The Nextel Cup Series takes its first off week of the season this weekend (the reasons as which I’m not really sure seeing as how they have a 16-week stretch of racing later in the season), and here are some thoughts after the first two races.
1) Mark Martin needs to run the full season.
After two races, he is leading the point standings. Mark will be the first to tell you that he is not a very good restrictor plate driver, but after losing the Daytona 500 by .02 seconds to Kevin Harvick, that trend might be changing. Ginn Racing has obviously stepped its program up this year, and he has competitive equipment. I think that he needs to stay in that car as long as he can, which should be all 36 races. If he has a good run at Las Vegas next week, he will decide to run the full schedule. For Mark’s sake, I hope he does decide that he has a shot at a championship, which has eluded him his entire career and will go for it all.
2) Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not win a race in 2007
In 2005, the 8 car struggled. But they got their act together in 2006 and ran in the top 5 in points for most of the year and has looked strong. But that team is back to its old ways from 2005 and is not looking very good at this point. It wasn’t his fault that he got wrecked in the Daytona 500, but it was the teams fault for not working on the new unleaded fuel package starting at California, and he will not run well at Vegas. I predict no wins for this team this season. If they do win, I’ll be surprised. If they make the chase, I’ll quit trying to fool people into thinking that I know what I’m talking about.
3) FOX needs to go
I’ve noticed that the FOX television coverage has gone downhill this year. If you need proof, think back to the California race when they were showing what everybody was eating for lunch that day. It’s true that the race was pretty boring at that point, but they could have gone and interviewed a crew chief or one of the drivers that were out of the race at that point. I hope that ESPN’s return will show FOX that you can just show the race and not all the flare that goes with it that NASCAR now thinks that we need.
4) Richard Childress Racing is Back
If last year’s results weren’t obvious, then I’ll tell you that Richard Childress Racing has returned to being a dominant team that has a chance to win every week. Kevin Harvick swept Daytona, and probably would have won at California if it weren’t for a flat tire late in the going. The 29 will make the chase, the 31 (with driver Jeff Burton) will make the chase, and the 07 (Clint Bowyer) has a good shot at making the chase. I think that anything less than a championship for RCR this year at the Nextel Cup level will deem 2007 as a disappointment.
5) The Car of Tomorrow is Today
Testing took place at the Bristol Motor Speedway this week for the debut of the Car of Tomorrow at the Food City 500 next month. I’ve been looking at this car for almost two years, and I gotta say that I am genuinely excited about its debut next month. I think that the racing will improve greatly with the addition of the new car. I think that the costs will go down, no matter what Jack Roush says. And I think that it will even the playing field between multi-car teams and single car teams in the long run. I think it’s a good looking racecar, and the product on the track will show it. Look for NASCAR to announce before the end of the summer that the COT will be run exclusively beginning in 2008.