Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Pepsi 500 at Fontana

1. Thanks for the Memories – Felix Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, never one to mince words, took a potshot at sponsor of the No. 42 Texaco Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya. Texaco, after 20 years of sponsoring a NASCAR Cup team, has announced that they have made a business decision to allocate their advertising dollars elsewhere and will no longer sponsor a Sprint Cup team.

“They (Texaco) have focused on other things. We really didn’t get that much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great, for us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money,” said Sabates.

Oh Felix… Texaco says thank you, too.

2. The Driver or the Equipment? – Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that Reed Sorenson, the 22-year old Peachtree, Ga. native presently driving the No. 41 CGR Dodge would move to GEM in 2009. Sorenson’s three-year contract with Ganassi expires at year’s end. Sabates, proving that he is not limited to only slamming major oil companies, said of the young driver, “I think Reed is today as good as he’s ever going to be. If someone else wants to put him in a car, fine with us…”

See also
Did You Notice? Reed Sorenson Could Be Casey Atwood, Part II, and 2 Teams Better Than 1 for the Big 4

And how about those three (oh no wait… two… the No. 40 Dario Franchitti team shut down) CGR teams with Felix Sabates… Felix? Are they ever going to get better, or is that the best they’re ever going to be?

3. Theology – The Sept. 4 issue of the magazine Rolling Stone contains an article featuring Tony Stewart titled, “Where There’s Smoke.. NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart brawls, cusses, eats way too many doughnuts and (ususally) drives a racecar better than anyone on earth. How did a potbellied prima donna become the soul of auto racing?”

The profanity-laced article quotes the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, with the use of crude language describing his primary interests, “(crude expletive for women), money and racecars. That’s pretty much all I care about.” Stewart also divulges that his parents are concerned about him contracting a sexually transmitted disease. “…Rolling Stone is an edgy magazine, and it was an edgy article. Nobody forces that in front of anybody, so if you don’t like what you’re reading, don’t read it,” said Stewart when asked if he was concerned that some might find the article offensive.

Apparently Stewart’s hasn’t let his 10-year relationship with born-again Christian and team owner Joe Gibbs influence his personal life.

4. Very Best Friends For… – To mark Jeff Burton’s 500th NASCAR Cup Series start at Sunday night’s Auto Club Speedway a “roast” was held at the track in his honor. ESPN’s Allen Bestwick served as Master of Ceremonies with drivers Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer participating as “roasters” along with Burton’s team owner Richard Childress and team sponsor AT&T’s executive Tim McGhee helping out as well.

Noticeably absent from the event were any of the veteran’s former teammates from his more than 10 years at Roush Racing (Roush Fenway), including Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, longtime friend and mentor Mark Martin, and Roush himself.

No word as to whether any of Burton’s former colleagues bothered to send a card.

5. Get This… NASCAR – NASCAR’s announced change in the format for the Budweiser Shootout exhibition race at Daytona in February has the sports most popular personality questioning the sanctioning body’s decision. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of NASCAR, “They just don’t get it…” in response to the announced plan to run 25 laps, and then after a break, a 50-lap final segment. “They want us to run around for 25-laps first, like a 25-lap segment, that would be cool. But then with 10 laps to go, all or nothing. That’s what the fans want. That’s what the drivers want.”

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: New Bud Shootout More Like Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Maybe NASCAR ought to consider his opinion. Certainly admonishing him and giving him one of their “you need NASCAR more than NASCAR needs you” speeches would not be advisable. And besides… why not a 10-lap shootout?

6. Number 18 for the No. 18 – Though there was no Sprint Cup win for the series points leader Kyle Busch, he was able to take some solace in winning Saturday’s Nationwide Series Camping World RV Service 300 at Fontana, Calif. The controversial 23-year old scored his 18th NASCAR victory of the year spread out through the sanctioning body’s top-three divisions. Busch who finished seventh in the Pepsi 500 and still leads the Sprint Cup Series points standings has eight wins in the series, seven victories in the Nationwide Series with Saturday’s win, and three more visits to victory lane in the Craftsman Truck Series.

18 wins! That would be a decent career for some drivers!!!

7. Yesterday’s News?Jeff Gordon, a four-time Cup champion and winner of 81 races in his career, has still not won in 25 attempts this season. Gordon finished 15th in the Pepsi 500 Sunday night at the ACS and slipped one position to 10th in points behind teammates Earnhardt Jr. (one win, fourth in points) and Jimmie Johnson (three wins, third in points). Gordon now finds himself in a position of possible elimination from the Chase to the Sprint Cup championship field should he finish poorly at Richmond International Raceway next Saturday night.

Remember when Rick Hendrick was accused of providing Gordon with better equipment than that his teammates were receiving?

8. Whoops… There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant – The No. 08 E&M Motorsports Dodge driven by Johnny Sauter qualified 43rd and last for the Pepsi 500 at the ACS in Fontana, Calif. The single-car team is based out of Toccoa, Ga. and had attempted 10 times previously to qualify into a NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season without success. According to Sauter, the small operation owned by John Carter cannot afford to participate in test sessions and essentially uses practice and qualifying dates at the tracks as test sessions.

“He was pumped up,” Sauter said of Carter’s reaction to learning that the No. 08 had made the field. “He puts everything he can into this program. To me, it’s rewarding to see it pay off for him. He’s invested a lot of time and money into this, and obviously he doesn’t have the money that a lot of other teams do. He just keeps coming back, he keeps persevering.

Sauter, in the No. 08 FUBAR All Natural Drink Dodge finished 42nd – completing 161 laps of the 250-lap Pepsi 500. Sometimes small victories are the best kind.

9. Don’t Bother Looking in the Mirror – Six drivers are now guaranteed berths in the 10-race Chase to the Sprint Cup championship shootout following the Pepsi 500. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Burton and Biffle. Clint Bowyer, currently 12th in points leads David Ragan by 17 points and Kasey Kahne by 44 points going into Richmond. Denny Hamlin has a cushion of 93 points over Bowyer in 13th, Hamlin…

Too much math. Kahne, Ragan, Bowyer, Hamlin, Gordon and Kenseth all need to put the pedal to the metal and drive those racecars like they stole them at Richmond next Saturday night, or they may get a head start on preparing for next season!

10. Starting to Look Familiar – In a dominating performance, polesitter Johnson took the checkered flag Sunday night winning the Pepsi 500 at Fontana, Calif. 2.5 seconds ahead of runner-up Biffle. Johnson, the defending back-to-back Sprint Cup champion, broke the previous record for most laps led set by Biffle in 2006 by leading 227 of the 250 laps at the ACS. It was Johnson’s third win of the year.

Ummmm… is three-peat a word?

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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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