*THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER presented by Your Company Could Be Here*
*The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net! *
December 17th, 2007
Volume I, Edition CLXII
*Editor's Note: We've gotten a few messages that have asked, "What happened
to the newsletter?" In case you missed it, we announced on November 21st
that the newsletter is scaling back to a weekly version for the offseason.
Newsletter editions will appear on the following dates:
Friday, December 21st
Friday, December 28th*
*Monday, January 7th
Monday, January 14th
Monday, January 21st
Monday, January 28th
As for the daily version, we will begin Monday-Friday publication once again
on Monday, February 4th. And of course, if news breaks out, we'll break in -
to your email inbox with a special edition of the newsletter.
Thanks as always for your continued support.
Frontstretch.com <http://frontstretch.com/>** *
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*Are you looking for a fast-growing website that can give you an opportunity
to not only share your thoughts on racing, but have FUN doing it with a
group of laid-back, dedicated personnel? Well, we have the place for you.
Frontstretch is *actively seeking 3-5 additional writers for both our
newsletter and website* to add to our dedicated staff. Follow this
link<http://www.frontstretch.com/article/554/>for more information on
how you can become a weekly columnist for the site
*Got NASCAR-related questions or comments?*
Send them Matt Taliaferro's way at matt.taliafe...@frontstretch.com; if
you're lucky, you'll get your name in print when he does his weekly column
answering back to you the fans that keep Frontstretch afloat.
*Today's Top News
Ryan Pemberton Leaves DEI, Moves To Michael Waltrip Racing; Both
Organizations Undergo Major Shakeups
**By Tom Bowles*
For five years, Ryan Pemberton has fine-tuned race cars under the U.S. Army
He won't be around for a sixth.
Seeking a change, Pemberton has left the former No. 01 (No. 8 in 2008) team
at DEI to become crew chief for David Reutimann over at Michael Waltrip
Racing. Announced Friday, he becomes the biggest hire in a major
organizational shakeup for the three-car MWR program; expectations will be
high for the two this season as they inherit big-money sponsor UPS after the
fifth race this season. Reutimann's car number will then switch to No. 44,
but the cars and crew surrounding him will stay the same.
Having worked with inexperienced drivers last season rookies Aric Almirola
and Regan Smith replaced Mark Martin for a handful of races in the No. 01
Pemberton's task won't get any easier. Reutimann failed to qualify on speed
nine times last season, and will be faced with that problem all over again
as his team finished outside the Top 35 in car owner points. With a best
finish of 13th at Richmond, the sophomore-to-be accumulated two top 15 and
nine DNFs in 26 starts in '07.
Clearly, those numbers will need to improve for the team to keep UPS happy
next season; but Pemberton looks forward to the challenge. After all, his
former team was often without the big-time resources the Hendricks, Roushs,
and Gibbs have at their disposal; but he still has a win at Kansas to his
name, paired nicely with a runner-up finish at the Daytona 500 with Mark
"Michael Waltrip Racing is a team that's growing, and I want to be a part of
that," Pemberton said. "I have respect for this team because I know how hard
it is to start up an organization from scratch. There's a lot to overcome
just to make it to the racetrack when you are developing a new program,
especially of the magnitude they did."
Pemberton wasn't the only new hire over at MWR. Paul Andrews replaces Buddy
Sisco at the helm of the No. 55 team, responsible for guiding Michael
Waltrip back into the limelight after the worst season of his Cup career.
Waltrip made just fourteen races last season, failing to qualify for eleven
in a row at one point en route to a 43rd place finish in points. Andrews is
used to taking on a challenge, though; his resume includes leading the 1992
Cup championship team with owner/driver Alan Kulwicki.
Finally, the No. 44/00 team which will be driven by Dale Jarrett, Michael
McDowell, Josh Wise, and others will be led by crew chief Bill Pappas. A
former open-wheel crew chief, Pappas left Juan Pablo Montoya to an Indy 500
victory in 2000 and is stepping into stock car racing for the first time a
surefire sign of how technical racing in NASCAR has become.
"Last season, Michael Waltrip Racing built a foundation and now they are
working on the internal pieces," said Pappas. "I am pleased to have been
chosen to be a part of this growth."
In the meantime, Pemberton's role at DEI will be filled by
championship-winning crew chief Doug Richert. Most recently employed with
Toyota's Team Red Bull, Richert will lead the new No. 01 team driven by
rookie Regan Smith in 2008. The veteran Richert has been around the sport
for four decades, winning a championship with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in 1980
and more recently leading Greg Biffle to a runner-up finish in the 2005 Cup
Chase with Roush Racing. He'll tutor a driver in Smith who has yet to score
a top 20 finish after seven career starts in the series; the best he's been
able to muster to date is a 24th at Talladega last Spring.
Finally, Mark Martin will now work with former No. 8 car chief Tony Gibson,
who will step up to be the head wrench for him and rookie Aric Almirola.
