hoT TopIcS - King Features Syndicate

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hoT TopIcS - King Features Syndicate
Questions
& Attitude
Some compelling
questions...
and maybe a few
actual answers
HOT
TOPICS
News-Journal/NIGEL COOK
Why all the excitement
over this year’s Chase?
Isn’t Jimmie gonna
win as usual?
3 ISSUES GENERATING A BUZZ IN THE GARAGE
Getty Images for NASCAR/Jared C. Tilton
Kurt Busch hasn’t been pleased with his recent press clippings. He would prefer to read about his fifth-place finish at Richmond and not his feud with Jimmie
Johnson. “We’ve gotten into too much paparazzi with our reporting,” Busch said he told reporters at Richmond. “I want to go talk about racing.”
Busch Goes Batty
After a hard-fought, fifth-place
finish at Richmond, Kurt Busch had
confrontations with two reporters.
Busch — who was involved in a
pair of on-track incidents with Jimmie
Johnson — charged a reporter on pit
road, according to multiple reports,
after the journalist asked Busch about
his feud with Johnson. Then, Busch
took a transcript out of a writer’s hand
in the media center and tore it up.
He apologized to both reporters
Tuesday and explained his actions. “I
was ready to celebrate,” Busch said.
“To come away with a top-five finish
then be asked about being dumped
deliberately (by Jimmie Johnson), it
was taking the focus away from where
I thought the season should have been
recognized for.”
Busch — the 2004 champ — said
the incidents are in his rearview mirror
as he chases his second title. “The way
we do this moving forward is we are
worried about racing, and that’s what
needs to be written about,” he said.
The Dirty Dozen
There may be 12 drivers in the
Chase, but one manufacturer has a
stacked hand. There are six Chevys
in the field. Ford, Toyota and Dodge
each has two cars vying for the
crown.
The driver carrying the largest
thanks in part to three wins during the
regular season, has been anointed the
playoff dark horse.
“I’m more than comfortable with it;
I think we’ve earned it,” he said during
a conference call. “There is still a lot
to prove, but I don’t see any reason
why we can’t be a contender. I feel
real good about the direction we are
heading.”
Keselowski is the only driver
in the field making his first Chase
appearance. “Sometimes, you just
need to keep it simple when you don’t
know any better,’’ he said. “As a team,
we don’t know any better, which might
be an advantage.”
Chevy banner into battle is Johnson,
who has won the last five Cup titles.
Johnson’s success is wearing on
opponents, who say “Five Time” is
much more vulnerable than in past
seasons.
“It’s great for our sport, but it
also can be hurtful to our sport,
too,’’ Kyle Busch said of Johnson’s
success. “Jimmie is one of the best
out there. They are really good at
what they do. Nobody has been able
to step up and beat them, and they
haven’t eliminated themselves.”
Official Dark Horse
It’s official, sort of. Brad Keselowski,
who earned a Chase wild-card position
— GODWIN KELLY
next weekend in chicagoland
SPRINT CUP
GEICO 400
Site: Joliet, Ill.
Schedule: Friday, practice
(ESPN2, 2-3:30 p.m.; Speed, 6-7:30
p.m.); Saturday, qualifying (Speed,
1:30-3 p.m.); Sunday, race, 2 p.m.
(ESPN, 1-5:30 p.m.).
Track: Chicagoland Speedway (trioval, 1.5 miles).
Race distance: 400.5 miles, 267
laps.
NATIONWIDE
DOLLAR GENERAL 300
CAMPING WORLD TRUCK
FAST FIVE 225
Site: Joliet, Ill.
Schedule: Friday, practice,
qualifying (Speed, 3:30-4:30 p.m.),
race, 8 p.m. (Speed, 7:30-10:30
p.m.).
Track: Chicagoland Speedway
(tri-oval, 1.5 miles).
Race distance: 225 miles, 150
laps.
Site: Joliet, Ill.
Schedule: Friday, practice (Speed,
4:30-6 p.m.); Saturday, qualifying
(Speed, noon-1:30 p.m.), race, 3:30
p.m. (ESPN2,
3-6 p.m.).
Track: Chicagoland Speedway
(tri-oval, 1.5 miles).
Race distance: 300 miles, 200
laps.
