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NASCAR Notebook

by Dave Grayson
Thursday, October 16, 2008

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When NASCAR's Chase For The Championship began industry observers felt there were two events in the ten race schedule that could possibly provide mulligans that would completely turn around the points standings. Those races were at Talladega-Alabama and Martinsville-Virginia. Talladega lived up to its big one reputation and sent a few drivers on a downhill slide in the standings. There's a very good possibility that the short track aggressiveness at Martinsville could throw another major wrench into the Chase machine.

Here's the rundown for Sunday's Tums Quickpak 500, race #32 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The Martinsville Speedway was built in 1947 and presently seats 91,000. The track is 0.526 miles in length with only 12 degrees banking in the turns and no banking on the straightaways. The race is 500 laps long for a total of 263 miles and has 45 teams entered. Yet another concern with the Martinsville race is the tight conditions on pit road. Qualifying results will be extremely important because it will also determine pit stall assignments. The pit road speed is 35 MPH.

Tony Stewart holds the track qualifying record of 98.083 MPH set back in October 2005.

Jeff Gordon has the most wins, at seven as well as seven poles, for the modern day era. Gordon has an opportunity to pass the 20,000 laps led milestone. He's currently 8th on the all time lap leaders listing and only 150 laps away from overtaking Rusty Wallace in seventh.

Chevrolet leads the auto manufacturers in wins at Martinsville at 43.

Jimmie Johnson is the defending race champion and has won three of the last four races at Martinsville.

The race will be broadcast on Sunday by ABC Sports beginning at 1pm eastern/10am pacific.
The companion event is the Kroger 200 for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and can be seen at 230pm eastern/1130am pacific.

This week's odds, provided by the World Sports Exchange-WSE, indicates that they think it's going to be a very good day in Virginia for Jimmie Johnson. The two time, and possibly three time, champion is heavily favored at 4-1 odds to win the race. Regarding the other Chase contenders Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are rated at 6-1 followed by Tony Stewart 8-1, Dale Earnhardt Jr 9-1 while Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards are ranked 15-1. The WSE places Kevin Harvick at 20-1, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer are ranked at 25-1 and hard luck driver Matt Kenseth is set at 30-1 which could turn out to be a highly lucrative bet because the law of averages says that Kenseth is bound to have a reversal of fortune sooner or later.

Regarding the Chase For The Championship the WSE sees it as a four man race and truly believes that Jimmie Johnson is going to win that third consecutive title. Johnson has been ranked at 1-2 odds followed by Greg Biffle 3-1, Carl Edwards 8-1 and Jeff Burton 9-2. The WSE feels that the remainder of the Chase contenders are now out of it and their collective odds range anywhere between 30-1 and 125-1.

THE FINAL DREGS OF THE 2008 SILLY SEASON.

As the NASCAR heads into its final races of the year the silly season rumors seems to be centering around Chip Ganassi Racing presented by Felix Sabates. That actually makes a lot of sense because Ganassi's #41 Target Dodge is the only open ride available that comes with sponsorship funding. Driver J J Yeley, who was released from his Hall Of Fame Racing Toyota ride earlier this year, has been reportedly talking to Ganassi about filling this seat.  Yeley is smart enough to realize that he needs a driver sponsorship program in place to help him land any Cup ride and recently retained the services of a marketing firm to move that process along. He has also said that he will consider a Nationwide or Craftsman Truck Series ride if all Cup options fail to materialize. It's not likely that Yeley will get the Ganassi ride. The silly season rumors say that A J Allmendinger is reportedly the front runner to take over this car.

In other Ganassi news development driver Bryan Clauson was scheduled to make his Sprint Cup debut at the Lowes Motor Speedway race but rained out qualifying washed away those plans. Ganassi recently announced that Clauson will make his Cup debut October 26th at the Atlanta race and will drive their #40 Dodge.

Meanwhile at Michael Waltrip Racing-MWR it appears that driver Michael McDowell may now be on the outside looking in. The garage rumors states that MWR has decided not to pick up his contract option for the #00 Toyota. Mike Bliss will be driving the car at the Martinsville race. The MWR line up so far includes Waltrip in the #55, David Reutimann will move to the #00 but will keep the owner's points he accumulated with the #44 and MWR will be providing parts and technical assistance to JTG Daugherty Racing with driver Marcus Ambrose. MWR is saying that they will reinstate the #44 if a sponsor can be found for next year. There are rumors that say they also have been talking to A J Allmendinger.

Finally there are rumors of a possible merger between the Dodge operations of Gillett Evernham Motorsports-GEM and Petty Enterprises. Both teams are reported to be struggling and feel that the proposed merger between General Motors and Chrysler will only make things more complicated. There are also concerns that the new Dodge engine program is still not going to be able to keep up with the other manufacturers. GEM's George Gillett has reportedly said that he's seriously looking at signing on with Toyota. Officials from Dodge Motorsports are denying all of this.

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