Lead Draft Friday: Phoenix Really Is This Weekend, Right?

Man oh man, having published this week's article last week left me some room to go into stuff other than the usual pre-race showcase.  Read on and enjoy:
Hey did last week’s column send you flying to your DVR’s at break-neck speed only to be disappointed that there was no Sprint Cup race scheduled? Man, through a comedy of errors both on my part and by those unsung heroes who put the sports pages together each and every day for you my regular column for this week got placed in last week’s Saturday paper. There are only two things to say about that; ‘oops’ and ‘I’m sorry’. So if you are a regular reader then you already know about; a) Aric Almirola is essentially parked until a sponsor can be found, b) AJ Allmendinger has sponsorship until September, c) Teammates Martin Truex and Juan Montoya are finally going to be running the same type of chasis for the first time this season, and d) who my picks are for this week’s race at Phoenix (# 24 Gordon and #48 Johnson). With that being said that gives me more leeway for the content of this week’s column.  Hmm … what to write about? Well let’s start with last week’s NASCAR Nationwide race in Nashville since it is the first race for NASCAR’s second-tier series to be run on a weekend without it being a supporting event to NASCAR’s premier Sprit Cup Series. I think the race was pretty good.  It had good passing, hard racing, some good wrecks including a huge flip by Joe Nemechek near the end of the race.  After Joe’s car was hit by another car it flipped and slid on its side for a bit then continued its 360 where the car eventually landed on all four Goodyears and after he got control of it before it hit the wall he just drove it away to the pits.  Cool. The race also had a first time rookie winner in Joey Logano.  Logano is better known as ‘Sliced Bread’ because he is supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. For those of you who are still wondering who the heck Joey Logano is well let me put it this way – he is the guy who replaced Tony Stewart in the Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Home Depot Toyota for this year. Logano has had a tough start to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup season and this win in the Nationwide race with a Joe Gibbs car just might be the confidence booster he and his Home Depot team has been waiting for. You know there were a few other Cup regulars in that race too, drivers like Kyle Busch, Michael Waltrip, David Ragan, and Carl Edwards to name a few. I think having a Nationwide race on a Cup off-weekend is pretty good as there is a chance you might get some Cup drivers in the race that normally might not go in it if it was on the same weekend as their Cup race. I hope this at least holds true on August 30th when the Nationwide Series hits Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on a Cup off-weekend. Maybe we can start some sort of on-line petition to get Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr up here for the race, after all Gordon lives in New York City which isn’t very far from Montreal and Dale Jr owns the winning car from last year which was driven by Canadian road race ace Ron Fellows. Speaking of Fellows he told me in an interview a few months back that he hoped to be back in the JR Motorsports car again this year but it was still too early to talk about it. Maybe the news Fellows is waiting for will come soon as it was just announced on Wednesday that  fellow Canadian Patrick Carpentier will be driving in the Montreal race for Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 99 NAPA-sponsored Camry.  Carpentier has two second place finishes in as many races he has run there in the Nationwide Series. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Ron it would be great to see him there.  

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