GODWIN’S PREDICTIONS
Winner: Denny Hamlin
Top 5: Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brad
Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Carl
Edwards
Dark horse: David Reutimann
Biggest disappointment: Dale
Earnhardt Jr.
First one out: Clint Bowyer
Don’t be surprised if: There’s
a radical shake-up in the Chase
standings after Chicagoland.
weekly RANKINGS — Based on behavior and performance
JEFF GORDON
Fifth
championship
no longer just a
fantasy
KYLE BUSCH
Looking like the
calm
Busch brother
— for now
KEVIN
HARVICK
Tick . . . tick . . .
tick . . . tick . . .
JIMMIE
JOHNSON
Champ is a
chump, if you
ask Kurt Busch
BRAD
KESELOWSKI
Hot streak over;
settled into mere
decency
CARL
EDWARDS
Rounding back
into shape, and
just in time
RYAN NEWMAN
MATT
Will happily
KENSETH
keep his low
Boys in Marketing
profile for next
thrilled he made
10 weeks
the Chase
KURT BUSCH
Determined to
end Jimmie’s
reign, one way or
another
TONY STEWART
Has same
number of
wins this year
as you
Each of the past
few years, a lot of
us would’ve lost a
lot of money if we’d
added some wagering
to our oh-so-smart
proclamations: “No
way he wins (pick a
number) in a row.” But
he did, and he does, and
maybe he will again. But
unlike recent years, the
2011 Chase begins with
plenty of drama, plenty
of hot teams and, oh by
the way, JUNIOR!
Any chance Junior
makes some
noise over the next
10 weeks?
Probably not. Sorry,
but if the Chase field
were a large rock band,
Junior would be a bass
player at best. He’s
just there as filler, and
he seems to know it.
Hey, it beats being a
roadie. He earned his
way in, because points
are points and he had
enough to crack the
top 10. But he’s shown
nothing to suggest his
team will suddenly find
an extra gear, and he’s
said nothing to suggest
he expects to find one.
And if he does?
Everyone will accuse
NASCAR of letting him
have an extra gear, of
course.
If you’re looking for
drama, there’s Johnson
and Kurt Busch.
Oh yeah, and
this one has turned
downright strange. Kurt
has become particularly
obsessed with Jimmie.
And Jimmie has done
a particularly good job
of reminding everyone
he’s not afraid to get
dirty when he feels the
need. In recent NASCAR
history, there have been
few greater moments
of lunacy than Busch
flipping out at Richmond
and then suggesting
he’s “gotten in Jimmie’s
head.” He’s not even in
Jimmie’s beard.
— KEN WILLIS
SPEED FREAKS: 3 questions we just had to ask — OURSELVES
Does it matter where
drivers start in the Chase?
it? Never mind.
KEN’S CALL: I’d gotten in the habit of saying
Junior. Give me a minute — OK, Jeff Burton.
GODSPEAK: Makes no difference. It’s not like
forgetting to put yeast in bread.
KEN’S CALL: Not at all, assuming they all start at
Chicagoland.
AP Photo/Jim Cole
Many people seem to be enjoying the fact that Junior is back in
the Chase — just ask Godwin and Ken.
Who didn’t make the cut
that you will miss in this Chase?
GODSPEAK: Dale Earnhardt Jr. What? He made
Which driver wins the championship?
GODSPEAK: Jimmie Johnson’s streak of five in
a row ends. Carl Edwards will win. He should
have won in 2008.
KEN’S CALL: Since Jimmie already filled up a
hand, I’m thinking it’s time for Jeff Gordon to
do the same.
E-mail questions or
comments to nascarthisweek
@news-jrnl.com
Ken Willis has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 27 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
Godwin Kelly has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 30 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
NASCAR reinstates Allmendinger for competition
penske
roush
FEUD OF THE WEEK
Penske, fresh off a
long-awaited Sprint Cup
championship with Brad
Keselowski, is making the
move from Dodge to Ford,
which involves combining
forces with Roush Fenway
Racing. Both men are
patriarchs in the sport, and
they must put old rivalries
aside and work together.
