The Texas Preview

2009 Daytona 500 085 

Well folks it pains me to write this article, but I think that it is time.! After last weeks finishes of both of the Stewart-Haas Racings cars, #14 and #39, it would appear that they may have their “growing pains” under control.  The Stewart-Haas #14 Office Depot/Old Spice had a very good run at Daytona, but the next few races weren’t so hot!!  A 26th place finish at Las Vegas and a  17th place finish at Bristol were less than sterling for his team.  However, Tony’s finish at Martinsville,a 3rd place,  might just be a needed boost to the team right in the nick of time to mount a springtime charge! 

The Texas Motor Speedway is a high speed horsepower race track.  Since Stewart-Haas Racing gets their race engines from Hendrick Motorsports, they (Stewart-Haas Racing) might fare very well there.  Stewart seems to run very well overall at Texas and could be there at the end challenging for a win!   

The #14 Stewart-Haas Chevy presently sits in 7th place in the early stages of the season.  That position is far higher than where this reporter thought that the team would be at this stage of the season!!  Even though this wasn’t a true start-up team, it has been largely restructured under Stewart’s leadership.  Stewart brought into his organization many new and talented faces.  When that kind of overhaul and change occurs, it ususually takes time to become cohesive and gel into a championship caliber organization!  However, for Stewart-Haas Racing, it has happened in a very short  time.  It would appear that Tony Stewart is a good student, as well as a good race car driver.  He worked 10 years for the master who knew how to get the most out of the people in his organization, that would be none other than the president of JGR– Joe Gibbs!!  Gibbs has always said that “YOU WIN WITH PEOPLE”!!!!  Maybe Tony has learned a very valuable lesson from his mentor and former boss!!

Having stated my case, this reporter is picking the #14 Office Depot/Old Spice Stewart-Haas Chevy to win the Sunday Samsung 500 at Texas!!! 


2009 Daytona 500

2009 Daytona 500 123


This week’s story lines:

1.  Matt Kenseth wins the 2009 Daytona 500:

2.  Dale Sr. will be remembered on 2/18/09:(EGR PR)

3.  Gilliland to drive the TRG #71 car for the four races:(TRG PR) 

4.  David Starr to drive the Blackjack Racing #51 at Calif:

5.  Kyle Petty not happy about merger:(st.petetimes)

6.  Rusty Wallace, Inc. considering Cup move with RCR help:   (

7.  DirectTV Hot Pass free:(

8.  Is Dale, Jr. running out of time for championship?(espn)


Sunday February 15th marked the 51st running of The Great American Race, better know as the Daytona500.  With a testing ban at all NASCAR sanctioned tracks, the teams did little to no testing at all this winter.  So when the haulers pulled through the tunnel prior to the Bud Shootout, about ten days ago, it was the race teams first glance at “the world center of speed” since the race in July of 2008.

The races of Speedweeks 2009 were very exciting.  The Bud Shootout had a new format for getting into the race,which put a different twist on that race.  It has become a manufacturer’s race now.  Nonetheless, it was an exciting “shootout” Kevin Harvick taking home all the marbles!

The Duel 150’s were very exciting and really action packed races with Jeff Gordon winning the first race and (TLVW) Kyle Busch winning the second duel.  Both of those races were action packed and very tight racing!

On Friday, The Camping World Truck race lit the night sky at Daytona.  It was a very action packed 250 mile race.  There was many lead changes and of course the impatient drivers making risky moves!  But that is the hallmark of this series, which serves to increase the use of the “rollbacks” and tow trucks at the track! 

On Saturday the Nationwide Series was main attraction at Daytona.  It sounds repetitive, but the Nationwide boys also put on one whale of a race.  There was lots of side-by-side racing throughout the entire pack, not just the front runners!  The final results was that Tony Stewart(The Smoker), won the race in the #80 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy.  This new affiliation occurs because of  The Smoker’s new team, Stewart-Haas Racing, buys their cars and engines from Rick Hendrick.

On Sunday, under threatening skies, THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE takes center stage at Daytona.  With the threat of rain in the back of all the race teams minds, the green flag drops and the drivers strategy is that they need to race hard immediately.  The reason for that mind set is that the race may be called officially over once they complete the half way mark.  So the race pace and moves were furious and risky!! The racing was two wide, three wide, and sometimes momentarily four wide!!!  The drivers were racing every lap like it was the last one!   The drivers were really trying to get to the front by the halfway point, just in case the rains arrived. 

