Helluva Good! Weekend? Dover Preview, Debuts, & Three Teams to Watch

Joe M.Correspondent IIMay 30, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 29:  Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 29, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

This weekend at Dover offers many unique story lines to an otherwise mundane visit to the Concrete jungle known as the Monster Mile in Dover, Del.

Kyle Busch controversial comments

First one has to wonder about any on-track ramifications over Kyle Busch's recent, but honest comments regarding Dale Junior's new crew chief less than a week after his cousin, Tony Eury Jr., was embarrassingly ousted from his hyped role.

Now, I don't care for the often brash and arrogant Busch any more than the next fan, but at least he not only keeps things in perspective, but he adds new intrigue and excitement with his un-Jimmie-Johnson-esque commentary, and that I can appreciate.

Oh, that and outside Johnson, he has the ability to back it up on the track.

Martin Truex Jr.'s status

Next, there is simmering speculation over the future of franchise driver Martin Truex Jr. at fledgling Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.

While many people expect Truex Jr. simply to jump aboard the hot ship that is Stewart-Haas Racing in the form of a third ride for 2010, my guess is he joins his brother, Ryan, a developmental driver, at Michael Waltrip Racing as the new driver for the No. 55 ride.

Waltrip, fresh off his first career Cup win as owner, seems poised to take the next step in his career as owner as he transitions into his new role.

David Reutimann's surprising win, coupled with his pole win for this weekend's race, not only keeps all the eyes on the organization, but proves to the rest of the sport and its team owner himself, that Michael Waltrip Racing is rising and rising fast.

In addition, the extra race winnings given to the team can be re-allocated amongst the teams, shoring up any loose ends or weakness areas as this last weekend was the largest single payout in the history of the organization to date. If used wisely, it will only further this development.

Now would be the perfect time to announce for the transition to be made in 2010 when MWR seems on top of its game and has as much momentum and credibility as its ever had thus far.

According to a report on Jayski.com there is indeed a good chance he joins his brother at MWR next year. Stay tuned.

Out with the old, in with McGrew

Rick Hendrick should get no credit for finally making the necessary move of firing the ineffective Tony Eury Jr. from NASCAR's most coveted, but over-rated position, as crew chief for the dramatic Dale Jr. 

When you win but once in 48 races, what does that tell you? One win in the last 107 races dating back to the 2006 Rock and Roll 400?


I could have told him change was needed; oh wait, I did.

I guess the truth hurts. Not much more to say here that everyone's cousin and uncle hasn't already been said except there are simply no more excuses and like the Rihanna song says, "Shut up and Drive!"

Its all on you, Junior. Find that chemistry and get it done. Hendrick can't babysit you or bail you out any longer.

Oh and Lance, I pity you. You are in a no-win situation. You win, the credit goes to Junior, but if you lose, God Help You.

Jeffrey Earnhardt's Nationwide Debut Delayed

Helluva Good 200! @ Dover was supposed to feature the NASCAR Nationwide debut of Junior's nephew and next in the golden blood line, 19-year-old Jeffrey Earnhardt of Rick Ware Racing associated with the Earnhardt-Ganassi banner.

As I wrote weeks ago in anticipation of this debut, it essentially served as a last ditch effort for the team to stay on the circuit, especially in the wake of Truex's probable departure.

With Truex playing the role of this year's Ryan Newman, all that the team will have left to hype is the improving but unpredictable Juan Pablo Montoya and the eventual development of Earnhardt should this team survive long enough.

I'm not saying the younger Earnhardt has to be the savior of the team and family name, but a win today have got NASCAR the necessary buzz it desperately needs after a week of angry fans with the Coke 600 marathon, the rarely mandatory Tuesday meeting, the Jeremy Mayfield situation, and pending Kyle Busch-Dale Junior drama. That is why he was my pick to win this race.

Now that he failed to qualify for the race, becoming the only driver in the 43-car field to do so, one has to wonder just how much of his Uncle's unlucky genetics he inherited.

When he runs next is anyone's guess, but whenever that is, I'll be pulling for him. The team needs it, the sport needs it, and the family needs it.

NASCAR in an effort to go back to its roots as they claim, needs to have more Southern drivers and its appropriate that an Earnhardt lead that comeback. Winning a few races along the way wouldn't hurt either.

Autism Speaks 400 Preview: Three teams to watch

After last week's surprise wins by Mike Skinner in the Nationwide Series and David Reutimann in the Cup Series, I was all pegged to continue the long-shot trend with Jeffrey Earnhardt and someone who rarely wins adding to their win total. While I will still stay with this theme, additional explanation is needed.

1. Brian Vickers had a really good car last week at Lowe's and likely would have pressed race leader Kyle Busch for the lead had the race stayed green similar to Kasey Kahne.

Like Reutimann, whose raced well enough for at least a handful of career wins, Vickers has had similar bad luck, and has but one and it came over three years ago at everyone's favorite track in Alabama.

After watching him finish second to Kahne a year ago in Pocono, why couldn't this be his time? He's good on the huge open tracks like Michigan and Pocono but usually falls just short and picks up a respectable eighth.

If they truly had a good car last week, one that we were denied of seeing its full potential, maybe good things are happening for a team that desperately needs it?

2. Truex Jr. Wouldn't it seem too perfect if the aforementioned Truex Jr. picked up a win this weekend which would only increase speculation and elevate his demand on the basis of this recent win?

Truex's only career win came at Dover on a Monday in 2007. With weather as unpredictable as it is, and coming off of the Lowe's debacle, might history prove favorable to Truex again?

Note if any team needs the winnings that a race would provide, its this soon-to-be-extinct team that only rivals Yates for obscurity.

3. Paul Menard Speaking of Yates Racing, while he qualified 36th, I'm only putting him here based on need to win (see above). After last week's winners, why not? That would be the ultimate dark horse.

In a track as small and confined as the Monster Mile where runs are hard to come by thus compacting the field intimately amidst the concrete, unlike a speedway or oval, if any venue could offer an advantage it would be this track, as its the closest thing to a short track.

If Menard can keep it close and on the lead lap while avoiding Dover's version of "the big one," why doesn't he have a chance?

If you are looking for a repeat winner or relying on the old stalwarts to rise...don't.

The last seven races have had seven different drivers including first time drivers, like the defending champion, Kyle Busch last year.

Other notable favorites, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards have all raced there 14 times (nine in Edwards case) and Johnson at 11.1 and Newman at 10.5 don't even average top ten finishes despite each having won there three times.

This is what makes a Truex or Vickers win possible and not improbable.

We could witness another Reutimann situation just as the season gets going into summer.


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