From the Crossville Chronicle – Crossville, TN Friday October 12,2007
By Joe Dunn
The Nascar Nextel Cup teams head to Charlotte, NC and the track that one team calls home. Jimmie Johnson is the current master at LMS, a fact boosted by statistics. His five victories there, the best of all active drivers, means he tops most lists of favorites. But he’s a threat to win even when he doesn’t get to Victory Lane. Johnson finished second when Kasey Kahne swept both 2006 events at LMS. He finished 10th behind winner, and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Casey Mears in the Coca-Cola 600 at May.
Saturday’s Bank of America 500 under the LMS lights marks the fifth event in the 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup”, the format that determines the series champion. It began Sept. 16 at New Hampshire and culminates Sunday, Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Chase field, the top 12 drivers in the series standings following race No. 26 at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 8, compete for the series title during the season’s final 10 events.
Johnson and Jeff Gordon dodged the bullets at both Kansas, after a rain delayed restart and again last week at Talladega where a late race charge got them both to the front.
Last weeks race at Talladega showed the flaw in the ‘Top 35’ start plan, as all but one Chase contender blew off qualifying. I watched in dismay as the 8 go or go home guys all qualified ahead of the regulars. The attitude of the leaders was exemplified by Jeff Gordon when he predicted that he would qualify between 25th and 35th. Gordon then went out and qualified 42nd. Nascar needs to address this pathetic showing before the 2008 season. When a field-filler who was able to qualify for only 12 of 30 races takes the pole at Talladega, it is a sad statement for the top racing series in America. Not to take anything away from Michael Waltrip’s effort, but if half of those top 35 teams had made serious qualifying efforts, he would have never been on the pole. In the end, Dave Blaney was the only car in the top six to finish up front. His efforts on the day moved the #22 Caterpillar team back into the top 35 replacing the Woods Bother 21 driven by Ken Schrader.
David Reutimann signed a contract renewal with Michael Waltrip last week, keeping him in a Toyota for next year and ends rumors of him moving to RCR. Rumor has it that David will start in the 00 car and then move to the UPS? 44 after Martinsville which is expected to be Dale Jarrett’s last race. No word on who will take over the 00 after that.
Sterling Marlin, who failed to qualify the 09 car at Talladega last week will be racing against his son Stedman this Sunday in a 200 lap Late Model at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville.
Local dirt track racing is about over with the only race scheduled this weekend is at Spring City raceway on Saturday. A reminder to those who missed last weeks announcement, Crossville Raceway will hold it’s Awards Banquet and Open house at the Track on Thursday October 25. Gates will open at 5 pm with awards presented at 6:30 pm.