Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito? After the 2011 GEICO 400 at Chicagoland

Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveiled his 2012 car Wednesday at Hendrick Motorsports headquarters. No offense to Junior or his nation, but am I the only one who thinks his cars are the most bland, uninspired, slab-sided rectangles in racing? His normal AMP Energy scheme is an abomination, and looks like it would be more at home on an ARCA car.

The National Guard scheme in camo that was ran at Daytona in July was awesome, but most of the time it’s just the AMP design but blue. What was wrong with the retro DW Mountain Dew hue they have been running for the last few seasons at Darlington and this year at Kentucky?

Come to think of it, all of Hendrick Motorsports’ standard paint jobs for their cars look kind of awful, while the special schemes look far and away the best.

Jimmie Johnson’s car never looks right. There’s a house on the hood or something, sometimes a hex-headed wrench, and in the days of old when the cars were all cock eyed and shifted over to the left for downforce, the house looked like it was collapsing. His Power of Pride and Summer Salute schemes looked patriotic and presentable – why don’t they do that with the normal arrangement?

Jeff Gordon’s car has a pleasant candy apple red tint to it, but it bleeds into gray and black on the side – kind of prophetic when you’re trying to end hunger. The DuPont flame scheme is a little old, but has worn well, and why not due a tribute to ‘ol Four-Time with a rainbow hued one off from the 1993-2000 years.

Mark Martin’s Farmers Insurance Tim Richmond tribute car this year at the All-Star Race was all class and was well executed, while the Quaker State car continues to show that oil sponsored machines always produce the best looking rides in motorsports.

The GoDaddy lime-green machine is just not doing it for me. If Martin ends up splitting time with Danica Patrick in 2012, hopefully they can find some more sponsorship for him to run those races, because what works on an early 1970s Plymouth or Dodge E-Body, doesn’t work for that thing.

Richard Childress Racing sure puts the FUN back in dysFUNctional. First, they can’t find a sponsor for Clint Bowyer, but RCR absorbs Kevin Harvick’s Nationwide program. They win the Brickyard 400 with Paul Menard, then at Richmond go to an encrypted channel after asking him to check his volt meter while 80 laps down, and giving him split times between Harvick and Gordon … then he happens to spin out while going well under the race pace.

Pit crew coaches, competition directors and crew changes are made at the drop of a hat, but we are told nothing is afoot. Only when the owner goes to beating on a guy nearly one-third his age does anything ever appear suspect.

Speaking of crew swaps at RCR, they’re at it again with the No. 29 crew pilfering Bowyer’s No. 33 guys, which is great since they swapped the No. 33 and 29 teams last year halfway through the Chase. So much for “Dance With The One Who Brung Ya.” Now, it’s “Hang Out By The Bathroom And Try To Snag a Straggler.”

Think NASCAR isn’t on shaky ground? Nine races left in the season and Roush Fenway Racing still only has sponsorship for a whole season on one of their four cars.

Greg Biffle will have a special www.Ford40mpg.com paint scheme this weekend in New Hampshire. That’s actually kind of ironic considering he’s lost about four races this year on fuel mileage, which ended up getting his crew chief Greg Erwin fired. Well, not funny … there’s nothing funny about getting canned. I know. Been there, done that, got the cardboard box.

About the author


Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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