NASCAR This Week’s
Monte Dutton gives his
take: “At one time, a similar
cooperative arrangement
between Roush and Robert
Yates suffered some growing
pains while the two cooled a
rivalry between them. Now,
though, Roush has mellowed,
and he and Penske will
probably get along just fine
and, together, improve Ford’s
NASCAR operation.”
AP Photo/NICK WASS
A.J. Allmendinger says the substance he was suspended for
was Adderall — a prescribed drug used to treat attention deficit
disorder (ADD).
DAYTONA BEACH —
Sprint Cup Series driver AJ
Allmendinger was reinstated
by NASCAR on Tuesday after
serving a 74-day suspension
for running afoul of the sport's
substance-abuse policy.
The sanctioning body
announced Tuesday that
Allmendinger had successfully
completed the “Road to
Recovery” program and has
been reinstated effective
immediately.
“It's relief,” Allmendinger
said in a telephone interview
Tuesday. “I finished my portion
of the program about three
and a half weeks ago, and it
was just waiting for NASCAR to
decide when to let me back in,
when they felt comfortable to
let me back in.”
Allmendinger, 30, tested
positive for a banned
substance after random
testing June 29 at Kentucky
Speedway. The substance in
question was never identified,
though Allmendinger said he
took Adderall — used to treat
attention deficit disorder.
Allmendinger, who does
not have a prescription for the
drug, said he took it in late
June because he was tired.
Allmendinger was
temporarily suspended July 7
about 90 minutes before the
Coke Zero 400 at Daytona
International Speedway. He
was indefinitely suspended
July 24 when his “B” sample
tested positive as well, and
he lost his ride in the Penske
Racing No. 22 Dodge on Aug.
1.
Sam Hornish Jr. has driven
the No. 22 since Allmendinger
was suspended.
“From Day 1, I said this was
a bad judgment, a one-time
mistake I didn't even know
I was making at the time,”
Allmendinger said. “The thing
I had to learn was stress
management and relief, and
putting myself in the right
place and not to put myself in
a bad position to make a bad
judgment.
“The people around me
knew this was not a daily
occurrence, just a bad error I
made. With that said, I still had
to go through the right steps,
and because of it, I've become
a lot more educated about
stress management and about
drugs in general and what they
actually are.”
The speedy reinstatement
should work in Allmendinger's
favor as he seeks to continue
his career. It caught the
attention of Larry McReynolds,
once Dale Earnhardt's crew
chief and now a commentator
for Fox and Speed.
“He was reinstated rather
quickly, and I think this is an
example of this system working
well,” McReynolds said.
“NASCAR has a defined line in
the sand.”
Allmendinger said this will
become a positive experience
as he continues his racing
career.
“I don't want to say it's
made me tougher,” he said.
“This has made me a better
person overall. My last six
years in NASCAR have been
tough and I just kept fighting.
“I've learned to be happy
away from the racetrack, and I
didn't before.”
— GODWIN KELLY
Questions
& Attitude
Some compelling
questions...
and maybe a few
actual answers
HOT TOPICS
3 ISSUES GENERATING A BUZZ IN THE GARAGE
Tandem Termination
Based on all the evidence
gathered during Speedweeks at
Daytona International Speedway, the
days of tandem drafting are done.
The odd-looking, two-car draft
— which was used extensively in the
four races at Daytona and Talladega
Superspeedway last year — has been
successfully excised from restrictorplate racing.
Using the Budweiser Shootout
— or as NASCAR now calls it
“The Shootout” — as the primary
indication, the tandem draft was
successful only in the final two laps
of competition when Kyle Busch and
Tony Stewart hooked up and gapped
the field.
Busch, who nearly crashed twice
before the final dash, then did the
classic slingshot pass for the win at
the finish line.
For most of the race, it was oldschool pack racing, with groups of
cars advancing to the front, followed
Getty Images
for NASCAR/
JaMIE SQUIRE
by some separation as the race
went along, followed by three
multi-car crashes, which thinned
the field.
It appears that NASCAR’s cocktail
of less downforce, more horsepower
and limited engine cooling, when
trailing close to another car for very
long, has been successful.
So as the French say, C’est la vie
(such is life).
With tandem racing chased from
Speedweeks and pack racing the
norm, we will hear another French
phrase used constantly at Daytona,
“fista debris,” or track trash, followed
by “alerter,” or caution on the “fista.”