Gibson performed admirably while filling in for Tony Eury, Jr. as Dale
Earnhardt, Jr.'s crew chief last season; in a six-race stretch while Eury
was suspended, he led the team to two top 5 and three top 10 finishes. In
all, he has 12 career starts as a crew chief under his belt merely twice
the number of his rookie driver Almirola.
*In Case You Missed It
News From The Week That Was
**by Tom Bowles*
**It's Official : Hornish, Busch Cars Swap Owner Points At Penske
*After months of speculation, NASCAR approved a 2007 owner points switch
between two of Roger Penske's cars for 2008 the No. 77 and the No. 2. Sam
Hornish, Jr. and the brand-new No. 77 team now receive an oh-so-crucial
qualifying exemption for the first five races next season, when the IRL vet
will be a full-time rookie on the Sprint Cup circuit. As for Busch, he'll
now have to qualify on speed during that same stretch with the No. 2 car;
but with the Past Champion's Provisional, he's locked into the field no
matter what happens.
With Busch, Dale Jarrett, and Bill Elliott all planning to run the first
five races next season, the champion's provisional will likely leave just
seven open spots for grabs for teams outside the Top 35 in owner points -
instead of the usual eight.
*Riley D'Hondt Motorsports Dissolved*
After much fanfare, the partnership between Bill Riley and former Yates
Racing general manager Eddie D'Hondt is no more. The two announced goals to
form an ambitious Cup and Busch program back in August, 2006, aligning
themselves with Toyota. But sponsorship never materialized, and the team
only made one Nextel Cup race throughout its existence; Marc Goossens
finished 38th last June at Infineon Raceway. The Busch program appeared in
better shape, with veteran David Green driving a handful of races; however,
he and development driver Bobby Santos never could drudge up the financial
support to go with them. In half-a-dozen events, their highest finish was 11
th with Green at Nashville.
While that team has dissolved, Eddie D'Hondt supposedly still plans to
remain in the ownership business he hopes to run some Busch and ARCA races
in 2008 under the D'Hondt Motorsports banner.
*Busch, Truck Rookie Of The Years Released*
One year after the Danny O'Quinn debacle, Willie Allen is learning a
difficult reality trophies don't mean anything these days if you can't
bring any money to the table.
Allen the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series Rookie Of The Year was released
from his ride this week as driver of the No. 13 ThorSport Racing truck.
Allen outlasted Tim Sauter and Joey Clanton in the rookie competition this
season, putting together one top 10 finish in 25 starts with an unsponsored
truck but without the financial backing to put some decals on that car,
Allen lost out to '08 rookie Shelby Howard, someone who is supposedly
bringing major sponsorship money with him to the No. 13.
"I have a letter exercising ThorSport's option on my contract for 2008, so I
don't know how this could happen," said Allen, who had recently announced
his return to that ride for the coming season. "I hope that we can put
something together with a team in one of NASCAR's top three divisions very
Meanwhile, O'Quinn the 2006 Rookie Of The Year in Busch who lost his ride
under similar circumstances was officially given the pink slip today by
Jack Roush. Roush had reduced O'Quinn to a part-time schedule in 2007 after
sponsorship for his No. 50 car never materialized; in fact, O'Quinn wound up
running seven races for another team, the No. 56 of Mac Hill Motorsports.
Now, he's free to pursue sponsorship opportunities with Mac Hill for 2008;
meanwhile, Roush will field two full-time Busch cars for Cup stars David
Ragan and defending champ Carl Edwards, along with part-time efforts for
Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray.
*Did You Notice?
**by Tom Bowles**
Did You Notice
* That no matter what Race of Champions event you set up,
it's impossible to leave it biased towards a particular breed of drivers?
The knock on IROC was always that the cars there were too NASCAR-focused,
therefore providing an advantage to those drivers with a stock car racing
Well, apparently after years of stock car drivers making a mockery of
championship races over here
what goes around comes around. The Race of
Champions Nation's Cup set in England over the weekend featured Nextel
Cup champ Jimmie Johnson competing against Germany's Michael Schumacher in a
one-on-one race. The problem? The cars they competed in were rally-style
vehicles; and the recently-retired Schumacher has had plenty of time to putz
around with them. Not so for Johnson - and his lack of experience shined
through when he got smoked by the German F-1 champ.
Turns out Schumacher's team would beat the American duo of Johnson and
X-Games legend Travis Pastrana as well as everyone else to capture the
coveted Nation's Cup. But does it really matter? I mean, if you put
Schumacher in a stock car you'd better believe he'd get his butt kicked
similar to what happened this weekend; no matter how talented you are, a
lack of experience will always bite you when you're competing against the
best in a specialized field.
The way I look at it, with IROC gone I don't know if a Race of Champions is
really necessary anymore. It's like trying to make football, baseball, and
basketball athletes compete against each other each type of competition
will give an advantage to one of them based on how they have to play their
sport. It's the same with these racing All-Star events just because each
person has "racer" next to their name doesn't mean they have the same
collection of strengths and weaknesses.
Sorry to rant
but I really could do without that whole thing.
