Cup Notes: Parking Problems
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Fort Worth, Texas – Tony Stewart’s qualifying effort gives the two-time champion’s team a rare opportunity to set up shop in the coveted pit box one near the exit of pit road.
“I’ll probably miss it because I don’t normally remember where pit box one is,” Stewart joked. “We got it last year because we got some rainouts a couple of times and I got the first box.
“It’s no different this week than it is every week. You always want to be that guy that gets that first pit box. You don’t have to go very far to get where the timing line is. It’s always an advantage to be that guy that gets that first box.”
Muddy future: Kasey Kahne, who will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season, said he’s still not sure where he’ll be racing in 2011. He’s scheduled to replace Mark Martin as the driver of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet beginning in 2012.
“I’ll work through it with Mr. Hendrick and figure out exactly what we need to do in 2011 that makes the most sense,” Kahne said. “As far as right now, I still don’t know and I’m leaving it up to those guys.
“They made the commitment to me and Rick said he’ll make sure it’s right, and I took that as I think it’ll be a pretty good opportunity, a pretty good situation I’ll be in next year.
“In order to know I’ll be in the No. 5 after that, I was able to take somewhat of a risk and wait a month or two months, whatever it is, to figure out what 2011 will be, but the future will definitely be really good to be a part of that team and part of that organization.”
The Pits: A wide variety of pit strategy has played out during the closing laps of the three most recent Sprint Cup races.
Ryan Newman turned a two-tire stop into a victory at Phoenix on Saturday. Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson parlayed late four-tire stops into wins at Martinsville and Bristol.
Jeff Burton blamed the assortment of decisions on double-file restarts.
“Double-file restarts have changed the game and you’re going to see people more apt to get track position than they are to get four tires,” Burton said. “The tires are better so they last longer.
“Track position with the double-file restarts make it harder on some race tracks. If you had that scenario last week (at Phoenix) and you had it here (at Texas), Kyle Busch is going to make it three-wide on the outside going into Turn 1 when you drop the green flag and he might be able to make something happen.
“From a driver’s standpoint, what you have to be willing to do is you have to be willing when your crew chief says ‘we’re going to do two’ or ‘we’re going to do four,’ whatever the decision is, you can’t second guess it.”
In good stead: Carl Edwards’ three-race probation for wrecking Brad Keselowski in Atlanta last month ended following Saturday’s race in Phoenix.
Edwards, who starts 20th in Sunday’s 500, said he hasn’t been beaten up too much by NASCAR fans over the past month.
“I expected it to be pretty bad, but it’s turned out to be unbelievable,” Edwards said. “The fans are awesome. I think they see Atlanta for what it was, just two guys going at it.
“Overall, the response has been really good. It’s just racing, but I’m glad it’s behind us. Brad and I have raced really well since then and I think it’s just one of those events that we’ll look back on and go ‘man, that was pretty wild.’ ”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at email@example.comOne Comment