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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bud Shootout changes take away value of winning poles

The Bud Shootout used to be a battle between all the drivers who had won a pole position the previous year. With new changes announced by NASCAR this week, it will now become a battle between the top 6 drivers for each manufacturer.

Under the new rules, Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil will race in the event, and I’m not quite sure that makes much sense. Waltrip has had a terrible season, Reutimann is average at best, and while I applaud Kvapil’s effort this year, he’s done nothing worthy of a spot in any bonus race.

Under the rules, all five Roush teams, all three Gibbs teams, all three current RCR teams, and three of the four Hendrick teams would make the race. It would basically become a second All-Star race, as the pole-winner aspect was what previously made the Shootout unique.

Pole winners Joe Nemechek, Patrick Carpentier and Paul Menard will not compete in the event as a result of the rules change … but I really don’t care much about this.
My concern is that this seems kind of random. What do they gain by this?

I’ll give it a chance. The Shootout isn’t usually the most exciting event, so I’ll reserve judgment until I see how the changes affect the race.

But overall, one possible negative effect will be that the value of winning a pole is greatly diminished. Sure, drivers always give their all and want to start up front, but the Shootout was always an extra incentive to go for the pole. Now, some drivers with strong cars may be less likely to push it and try to reach the top of the grid, and more likely to settle for a top-5 spot.

Davis will race for Moss’ Truck team
18-year-old Marc Davis, widely considered the most promising young African-American driver in NASCAR, will compete in about six Truck series races this year for Randy Moss Motorsports. Davis is officially part of Joe Gibbs’ driver development program, but has been greatly overshadowed by the meteoric rise of Joey Logano.

For those who would say Davis is just being given a chance because of his race, think again. The deal happened because Davis brought sponsorship to the table. As Brad Daugherty recently said, the only color that matters in NASCAR is green.

It would be great for Davis and NASCAR in general if he can succeed and become a contender in one of the three major series, and I wish him the best.

Busch, Edwards on probation
Maybe the two top contenders for the points title will have to behave after all. NASCAR has placed them both on probation for their Bristol post-race antics, and that means it’s a lot less likely they’ll do anything similar as the season rolls to its conclusion. Don’t get me wrong … they’ll have some spirited battles on the track, and maybe even knock each other around a little bit (“that‘s racin‘, as the saying goes), but they’ll have to be on their best behavior once the checkered flag falls or risk losing points or worse.

Home Depot staying with Logano
It was no surprise that Joey Logano was officially named the driver of the #20 car for next season earlier this week. I was surprised, though, that the car will continue with Home Depot sponsorship. I had figured GameStop was a perfect fit for Logano and would battle Home Depot for the right to move up to Cup with him, but apparently that didn’t happen. It looks like the young phenom will also drive an almost-complete Nationwide schedule, so look for GameStop to continue sponsoring him there.


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