Gilliland needs NASCAR approval; Ford focus

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Tom Jensen


During the Nextel Cup race at Watkins Glen,'s Tom Jensen provided Instant Analysis. Check out this excerpt as he discussed David Gilliland in the No. 38 and whether anything is wrong with Ford.

Gilliland-Sadler deal

Ellen from McHenry, Ill.: I have read that David Gilliland is not "cleared" by NASCAR to race at Talladega. Could you please explain the process involved in being cleared? Also, will Gilliland be in the No. 38 car next week at Michigan? Tom Jensen: Hello, Ellen. Each driver needs formal approval from NASCAR to compete at different levels in the sport. For example, if a driver wanted to move from a local short track to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR would talk to track owners, other drivers and officials who'd seen that driver race and ask their opinions about that driver's ability, demeanor, etc.

If the driver was deemed ready for the Truck Series, he or she would then receive approval from NASCAR. By the same token, a young, relatively inexperienced driver might be cleared to race at a short track — where speeds are relatively slow — and then be allowed to move up to faster tracks. That's what's going on with Gilliland, who NASCAR needs to approve before he races at Talladega.

For Gilliland to be in the No. 38 next week, Elliott Sadler would have to get his release from Robert Yates, which would also require sponsor approval. Sadler then would have to sign a contract with Evernham Motorsports and move to that team, which might open the door for Gilliland.

But since a rookie can only run seven Cup races and still maintain his or her eligibilty to race for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, RYR may not want to race Gilliland just yet.

Put simply, there are an awful lot of variables at play, and they haven't all been worked out. If they do, Gilliland could be in the No. 38. If not, he won't. It's a complex deal, and it's a long way from done right now.

What ails Ford?

Robert from Atlanta: What is wrong with Ford? Chevy and Dodge seem to have the better teams these days with only Roush making an effort to be competitive. Is it the new Fusion or a lack of support from Ford that is fueling Ford's decline in NASCAR?

Send your questions & comments to Tom

Tom Jensen: Robert, you raise a good question. I don't think there's necessarily anything "wrong" with Ford as such, but consider these factors:

Despite NASCAR's efforts to equalize competition, some makes do better than others in different years. Dodges only won three races all of last season, for example. Also, there are only eight full-time Ford cars in the field, a number fewer than Dodge or Chevrolet has. Last year, Roush Racing had a once-in-a-lifetime season, and they've come back to earth a bit in 2006.

Last, but certainly not least, Robert Yates Racing is struggling badly this season. But as far as the Fusion itself, there's nothing wrong with it at all.

Tagged: Elliott Sadler

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