Quick Hits: Michigan International Speedway

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2008

Starting this week at Michigan International Speedway, I’ve decided to focus most of my writing energy on a weekly column for Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie, entitled “Quick Hits.” (You'll see it here on Bleacher Report in a slightly edited form.) Think of this as an introduction to the column, and in a way, to me as a writer.

After examining some of my past work, I felt that I would greatly improve as a writer by moving to a set weekly format, instead of the normal sporadic posts I’ve contributed to this blog. With greater regularity in posts, you, the reader, will be able to find greater continuity in what I write on, as opposed to my past irregular posts on topics from Martin Truex Jr. to why NASCAR needs a stock car series exclusive to road courses. Ever since shifting my focus from Bleacher Report to this site, partially due to time constraints, I’ve been more and more irregular with my writing. The column format is designed to fix that.

The tentative plan for this column is to start with whatever’s on my mind related to either racing or racing journalism itself, followed by five “Quick Hits”: the top five stories of the week, briefly recapped, with a bit of analysis thrown in for good measure.

I’ve always been a fan of weekly columns, since the first time I picked up an issue of Sports Illustrated and read Rick Reilly’s “Life of Reilly.” I can’t remember what exactly was the first topic Rick mused on, but I remember immediately being drawn to it, like a moth to a floodlight in the nighttime. I read that column for years, from whenever I upgraded from my SI Kids subscription to when he left the magazine to join ESPN the Magazine. I still read his stuff there, and I like to think that ESPN’s massive pages give him a little more room to work his magic.

I think I’ve always been fascinated by back pages as well. I’ve always found the body doubles, hyperlinks, and funny road-related photos in Autoweek’s “But Wait, There’s More” section amusing. Occasionally there are even some great quotes from NASCAR’s finest.

To be sure, by posting this on a Wednesday or Thursday every week, the column might be like Fox’s “King of the Hill”: quality, but often on too early for most people to appreciate it, or maybe even cut off by other pieces that take priority over it. I kind of like that concept though. I don’t feel as much pressure to write excellently as I did when I first joined this site; I feel confident in my abilities.

Without further ado, this week’s five Quick Hits:

5. Congratulations to Brad Coleman, who will make his Sprint Cup debut for Hall of Fame Racing this weekend. The struggling No. 96 team sits 39th in points behind the underwhelming performance of J.J. Yeley, whose third place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the team’s only top-10 of the season.

4. Congratulations are also in order for A.J. Allmendinger, who put his No. 84 Team Red Bull Toyota in the top 35 in owners’ points for the first time, guaranteeing him a spot in this week’s race. After missing 19 races last season due to DNQ’s, and the first eight races this year after being temporarily replaced, Allmendinger scored his first top-10 of his career in the tire fiasco at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

3. After causing a horrible nine-car wreck last week at Watkins Glen International that sent Bobby Labonte to a hospital, Michael McDowell will sit out the next three races, being replaced in the No. 00 at Michael Waltrip Racing by Mike Skinner. Fellow Toyota operation Team Red Bull did something similar with Allmendinger earlier this season, putting Skinner in the car for five races, and his performance improved markedly. Let’s hope McDowell, who has said he may be in the market for a new team next season, lands on his feet.

2. Nationwide Series phenom Joey Logano makes his Sprint Cup debut at Richmond International Raceway in a few weeks, driving a Joe Gibbs Racing car rumored to be sponsored by Gatorade. Logano will also run an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway to satisfy NASCAR requirements to compete in next year’s Daytona 500. Of note: Gatorade is a Pepsi product, and JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart are sponsored by Coca-Cola. NOS Energy, which sponsors Kyle Busch, is now also a Coca-Cola product.

1. The Ryan Newman sweepstakes is over, with the 2008 Daytona 500 winner set to join Stewart-Haas Racing next season as driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet. Sponsorship still has not been secured.

Finally, congratulations to last week’s winners: Johnny Benson at Nashville Superspeedway, and Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch at The Glen.