The race for the chase goes road racing tomorrow
The silliness of driver movement among NASCAR teams and drivers continued during the past week. I thought the movement of last season going into the 2006 season was unusually high. We are halfway through the season and with the moves that have happened so far, most people will need a map next season to tell which driver is driving which car.
Jeremy Mayfield, after falling to 36th in the owners’ points and loosing a guaranteed starting spot in this week’s race at Watkins Glen, has been yanked from the no. 19 Evernham Dodge. Boy, that is a big surprise. Bill Elliott will take over this week for the road-course race. Evernham was not willing to chance not having his car in the race, so the change was made.
Even though nothing official has been announced for the remainder of the season, I would be surprised to see Mayfield back in that car. However, Elliott cannot compete in the remainder of the races in the no. 19 either because of previous commitments to drive for Michael Waltrip and Red Bull Racing for several races toward the end of the year.
Now the question is where Mayfield ends up and how does Elliott Sadler fit into this equation. Long rumored to be destined to end up with Evernham, even before the official announcement came that he would not return to no. 38 next season, Sadler is without a ride for next season. Could we see Sadler in the no. 19 Dodge before the end of the season? Very possible, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Sadler might surprise some people when he announces his team next season.
Mayfield is rumored to be going to Bill Davis Racing in the second Toyota ride next season. Speaking of Toyota, I have given Michael Waltrip a hard time this season, but I will give him kudos for the decision that was made in Indianapolis last week. Long gone from a guaranteed starting position, Waltrip did not qualify for the second biggest race on the schedule. Instead of buying another team’s starting position, as he did at Charlotte earlier this year, he decided to take it on the chin and not participate. He made the right decision.
Jimmie Johnson is scary good this season. He won the Daytona 500 and won the Allstate 400 in Indy last week. In the process, he now leads the points standings by 107 over Matt Kenseth. Through 21 races this season, Johnson has won $6.4 million in purse money. That’s 300 grand per race. If he wins the championship, he possibly could top $15 million in winnings this season. And some people say that NASCAR is a redneck sport.
If Dale Earnhardt, Jr. makes the chase after the race at Richmond in September, the decision to stay on the track during the late race caution will be the reason. Junior was awful all day last week, barely cracking the top 20. However, with 15 laps remaining and the race under caution, Tony Eury, Jr. made the call to stay on the track while the leaders pitted. A 30th place finish turned into a sixth place finish and Junior is back in the top 10.
With Bristol and Richmond left before the field is set, Junior has a great shot.
The AMD at The Glen is next on the schedule. You can pick between Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon to win this race. Until another driver proves differently, these two guys are clearly the best road course racers on the circuit. With that being said, I think Mark Martin proves differently this week. He is my pick to win the race.
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