Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Lifelock 400 at Chicagoland Edition

Each week, Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite Frontstretch writers with videos, live commentary and live polls. Each of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Chicago live blog.

ONE: Will Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase in his first year at MWR?
Fan Vote – YES: 62%; NO: 38%

It was a move Truex Jr. had to make. The No. 1 Earnhardt-Ganassi team has been in disarray all season long and Truex has felt the effects with just three top 10s and a current 24th spot in the driver standings. A move to Michael Waltrip Racing may not be a jump to a perennial powerhouse, but it’s a move that could reap benefits as both David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose have shown that the team does harness potential.

See also
Voice of Vito: Michael Waltrip, Motorsports Motormouth Finally Focusing Full-Time on Owner Role for 2010

The million-dollar question is, though, will the partnership between Truex and Waltrip lead to a Chase berth in 2010? I don’t see it. Sure, both Ambrose – a JTG Daugherty driver who uses MWR equipment – and Reutimann have more top 10s and top fives than Truex this season, but it’s difficult to field three competitive teams, especially for one that has yet to field a driver in the Chase. Do I believe Truex will eventually make the Chase with MWR? Possibly… just not next season.

TWO: Should Tim Richmond eventually make the NASCAR HoF?
Fan Vote – YES: 57%; NO: 43%

One of the most colorful personalities the sport has ever seen, Richmond competed between 1980 and 1987, garnering 13 wins and 14 poles in 185 starts before his untimely death in 1989. In his seven years in the sport, Richmond’s best season came in 1986, when he won a series-high seven races and finished third in points. He ultimately made NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list, but when the sanctioning body released its inaugural Hall of Fame nominees, Richmond wasn’t on it. Why? Because NASCAR has a “rule” that a driver must participate in at least 10 seasons of competition before eligibility.

However, would Richmond’s seven-year run have been good enough to make the Hall if there wasn’t a rule? I say no. The Hall of Fame celebrates what the top drivers have accomplished in the sport, not what they could have accomplished. As it stands right now, 49 drivers have more career Cup wins than Richmond and he doesn’t have a championship. His career was a historic one, but any opportunity for Hall of Fame-type numbers unfortunately never happened.

THREE: Who do you think Roush Fenway should keep as its fourth driver?
Fan Vote – David Ragan: 66%; Jamie McMurray: 17%; Neither: 17%

Roush Fenway must cut one of its teams to reach NASCAR’s new four-team limit in 2010, and the decision may be all about the money. Ragan sits 30th in points with one top 10 while McMurray continues to stay just inside the top 20, but it’s Ragan who has the UPS sponsorship and more marketability.

Based on performance this season, you may be inclined to say Ragan should be the odd man out, but it’s easy to forget since the No. 6 team has been so dismal as of late that he actually flirted with the Chase for a bit in 2008. It’s a smart business move for Roush Fenway and I think it’s the best move performance-wise to keep Ragan where he’s been for his NASCAR career… with Jack Roush.

FOUR: Will Mark Martin make the Chase this season?
Fan Vote – YES: 75%; NO: 25%

Saying Martin isn’t going to make the Chase is like saying Kyle Busch isn’t going to make the Chase; their performance has lacked at times, but you know deep down there is no possible way they won’t be in the top 12 leaving Richmond. Martin leads the series in wins, drives for the sport’s strongest organization and has more experience than 95% of the Cup field. Not only is Martin back in the Chase with his win Saturday night in Chicago, but he’s one of my top-three favorites for the championship. Have faith, the wily vet will get it done.

FIVE: Do you feel there are too many debris cautions?
Fan Vote – YES: 43%; NO: 57%

NASCAR purists dread debris cautions because it smells of conspiracy, but there is no doubt that it makes racing more exciting – especially since the advent of double-file restarts. This week’s race featured three “debris,” aka “mystery cautions” that stacked the field back up after a long green-flag run. The question is, is it right to risk integrity for the sake of better racing? The answer – and I wish more fans would side with me on this – is no.

Martin had the car to beat Saturday night, but NASCAR’s fascination with throwing debris cautions nearly cost him the win. If there’s debris on the track, whoever is broadcasting the race MUST show the debris. If there isn’t debris, don’t throw the caution… it’s that simple! NASCAR survived for years without strategically throwing cautions at the tail end of green-flag runs or in the closing laps of the race, and they still can.

Five Notes to Ponder

  • Give Regan a ride: Silly Season has begun and full-time rides are going to open up. When is someone going to give Regan Smith – a driver who has yet to DNF in his 51-race career and nearly won at Talladega last season – a ride? Plenty of teams would kill for a driver that won’t tear up equipment and that’s what Smith does.
  • Rumors, rumors, rumors: Speaking of Silly Season, take all of these rumors sprouting up with a grain of salt. I’m not saying a Yates cleanout or Brad Keselowski to Penske deal won’t happen, but for every rumor that proves true, there are always five that don’t.
  • Kligerman continues to dominate: The 18-year-old Penske phenom continues to dominate the ARCA Re/Max Series. Parker Kligerman picked up his fourth win in his last five races this week at Iowa and has opened up a 120-point lead in the standings.
  • Eury Jr. proves himself: Many thought Tony Eury Jr. was to blame for the struggles with the No. 88 team, but sitting on top of the pit box for rookie Keselowski this week, Eury got the No. 25 Hendrick team into the top 10 before running into problems in the closing laps and finishing 32nd.
  • Lil’ Busch domination: He may be having a rough time right now on the Cup Series side of things, but Busch is dominating in Nationwide with six consecutive races finishing in the top two. Busch may be disappointed that he doesn’t have six consecutive wins, but I’m sure he’ll be happy when that consistency breeds a championship.

P.S.: Our live blog pops up again in two weeks as we break down the racing action from Indianapolis! Come join the fun and have your voice heard alongside your favorite Frontstretch writers!

Follow Mike Lovecchio on Twitter HERE

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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