Column: Daytona was last Tuesday race

Published 10:37 pm Saturday, August 25, 2007

By Staff
For the first time in nearly 30 years, a NASCAR cup race was held on a Tuesday.
After battling the weather for two days, the skies finally cleared enough to run the race at Michigan Tuesday morning, nearly 48 hours after the scheduled start time.
The last Tuesday race was on July 4, 1978 at Daytona when the Firecracker 400 was on July 4 every year, regardless of the day of week.
The outcome of the Michigan race Tuesday morning did no favors for the Chase chances of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Entering the race, he was in 14th position, 100 points behind 12th place Kurt Busch, with Ryan Newman in between. Busch picked a great time to go on a hot streak and won the race, his second win the in the last three races.
Even though Junior posted a solid 12th place finish and jumped one spot in the standings, he lost 63 points on the final chase spot. It's a virtual certainty that Junior will not qualify for the chase. With only three races before the field is set, everything possible would have to go right for Junior and everything wrong for Busch for Junior to have a chance. Busch was career wins at all three of the remaining tracks-Bristol, California, and Richmond. Junior must win at least one of these races and Busch will need to DNF in at least one. I don't think it happens and Junior doesn't make the show.
The AT&T vs. NASCAR saga continues. The US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a previous decision and decided that NASCAR was within its rights to not allow AT&T to sponsor the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team. This has become a battle of wills and I don't see either of these giants flinching. Both have deep pockets and this fight could last a while. For the time being, Jeff Burton is running a car with no primary sponsor decals this week and all signs of AT&T have been removed from driver and crewmen apparel.
Looks like Toyota is on the verge of landing the big one. The whispers are turning into shouts concerning the move of Joe Gibbs Racing from Chevrolet to Toyota. If this happens, it will immediately improve Toyota's standing in the sport. With three top-notch drivers coming on board from Gibbs, Toyota will jump into the fire. This time, however, they will have some ammunition to fight with. With their current driver lineup, they are bear hunting with a BB gun. Luring Gibbs will give them a 12-gauge shotgun to carry to the hunt.
Millions of race fans have waited for a year for the race this Saturday night. The Sharpie 500 from Bristol is next on the schedule. To me, this is most entertaining race of the season, including the Daytona 500. The half-mile track with higher than heck banking, night racing, 43 cars and 160,000 race fans make for a good time.
There are guys that will be letting it all hang out Saturday night. The drivers that have all but clinched a spot in the chase just want to win, earning the 10 bonus points. The guys that have no chance to make the chase just want to win, who cares about the points? The only drivers that will be cautious are those in positions 9-12, all bets are off for the other 40 guys.
Will Junior make it interesting and win this race? I think so, look for Junior to win, but come up short at Richmond.