Busch Berries
The Busch brothers may have
ended the 2011 season on sour notes
— Kurt lost his job and Kyle was put
in timeout for a weekend — but they
have returned to Daytona with smiles
and chuckles.
If Kurt wants to stay around in
good equipment, he needs to remain
calm and stable, win a race or two. So
far this Speedweeks, he has wrecked
two cars.
It may not be Kurt who blows
his stack, but independent car
owner James Finch, who has limited
resources and can’t afford to tear up
equipment.
Kyle started the season on the
right foot by winning the Shootout
and profusely thanking his sponsors
in Victory Lane for staying onboard
in 2012.
EFI is MIA
During the 2011 season, there
was a lot of talk about NASCAR’s
plan to switch from the tried-andtrue carburetor to this new-fangled
technology called electronic fuel
injection, which has been standard
equipment on street cars since the
1980s.
Will it work? Can NASCAR
keep its arms wrapped around it?
Can anybody gain an immediate
advantage from it?
The answers: yes to all of the
above.
EFI has not been a Speedweeks
talking point because all systems have
been flawless.
Roush Fenway Racing may have
a slight advantage on everybody else
when it comes to electronic control
unit programming since Jack Roush
is an engineering geek and likely has
more RAM and gigabyte capacity than
several teams combined.
‹‹‹ Kyle Busch, looking calm and cool behind the shades. Of course, it’s only February.
next weekend in daytona
SPRINT CUP
DAYTONA 500
Site: Daytona Beach.
Schedule: Today, Gatorade Duel
(Speed, 1-6:30 p.m.); Friday, practice
(Speed, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-7 p.m.);
Saturday, practice (Speed, 10:30
a.m.-noon); Sunday, race, 1 p.m.
(FOX, noon-5:30 p.m.).
Track: Daytona International
Speedway (tri-oval, 2.5 miles).
Race distance: 500 miles, 200 laps.
NATIONWIDE
DRIVE4COPD 300
Site: Daytona Beach.
Schedule: Today, practice
(ESPN2, 10 a.m.-noon); Friday,
qualifying (ESPN2, 2-4 p.m.);
Saturday, race, 1:15 p.m. (ESPN,
noon-4 p.m.).
Track: Daytona International
Speedway (tri-oval, 2.5 miles).
Race distance: 300 miles, 120
laps.
CAMPING WORLD TRUCK
NEXTERA ENERGY
RESOURCES 250
Site: Daytona Beach.
Schedule: Today, practice (Speed,
noon-1 p.m., 6:30-8 p.m.); Friday,
qualifying (Speed, 4-5:30 p.m.),
race, 7:30 p.m. (Speed, 7-10 p.m.).
Track: Daytona International
Speedway (tri-oval, 2.5 miles).
Race distance: 250 miles, 100
laps.
GODWIN’S PREDICTIONS
Winner: Carl Edwards
Rest of the top five: Dale
Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kurt
Busch, Kasey Kahne
Dark horse: AJ Allmendinger
Biggest disappointment:
David Ragan
First one out: David Stremme
Don’t be surprised if: There
is pack racing for the first 190 laps.
The last 10 will be spectacular.
weekly RANKINGS — Based on behavior and performance
CARL
EDWARDS
Off to a fast
start — literally
KYLE
BUSCH
Even sideways,
he outruns you
TONY STEWART
Converted
fan of
pack racin’
JIMMIE
JOHNSON
Good news: Chad
visiting gray areas
KEVIN
HARVICK
Tick . . . tick . . .
tick . . . tick . . .
MATT KENSETH
How can they
start Mardi Gras
without him?
GREG BIFFLE
Mr. Up-n-Down
due for a
good year
KASEY KAHNE
JEFF GORDON
DANICA PATRICK
Farmers Insurance?
Hoping tumble
Yes, it’s our
Doesn’t look
didn’t signal rough
obligatory
like a farmer
road ahead
Danica photo
Getty Images for NASCAR/
JAMIE SQUIRE
Are we still supposed
to pretend we don’t
like to see wrecks?
In polite company,
that may be the thing
to do. But let’s face it,
the majority of folks
enjoy watching the tow
trucks spring into action.
