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 @onpitrowFebruary 17, 2008 11:07 pm UTC 3 Comments
Jacques Villeneuve has apparently decided that NASCAR Sprint Cup racing ain’t his glass of wine.
Villeneuve will take his prodigious talent to the sports car ranks, leaving Bill Davis not only without a once rumored partner-buyer but short a full-time driver for the second BDR Toyota Camry. Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson will share the driving duties for now in the #27 car.
I never felt confident in Villeneuve’s commitment to Sprint Cup racing. Almost as soon as he started testing for Davis in 2007, rumors started floating that Jacques and his business partner Craig Pollack were interetsed in partnering with, or outright purchasing a Cup team. Davis was the most rumored target.
Once the merger/purchase talk subsided and Pollack headed back to Europe my doubts increased. Next, when no sponsorship surfaced for the #27 during all of Speedweeks and there were reports that Villeneuve would back the car out of his own pocket if necessary well, my BS meter went berserk.
Jacques crashed out of the second Gatorade Dual at Daytona Thursday. His car hit the wall hard and it seems his short career in Sprint Cup racing did as well.
One race and one former open-wheeler down. That didn’t take too long did it?