Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland

1. Difficulties With Rejection? – New York City and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s Grand Ballroom have once again been selected as the site for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony, to be held December 5, 2008.

Guys, isn’t this the same place that has time and time again rejected your attempts to bring Sprint Cup racing into their backyard? Don’t you know when you are not wanted?

2. Hey Joe!Kyle Busch’s victory Friday night in the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway was the 13th win of the year for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series. The win tied the record 13 victories set just last season by Richard Childress Racing; however, their wins have been accomplished in just the first 20 events of the 35-race Nationwide Series schedule. Include the eight Sprint Cup Series wins, and JGR racecars have visited victory lane 20 times in the 2008 NASCAR season.

So, Joe… how’s that transition to Toyota going so far this year?

3. AWOL – The United States Navy has informed JR Motorsports, co-owned by Rick Hendrick and NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., that they will sever their four-year sponsorship of the No. 88 Nationwide Series Chevrolet team driven by Brad Keselowski at season’s end.

That leaves an interesting question. Will those 88 Navy recruits scheduled to be sent to boot camp as part of the Junior Division now be disbanded and the personnel allowed to opt-out of their military obligations?

4. Jailhouse Romance – On Thursday, it was made official that Tony Stewart will be a 50/50 partner with Gene Haas of Haas CNC Racing beginning next season, and the newly organized racing organization will be renamed Stewart-Haas Racing. Smoke’s new business partner began a two-year prison sentence in January on tax evasion charges at a federal prison in Lompoc, Calif.

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Boy, did those negotiations have to be awkward… what with the burly prison guards, two-way phones and shatter-proof glass separating them!

5. Just Not Presidential – It does not appear that Barack Obama or any other candidate for President of the United States will be sponsoring the No. 49 BAM Racing Toyota, attempting to run at least a part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.

“BAM Racing has decided to heed the advice of the overwhelming response by fans to keep politics out of racing and continue to focus on several other exciting sponsorships soon to be announced,” stated the owner of BAM Racing, Beth Ann Morgenthau, after a report surfaced an independent marketing agent had offered deals to all three presidential campaigns to sponsor the car.

Wait a minute… when has politics been kept out of racing?

6. Oh, Come On… Spit It Out! – Stopping short of just announcing that 18-year-old Joey Logano will replace Stewart in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, JGR owner Joe Gibbs said, “For me personally, Joey is a candidate for anything. I think we have a total of 32 tests he’s been in Cup cars. I don’t think there is one incident ever where he hasn’t stood out.”

Isn’t the suspense killing you?

7. Analytically SpeakingRyan “Rocket Man” Newman, driver of the Penske No. 12 Dodge, is still undecided as to where he will be driving next season following the expiration of his contract with Penske Racing at the end of 2008. This past week, Newman disclosed that he has three valid offers – besides the option of re-signing with Penske – still on the table. The soon-to-be free agent finished 10th Saturday night at Chicagoland, and reiterated his desire to be with a team that has the ability to perform at a championship level for him.

The defending Daytona 500 winner did not exclude re-signing with his present team, however. “I see potential to win a championship where I’m at,” Newman explained. “That potential just hasn’t proven to be as high as other organizations. That’s a statistical fact. It’s just what I have to do to put myself in the best position to move forward.”

Statistical fact? Oh yeah, Newman is an engineering graduate from Purdue University. Those people talk like that.

8. Fact or Fiction – Rumors circulated during the last week that Dale Earnhardt Incorporated had commissioned the investment firm of Bear Stearns (though the company was taken over by JP Morgan and no longer exists) to seek an investor or buyer of the company. Max Siegel, DEI’s President, refuted the reports and insisted that, “We haven’t engaged anybody. People obviously approach us – they’re approaching everybody. We’re looking to be around for a long time in the future. We’re feeling pretty damn good about where we’re going, competition wise.”

Siegel also confirmed that he held a meeting with the DEI contingent of drivers assuring them that the recent rumors were not true.

Hmm. Veteran part-time driver Mark Martin has confirmed that he will leave DEI for Hendrick Motorsports next season. Martin Truex Jr. is still not signed, and it is known that other teams are interested in bringing him into their organizations. It is unclear as to whether the U.S. Army will return as the primary sponsor on the No. 8 car, and the No. 01 of Regan Smith is without a sponsor for next season. John Menard is talking with Roush Fenway to take his sponsorship money – and son Paul Menard – to Roush Fenway Racing, along with the No. 15.

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Voice of Vito: Into the Flood Again - Why Mark Martin Came Back to Full-Time Cup Racing

How do these rumors about outside owners get started, anyways?

9. Lead Free – The No. 96 Hall of Fame Toyota driven by JJ Yeley was penalized with a pass through penalty before the start of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland for what was reported originally as a suspicion the team had employed the old “lead-in-the-water-bottle” trick to pass minimum weight requirements. As the old story goes, that bottle could later be swapped out following pre-race inspection for legitimate and lighter ones to allow for less overall weight in the car.

Following the 400-mile event – in which Yeley finished 24th and on the lead lap – NASCAR met with car co-owner Tom Garfinkel, and official Randy Pemberton soon confirmed that there would be no other actions by the sanctioning body concerning the issue. “We’re comfortable with that team, and we feel like they weren’t trying to pull the wool over our eyes,” said Pemberton.

That’s all fine and dandy, but NASCAR needs to “get the lead out of their butts” and make these decisions before the start of the race.

10. What Else is There to Say? – With Busch’s win at Chicagoland in the LifeLock.com 400, he has now won seven of the 19 Sprint Cup races run this season. Busch has recorded 12 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes, with two pole positions while jumping out to a 262-point lead in the championship standings. And just for kicks, the 23-year-old has won five times – including last Friday night’s win – in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as well as twice this year in the Craftsman Truck Series.

10 Points to Ponder has no sarcastic, witty, humorous or profound statement to offer this week on Busch’s astounding season thus far, except to say…


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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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