How else to explain the
reaction to Saturday
night’s Budweiser
Shootout?
Wait. Everyone raved
about the Shootout,
and you’re throwing
water on it?
Nope, just pointing
out the obvious. You
may have griped for
years about restrictor
plates, but for over a
generation (not counting
last year’s brief speed
bump) they have kept
the cars bunched
together at Daytona,
and you love that. But
when cars are bunched
together, they tend
to eventually wreck.
And wreck again. And
the next day, you and
everyone else raves
about what a “great
race” it was.
No more complaining
about the plates?
It’s beneath you.
Let’s repeat for those
who somehow missed
this oft-repeated
sermon: Bill France Sr.
wrote NASCAR’s Old
Testament rule book on
the premise that people
enjoy close competition
and will overlook the fact
that it’s manufactured
competition. Restrictor
plates take it a step
further, making it
impossible for one or
two cars to even slightly
break away and “stink
up” the show. When
the inevitable Big One
brings out the tow
trucks and ambulances,
everyone says it’s a
shame and, “you know,
nobody wanted to see
that happen.” But guess
what you see on the
network promos for next
week’s race?
— KEN WILLIS
SPEED FREAKS: 3 questions we just had to ask — OURSELVES
Three things needed to win Daytona 500?
GODSPEAK: A stout radiator, nerves of steel and
Carl Edwards’ car.
KEN’S CALL: Good car, good crew, good luck. If I
get four things, give me a friendly draft partner
when Happy Hour approaches.
Can Trevor Bayne defend his 500 title?
Getty Images for NASCAR
Our own “Mr. Racing” thinks you’ll see this guy Sunday in
Victory Lane.
penske
roush
FEUD OF THE WEEK
Penske, fresh off a
long-awaited Sprint Cup
championship with Brad
Keselowski, is making the
move from Dodge to Ford,
which involves combining
forces with Roush Fenway
Racing. Both men are
patriarchs in the sport, and
they must put old rivalries
aside and work together.
NASCAR This Week’s
Monte Dutton gives his
take: “At one time, a similar
cooperative arrangement
between Roush and Robert
Yates suffered some growing
pains while the two cooled a
rivalry between them. Now,
though, Roush has mellowed,
and he and Penske will
probably get along just fine
and, together, improve Ford’s
NASCAR operation.”
GODSPEAK: You know, I got a funny feeling, but
it could just be the rash that has developed
under my left arm.
KEN’S CALL: Yes, but not successfully.
Where will Danica Patrick
finish in her Sprint Cup debut?
GODSPEAK: Janet Guthrie finished 12th in 1977,
so I’m going with 11th. She will stay toward the
back, tiptoe through the wrecks and be around
for the finish.
KEN’S CALL: If she avoids the Big One(s), around
18th. If she wrecks early, though, the GoDaddy
ads will keep you company.
5x5 ad
E-mail questions or
comments to nascarthisweek
@news-jrnl.com
Ken Willis has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 27 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
Godwin Kelly has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 30 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
Questions
& Attitude
Some compelling
questions...
and maybe a few
actual answers
HOT TOPICS
Getty Images/EZRA SHAW
3 ISSUES GENERATING A BUZZ IN THE GARAGE
factoid machine: Ryan Newman has
16 Cup wins but does not favor one
particular track. His 16 wins have been
spread over 11 venues.
“The fact is I enjoy most all
racetracks,” said Newman, who won at
Martinsville on April 1. “There are tracks
that I prefer over others, but there are
no tracks that I truly dislike. I think that
helps in giving me an opportunity to be
successful at most, if not all of them.”
The one type of track Newman wants
to cross off his to-do list? He wants to win
at a road course. “That’s something I’d
love to do this year,” the 2008 Daytona
500 winner said.
By the way, his wins are at: Loudon,
Fort Worth, Dover, Chicagoland,
Richmond, Kansas, Phoenix, Michigan,
Pocono, and of course, Martinsville and
Daytona.
Good, bad and ‘The Biff’
The Sprint Cup season has reached
the one-sixth mark — six races down, 30
to go — and there are surprises on both
sides of the aisle.
On the plus side has been the
consistency of Greg Biffle, who continues
to thrive during even-numbered years.
