Odds and ends
-- Tony Stewart and his girlfriend, Krista Dwyer, have give their pet patas monkey, named “Mojo,” to the Louisville Zoo. That’s right, Tony Stewart has long had a pet monkey, but he noticed it was maturing and becoming “aggressive,” and felt his primate friend needed a more suitable home. What? Tony Stewart’s monkey being aggressive? Who are his role models?
-- Bruton Smith wants to bring a Cup race to Kentucky Speedway, which he is in the process of purchasing, ASAP. But the powers that be are against it, saying there are already too many races in the Southeast and they want a more geographically diversified race calendar. Smith may take matters into his own hands, as he has done in the past, and just move a date from either Atlanta or New Hampshire to the Kentucky track (or purchase Dover and move one of that track's dates), but the almighty powers at NASCAR say nothing can happen until 2010. I’m pretty indifferent about the Kentucky track, but I’m a fan of anyone who has the guts to battle the NASCAR bigshots, who seem to think they can rule with an iron fist and no one will fight back.
In other good track news, rumor is that, through a swap deal, California Speedway will probably lose the Labor Day race next season, and it will end up at Atlanta. It’s not as good as a Darlington race that weekend, but I’ll take it.
-- Amid the hype over Kyle Busch, we’ve almost forgotten about last year’s unstoppable force, Jimmie Johnson. He’s having a terrible year, and another bad run this week could knock him out of the top 12 and the Chase. He even blew a motor at Charlote, which almost never happens to Hendrick cars. Whatever was clicking last year is gone, and while I can never count him out and he‘ll probably make the Chase, Johnson needs a consistent summer if he wants to enter the Chase with any confidence that he can contend.
-- Maybe I’m just reminiscing and his talent has evaporated, but I’m wondering why Ward Burton hasn’t been considered for any of the rides that have been opening up in the lower-level teams in NASCAR. The guy won a Daytona 500 and was a solid performer for years. I wonder if he’s not looking, or no one’s asking. If they’re not asking, I think they’re making a mistake.
-- Will Bobby Labonte stay or go? The Pettys want to offer him a lifetime contract, and he does feel loyalty to them. But the car is sporadic at best, and he hasn’t managed many great runs. For Bobby’s sake, I hope he can set aside that loyalty and jump at the opportunity of following his sponsor to the fourth RCR car next season, if that offer is extended. He’s a former champion with great talent and deserves better than the car he’s driving.