Hot news this week is headlined by the near-demise of Michael Waltrip Racing. The team has announced that it will not run full-time entries in 2016 and that Clint Bowyer will indeed be a free agent after this season. It has been a bit of a bumpy ride for the team that Mikey built, and Rob Kauffman paid for, and with the money man headed elsewhere, the writing was all over the wall. Kauffman is looking to buy into the Ganassi operation, but that deal is not done. Bowyer could wind up there, or wherever an opening appears between now and next season.
Danica Patrick has a new sponsor. With Go Daddy about to be Gone Daddy, Nature’s Bakery has decided that sponsoring the only woman in Sprint Cup is a great $20 million sponsorship opportunity. With just a single IndyCar win back in 2008 to go with her Budweiser Duel victory in 2013, she is not a great driver, but still a competent one with tons of drawing power. Plus, did you see her latest yoga video? I mean, I am a straight male and I fear the day I find something similar posted by Tony Stewart.
Stewart has had some tough times, with results no better than Patrick’s since he broke his leg driving on dirt in 2013. Then came the tragedy in upstate New York a year ago. The family of Kevin Ward Jr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart on Friday. It alleges Stewart drove his car up the track, gunned his engine, causing the vehicle to slide and strike Ward with the rear-right tire. As a father of a couple of lads about Kevin’s age, I understand the family’s course of action. It was either Stewart’s fault or, as what came out of the criminal investigation, their son had enough marijuana in his system to impair his judgement and that in an act of bravado he approached Stewart’s car on foot and simply got too close and was struck. As a parent, what would you want to believe?
The action will be hot on Saturday night at Bristol, one of NASCAR’s fan favorite venues. There should be enough action to satisfy a television viewer who simply finds their way to the telecast, along with those who know what it all means for Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, and those behind them in the standings.
Our Hot 20 heading into Bristol include…
1. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4 WINS
You know your focus is off when you can’t even remember where your pit stall is.
2. KYLE BUSCH – 4 WINS
Second in the standings, yet battling Cole Whitt for his playoff position.
3. MATT KENSETH – 3 WINS
Owned Michigan, has a down payment on Bristol.
4. KEVIN HARVICK – 2 WINS
Only three times he has missed finishing in the Top Ten…including Bristol in the springtime.
5. JOEY LOGANO – 2 WINS
Winner at the Brickyard and the Glen…you know, races one might actually remember.
6. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 2 WINS
Man, he feels like a woman. Really. I heard him say so. You can’t make something like this up.
7. KURT BUSCH – 2 WINS
Sure, his brother has more wins, but when it comes to points, baby, Kurt rules!
8. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN
Finished third and is still frustrated. I wonder if he has ever met Timmy Hill?
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN
He and Joey no doubt would like their splitters back, splitters back.
10. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN
Kyle and Matt and…what are the names of their two teammates again?
11. CARL EDWARDS – 1 WIN
Figures he has the car to beat at Bristol. Forty-two other drivers will attempt to prove him right.
12. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 663 POINTS
70 points up on Almirola, 47 ahead of Bowyer. McMurray remains good to go this Saturday.
13. PAUL MENARD – 654 POINTS
Along with Junior, loses 15 minutes of practice time this weekend due to inspection issues.
14. RYAN NEWMAN – 649 POINTS
Having an actress of the same name is confusing. I do not believe he is dating Jack Griffo.
15. JEFF GORDON – 648 POINTS
When they say “pull those belts tight, boys”, his boys tend to argue for a bit of slack.
16. CLINT BOWYER – 616 POINTS
NASCAR’s own bubble boy.
17. ARIC ALMIROLA – 593 POINTS
It would be a real shame if Clint has another bad day. Yes, it sure would be. Just ask Aric.
18. KASEY KAHNE – 590 POINTS
Now, if both Clint and Aric had bad days this Saturday night…
19. GREG BIFFLE – 553 POINTS
Three races in just over two weeks and he has to win one of them.
20. KYLE LARSON – 548 POINTS
Has done well in the few he has raced at Bristol. Now he needs to be great.