It reminded me of an old song by Steeler’s Wheel.  The lyrics go something like this “clowns to the left of me  jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you”!!!!!  The rains came and went intermittenly thoughoutthe race, but it finally cut loose and the race was called with Matt Kenseth in the lead and delcared the winner.



This reporter, along with his sidekick Jim,  arrived at Daytona for the four action packed days of racing starting with the Duel 150’s and culminating THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE, the Daytona 500.  There is something magical about Daytona that you must experience if you are a race fan!  There are only two venues that stand head and shoulders above the rest, Indianapolis and Daytona.  Having been to both venues several times, the atmosphere is charged with electricity and a great anticipation resonates throught the grandstands prior to the races there.  However, it is this reporter’s opinion, that Daytona has now far exceeded the gala at Indy( you can thank Tony George for singel-handedly mortally wounding open wheel racing)!!!  Tony George’s arrogance played right into the hands of NASCAR and allowed them to really grow their brand starting with the 1996 season, that was the first year of the IRL/CART split!


P.S.   There is candle light vigil at DEI headquarters tonight to honor Dale Earnhardt, Sr.  It was eight years ago the he lost his life on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.  He was in third place behind the eventual winner Michael Waltrip , and in second was his son Dale Jr.  Both of those cars were out of his stable at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.  This repoter is reasonably sure that THE INTIMIDATOR is quite proud of the way his son has handled himself since that tragic day, February 18, 2001!!


2009 Season Predictions


It is 13 days til the green flag drops for start of “The Great American Race”, the Daytona 500.  The pundits are gathering to express their predictions for the 2009 season!  As the season unfolds, there are numerous thoughts on this reporter’s mind that must be resolved.


First of all, Tony Stewart (The Smoker)(two time champion) and Ryan Newman (2008 Daytona 500 winner) have left their prospective teams and joined forces in the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing with Hendrick motors.  Will either one, or both of these drivers have any impact on the 2009 season??

Secondly, will any of the Hendrick drivers be a driving force in the 2009 season?  Can Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Lowe’s team make it four championships in a row?  That feat has NEVER been accompolished in the 60 year history of NASCAR!  How ’bout Jeff Gordon’s “drive for 5”?  Can he pull it off or is his prowess over?  Can Dale Jr have a break through year and finally shut up all those “nay sayers” !!!  Can Jr close the deal?????  Now that Mark Martin is in the #5 car, can he finish his career at the top of the podium??

Next to be discussed is the Joe Gibbs boys.  Kyle Busch (The Las Vegas Weasel) sputtered when the going got tough!  Can he actually perform at the end of the season like he did up until the Chase started???  Can Denny Hamlin crank up the intesity and be more consistant throughout the entire season?  And new kid on the block, Joey Logano (Sliced Bread) how will he fit in at JGR?  Did they rush him into Cup too fast?  Can this 18 year old phenom be really that good?  Can Logano stand the pressure involved in this level of  performance?

Richard Childress Racing started a fourth team for the 2009 season.  But, because of sponsorship concerns Mears was put into the #06 Jack Daniels Chevy.  General Mills was concerned that Mears wouldn’t fit into their profile, since last season he was driving the Kelloggs #5 HMS Chevy.  So Mears tgets into the #07 with a top 35 points from 2008.  That moved Clint Bowyer into the newly formed #33 General Mills Chevy with NO points to start the 2009 season.  Bowyer must “race into the big show”!!!  Can Jeff Burton finish in the top ten consistantly?  Kevin Harvick needs to step up his game, at least one more notch, in order to put pressure on the other frontrunners in 2009.

Lastly, can the Roush/Fenway drivers keep the pressure up on thall the rest of the contenders?  Carl Edwards is the franchise driver of the Roush/Fenway stable.  It would appear that he has the hunger and the ability to “dethrone” the 3 time Champ, Jimmie Johnson!  Greg Bifle really came alive in the early part of the Chase last season, is the fire still burning????  Matt Kenseth is probably the most consistant steady driver in that stable, but can he step it up???  David Ragan is the newest and youngest of the Roush/Fenway drivers and had some sparks of brilliance in 2008. 


So my question to all of you is this.  Having read this article and using all your worldly racing knowledge, consulting your psychic, reading your tea leaves, possibly picking straws, when the checkered flags falls at Homestead, who will reign as the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion?????




GO #88