The chairs are starting to fill

The chairs are starting to fill

The chairs are starting to fill
August 8, 2007

What was that game we used to play in kindergarten where the teachers played music and we all ran around a bunch of circled chairs like crazy kids and once the music stopped we slammed the girls out of the way and grabbed a seat ? I'm reminded today, we called that game "Musical Chairs."

Among the driver "Musical Chairs" we have going on right now, with the news of Kyle Busch going to the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing and the possibility of J.J. Yeley going to the No. 21 of the Woods Brothers, it appears that at least Busch -- and most likely, Yeley -- have indeed sat down, before the music stops. What we don't know just yet is who else is playing the game.

In the garage, we have heard mention of Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman as some of the "A Drivers" who could be playing (although it's unlikely to me that Penske will let Newman go given his team's recent performance surge) and of course, we know that Joe Nemecheck, Regan Smith, Kenny Schrader, Sterling Marlin and maybe even Ricky Rudd are all drivers also circling the chairs as we speak.

There are a few upper-tiered sponsors playing their own version of the game, as well. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out, but one thing for sure, the signing of Kyle Busch by Joe Gibbs Racing, along with their alignment with Toyota, is in my opinion, one of the top stories of the year and will continue to be for a long time to come. In a Nextel Cup manufacturer's debut year, filled with hurdles and new team struggles, for Toyota to score Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin and now add Kyle Busch for their fold, speaks volumes and will indeed put the Toyota name on a whole new level, come 2008 and for years to come, thereafter.

Given the Woods Brothers' point standing situation and it being apparent that the 2008 qualifying rules will get the James Bond Martini (shaken but not stirred) treatment, the hiring of J.J. Yeley to drive the No. 21 in 2008 is absolutely the right choice for the family-owned team. When a team hovers around the 35th position in points, (currently 37th) it must solely concentrate on qualifying and whatever happens in the race becomes "icing on the cake." Any other approach than this promotes failure. Not making a race at the Cup level hurts sponsorship, doesn't allow the team to gather points, earn money and kills the team's overall morale. Yeley is a known good qualifier and would have been my choice, as well. If they pull it off, this will be a good move by the Woods family.

The game isn't over, the music is still playing loud, and deals are being talked about as we speak. These announcements today are big; I think there is a few more coming. Stay tuned!

Notes:

# In the beginning of the year, much to the dismay of some of you, I mentioned that both Martin Truex and Clint Bowyer would have a shot at making the Chase. So far, pretty close to being accurate. Regardless of their fate from this moment on, my hat's off to Clint Bowyer, (currently 10th in points) Gil Martin and their boys and Martin Truex, (currently 11th in points) Kevin Manion and their boys, on a great year.

# Although I did not personally attend the Montreal Busch race, my buddies that did go loved it -- loved the city, the people, the track and the short, two-hour flight. They told me they'd go back in a heartbeat. I did watch the race and it was a really good race, a battle to the end. For the experienced road racers both in the road course aces brought in, i.e. Fellows, Said, Carpentier, and Papis etc., and in the accomplished Cup and Busch road course racers, the hype on brake issues during the race, didn't live up to the billing.

My take on the Robby Gordon deal is, although I don't necessarily disagree that Gordon may be right in some cases here, and wrong in others, fact is he was told to line up 13th and he refused to do what he was told. NASCAR is not always going to make the right call. What they have to do each and every week is very hard even with the technology they have in race control and overall, we (the competitors) know that they make a very conscious effort to always make the right call. As I said, I don't disagree that Gordon has some argument here, but the way he handled it was way wrong and in time he, too, will realize this. What I think should have happened is that once Gordon did not line up 13th, the race should have been red flagged. NASCAR was patient with his adamant refusal to go to his proper spot and had they allowed yet another yellow flag lap to give him more time to heed their request, I think they were afraid that more than half the field would have ran out of fuel. A thrown red flag, would have stopped the field, Gordon would have then had two choices, go to his 13th place slot or be towed off the track. End of story. What happened thereafter was WWF material and a black eye for everyone, including the best car in the event and the guy that deserved the win in Marcos Ambrose.

Hey, it's my blog. I can write what I see � MD's going to have a field day with this. He'll be wrong, but he'll hold court with his buddies.

All for now. Hope you're enjoying it all. NASCAR is wide open at full steam right now.

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