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Friday, July 4, 2008

Martin doing his best Brett Favre impression

Remember a few years ago when Mark Martin said he was tired of the Cup grind, wanted to spend more time with his family and would move on to racing in the Truck Series.

If case you didn’t notice, that plan didn’t quite work out. Martin has spent the last couple years doing part-time schedules for Ginn Racing/DEI, and announced Friday that he will do one more full-time season in 2009 -- this time driving the #5 car for Rick Hendrick, replacing Casey Mears. In addition, he’ll do another part-time Cup schedule in 2010, splitting time with a yet-to-be-named driver in the same car.

According to Martin, he wants one more run at the title. I respect Martin, but he’s beginning to sound as believable as Larry Brown, or Brett Favre, or Michael Jordan. Martin held an official “farewell tour” in 2005, then Jack Roush convinced him to come back in 2006 for one more year. Now his retirement from Cup won’t happen until at least 2010.

It’s petty clear that Martin is like a junkie when it comes to racing. He can’t give it up. Don’t be surprised if Martin comes back in 2010 and says he’s going to another team to make “one more” full-time shot at the title.

Don’t get me wrong … I understand Martin’s frustrations. He came close to winning a title four times, yet never took the trophy. I don’t begrudge him for wanted to achieve that feat.

But even he has to know that’s highly unlikely in the #5 car. Casey Mears is a pretty talented driver, and he’s been doing terrible in that #5 car this year. With teammates like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin’s #5 will basically be serving as the team’s R&D car, so there’s little to no hope of a title.

At least Martin isn’t as bad as Brett Favre, who sobbed like a baby at his “retirement” press conference, but now wants to play again.

I respect Martin as a driver and he is a stand-up guy, but this endless retirement process is pretty silly.
At this point, I’m wondering why he ever stopped driving full-time in the first place.


Embarrassment for DEI, Truex

The other big news heading into Saturday’s race at Daytona is that Martin Truex Jr’s car didn’t fit NASCAR’s roof templates during tech inspection, so the car was confiscated and Truex had to go to a backup car, with possible fines and penalties to follow. As a result, he didn’t get any practice laps in during the first session, and the second session was wiped out by rain, so now he has no clue how his car will run on Saturday night.

Way to go, DEI. This team is self-destructing more rapidly than the Titanic (I’ll have more on that next week). Truex was clearly not happy with the team after this happened, and now is almost guaranteed to move on after this season. It was already suspected, but this might be the last straw. A team at the highest level of NASCAR should not have these problems. I see him ending up as the driver of the fourth Richard Childress team, and the way DEI is going I feel bad for whoever replaces Truex.

Fan appreciation not Stewart’s strong point
Tony Stewart got upset this week with all the people, including myself, who questioned his crew chief Greg Zipadelli’s decision to take tires on the final stop at New Hampshire, which cost him several positions.
Among his quotes, Stewart said: “You see all of this criticism from people and it's people who can't even control their own lives and they want to sit here and tell us how to run race teams on the weekend.” He went on to say, “If they were that smart, they would be crew chiefs, and obviously they're not that smart listening to the criticism.”

Nice to see that Stewart thinks so highly of his fans that he‘s basically calling them stupid. How does he know how well his fans can control their lives? Normally I defend Tony’s rants, but this one is unnecessary. Fans and journalists have every right to question the decisions you and your team make on the track, Tony. Don’t take it personal. In fact, you should be happy they are interested in you at all. Don’t get upset until they stop caring how you finish.

Good move for Moss
NFL star Randy Moss made a smart move this week by deciding not to go it alone with a new Truck Series team, and instead purchased 50 percent of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Craftsman Truck Series team. While not one of the very best teams in the series, it has been around a while and certainly stands a better chance of success than he would have had if he was all on his own.

There was almost no practice, but that’s not a big deal because practice and qualifying speeds both mean very little at the restrictor plate tracks. This is a risky week for fantasy players, as any driver -- even the best car on the track -- can get caught up in The Big One. It’s best to pick people who will likely be running in the very front all or most of the day, as The Big One usually happens mid-pack. Just look to the past and it’s easy to see who’s good at Daytona.

The no-brainer choice is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has taken to Daytona just as well as his father. He’s guaranteed a good finish if he doesn’t wreck. I’m picking Tony Stewart to win, as he’s always strong in the July race, with Jeff Gordon right behind. A good dark horse option is Michael Waltrip, who was great here with DEI and still has restrictor plate ability. He finished second last week at Loudon, and may be pumped up enough to pull out a shocking win at his best track. Other possible contenders are the Penske cars of Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch -- who were 1-2 in February -- but they’ve been shaky ever since so I don’t foresee a repeat of that outcome.


Last, but not least, happy birthday America. I hope everyone has a great weekend with family and friends, and the Firecracker 400.


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