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Lead Draft Friday: Some Interesting Stories Developing Early in The Season

Hey there, I can't believe we have an off-week.  Oh well.  Here is the latest edition of Friday's Lead Draft.

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NASCAR is headed into an off weekend this week.  Personally I can’t see why they have an off weekend so close to the start of the season, everyone is just getting into the swing of things, drivers and fans included, and NASCAR schedules no race this weekend.


I don’t know, but I think this off weekend could have been better used later in the season when the drivers themselves need a little break from racing so many consecutive weekends in a row.


Since there is no race to pre-view this week I thought I would go over some of the stories that I see developing over these last 4 weeks of racing.


First off is last week’s winner Kurt Busch (2).  Kurt was one of the more dominate cars last week and I pretty sure he still would have been dominate even if the caution flag didn’t come out catching a lot of the field a lap down because the round of green flag pit stops hadn’t exactly cycled through yet.


Busch’s Penske powered machine has been doing fairly well so far this year and I think it has something to do with the fresh powerplants under the hoods of those Dodges that has something to do with it.  Dodge is one of the last car manufacturers to introduce their latest racing V8, and based on the performance of the Penske organization I’d say those new Dodge engines are at least par with the other manufacturers in the garage.


Another good story so far this race season is the success Tony Stewart (14) has been having with his new team Stewart-Haas Racing.  Stewart is currently sitting 6th in points and has had 3 top 10 finishes, not bad for virtually a brand new team – Stewart joined forces with Haas Racing in the off-season but the organization was basically gutted and re-established under Stewart’s direction.


The new team theme seems to be catching on because Clint Bowyer (33) is the driver of Richard Childress Racing’s newly added 4th car and  Bowyer is 2nd in points right now. That has his new team feeling pretty good about themselves I would imagine.


Speaking of feel good stories, how about the resurgence of Jeff Gordon (24)?  Even though he hasn’t won so far this season I expect him to win sometime soon as he has been running near the front on a continuous basis and is at the top of the standings in 1st place.


But it would appear that Gordon’s success so far this season is the only bright spot for Hendrick Motorsports right now.  Rick Hendrick’s other three cars are out of the top 12 in standings.  Current Cup Champ Jimmie Johnson is sitting in 13th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr is in 24th, and veteran driver Mark Martin is 34th in points and is in danger of being knocked out of the top 35 in owner points.  Being in the top 35 of owner points guarantees a starting spot in the next race otherwise you’ll have to qualify on time to get in and if you aren’t fast enough you’ll miss the race – something the sponsors don’t like.


Another issue that I’ve noticed so far this season has been the amount of engine problems that some of the teams have been facing.  Toyota pulled all of its motors out of their cars, except for Joe Gibbs Racing who build their own engines, just before the start of the Las Vegas race because of possible lubrication issues.


One thing that rally hasn’t been an issue so far this season has been tires.  I know Tony Stewart had something to say at Daytona when a tire went on his team mate Ryan Newman’s car during practice, but other than this and Mark Martin’s exploding rear tire last week I really haven’t noticed any major issues with the tires thus far.  Either that or the tire issues were so large last year that any tire issues happening this year pale by comparison.


I’m looking forward to watching these stories develop over the season and to see new ones grow.  The field is wide open as far as stories go in NASCAR – this is nothing new – but do you have any thoughts on what might be the next big story in NASCAR?  Drop by my blog ( let me know, you never know I just might feature your predictions.