by Brett Forte
So, WOW, what a race that was at New Hampshire…….probably the best race so far this year. If you fell asleep watching that one, you need a new hobby. There was a lot of good side by side racing on this flat track with plenty of action all thru the pack. How about that Mark Martin?? Glad to see him race hard and take that win, he deserved it. Juan Pablo Montoya had a strong car, but still has to learn how to race in NASCAR. He’s a good driver but got out-foxed by Mark on the last re-start (which was after another one of those mystery cautions) debris on the track, my eye. A sentimental favorite to win the “Cup”, Martin has shown that he shouldn’t be counted out. Great job by him, Alan Gustafson and the whole crew with flawless pit work that kept them up front all night. Back to that last caution, why do we keep having these?? Come on, Nascar…..stop trying to artificially tighten up the field. Everyone, including the drivers, know when the caution flag is gonna get called. It’s almost a joke anymore. Just stop it.
Moving on, my 4 picks are standing 2, 6, 7, &12 in the points….HHmmmm, well, still a lot of race tracks to go before Homestead. Jimmie looks strong and so does Tony but Kasey was making tracks before he blew a motor. Ryan didn’t make much noise Sunday but we’ll see how they do at Dover.
With 9 races left for the 2009 season, the “Silly Season” is really upon us now. Look at some of the more interesting things going on at the end of this year. The biggest news I see is Mark Martin inking a 2 year deal with HMS and as the sponsor. How great is it that he will have a quality ride for 2 more years, and trust me, he will be a factor in the next 2 years of “Chase” races. How about Brad Keselowski in the #12 Dodge for Roger Penske?? He couldn’t get a commitment from Rick Hendrick to match his personal time table, so off to Dodge he went. Too bad, I think the fit with HMS would have been good. I predict a move back to Hendrick after a couple of years at Penske when one or more driver jobs open up. Remember, you heard it here first. Who’s gonna take over the #1 Chevy @ Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing?? I’m gonna go with either Bobby Labonte or Aric Almirola. Of course, there’s Jamie McMurray, Elliot Sadler, and Reed Sorenson out there, as well.
How about the challenge issued by Miller Lite to Budweiser?? The 2 beer cars will compete for $2500 dollars each race, with the money going to the winners chosen charity. Also, the highest “Chase” finishing beer car will receive $25000 to go to the same named charity. This is a SUPER promotion, even if it is sponsored by an adult beverage company. I hope InBev (owners of Anheuser-Busch) joins in, we’ll see.
So let’s talk about Women coming into Nascar…….specifically Danica Patrick. Personally, I think if she wants to make a legitimate run for the Championship, well then let her go for it. If it’s all for media hype and personal reward in dollars just what are ya going to do tell her NO!? I will give Danica credit for the strategy, talking to a number of the Big Players in the Cup garage, then going straight to Tony Stewart to work out a deal. Tony has done what she wants to do, and has been reasonably successful, wouldn’t you think? Now, let’s say they strike a deal, Danica runs a few Sprint cup races with SHR providing the cars, and still running her current deal in IRL. But what about the Nationwide and Truck series vehicles (or ARCA, for that matter)?? They’ll need to source them from someone, how about KHI?? Let’s give the female a shot and see just what happens, you never know what people are capable of when given the right opportunity.
Speaking of KHI, Kevin Harvick has to be pretty proud of the team he has assembled over there. I say good for him, running with the likes of HMS and RCR in the Nationwide series. That said, let me make another point here. I have a big problem with drivers owning teams and equipment in the same level they race on. Jeff Gordon, as an example, owning Jimmie Johnson’s car, that’s just wrong. Conflict of interest, if you ask me. Now if Jimmie is running in the Nationwide series, no problem, not Sprint Cup. NASCAR should REALLY look at this (but we all know that will never happen). In the immortal words of Harry Hoge (Days of Thunder), “you’re a victim of your own &@@$# creation!!” Wonder if Dale SR would still be racin if he hadn’t been blocking for his own team cars that fateful day. HMmmm… So if you own a Cup Team, you can’t drive in the series for another team, period. No Mystery owners, no shell companies, you get the idea, just NO. You can drive for your own team, like Tony Stewart, but not for somebody else while owning a team.
Now, about all this multi-car team stuff…I don’t think anyone could have predicted what a nightmare this whole debacle has become. Kudos to Mr. Hendrick for figuring it out and finding the loopholes in NASCAR’s deviated system, but the end result is less than gratifying. Back in the day, when the little guys showed up at the track, and could (or couldn’t) run with the Big Dogs, that was a beautiful thing. When only 3 or 4 super-teams win all the races, how much fun can we all be having? Seriously, let’s limit the owners to 2 cars. I like the 2 car approach, it still provides shared information, thus reducing costs. Also, I know we would all like to see some sort of cap on team spending. Get away from all this 7 post shaker, wind tunnel, bump stop nonsense. It sure would level the playing field if more guys could afford to build a car and try to qualify for a few races. Getting sponsorship $$ is great if you can get it, but if not, and it was still relatively affordable, how many cars would be showing up to qualify every week. What level of competition would we have with a yearly cap of 3 million dollars?? Maybe it needs to be 4 million, I don’t know, irrelevant to the point, make it affordable and you’ll see more cars than you can stand. There are plenty of quality short track racers around the country, just not enough $$ to get in the “Big Show” sometimes.
Next weekend’s race at Dover should prove to be very exciting, let’s hope it is. The second “Chase” race, with some very strong drivers showing what they’ve got, means good racing for everyone to see. I’ll be watching, you can believe that!! Everybody have a GREAT week, see you next time!! Got a comment?? You can reach me at [email protected]
Remember….NASCAR is STILL the best racing on 4 wheels!!