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NASCAR highlights from last weekend's racing action

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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Missouri-native Carl Edwards had the crowd roaring when he took the lead twice for a total of 31 laps
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for NASCAR
Let's start things out with a HOORAH for the final lap of last Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 400 at the Kansas Speedway. For a very brief moment in time there was no consideration towards points for NASCAR's Chase For The Championship. That final lap was about four guys racing their guts out trying to get the win. Even after bouncing off of the turn three wall, Carl Edwards still did everything he could to pass eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson. Right behind them was Greg Biffle who scored third following a bumper to bumper duel with Jeff Gordon that ran right up to the finish line. It was riveting, albeit brief, television.

Also HOORAH to Carl Edwards for stopping Jimmie Johnson on pit road after the race to shake his hand. It was a very classy gesture.

Paul Newman at Indy in 1968 in Bobby Unser's car while filming Winning
IMS

HOORAH for Paul Newman. This is my way of paying my respects to one of America's finest actors and someone who truly had the heart and soul of a racer as well as a compassionate heart for his fellow man. Newman has left us a film legacy to enjoy for years to come including my personal favorites "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" and "Cool Hand Luke." Late in life he became a highly successful driver who won four SCCA road racing titles. He was also a member of the team who won the 24 Hours Of Daytona with one of the team mates being NASCAR veteran Mark Martin. Newman was 70 years young when they won this race.

In 1983 Newman became a team owner in the then CART Series and formed Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing. The famed open wheel team went to amass 107 wins and eight titles. Newman turned his success into philanthropy. He was especially well known for his line of food products sold in super markets under the name of "Newman’s Own." The post tax profits from this food line was donated to charity which reported donations topping $200 million late in 2006. He also created the Hole In The Wall Gang Camps a famed residential summer camp for seriously ill children. In his final days, at age 83, the media reported that he told his daughter "it's been a privilege to be here." It was a privilege to have you with us Mr. Newman.

HOORAH for driver A J Allmendinger and his ninth place finish at Kansas during a time when he's auditioning for a job next year. Last week a massive amount of motor sports broadcasters and writers were all yelling WAZZ UP with Red Bull Racing releasing the former open wheel champion at a point in time when he was actually showing marked improvement while living up to the potential that made Red Bull want to sign him to begin with. I personally yelled WAZZ UP at Red Bull for waiting so long to actually make this decision. Their poor timing is going to make it virtually impossible for Allmendinger to get a ride of any truly quality in the Sprint Cup next year.

At the same time you have to say HOORAH for the way Red Bull Racing handled the development of driver Scott Speed who will be taking over the Allmendinger ride in 2009. The driver, from the Formula One racing ranks, was farmed out to teams from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the ARCA ReMax Series where he not only got the driver development seat time that he needed but won races in both series. In fact he has a better than good chance of winning this year's ARCA points championship. If his open wheel counterparts, Allmendinger-Franchitti-Carpentier etc, were developed in the same manner then maybe their venture into NASCAR last year would have not been so formidable.

With the worldwide popularity and sales of Red Bull I'm also wondering WAZZ UP with their organization's willingness to form a third team that could include Allmendinger? If a third team is a question of funding for Red Bull Racing then perhaps they can entice Yeagermeister Liquor to fund the new team. My good friend Michelle the bar tender, from Tommy T's Sports Bar in Ridgecrest-California, assures me that Yeager and Red Bull is a very smooth mix. I, of course, would not know anything about that.

While we're still on the topic of Red Bull Racing WAZZ UP with driver Brian Vickers and his pit crew during the Kansas race? First he tapped Carl Edwards on pit road. Then members of his crew somehow ended up standing in front of Tony Stewart's car while he was trying to exit his pit box. Apparently one member of the Red Bull team thought Stewart came close to hitting one of his colleagues and actually kicked the driver's door of the car as it roared by. Back on the track the two drivers made some contact and Stewart  spun through the backstretch grass and damaged his front splitter. After leaving pit road following repairs Stewart waved at Vicker's crew. The trouble was Stewart was in a hurry and forgot to extend the other four fingers on his left hand. Message sent-message received.

Just when we all thought the price of gas was way out line, WAZZ UP with Juan Pablo Montoya's team and that over loaded shock absorber? After celebrating winning the pole position for the Kansas race with his team, the crew chief had to go and tell his driver that the car failed to pass post qualifying tech inspection. It seems that NASCAR discovered that one of the car's shock absorbers had an excessive amount of gas loaded into it and the qualifying run was disallowed. Not that's high gas prices.

Finally WAZZ UP with Joe Gibbs Racing and their chances of winning NASCAR's Chase For The Championship? Three weeks ago race fans were practically willing to bet the farm that Kyle Busch was going to dominate the ten race Chase format in the very same way he dominated the 26 regular season races with eight wins. But there's been a rash of surprising mechanical failures with Busch's Toyota during the first three Chase events that has left him last in the 12 man rankings and, for all practical purposes, eliminated from any chance of winning the championship. The championship prospects for the other Gibbs drivers, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, are starting to fade as well. It's perplexing enough that Stewart has gone this far into the season without winning a race but to have all three Gibbs cars at the bottom of the Chase standings is just amazing.

Rough Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle made a rather interesting comment, last Monday on the SPEED Channel, about Kyle Busch's fall from the top to the bottom of the Chase standings when he said "if I suffered a fall like that in the Chase standings I'd be on a suicide watch right now."

Join us next week when we take a look at the NASCAR Chase action from the Talladega Super Speedway. Now there's a facility overloaded with HOORAHS and WAZZ UPS.

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