Random Lugnuts: Sponsors, Fords and Surprises
What is Random Lugnuts? It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan. The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop: you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.
March 20, 2008
After writing a few odd pieces about a few odd topics, it's back to business as usual for Lugnuts:
The Merchandise Trailer
Last year, I mentioned how happy I was that Budweiser wasn't going to be the primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. any more.
This week, I finally received in painted metal one of the best aspects of Dale Jr.'s move to Hendrick: a little green and white #88 Amp car, priced $2.99 plus tax. My wife picked it up at Wal-Mart. It looks just like the real thing, not a pretend-the-beer-brand-was-never-there fake logo to be seen, just the real stuff: Amp, Mountain Dew and the National Guard.
Last night I went to pick up the blue and white National Guard version of the car and saw the new Kasey Kahne die cast in all its pathetic fakeness. It's especially bad considering just how good the real race car looks this year.
That's what Travis Kvapil's hood said Sunday afternoon. That's how many people supposedly saw said hood, and would have seen a corporate logo had it been on the car.
Yates Racing is in sponsor trouble on two fronts. The 28 car is plain white, looking for a paint job and the 38 currently has FreeCreditReport.com on the car, but that's reportedly only through Talladega.
With dismal economic stories all over the news these days, it might just be a sign of tight economic times coming. I know I sure would sponsor Travis' car, but I don't have ten dollars to spend on advertising, let alone ten million dollars. I'm sure there are willing companies out there, but a company who is willing and able apparently hasn't stepped up yet.
I hope that someone does soon, before NASCAR possibly loses both Yates and Wood Brothers in the same year.
It's a bad situation gone worse for Ford these days. There's only one Ford team really competing for wins this year, and that's of course Roush Fenway. Accounting for 5 cars this year (the 6, 16, 17, 26 and 99), they will have to trim their numbers to four by 2010. Add the two Yates Racing entries (28 and 38) and Wood Brothers (21) and you've got a thin Ford presence in the field (not counting the various field fillers show up in Fusions on any given weekend).
Should Yates Racing and Wood Brothers close shop, that would mean a lot fewer Fords in the field. What that does for Ford is shrink the economies of scale built up by spreading costs over a number of teams. It would mean the same for the cooperative Roush-Yates engine program by removing one of the partners.
But Ford isn't exactly scrambling to find new teams, having let Robby Gordon go to Dodge this year. Sure, Robby Gordon is no Jeff Gordon, but he draws attention to himself wherever he goes, and he's a fairly popular driver with the fans who have met him to get an autograph, whose reactions are generally positive.
Ford has got to do something, just what that is I leave to others pundits to ponder.
What a statement was made last Sunday! Hendrick Motorsports was the dominant team last year, and having added Dale Earnhardt Jr. to their driver lineup have got to be dominating the attentions of their manufacturer, Chevrolet (just look at who is in the latest Chevrolet ads, and who is not).
So for Chevrolet to not score it's first Sprint Cup victory until race 5 is surprising. For Richard Childress Racing to score a 1-2-3 victory is simply shocking.
This really is shaping up to be the season that nobody expected, at least so far. A Dodge won Daytona, Hendrick without a points win 5 races in, Toyota scoring it's first victory only 4 races in, Michael Waltrip Racing putting all three cars in the Top 35, a Roush car outside the Top 35, and so on and so forth.
It certainly is a heck of a lot better than the end of last year..."gee, who's going to win this week, Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon?"
Unless you're a Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson fan...
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