordon prior to his eighth-place qualifying effort. Gordon, who finished 36th at the road course after an on-track incident, still ran up front in the early going and received more than his fair share of TV exposure.

The road-course ace is almost a sure bet to give a corporate sponsor plenty of “bang for the buck” at any of NASCAR’s road courses, almost winning the event last year in Sonoma except for a fuel-mileage miscalculation. Additionally, Gordon led the most number of laps (48 of 110) in 2007.

Bet Camping World got some cheap TV time Sunday.

9. Grrrrrr… – As part of a $20 million deal between NASCAR and Coors Light that took effect in January, Coors Light became “The Official Beer Of NASCAR” replacing Anheuser-Busch. As part of the agreement Coors Light took naming rights for the pole award, previously known as the Bud Pole award… it is now the Coors Light Pole Award.

Last season Dale Earnhardt Jr., sponsored by Budweiser, a Coors Light competitor in the beer business earned a Bud Pole Award presented by his team’s sponsor. At Sonoma last Friday, new Bud driver Kasey Kahne, for the second time this season collected a Coors Light Pole Award from the business rival.

Don’t you know those Coors Brewing Company executives in Golden, Colo. head for the whiskey cupboard every time Kahne and his Budweiser team collects one of their honors?

10. Go West Young Man – That’s five wins now for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch just in Sprint Cup for 2008! Points to Ponder was at the track and reports that unlike other venues where the younger Busch brother has won this season, the fans were generally cordial, courteous and appreciative towards the charisma-challenged 22-year old as he celebrated his victory at Sonoma.

OK… it is California!

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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