*How big of an issue is this EFI confusion?*
I think we have already established that not enough research and test sessions were conducted before implementing the new fuel injection system, but no one denied it would be a learning process either. For many, Tony Stewart was the inevitable guinea pig who show everyone what they could and couldn’t do with the new system, and you could almost see every crew and car chief watching the every move of the No. 14 team as they worked on pit road.
They were also glad it wasn’t them, but that’s beside the point. Think back to last season. What was a common trend in nearly every mile-and-a-half race on the schedule? Don’t remember? Fuel mileage. Everyone had an opinion on whether or not it was a good thing, but no one denies it’s a big part in most of these races. I think we know what the prevailing story line will be once the season is over, and my guess is several of these teams will have learned some new tricks with this EFI system before the Chase even begins.
The No. 48 team is no stranger to being penalized, and there’s little reason to think their Daytona infraction is going to be reduced.
*What can be expected from the No. 48 team appeal?*
Speaking of “trying new things”, Chad Knaus and Rick Hendrick are appealing to NASCAR next Tuesday over a penalty issued due to unapproved C-posts on the No. 48 car in Daytona. While I would imagine that the appeal is more a cry of innocence and less an expectation to actually win it, it feels like a giant waste of time. I’m sure the Clint Bowyer saga is still fresh in everyone’s mind, but just to recap, Bowyer and then team owner Richard Childress went through the lengthy appeals process as well. After what felt like an entire season’s worth of debating, pleading, and public outcry, eventually the suspensions and fines were reduced while the part that mattered—points—was left as is.
To be honest, I expect nothing different from this go round. Even if NASCAR hears their case and takes what they say to heart, they aren’t going to reduce the penalty that hurts their season the most, which is the points. If I end up being wrong, I’ll gladly own up to it next week. But, I’m not expecting to.
*Is Tony Stewart already regretting his decision?*
Darian Grubb picked right up where he left off from last year last weekend in Phoenix, but it wasn’t with the driver he won the championship with. Instead, Grubb went to the driver who probably needed him most: Denny Hamlin. After beating himself in the 2010 Sprint Cup Series championship, Hamlin was severely off his game throughout all of 2011. Now, the addition of Grubb has paid off only two races into the season. Meanwhile, Stewart is 15th in the points with no top 10 finishes.
Now, hear me out. I’m not saying Hamlin is the new championship favorite, nor am I claiming that Stewart’s title hopes are doomed. It’s early. I get it. However, I can’t imagine Stewart isn’t second-guessing having Grubb head off to his former team.
Speaking of which, is Steve Addington out of his mind?! He’s gone from Kyle Busch, to Kurt Busch, and now to Tony Stewart. All he has left is Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya and he’ll have worked with the top 5 hot heads in the sport.
*Does Brian Vickers deserve another chance?*
That’s right, folks! Vickers is back behind the wheel of a racecar, more determined to wreck more cars—er, win more races—than _ever_ before. And what better team to return to than Michael Waltrip Racing? Their guys have more experience with repairing racecars than anyone else!
Alright, so in all seriousness, Vickers rubbed a lot of people the wrong way last season. Still, he’s getting a chance at redemption. I’ll admit I thought he’d wind up back in the Nationwide Series, but apparently Aaron’s had one more dream to fulfill.
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