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Atlanta postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

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Between the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series in Atlanta along with the Nationwide Series in Memphis last weekend there were quite a few HOORAHS and WAZZUPS for us to consider. With that thought in mind let's start with:

Carl Edwards flips after each win
HOORAH to Carl Edwards for his double post race back flips after winning both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races on two different days, in two different cities located in two different states. That truly is quite an accomplishment and all of that extra effort mathematically still leaves Edwards as a major player in both series championships.

Along those lines HOORAH to whomever took care of the logistics for Edwards' outstanding NASCAR weekend. I wish I knew that person's name because he or she deserves some public credit for a job well done. This person had to first arrange for a back up driver to be in Memphis to practice, set up and qualify Edwards' Nationwide car while he was in Atlanta taking care of the Cup business. Then there was pre arranged helicopter transportation to a waiting private plane that transported Edwards to Memphis and then back to Atlanta Saturday night after the post race victory photos and press commitments. Someone from Roush Fenway Racing deserves a tip of Jack Roush's hat for a job well done.

Jimmie Johnson races his way back to the front

Reigning NASCAR Cup Champion, and possible three time champ, Jimmie Johnson was the first to yell HOORAH for the performance of his Lowes pit crew backed with the calls made by crew chief Chad Knaus. Johnson lost a lap following a drive through penalty for speeding down pit road. On an ensuing caution flag pit stop the crew got Johnson out so fast that he was now eligible for the Lucky Dog pass which he received one yellow flag later to put him back on the lead lap. The Knaus brilliant call came within the final laps of the race when, during the final caution of the event, he brought his driver in to put on four fresh tires knowing the rest of the competitors were going to stay out. As we all saw the result was Johnson restarting 11th and finishing second. It's this kind of performance and attention to any and all details that will likely give this team the record tying third championship.

Along those lines WAZZUP with race winner Carl Edwards not being aware of where Jimmie Johnson was in the final moments of the Atlanta race? In a very humorous moment in victory lane Edwards was told by the victory lane reporter that Johnson rallied to finish second and Edwards only picked up just a few points against his lead. While turning around to look at the scoreboard Edwards said "are you kidding me? Man you guys have been raining on my parade all weekend."

WAZZUP with Mother Nature? She has now see fit to rain out the qualifying for approximately one fourth of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races so far this year. Those wet moments forced NASCAR to set the line up for the Atlanta race based on owner's points which placed Jimmie Johnson on the pole position and allowed him to select the use of the first  box on pit road. Am I the only one starting to think that the protector of all things earthly is possibly a Johnson fan?

HOORAH for driver Jeff Burton who took some time from his very busy schedule to visit Luella High School in Atlanta to make a presentation to a student assembly on the importance of safe driving habits.

HOORAH for Craftsman Tools. While the famed tool company recently announced that they were no longer going to be the title sponsor of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series they still deserve this special salute because of the 14 years they spent with that program and the contributions they made that led to the success and popularity it enjoys today. Along those same lines HOORAH to Camping World for signing on as the series title sponsor for the next nine years, a move that will virtually guarantee continued prosperity and success for their series.

While we're on the subject of the Craftsman Truck Series HOORAH for Kevin Harvick Inc and their one-two finish at the Atlanta race that saw guest driver Ryan Newman get his first series win in only his first start in Harvick's second team truck that has had nothing but bad luck this year. Lead driver Ron Hornaday Jr finished second for the team and has now narrowed Johnny Benson's points lead down to 31 in what has become NASCAR's most exciting championship battle. For those of who reside on the west coast, it was great to see crew chief Ernie Cope guide Newman to the win. Old school NASCAR fans will recall that Cope was a terrific driver in the Winston West Series.

WAZZUP with Larry McReynolds' fake hair? The fun loving Larry Mac last weekend reported for duty on the SPEED Channel's set at Atlanta wearing a company visor with a giant clump of fake hair attached to it. The good news was it was a lot of fun. The bad news was Larry Mac resembled one of the singers from the Back Street Boys.

