As we close in on the halfway point of this Nascar season, Silly Season has hit high gear and there's no looking back. There's been lots of stories out there in the last couple of weeks that have left a lot of Nascar fans scratching their heads. Let's take a look at our five lugnuts for discussion.
1 - Mark Martin in the 5 Car -- This makes perfect sense to me. Mark and Brad Kesolowski filling the seat in the 2009 campaign would get Kellogs more exposure than they're getting now. After all, remember when Mark Martin was in Bobby Ginn's 01 Chevy? That Ginn team was an offshoot of Rick Hendrick and that first race for Martin in the 01 nearly gave him his first Daytona 500 victory. Here's something else to chew on; since Jr. owns Keslowski's Nationwide ride, will Hendrick look at giving Jr. partial ownership in that 5 car at some point? Also keep in mind that Mark was to eventually mentor Ricky Carmichal for Bobby Ginn, but that deal fell through as the ink dried on Ginn's merger with DEI. Do you think Mark might have some hard feelings for that failed goal?
2 - DEI Cutting Back To 3 Teams -- If they don't get full time sponsorship for that 01 team, DEI (or as some prefer, TEI) will cut back to just the 1, 8, & 15 teams. I almost forgot about John Menard competing in that 15 car. If it wasn't for Menard's dad sponsoring that car every race, would John really have a ride and would that 15 car even exist?
3 - Tony Stewart -- Like the song by the clash, will he stay or will he go, that seems to be question and his involvement with JGR. He really doesn't like driving a Toyota and he wants to own his own team. He's a single guy that gives money to charities, so it's not like he has to worry where his next check will come from. With the emergence of teenager, Joey Lagano, is he expendable in Joe Gibbs organization? There was a rumor that Smoke was going to buy into Haas/CNC team. Neither the 66 ot 70 car is in the top 35 in points. If he thought he had headaches with just his on track accomplishments this year, wait til he has to worry about driving and keeping two teams on the track with success. That option may be one he wants to rethink. When you think of it, where else would Tony go and have chances to win races and championships in Nascar?
4 - Which is better, 4 teams or 3? -- It would seem that three may be better. Rousch-Fenway has four. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth seem to be the top 2, followed closely by Greg Biffle and then you have David Ragan and Jamie McMurray. Hey, that's five teams. I thought they were to only have a maximum of four? They are my friends, so who will be the odd man out? Biffle is to announce a contract extension this weekend. Ragan's contract is coming close to be due. He's a young and talented driver. You would think that Rousch would hate to let that talent get away. At this point is Ragan's upside worth more than McMurray? I might have to go with Ragan. Gibbs has just three teams and they all enjoy their fair share of success. The same with RCR. Hendrick has four and we all know that Casey Mears is sending out resumes this week.
5 - Chip Gannassi and Roger Penske -- Both have had success in the Indy car circuits, but can't seem to transfer that same success to stock cars lately. Chip had a "come to Jesus meeting" earlier in the year in an attempt to turn things around. We haven't really seen results of that meeting yet and that may be why Reed Sorenson was taken out of the 41 car at Sonoma. Word on the street says he could be on the outside looking in. Juan Pablo got so fed up, he went to Chip and aired his differences. Wouldn't you if you were on you're third crew chief of the year? Other than Ryan Newman's win in the Daytona 500 this year, where's that organizations success been? Someone asked Ryan's dad about loyalty to Penske since Ryan got his start with Roger in the ARCA circuit and made his up through the feeder series. Newman's dad made the comment that they want to win championships. The question is, can they achieve that goal at Penske or will Ryan move to another team he thinks can get him that championship? I'm not sure when Penske's deal with Dodge runs out, but it wouldn't surprise me if he switched to Toyota. He's had a habit of doing that. He's run Pontiacs, Fords and then switched to Dodge.
These five lugnuts should get some lively discussions going on. Just remember race fans, don't leave the pits unless you're lugnuts are tight.