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NASCAR Homestead weekend postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, November 18, 2008

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3-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner Jimmie Johnson
The NASCAR championship weekend, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, was pretty much everything NASCAR officials and the fans could ask for. It had good racing and plenty of post race pomp and circumstance ceremony. In the days that followed the weekend every motorsports journalist and television commentator was consumed with Jimmie Johnson's third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup title and rightfully so. Yours truly will eventually get to that story but I'm going to take a totally different approach and begin with:

HOORAH for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Ford 200 exceeded anticipated excitement levels and produced some riveting television. HOORAH for Johnny Benson for winning his first series title by a mere seven points over yearlong rival Ron Hornaday Jr. HOORAH for Hornaday for that hard charging championship run that had us all paying attention and, at the same time, doing it with a great deal of class. It's easy to see why Hornaday is already a multiple time series champion.

HOORAH for Bill Davis Racing-BDR for winning their first ever championship in one of NASCAR's big three national touring series along with five series wins in 2008. Some good fortune has been long overdue for BDR. It's hardly a secret that this organization has been in the midst of financial struggle, especially with their NASCAR Sprint Cup operation, and hopefully this Craftsman Truck title will show that there's a lot of fight left in BDR and they're still worthy of sponsorship consideration.

HOORAH for Todd Bodine winning the Ford 200 following a green-white-checker finish which is an exciting element that the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series treated us to many times in 2008. Another HOORAH goes out to Bodine who, during the course of the championship weekend, officially announced his engagement to the lovely Janet Paczkowski.

HOORAH to Sears and Craftsman Tools for their 14 years of sponsorship of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. They played a significant role in the series' development and its history. Along the same lines HOORAH for Camping World who is now set to guide the series to their next level of racing history.

WAZZUP with NASCAR officials in charge of schedules for not giving this series more stand-alone events? Their numbers from the Las Vegas race last September alone proved they can get the job done. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is often scheduled as the opening act for a NASCAR triple header weekend and that means they race on Fridays sometimes even on a Thursday afternoon. With the economic climate the country is experiencing, most NASCAR fans cannot afford to purchase tickets for all three events which means the Craftsman Trucks is often the race they decide to miss. That's too bad because in most cases this series provides the most exciting race of the entire weekend. A case in point is the series' annual event at the Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, California, held in February. For the past three years running the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Fontana has completely outclassed the races presented by their Nationwide and Sprint Cup counterparts. It's time that NASCAR realized this and let the truck series shine on their own terms.

Now to the Ford 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. HOORAH to Jimmie Johnson for defying the odds and winning a third consecutive championship. HOORAH to Chad Knaus for being the first NASCAR crew chief to win three consecutive championships. HOORAH to Rick Hendrick for winning his eighth title. HOORAH to Jeff Gordon as the co-owner of Johnson's #48 Lowe's team and HOORAH to the entire #48 team for again rising to the occasion while refusing to back down to adversity.

Another HOORAH to Chad Knaus for being a master of disaster. Prior to the Ford 400 it was a safe bet that Knaus had a contingency plan to cover any possible thing that could have gone wrong during the race. He proved that early in the day when he looked down and noticed a crack in the top of the concrete pit wall.  Concerned that the crack could cause a member of his crew to lose his footing coming over the wall, or the possibility of an air hose getting stuck in it, he ordered the crack to be filled and covered with tape. Most crew chiefs would not have even noticed that crack in the wall.

WAZZUP with Jimmie Johnson's wild ride to victory lane? While on the access road to victory lane Johnson treated the fans to some extra post race burnouts. The problem was that most of these fans were standing on the edge of both sides of this access road with no safety wall in front of them. It was a very dangerous thing to do especially in lieu of the fact that the rear of the car was trying to go sideways during the burnouts.

HOORAH to Carl Edwards for giving it his all while trying to take that championship away from Johnson. Edwards and the #99 team just refused to quit and provided some very exciting moments during the ten race Chase For The Championship. That excitement included winning the Ford 400 for his season leading ninth victory of the year. After doing his ceremonial backflip, Edwards ran over to Johnson's car to shake his hand and congratulate him. After the race he said he felt that the entire team gave one hundred percent towards trying to win the championship, which included a stunning 12.9 second four tire pit stop, and added "you can't be a loser if you give one hundred percent." This man is a class act and will win a lot of NASCAR championships in the future. The first one could come as early as 2009.

HOORAH to Tony Stewart for refusing to discuss his exciting plans of becoming a NASCAR team owner in 2009 with the media. Stewart ran his last race with Joe Gibbs Racing on this day and completed a ten year stint that included two NASCAR Championships and 33 wins. Stewart preferred to spend his time delivering a personal thank you to each member of his team and refused to comment on 2009. This also was a class act.

HOORAH to Gary Johnson, the father of the NASCAR champion, for providing one of the better lines of the weekend. During a post race television interview the proud father said that his son is extremely busy and doesn't have time to call him that often but he does send text messages on practically a daily basis. Mr. Johnson quipped "I guess I need to learn how to send a text message."

HOORAH to Jimmy Spencer for accidentally setting up one of the better lines of the weekend during the course of an interview with Johnson on the Speed Channel. Spencer was discussing the prospects of Johnson's team winning a fourth consecutive championship and asked "how are you going to be able to get it up for that?" With a big smile on his face Johnson said "did you just ask me how I get it up?"

Turning now to the NASCAR Nationwide Series HOORAH to Clint Bowyer for finishing fifth in the Ford 300 which was good enough to win the series championship for Richard Childress Racing.

Again HOORAH to Carl Edwards, who raced the full Nationwide Series schedule this year, for coming on strong in the final weeks to again create championship excitement. After winning the Ford 300, the championship margin between Bowyer and Edwards was whittled down to 21 points.

HOORAH to Joe Gibbs Racing for winning the Nationwide Series Owners Championship by a mere 12 points over Richard Childress Racing.

The final HOORAH this week goes to the Ford Motor Company for sponsoring the entire NASCAR Championship weekend.

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