Heating up at Bristol with three races until the Chase
Juan Pablo Montoya is out of the Ganassi Earnhardt ride after this season, and while Juan has raced successfully in almost every form of racing there is, NASCAR has not seen his best finishes. Yes, he has wins, but he is likely more remembered for running into the Jet Drier at Daytona than for his victories. Given that, it might be the opportune time for Juan to return to IndyCar racing, as has been rumored. He has certainly talked to Michael Andretti, and says he won't confirm how many or who he has talked to from open wheel racing. Stock car racing was not the high point of JPM's career, and as he seems to have more offers from open wheel, a return there seems hardly out of the question.
Kurt Busch's name is all over the news. He has had success with Furniture Row Racing this year and currently sits ninth in points, without a win. Fortunately, he is far from the only driver without a win, and will make the Chase, provided he is able to bring the cars home with a decent finish over the next three races. He has been named as, perhaps, the top runner to fill the 39 seat when Ryan Newman leaves at the end of the 2013 season. If you read FoxSports.com, they are calling it "Three Bad Boys and a Little Lady". While I wouldn't necessarily call Danica a little "lady", certainly Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch have all been called bad boys during the course of their careers. Ryan Newman, not so much. Kurt, ever the epitome of decorum, has only said he does not have a deal in place with Furniture Row Racing to continue with them in 2014. Is he the front runner for the 39 seat? With Kevin Harvick already singing his praises for the suggestions he has given the RCR garage, it seems likely.
Then what about Ryan Newman? After heating up the interwebs after his release from SHR was announced, news on Ryan has been mostly absent. He has been talked about as Kevin Harvick's temporary replacement, but does Ryan want a temporary ride? After all, Richard Childress has made i clear that Austin Dillon will move into RCR's Cup garage in the very near future. So where is Ryan Newman going?
Mark Martin continues to race, in his 50's. As we discussed last night in last week's TWIN, Mark has been named to fill Tony Stewart's seat for the balance of the 2013 season, as Tony recuperates from his broken leg. Mark was sharing the 55 seat over at Michael Waltrip Racing, but with the announcement that Brian Vickers would fill that seat full time in 2014, everything just fell into place. Mark is likely to bring the car home in one piece, and may even get a few top ten finishes. Will he win? No one knows for sure, of course, but I have to think his days of winning are over. My son would like nothing better than for me to be proven wrong.
And what of Brian Vickers? I've always thought his arrogance far outweighed his talent, but perhaps his time out of a full time seat has humbled him a little? We don't seem to hear as much yapping about how someone else causes all his problems, but that could be because he hasn't been on the track as much. I'm thinking it won't take long to find out.
The Race to the Chase is definitely heating up, and what better place to ignite it than Bristol. Racing under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway has long been an entry on my "bucket list". The bull ring is hugely popular with fans, but in recent years many of those seats have been empty. It used to be there was a two year waiting list just to get tickets, but unfortunately, businesses in area apparently jack up their prices for race weekends, and although seat prices may have dropped, expenses surrounding attendance at the race have increased. Since repaving the track, the racing is reportedly not as exciting, but I'm not sure I'd say that. Bristol is an entity unto itseld. Cars have changed, drivers have changed, safety features have changed, so definitely the racing has changed. I don't believe it can all be attributed to the repaving of the track.
As we saw last night, Kyle Busch likes it just fine.
Who is your pick for the race win? I'm holding my pick until I see some practice.