By admin | March 25, 2008
Who wanted a week off? Who didn’t?
By Richard Allen
The NASCAR Sprint Cup season is a long grind. So, most everyone was no doubt glad for the weekend off over the Easter holiday. Some where probably more happy than others while there were likely a select few who would have preferred to keep racing.
Here are some thoughts as to who was most happy for the break and who would have rather continued on:
Those who needed a break
Jimmie Johnson- For whatever reason the #48 team seems to have lost their edge. Everyone would probably agree this is a great team and in all likelihood will turn their season around soon, not that being 13th in the standings is a disaster. Johnson and his team were probably just glad to have a weekend off to catch their collective breath, especially knowing they are headed to a track that has provided a great deal of success for them in the past.
Jamie McMurray- The Roush Fenway driver finds himself out of the Top 35 in the standings while teammates Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth have had good runs, including two wins by Edwards. It would be difficult to imagine that the driver of #26 is not feeling his seat getting a bit warm. A break might offer a chance to regroup, but then again, if things are not going better by the time of the next break in three weeks McMurray may find that the time off provides an opportunity for speculation about his future.
Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier and Sam Hornish, Jr.- I lumped these three drivers into one group as they all have open wheel backgrounds. All three are coming from circuits which have far fewer races and many more breaks than NASCAR. Hornish has barely managed to keep himself in the Top 35 after receiving an off season gift of Kurt Busch’s points.
Franchitti had the advantage of also being in a car with last year’s points guaranteeing him entry into the first five races, but now that has gone away as he sits 38th in the standings. Carpentier has only made two races thus far.
All three must feel as if they are trying to drink from a fire hose with so much being thrown at them at once. All three are good race car drivers but patience wears thin quickly. They need not look any further than fellow open wheeler Jacques Villeneuve to confirm that.
Like McMurray, if things do not improve within a few weeks the heat could begin to rise. They could find themselves needing to check on hotel availability in Indianapolis for the month of May.
Roush Fenway Racing- McMurray’s troubles aside, RFR has other issues to work through. With one crew chief suspended, namely Bob Osborne of the #99 team, it will give them time to reassign and replenish. However, to show the depth of this organization, bringing Robbie Reiser off the bench to pinch hit for Osborne is a pretty nice luxury to have. Maybe after a week off Reiser and Carl Edwards can remember each other’s names in Martinsville.
Joe Gibbs Engineers- They have probably been ‘asked’ to figure out why their cars sputtered at critical times last week.
Kyle Busch- Last weekend was not really an off week but he only ran one race instead of 2 or 3.
Tony Stewart- After having your back waxed I would guess that a weekend of not having to sit in a hot racecar for three hours is a relief.
Those who did not need a break
Richard Childress Racing- After finishing 1-2-3 in Bristol they would probably liked to have kept on going. But, a 1-2 finish in the Nationwide race in Nashville is a good way to stay hot. Besides, the off week probably allowed the boss to go on one of those exotic hunting trips.
Wood Brothers Racing- With Bill Elliott driving they are more than likely to race this weekend for only the second time this year. Dale Jarrett will obviously not be using a past champion’s provisional this week and neither will Kurt Busch so the Woods will race at their home track.
Some needed an off week and some did not. I for one enjoyed the weekend of college basketball but will be glad to watch a race again this Sunday.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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