Heading into Saturday’s race at Texas,
“The Biff” is leading the points.
In 2008, Biffle finished third in the
points and was sixth in ’10.
His average finish in the oddnumbered seasons since 2007 has been
12.3. He charged out of the 2012 chute
with three top-three finishes and has not
finished worse than 13th all season.
The other oddity that has emerged
is the strong early-season showing by
Stewart-Haas Racing.
Ringleader Tony Stewart is notorious
for slow starts, then heating up in the
summer months. Stewart-Haas Racing
has three wins; two by Stewart and
Ryan Newman’s gift-wrapped special at
Martinsville two weeks ago.
As for surprises of the negative
kind, look no further than Hendrick
Motorsports. Rick Hendrick is sitting on
199 Cup Series wins and holding, and
holding, and holding . . .
His Fab Four — Jeff Gordon, Jimmie
Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne
— have failed to bring home a trophy.
Adding to the frustration? Gordon is 21st
in points and Kahne is 31st.
We’re a sixth of the
way into the season
(six down, 30 to go) —
too early to panic?
If the pattern
holds, you won’t be
seeing Greg Biffle’s
photo on this page
next year.
We assume you’re
talking about Jeff
Gordon (21st in the
standings) and Kasey
Kahne (31st), who is
actually trailing Mark
Martin by 36 points —
which normally wouldn’t
be anything to fret,
except that Mark HAS
SAT OUT TWO RACES!
You’ve probably been
close to a NASCAR
Cup Series car before,
and you surely checked
out the cockpit and
eyeballed the dash area.
You didn’t see a panic
button, did you?
Getty Images
for NASCAR/
Jared C.
Tilton
Did you know?
So, no worries at
Hendrick Motorports?
u That Denny Hamlin was Bubba
Watson’s caddie for the Masters Par 3
Tournament last week? Hamlin wore
the all-white Augusta National caddie
jumpsuit — or it wore him. It looked
about three sizes too big for the Sprint
Cup Series driver.
u And there’s this name you must
know for future NASCAR trivia battles:
Ander Vilarino. Say what?
Vilarino won the first NASCARsanctioned race in Europe, a 25-minute
sprint called the Nogaro 200 at Circuit
Paul Armagnac in France on Sunday. “I’m
so proud,” Vilarino said.
Factoid factory
Oh, they’re worried.
Or at least concerned
and/or mildly irritated.
But they assume, like
we all do, that it’ll turn
around soon. The real
worries should be at
Chip Ganassi’s shop,
where Juan Pablo
Montoya and Jamie
McMurray continue to
underachieve — just
three top-10s between
them in 12 combined
starts. Brad Keselowski
has had three while
tweeting.
— GODWIN KELLY
This just out of The Inside Track
next weekend in fort worth
SPRINT CUP
SAMSUNG MOBILE 500
SITE: Fort Worth
SCHEDULE: Saturday, race (Fox,
7:30 p.m.)
TRACK: Texas Motor Speedway
(oval, 1.5 miles)
RACE DISTANCE: 334 laps, 501
miles
NATIONWIDE
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 300
SITE: Fort Worth
SCHEDULE: Friday, race (ESPN2,
8:30 p.m.)
TRACK: Texas Motor Speedway
(oval, 1.5 miles)
RACE DISTANCE: 200 laps, 300
miles
CAMPING WORLD TRUCK
GOOD SAM ROADSIDE/
CAROLINA 200
SITE: Rockingham, N.C.
SCHEDULE: Sunday, race (SPEED,
1 p.m.)
TRACK: Rockingham Speedway
(oval, 1.017 miles) RACE
DISTANCE: 200 laps, 203.4 miles
GODWIN’S PREDICTIONS
Winner: Greg Biffle
Rest of top five: Carl Edwards,
Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Dale
Earnhardt Jr.
Dark horse: Kurt Busch
Biggest disappointment: Tony
Stewart
First one out: Kyle Busch
Don’t be surprised if: Biffle’s
victory earns him the label “Chase
front-runner.”
weekly RANKINGS — Based on behavior and performance
JEFF GORDON
Fifth
championship
no longer just a
fantasy
KYLE BUSCH
Looking like the
calm
Busch brother
— for now
KEVIN
HARVICK
Tick . . . tick . . .
tick . . . tick . . .
