Lowe's Chevy Team Needs to Get Back to Form
It’s been a long, hot summer for Jimmie Johnson, who hasn’t been to Victory Lane since June, at Michigan International Speedway. In fact, the No. 48 Lowe’s team hasn’t had a top-10 finish since Kentucky, where it finished 10th.
It’s not like Johnson and Co. aren't trying. Many of their poor finishes can be attributed to tire failure, mechanical issues or just plain old wrecks, like at Daytona.
But one would expect that at this point in the season, this squad would be gathering up momentum for the all-important Chase run of 10 races.
“We have had some really bad luck these past few weeks,” said Johnson in his pre-race media release. “I’m looking forward to getting back on track this weekend. The team needs a good run, and I really like the track in Michigan—it’s in Chevrolet’s backyard—and it would be nice to get a sweep.”
This team can't afford to waste many more weekends before Chicagoland.
Stewart Accident Continues to Reverberate Through Racing Community
As the investigation into the accident that fatally injured a young driver in upstate New York moves forward, the racing community itself is examining how it does business.
Should there be rules against drivers climbing out of their race cars after an accident? As with any controversial subject, there are two sides to this argument. Some might argue that a driver should be forced to remain inside his vehicle except in cases of fire.
Others, such as outspoken former Cup champion Brad Keselowski, say otherwise.
“Whether it’s racing or society, I’m not aware of any rule or law that works without the ability to enforce it, and I don’t know how you can enforce a rule like that, unless you had robot on the track to grab the person and put him back in the car,” he said earlier this week on a national media teleconference. “The only way you can enforce it is with a penalty system afterward, and really, at that point it’s not effective, so it’s a difficult rule to try to make work.”
Motorsports.com's Nick DeGroot believes that NASCAR's new rules regarding driver behavior after an accident are unenforceable:
"With this, in my opinion, unnecessary new set of rules, the powers that be have ripped a bit of the essence straight out of the soul of this sport. On-track confrontations have been a part of racing before NASCAR even came into being."
De Groot may be right, but NASCAR had no choice but to make their decision. It's likely to be a rule that drivers will abide by.
Race Team Alliance Adds New Members
The recently formed group of NASCAR team owners now boasts that its membership has grown to 18 full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, comprising 37 full-time entries.
“One of the early goals of the Race Team Alliance (RTA) was to expand our membership, and after only a month in existence, we have accomplished that goal,” said Rob Kauffman, the RTA’s elected chairman, in a media release from the organization.
Formed in July, the RTA is a "not-for-profit business league comprised of race teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series." The stated purpose of the organization "is to create an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote and grow the sport of stock car racing."
The group has been met by mixed reactions from NASCAR execs. Both sides have announced their communications with each other would only be done through attorneys.
This contentious relationship has gotten off to a rocky start. It will be entertaining to watch how it develops over the next year.
Major Sponsor News this Week
Manufacturing giant 3M has decided it is time to move to an organization it feels will give it better success on the race track. Beginning in 2015, the company will jump from Greg Biffle's team and sponsor teams under the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella, with a focus on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team for 11 races.
“At 3M, we play to win, and we push hard every day to do just that,” said Jesse Singh, senior vice president of 3M Global Sales and Marketing, in a press release heralding the agreement. “With this deal, we align with champion driver Jeff Gordon and an organization at the top of its game in Hendrick Motorsports."
Biffle has been winless since Michigan in June 2013. It was his sole victory of the year. He won twice in 2012. Will he give the company a win before it leaves RFR at the end of the year?
In addition, Mars announced that it has signed new multiyear deals with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and NASCAR.
The renewed contract with the sanctioning body will designate Mars as the “official chocolate of NASCAR.”
Although Kyle Busch has driven the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry to Victory Lane 20 times since coming to JGR in 2008, there was no specific mention of any contractual connection to Busch in this new deal.