*Did You Notice
*That since Ginn Racing merged with DEI, it's like the
former Ginn program has become subservient to the wants and needs of the
larger company? Some influence Bobby Ginn is having over there; no one's
even heard a peep from him other than those secret settlements he gave
former drivers Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek, and reportedly more crew
members who suffered financial injustice at the result of this "merger."
After such a strong year working together with Mark Martin and the love
Martin showed for Pemberton you have to wonder whether Pemberton's recent
departure was the result of frustration over DEI draining everything Ginn
had to offer down the tubes
in favor of their own system. That's a shame,
because I was really looking forward to seeing what Martin could do with
such a savvy crew chief in their second season together.
Did You Notice
*Well, I didn't want to keep bringing this up
*still thirteen* Cup cars that haven't announced primary sponsors for all 36
Cup events: the No. 00 of Michael Waltrip Racing (David Reutimann/TBD); the
No. 01 of DEI (Regan Smith); the No. 4 of Morgan McClure Motorsports (Driver
TBD); the No. 7 owned and driven by Robby Gordon; the No. 10 of Gillett
Evernham Motorsports (Patrick Carpentier); the No. 21 of the Wood Brothers
(Marcos Ambrose/TBD); the No. 27 of Bill Davis Racing (Jacques Villeneuve);
the No. 28 of Yates Racing (Travis Kvapil); the No. 38 of Yates Racing
(David Gilliland); the No. 40 of Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti); the
No. 49 of BAM Racing (John Andretti); the No. 66 of Haas CNC Racing (Jeremy
Mayfield); and the No. 70 of Haas CNC Racing (Scott Riggs).
Yup, that's right; *one quarter of the field has no primary sponsorship
announced. *No one else is concerned about this? Really? I know some
announcements are being held back; but I'd bet a trillion dollars not all of
these cars have decals when we get to Daytona. It's just too much money
and sponsor space left blank.
Did You Notice
*The July race at New Hampshire will go an extra lap?
They're calling it the Lenox Industrial Tools 301; and apparently, they
really will go 301 laps instead of 300. I guess the track wanted to do
something unique before the teams go racing in Las Vegas instead in 2009
*TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH*:
*Driver Review : Matt Kenseth <http://www.frontstretch.com/reviews/13743/>*
*By Tony Lumbis** *
*Driver Review : Bobby Labonte <http://www.frontstretch.com/reviews/13803/>*
*By Cami Starr *
*Note: See This Week On The Frontstretch For All The Info You Need
* FRONTSTRETCH TRIVIA *
*Q. All 36 races were once again won by multi-car teams in 2007 - led by
Hendrick Motorsports, who collected 18 trophies on the year. When's the last
time a single-car team broke through and took a Nextel Cup win*?
Last Monday's Trivia Answer *: This driver became the all-time leader in
Restrictor Plate track wins in 2007. Who was he and who did he displace from
the top spot?
*With his win at Talladega this Fall, Jeff Gordon** scored his 12th
restrictor-plate victory breaking a tie with Dale Earnhardt for the most
in N ASCAR history.*
*This Week On The Frontstretch:*
Our Frontstretch Driver Reviews continue check out the list below!
David Starr stops by to give a post-mortem review on a successful season in
Trucks and a little preview for what life will be like in a new ride for
*2007 Driver Reviews This Week:*
*Monday, December 17th*
Matt Kenseth (Tony Lumbis)
Bobby Labonte (Cami Starr)* *
*Tuesday, December 18th*
Terry Labonte (Kathy Grindle)
Kevin LePage (Kim DeHaven)
Sterling Marlin (Kathy Grindle)* *
*Wednesday, December 19th*
Mark Martin (Vito Pugliese)
Jeremy Mayfield (TBD)
*Thursday, December 20th*
Jamie McMurray (Cami Starr)
Casey Mears (Amy Henderson)
*Friday, December 21st*
Paul Menard (Kathy Grindle)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Toni Montgomery)
Coming this offseason on the Frontstretch *:
*Driver Reviews Going On NOW!*
*by the Frontstretch Staff*
Beginning December 3rd, report cards and information on the ups and down for
each Nextel Cup driver in 2007, as well as a preview of how they all might
do in 2008.
*Fanning The Flames **
By Matt Taliaferro *
Matt Taliaferro will *still *answer questions and comments by you, NASCAR's
loyal fans, with several offseason editions! Don't forget to email him with
what you have to say at
*2008 Season Preview*
*by the Frontstretch Staff *
As December fades to January and the spotlight turns to the 2008 Sprint Cup
season, keep it right here as your Frontstretch faithful have all the angles
covered. Whether it's the upcoming rookie race or the future of Hendrick's
dominance, we have the answers you seek and the questions that need to be
raised to the NASCAR brass.* *
*Feedback on the newsletter? Would you like to advertise with us? Reach us
at **edit...@frontstretch.com* <edit...@frontstretch.com>*.*
The next edition of the newsletter will run on Friday, December 21st.*