JIMMIE
JOHNSON
Champ is a
chump, if you
ask Kurt Busch
BRAD
KESELOWSKI
Hot streak over;
settled into mere
decency
CARL
EDWARDS
Rounding back
into shape, and
just in time
RYAN NEWMAN
MATT
Will happily
KENSETH
keep his low
Boys in Marketing
profile for next
thrilled he made
10 weeks
the Chase
KURT BUSCH
Determined to
end Jimmie’s
reign, one way or
another
TONY STEWART
Has same
number of
wins this year
as you
How about the TV
ratings?
It’s never too early to
worry about that. If you’re
in one of NASCAR’s
corner offices and have
steady contact with the
Boys at Network, you
live in a state of concern.
Frankly, it’s probably
not a big deal that this
season’s overall Nielsen
numbers — through
six races — are down
roughly 5 percent. Swings
that small, up or down,
are easily attributed
to outside factors —
namely a particular day’s
competition for viewers.
For instance, the Daytona
500, postponed to
Monday, went up against
the Oscars. However,
several years ago it didn’t
matter what NASCAR
went up against.
— KEN WILLIS
SPEED FREAKS: 3 questions we just had to ask — OURSELVES
Does Bubba Watson’s win at Augusta mean
Denny Hamlin has an open invite to caddie?
GODSPEAK: If there’s an ounce of superstition in
Bubba’s body, you’ll see Hamlin on the bag.
KEN’S CALL: Yes, and maybe Bubba can teach
Denny to turn right. It’ll help at road courses.
Getty Images/streeter lecka
If Denny Hamlin is going to be caught with just one logo on his
chest, that’s not a bad one to have.
FEUD OF
THE WEEK
penske
roush
Jimmie Johnson has not won a Cup race
in his last 12 starts. Is the JJ Era over?
GODSPEAK: Yes — for now. In 2013, the Cup
Series will race new body designs, which
Penske, fresh off a long-awaited Sprint Cup
championship with Brad Keselowski, is making the move
from Dodge to Ford, which involves combining forces
with Roush Fenway Racing. Both men are patriarchs in
the sport, and they must put old rivalries aside and work
together.
NASCAR This Week’s Monte Dutton gives his take:
“At one time, a similar cooperative arrangement between
Roush and Robert Yates suffered some growing pains while
the two cooled a rivalry between them. Now, though, Roush
has mellowed, and he and Penske will probably get along
just fine and, together, improve Ford’s NASCAR operation.”
means crew chief/evil genius Chad Knaus will
have a clean chalkboard.
KEN’S CALL: Once Chad starts wandering into
the gray area again, everything will be fine.
Kurt Busch has made the Chase six times in
eight years. Can he finally get in the playoffs?
GODSPEAK: Driving talent will only take you
where the equipment will get you. Car owner
James Finch may need to order more checks.
KEN’S CALL: PLAYOFFS? Kurt’s bar is set a bit
lower than that these days.
E-mail questions or
comments to nascarthisweek
@news-jrnl.com
Ken Willis has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 27 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
Godwin Kelly has been
covering NASCAR for The
Daytona Beach News-Journal
for 30 years. Reach him at
[email protected]
NASCAR reinstates Allmendinger for competition
DAYTONA BEACH —
Sprint Cup Series driver AJ
Allmendinger was reinstated
by NASCAR on Tuesday after
serving a 74-day suspension
for running afoul of the sport's
substance-abuse policy.
The sanctioning body
announced Tuesday that
Allmendinger had successfully
completed the “Road to
6x3 ad
Recovery” program and has
been reinstated effective
immediately.
“It's relief,” Allmendinger
said in a telephone interview
Tuesday. “I finished my portion
of the program about three and
a half weeks ago, and it was just
waiting for NASCAR to decide
when to let me back in, when
they felt comfortable to let me
back in.”
Allmendinger, 30, tested
positive for a banned substance
after random testing June 29
at Kentucky Speedway. The
substance in question was never
identified, though Allmendinger
said he took Adderall — used to
treat attention deficit disorder.
— GODWIN KELLY

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