Countdown to Daytona: Owner Point Style (Gordon, Burton and Mears)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 2, 2009

OK guys, sorry about not posting these for the last couple days. I've been outta town since Friday, so I never posted Saturday's and Sunday's... So here goes, I'm catching up from the weekend and today with Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and Casey Mears.

Countdown to Daytona: Owner Point Style No. 7 (Jeff Gordon)

Welcome to Day 29 of my 35-Day preview leading up to the Budweiser Shootout.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this series for 29 days now, and that we’ll see cars on the track this Saturday night.

Today we look at a driver who had arguably his worst season in his 16 years of Cup racing.

Last year, he went winless for the first time since his rookie season; something that’s just unbelievable considering this team appeared to have things back on track in 2007 when he racked up six wins and a runner-up finish in the championship points.

Gordon continues his “Drive for 5” campaign as he seeks that fifth championship. Many (myself included) think that Gordon is poised to retire once he does so.

Not that he doesn’t still love the sport, but with a new wife and baby, I’m sure he’s thinking about how much more time he could spend with his little bundle of joy without having to travel 36 weekends a year.

Here is a look at today’s spotlight:

Today’s Spotlight: No. 24

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Driver: Jeff Gordon

Sponsor(s): DuPont Finishes
Army National Guard (8 races)
Pepsi(2 races)
Pepsi Racing
DuPont Performance Alliance  — For a look at paint schemes visit

Driver 2008 Stats: Gordon won more than $5.9 million en route to his worst points finish since 2005. He also managed zero wins since his rookie season and captured 13 top-fives, 19 top-10 finishes, and an average finish of 14th.

News: Other than a little bit of sponsorship news (the addition of Army National Guard for eight races), the No. 24 team has been pretty quiet.

Although one interesting tidbit of news was that Gordon has gone commercial. (Check out MJ’s great article about it.)

Gordon has decided to save nearly $100,000 a year in ’09 by flying commercial flights some weekends.

He told fans that they may even see him flying on the same plane as them on his way to a race. (I highly doubt it… but that’s what he said.)

Other minor news included the entire HMS stable being featured on Kellogg’s Pop Tarts this year, bringing the drivers to an aisle near you!

My Prediction for 2009: This is another one of those teams that is hard to predict. In recent years, Gordon has been up and down: ’08, finished seventh in points, ’07, finished second, ’06, finished sixth, ’05, finished 12th. But for 2009, I see Gordon returning to the top five. I predict he will finish between second and fifth in the points.

Will this team remain in top-35: Yes…

Up Tomorrow: No. 31 Jeff Burton

This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101

Reminder: Only 7 days until the Budweiser Shootout!



Countdown to Daytona: Owner Point Style No. 6 Jeff Burton

It’s Day 30 of my 35-part Series previewing the top 35 teams in NASCAR (well at least the top-35 in owner points.)

Today we look at a driver who has recently begun to look like the same guy who won countless races in the late 90s.

Jeff Burton enters 2009 coming off his best season since 2000.

Things finally seem to be meshing at Richard Childress Racing and maybe he can finally put to rest the questions of why he left Roush Racing for what at the time was a more subpar team in RCR (so maybe it wasn’t all his decision to leave Roush… but still!).

Burton is one of those drivers everyone was happy to see return to Victory Lane in 2006. He hadn’t won a race in five years as is one of the most humble, down to earth drivers on the circuit.

He hails from South Boston, Va., and is exactly what the sport is about—a good ol’ southern boy who worked his way up.

Here is a look at today’s spotlight:

Today’s Spotlight: No. 31

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Driver: Jeff Burton

Sponsor: Caterpillar
?Prilosecotc(? races)
?LENOX Industrial Tools(? races) — For a look at paint schemes visit

Driver 2008 Stats: Burton earned more than $5.5 million in 2008. He visited Victory Lane twice (his most since 2001) and managed seven top-fives and 19 top-10 finishes en route to a sixth place showing in the points. He averaged a finish of 13th, matching last season’s average.

News: The biggest news for this team is the new sponsor on the hood. Caterpillar jumped ship from the No. 22 to Burton’s car, after RCR lost sponsor AT&T. It wasn’t their fault they lost the cell phone company, once AT&T completed the purchase of Cingular (the former sponsor), they were not allowed to continue sponsoring a Sprint Cup team.

Even more recently, Caterpillar announced it would be laying off 8,000 workers, leaving many to wonder how it could afford the million-dollar sponsorship of the RCR No. 31, while at the same time cutting one-eighth of its workforce.

My Prediction for 2009: Burton simply doesn’t have what it takes to compete for the championship in 2009. I look for him to finish somewhere around where he has the last three years—between fifth and eighth.

Will this team remain in top-35: Sure enough…

Up Tomorrow: No. 07 Casey Mears

This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101

Reminder: Only 6 days until the Budweiser Shootout!




Countdown to Daytona: Owner Point Style No. 5 (Casey Mears)

The days are counting down, my fellow NASCAR fans. Today is Day 31 of my 35-Day trip around the world of NASCAR.

The old saying goes: Three times a charm… right?

Well, Casey Mears is certainly hoping his third team is a charm.

After struggling at Ganassi Racing, and then being the fourth wheel at Hendrick Motorsports, Mears joins a stable full of drivers he can fit in with better.

Let’s face it, Mears is more like a Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, or Clint Bowyer than he ever will be like a Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, or Jimmie Johnson.

While he managed one win during his tenure at the sport's most powerful team, the rest of his numbers were pitiful considering the equipment he was in.

Managing only one top-five last year and six top-10 finishes is (and obviously was) simply unacceptable at the team that has provided the past three championships, and not to mention the four Gordon has.

That’s not to simply rag on Mears. It had to be hard being on the same team with those guys, and constantly having the pressure of living up to the world’s expectations.

So here’s to Mears as he enters his seventh season with his third bride:

Today’s Spotlight: No. 07

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Driver: Casey Mears

Sponsor(s): Jack Daniel's
Jack Daniel's Racing
DirecTV (? races) — For a look at paint schemes visit

Driver 2008 Stats: Mears earned more than $3.9 million in 2008. He didn’t visit Victory Lane and managed only one top-five and six top-10 finishes. Mears averaged a finish of 21st, and at one point appeared to be nearing the dreaded top 35 line before he put together some good runs and finished 20th in the points.

News: Obviously the big news for Mears is the fact that he is now driving an RCR Chevy. The other big news is that Childress opted to give Mears the No. 07 ride and sponsor, while putting team veteran Clint Bowyer in the fourth ride without any points to fall back on.

It was a bit surprising, but Childress and Bowyer both seem confident that they can put the No. 33 in the first five races and lock themselves into the top-35.

My Prediction for 2009: Mears will finish back where he has grown accustomed to finishing, somewhere between 16th and 20th. If he couldn’t get the job done in an HMS Chevy, I don’t see him doing much better in a much less dominant RCR Chevy.

Will this team remain in top-35: He better hope so. He was near the edge in an HMS car, and if he happens to fall out (which I don’t think he will do), he will have some splainin’ to do!

Up Tomorrow: No. 29 Kevin Harvick

This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101

Reminder: Only 5 days until the Budweiser Shootout!