by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.February 27, 2009 12:10 pm UTC No Comments
Once the guaranteed entrants finish jockeying for pit selection, real qualifying begins.
Fifty-one cars are on the entry list for the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and fifteen of them have to literally fight their way into the race and can make for the best drama of the weekend.
Predictions were that once NASCAR left the season opener at Daytona the number of cars trying to make the race could fall below the forty-three that constitutes a full Sprint Cup field. The general consensus that the “under funded” teams would not follow the circus west has not held true. Several of these teams including Tommy Baldwin‘s and Jeremy Mayfield‘s said all along that they had every intention of racing the entire season.
Mayfield picked up a sponsor and co-owner in the All-Sport brand of thirst quencher. Baldwin has been sponsored by Red Bank Outfitters in the first three events and have added the third race at Vegas as well. The Yates Racing no. 28 driven by Travis Kvapil had Golden Corral Restaurants on the car at Daytona and they will be back on the car for at least three more races starting in Sin City.
So with the entry lists bigger than expected by NASCAR and many experts; does that go against the business model projections that these start up teams anticipated? Baldwin told ON PIT ROW that the primary reason he felt they could make a go of it in the Cup Series was because there was no testing in the off season and the size of the fields trying to qualify would be smaller.
There are sixteen teams in Vegas looking to fill eight spots. One of those spots will go to Tony Stewart because of his guaranteed provisional. Qualifying is set for 3:30pm local time (pacific), but the real excitement won’t start until the go or go home cars hit the track at approximately 5:00pm. That is when the true knock out qualifying starts as fifteen cars vie for seven spots. That type of knock out qualifying is what made “Bump Day” at Indy in May so exciting and what has the potential for being the best part of the show at each race track.
Just imagine if instead of thirteen drivers having to qualify in; twenty-eight needed to fight for a spot. Changing the Top 35 to the Top 20 would give NASCAR their certified stars in the race and make the rest of the field fight for the privilege to race on Sunday. NASCAR will never abandon the Top 35 rule; we can only hope that they amend it.
Qualifying is an important piece of the NASCAR experience; both at the track and to the television viewer. Therefore, every effort must be made to qualify at least the Cup cars every week. It is fine to schedule qualifying on Friday, but NASCAR has to have a Plan B,C and D ready in case of rain. Qualifying CANNOT be rained out. If it takes until Sunday morning to get cars qualified, then that is what has to be done. It is too important to the Tommy Baldwins, Joe Nemechecks, Jeremy Mayfields, James Finchs, Bob Germains and Bob Jenkins of the world to not make every attempt to get it in. Scrapping qualifying is no longer a luxury that NASCAR can afford; team’s ultimate existence is at stake.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.February 12, 2009 10:40 am UTC 9 Comments
Seventeen racers are vying for just four spots in The Great American Race.
The Daytona Seventeen are for the most part are all start up teams with limited or no outside sponsorships. The first Duel on Thursday will have seven drivers looking for the two openings available in the 500. Joe Nemechek, Scott Riggs and Brad Keselowski look to be the favorites to fight for the pair of move ups. Also in that first race are longer shots; Kirk Shelmerdine, Tony Raines, Mike Skinner and Carl Long. The three favorites all have the advantage of owners with some sort of success in that role.
Nemechek has fielded cars in the Cup series before, full time with himself behind the wheel in 1995 and 1996, but many times using ringers at Watkins Glen with sporadic success. Riggs is driving for Tommy Baldwin who has had success not only as a Cup crew chief but also as the founder of a Nationwide team in 2004 that he later sold to Ray Evernham that formed the foundation for Evernham Motorsports. Meanwhile Keseloski will be in the James Finch ride that has one hundred starts on the Cup circuit on a part time basis since Jeff Purvis first jumped into one of his cars in 1990.
The second Duel has ten cars looking to make the 43 car field for Sunday’s race. Again only two will move up. Half of those ten have to be consider as legitimate contenders to make the 500. Regan Smith, Boris Said, AJ Allmendinger, Jeremy Mayfield and Mike Wallace show the most promise. Smith is driving a part time schedule for Front Row Motorsports, an organization that has run through drivers at a prolific rate.
Said will be looking to make the race that seems to allude him. His No Fear Racing team has merged with Rick Clark Motorsports, a minority owner who to the best of recollections has never put a car on a NASCAR track. Said does have a way of being fast at Daytona however. His biggest nemesis over the years has been the weather. Allmendinger is running the fourth car for Richard Petty Racing and has been fast in cars from that stable since he got into them at the end of last year.
Jeremy Mayfield put together his race team in early January and plans on a full season with All Sport energy drink returning to big time auto racing as co-owner and sponsor. Mayfield seems to have gotten the fire back in his belly. Wallace will be in a TRG Chevy. TRG has been successful in sports cars and have been making appearances on the stock car circuits to gain some experience. Wallace is another driver who seems to find ways to make the field if given any kind of decent equipment.
Those with little chance of making the big jump into Sunday’s race are Mike Garvey, Derrike Cope, Kelly Bires, Geoff Bodine and Norm Benning. Bodine’s attempt is interesting because his car is owned by Phil Parsons, but probably lacks the resources to make the race.
photo credits: Icon Sports Media
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJanuary 29, 2009 6:02 pm UTC No Comments
In the latest – and apologetically late - Monday Morning Crew Chief, Mindy tips her hat to several, brand new one car operators. She also disses Brian France. But what else is new?
Watch Mindy’s latest right here. Sorry we’re late.