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Sunday, November 14, 2010

A.J.'s 2nd-place start a rare bright spot for embattled RPM; Danica fights back

The biggest surprise on qualifying day at Phoenix was A.J. Allmendinger, who drives for a Richard Petty Motorsports team that everyone says will be out of business soon.

He said the team stuck together through all the drama this week about whether they would make it to Phoenix amid money woes.

“No matter what happens I’m just proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. There’s no secret of what we’re going through right now and it’s a tough time. All the crew guys here and all the guys at the shop listening and watching, they’re amazing people because it could easily tear this team apart. Everybody could be fighting with each other and not want to be here, but everybody is sticking together and fighting hard to go out there and perform. We’ve shown that, no matter what, it’s not gonna get us off our game. We’re just gonna keep getting better as a race team,” A.J. said.

He said the team’s employees are hopeful things will be worked out, and they’ll just focus on what they do best: “We know The King and Robbie Loomis, all the guys, they’re doing what they can to resolve these problems and we’re just gonna put our heads down and do our jobs.”

In his situation, that’s really all you can do. If RPM folds, he and Ambrose don’t have too many options for 2011, so they have to hope it works out.

Great debut for Whitt

Cole Whitt, who is just 19 years old but looks even younger, had a brilliant debut in the Nationwide series Saturday, finishing 15th at Phoenix.

He said he is happy with how things turned out.

"I think it work out pretty good. We come here to run top-15, and we ended up 15th. It was good. It's what we wanted. We obviously didn't get the qualifying run we wanted and that made it tough for us to come forward. The pit crew was on all day. We really made up some spots here on pit road. We made some up on the track, too. We raced with some big names and I think we learned a lot. And, if I just get some more chances I think I can really run good in the series. I think everything went pretty good."

Many are comparing his instant success to Danica’s struggles, but it’s apples and oranges. Whitt is a stock car racer by trade, he’s not making a switch over to stock cars.

Danica fights back
Speaking of Danica, she wasn’t getting much respect during the Nationwide race at Phoenix, and to her credit she decided to fight back. When one competitor, Alex Kennedy, was being particularly uncourteous, she caught up to him and punched him toward the wall.

Her on-track battles ended up relegating her to another bad finish laps down, but by standing up to someone she was sending a message that just because she’s new to the stock car side, that doesn’t mean she can be mistreated. And beating and banging aside, Danica has shown some improvement in her time in NASCAR, she just needs to do it full-time to completely master it. If her current schedule holds true, look for a full-time Danica run in 2012, or no run at all. This half and half stuff doesn’t work for long.

Oddly enough, it’s the guys who are far from frontrunners who seem to be giving her the most trouble on track (Tony Raines, Kennedy, etc.). I have a feeling they’re a little annoyed she is getting a shot in a good ride based on her name alone, while they have to struggle to maintain funding for their teams.

The way they treat her on the track, while they let the frontrunners go without such incidents, is an indication of this anger, and perhaps a little jealousy. Her response to Kennedy, though, will probably keep them more in check in her future NASCAR endeavors, as it shows she won't just accept the mistreatment.

Congrats to Bodine
Todd Bodine claimed his second career Truck series title Friday night. After a long career wandering between rides in various series , the 46-year-old driver has found his niche in the trucks, and he deserves credit for beating out some great competition in NASCAR’s most competitive door-to-door series. En route to his title, Bodine won at Darlington, Kentuck, Nashville and Texas.

"We've had some ups and downs since our 2006 championship, but this one is extra special to share with the Germain family, the Hillman family (crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. and general manager Mike Hillman) and all the sponsors who have supported us throughout the year," Bodine said.

Don’t mess with Newman

Ryan Newman had a couple good lines this week. First, he offered his thoughts on his wife’s pregnancy, and the cravings that come with it … which don’t include deer jerky. “She is craving ice, which I guess is typical but there are certain smells that are driving her nuts. I had a house full of deer jerky this week and that is not on the list of good things.”

And best of all, the burly Newman, who could probably squash Jeff Gordon like a grape if he wanted to, offered his comments on what he would do if Jeff Gordon was walking at him the way Gordon walked toward Jeff Burton.

“I’m pretty sure Jeff wouldn’t walk at me. I’m just throwing that out there. I don’t think we would go down that path, no matter what happened. If he did, it probably wouldn’t be his best choice of the day,” he joked.

Stewart: No time to worry about Indy
So Chevy is back in Indycar, and Tony Stewart – who came to NASCAR from the Indycar world – was asked if that would increase the odds that he might drive in the Indy 500 someday.

The answer was clear … and it was a big fat no.
“No. No, no, no and no. I don’t have any extra time to do any of that right now,” Stewart said, ending the speculation before it could even start.

Busch extending his season
The racing season won’t end at Homestead for Kurt Busch, as the former Cup champion plans to race in the Polar Bear 150 at Rockingham Speedway on Saturday, November 27. The race is part of the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals series, created by ARCA driver Frank Kimmel. To learn more about the series, check out

"What a tremendous honor it is to have NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Kurt Busch come and compete with our racers at Rockingham Speedway," said Kimmel, a nine-time ARCA series champion. "I think it is a tremendous opportunity for our series with the amount of exposure that Kurt will bring to our race, but also for our drivers. He is coming to run well and win the race, I think that says something about him, but I also think that it says that our series is starting to build credibility. Hopefully this will improve the series, bring out more fans and add to the excitement of the race at Rockingham."

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