HOORAH to ageless wonder Morgan Shepherd who celebrated his 67th birthday on Tuesday of last week. Still going strong as a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Shepherd is one of the most admired characters in the sport. He uses his independently owned racing team to share his principals of faith and that giant logo that reads "Racing For Jesus" is easily recognizable both from the grandstands and on television. He also still turns a mean pair of roller skates up and down pit road.

WAZZUP with the handling package on Clint Bowyer's Chevrolet during last Saturday's Nationwide Series race in Memphis? That car had the handling characteristics of an Army tank all day long and all of the adjustments in the world could not improve it. At the same time HOORAH to Bowyer for delivering the best  line from an in car radio transmission, during the entire NASCAR weekend, when he quipped "I couldn't turn this thing in a 40 acre field."

WAZZUP with Nationwide Series driver Bobby Hamilton Jr and that ill timed temper tantrum that occurred following the conclusion of the Memphis race? In the final laps of the race Hamilton was tapped in the rear bumper by Landon Cassill and Hamilton’s Ford went sliding down the backstretch. The result was a significant loss of positions in the final rundown of the race. After the race Cassill stopped his car on pit road so officials could remove his transponder. Hamilton parked sideways directly in front of his car, climbed out of his own car and ran over to tell Cassill exactly how he felt about the incident. Cassill later said that Hamilton still had his face helmet on and he couldn't understand a single word he said.

So here's another WAZZUP for trying to yell at someone while wearing a full helmet while the plastic visor is still in place. Hamilton finished the altercation by reaching in Cassill's window and throwing a left hook. That's another WAZZUP for hitting a driver who's also wearing a full helmet. That's got to be rough on the knuckles. By now Mrs. Hamilton entered the scene and waved hello to Cassill with one finger. Cassill later referred to it as the Hawaiian good luck sign. WAZZUP with her being out on pit road and in the middle of all this? 

The final WAZZUP concerns the impact that the incident could have on Hamilton's future and the well being of his race team Rensi Motorsports. Approximately a month ago Rensi Motorsports lost their primary sponsor and informed Hamilton that he should consider examining other racing opportunities. Two weeks ago the team said that if they didn't have a new full time sponsor for the 2009 season by the Memphis race then they would have no choice but to close the race shop. With that level of frustration, combined with what happened during the Memphis race, a part of me understands why Hamilton lost his temper. But the bigger part of me thinks that throwing a punch at another driver on national television is going to greatly deter the process of getting a new sponsor and/or ride for the future.

Next we have a highly unusual combo: HOORAH to driver David Reutimann for wanting to do the right thing and at the same time a WAZZUP because he did the right thing. In the final laps of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Memphis Reutimann was charging hard after leader Carl Edwards and caught up to him during the white flag lap. But the only chance Reutimann had to win this race required the use of the old bump and run. Reutimann is a class act who basically doesn't believe in ramming another driver's bumper to win a race. Edwards won the race and seemed to be amazed that Reutimann didn't try to move him. He was also grateful and thanked him two times during the victory lane interview. Meanwhile reality set in with Reutimann and he just quietly said "maybe I should have tried to move him." I'm sure that team owner Michael Waltrip agreed with that assessment during the team meeting the following Monday morning.

Busch hints that Edwards is on steroids
The final WAZZUP of the week goes to the always interesting Kyle Busch who continues to have a lot of fun playing the role of NASCAR's bad boy. "Rowdy" recently made an appearance on the nationally syndicated radio show known as "Big D and Bubba" to talk some NASCAR racing with the guys. The show's hosts asked him for an opinion on the recent physical altercation between drivers Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. Without a second of hesitation Busch said "Harvick is one of the biggest hot heads in Sprint Cup racing and Edwards is probably on more juice (as in steroids) than Barry Bonds." In the aftermath you'd be surprised how many people, including prominent journalists, who took that seriously before it was revealed that Busch was only kidding and just having some fun on the radio. But one can't help but wonder if Edwards got the joke.

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