The Daytona 500 is coming up this Sunday, a time for new beginnings and a time for bringing things to an end. After 15 years and over a thousand columns of various incarnations, this edition represents my final regular contribution to this site.
Another weekend. Another race. Another track that does not excite me. Welcome to NASCAR. Michigan International Speedway, located in the lush, rolling Irish Hills, is about 40 miles southwest of Ann Arbor. The fact it is considered a sister track of Texas, and the basis of the facility in Fontana does not exactly thrill anyone, but they do go fast there.
When one of the legends in the sport leaves us, we remember. If a man is known simply by the company he keeps, Robert Yates did very well. As a team owner, he was the boss to such NASCAR luminaries as Davey Allison, Larry McReynolds, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd.
Jeff Gordon leads the series with five victories at the road course, including three consecutively, from 1998 – 2000. Tony Stewart has three trophies but did you know he captured the final win of his Cup career last year at Sonoma, ending an 84-race winless drought?
Ricky Rudd - Rudd is probably the best overall driver on the ballot. Bobby Labonte comes pretty close, being one of only two drivers to win XFINITY Series and Cup Series championships, but Rudd had more seasons as a competitive driver. Davey Allison also makes a strong argument, but it becomes an argument of being good for twenty years versus being great for five years. I’ll always take being good for twenty years.
As people load up their campers and head to the track, it’s important to remind everyone that carbon monoxide is an odorless gas and can kill in minutes. Take a few moments to check over your generator and correct any issues with its operation. It could mean the difference between life and death.
Chicago. The opening race of the Chase. Sixteen drivers would continue the quest, one very likely locking his way into the next round, some setting themselves up with fine starts while others...not so much.
Gordon’s resume, however, may be the most impressive as he leads the series with nine road course wins, five at Sonoma and four at Watkins Glen. Although his last triumph was in 2006, this could be one of his best opportunities to bring home his first checkered flag of the season.
For Max Gresham, 20 year old driver of the Eddie Sharp Racing No. 8 AmWINS Chevrolet, his career-best third place finish was inspirational. The young driver also led three laps for the first time in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career and gave Charlotte-based sponsor AmWINS its first top-three finish right in their own backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway.