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 Print   Email   Blog This's Tom Jensen is the former managing editor of National Speed Sport News and earned the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award in 1997.
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    Engine attrition?

    Q: Does Jr. ever have a decent engine to race with? — Loren from Babbitt, Minn.

    A: Maybe getting engines from RCR later this season will help.

    Eury-Earnhardt strong before engine expires

    Q: Why does Dale Earnhardt Jr. want Tony Eury Jr. with him when he changes to a new team? Tony has made Dale's car consistently worse, in nearly every race, from midpoint til the end. His strategy is always poorly thought out. — William from Lodge Grass, Montana

    A: Earnhardt was running fifth when his engine blew. That's better than 38 other guys were running today.

    Pit problem?

    Q: How come pit road was not closed when Dale Jr. was coming down it with no engine? This was just asking for problems on pit road because it was open. — Alison from Flint, Mich.

    A: Cars were already coming down pit road when Earnhardt stopped. By that point, it's too late to close pit road.

    Crews protected

    Q: Do the tire changers have any protection from the brake dust? They are exposed to alot especially using the brakes as much as they do at Indy. — Todd from Andover, Minn.

    A: Yes, they have closed helmets.

    Out of the loop

    Q: I was listening to Martin Truex Jr's radio after my guy, Kasey Kahne, crashed out. The 1 team was puzzled as to why they were held a lap. They didn't know for about 10 minutes, but the TV reporters did. How come the team wasn't told before them? — Mark from Venice, Fla.

    A: The team should have been told. Must have been a mistake on NASCAR's part.

    One-shot deal

    Q: Why is Ken Schrader now driving a Dodge? Is he no longer with the Wood brothers? — Steve B. from Canton, Mich.

    A: This is a one-race deal for Schrader and BAM Racing.

    More yellow to come

    Q: Which do you think is going to happen, more yellow flag laps or green flag laps? 50 minutes of yellow, and 30 minutes of green so far. — Gordon from Perris, Calif.

    A: Trust me, it's as frustrating here at Indy as it is on TV. I hope they race clean, but I expect more yellow.

    Q: Who is fielding the No. 33 car? I don't recall seeing it before this year. — Phyllis from North Wales

    A: It's a Richard Childress Racing car driven by Scott Wimmer.

    Greg going nowhere

    Q: Hi Tom, Looks like Greg Biffle is having another miserable day today. Do you really think he'll be back with Roush next year or are greener pastures in his future? — Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: Biffle is under contract with Roush for 2008. He has been very unhappy this season and he will leave Roush at some point, but the question remains when. Roush will not be eager to let him go.

    Ken's caught too

    Q: If Ken Schrader can make the NO. 49 competitive being a low-funded team, could this put his name out there for a Cup ride next season? — Jason from Wisconsin:

    A: If he could, it would. But he can't and won't.

    Costly error

    Q: What happened to Denny Hamlin? Speeding? — Ed from Knoxville, Tenn.

    A: Hamlin was penalized for being too fast exiting pit road. He'll have to go to the tail end of the longest line, dropping him from 7th to 41st, a crucial blunder, though he'll have time to make it up. Still, he didn't need this.

    Brickyard still better than ORP

    Q: I realize that this is heresy, but I grew up a football fan and didn't discover NASCAR until I was over 30. If it were my choice Cup would race IRP/ORP rather than the Brickyard. I love the short tracks. — M. B. from Pinebluff, N.C.

    A: I love short tracks, too, but this is an amazing scene here at the Brickyard. Wish you could see it in person.

    Dale Jr. solid at Indy

    Q: Hi Tom. I was wondering if Jr's recent qualifying results, which have been much better since his announced departure from DEI, have anything to do with trying to get the current 8 car in the Bud Shootout next year? He has been in the recent races as a past winner and not because he has won poles. Is the field set by the pole winning driver or the car? Also, what do you think of Jr's chances today? — Ron from Midlothian, Texas

    A: That's a good question. But I don't think Junior or is team is trying any harder. I like his chances today.

    DJ disappointment

    Q: Tom, I'm a frustrated DJ fan because he should not be ending his career this way. Do you know why his qualifying time yesterday was nearly 3 mph slower than his practice time? Did something happen? — Frustrated Jeff from Richmond, Va.

    A: Don't know about DJ and neither do the Toyota people here in the media center.

    No Cup race for Louisiana?

    Q: Hey Tom! Good afternoon from the great state of North Carolina. Any info on a new track being built in Louisiana and if it will have a Cup or Busch date next year? Saw you on SPEED last week. Thanks and talk to you soon. — Scubba Steve from Ellerbe, N.C.

    A: Hi, Scubba Steve! According to the Associated Press, Louisiana International Speedway will cost upwards of $100 million and will open in the fall of 2008. The track will be built on 1,500 acres south of Kentwood, with a 1-mile oval track and a dragstrip. Supposedly, there will be 30 luxury suites and seating for 42,000.

    I can tell you categorically that NASCAR won't even look at a track like this until it's fully built out and even then, the odds of it hosting a Cup race are none and none. No offense to the good people of Louisiana, but NASCAR is only looking at two major markets now: New York City and the Pacific Northwest. If NASCAR has no interest in a Cup race at Kentucky Speedway — and they don't — they darn sure don't have any interest in racing in Kentwood, Louisiana.

    Why the need for sponsors?

    Q: With the amount of merchandising and other revenue sources, why don't teams earn enough to be able to race without a primary sponsor? In other major sports, the teams' ticket sales don't come close to paying all the bills, but none of them have "sponsors". — Eddie from Anchorage, Alaska

    A: Good question. There's an old axiom: Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go? Put simply, the more money the teams have, the more they can spend on R&D to make their cars go fast. Besides, there are huge variances in the amount of souvenir money each team makes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes tens of millions of dollars from the sale of souvenirs. Kyle Busch, not so much.

    Dodge to stay with Kahne

    Q: If Bud moves to sponsor the No. 9 car, does that mean that Kasey Kahne will have nothing to do with Dodge Motorsports, or will they still be a secondary sponsor and take the bumper or the trunk, etc.? — Brandon from Frederick, Md.

    A: Welcome. My guess is Dodge will remain affiliated, one way or another.

    Continuity at ORP

    Q: Why don't the Busch cars race at the Brickyard? — Dennis from Punta Gorda, Fla.

    A: Thanks for the question. NASCAR's Busch Series actually started racing at O'Reilly Raceway Park many years before the Cup boys came to the Brickyard. I think NASCAR wants to maintain that continuity at ORP.

    Vegas to get a second race?

    Q: We keep hearing that they are going to add a second Cup race — this one at night — here in Las Vegas. Is it official? — Russ from Las Vegas

    A: I'm hearing the Las Vegas rumors, too, but they are all unofficial at this point.

    Short on short tracks

    Q: With only a few short track races left, why doesnt NASCAR try to pick up a few more short track races? On the long tracks, it's just follow the leader, not much action anymore. — Joey from Wilkesboro, N.C.

    A: Testify! Dude, I'd love to see more short-track races, but I don't expect it to happen.

    Marlin, Labonte moves?

    Q: Hey, Tom, do you know any of the teams interested in possibly hiring Sterling Marlin? I know he wants to go part-time next year. What are the chances of he and Kyle Petty splitting the No. 45 car next year? And I've heard Bobby Labonte could end up at RCR after this year. Any truth to that possibly? — CJ from Murfreesboro, Tenn.

    A: Welcome to FOX. Sterling has gotten interest, but has not signed a new deal and will not until he resolves the final pay issues with Ginn. Marlin will probably be able to find some opportunities, though I've not heard the Petty name involved. As far as RCR, that team is set with three drivers and unless a fourth primary sponsor can be secured, I don't expect any driver movement at that team.

    Extra engine effort?

    Q: Hi Tom, I was wondering, how big a factor humidity is to an engine's performance? — Dave from Fostori, Ohio

    A: Humidity plays a very small role in engine performance. And in a race, it's the same for all the cars.

    Brothers in cars

    Q: I was looking at the lineup for the Busch race and noticed there was Brad Keselowski driving the No. 88 Navy Chevrolet and also Brian Keselowski driving the No. 19 car. Are they related? — Marilyn from Rantoul, Ill.

    A: You guessed correctly. Brian is Brad's older brother.

    Blank check

    Q: Why are there blank spots in the qualifying order? For example this week spot 13 is filled in with BLANK. — Heather from San Gabriel, Calif.

    A: Thanks for the question. I'm assuming the blank spot in the qualifying order is for a car previously entered but withdrawn.

    Who's got next at DEI?

    Q: Hi Tom! I tried to call you on Wind Tunnel (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET on SPEED) just to have the fun of describing myself as a "Tom Jensen groupie," but I couldn't get through. I was wondering what you're hearing about the developmental drivers for DEI & Ginn, specifically Ricky Carmichael and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Has anything been decided about their rides yet? — Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: A Tom Jensen groupie? Wow, you could be the very first one, Jo! LOL! Seriously, I spoke with DEI President Max Siegel Friday morning, and he said that managers from DEI and Ginn have formed a transition committee to decide basically who stays and who goes now that the teams have combined. I will tell you, I'd be shocked if Jeffrey Earnhardt was released. By all accounts, he is a prodigious talent.

    Does Dale Jr. have regrets?

    Q: After all that has taken place in the last few days between Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Ginn Racing, do you think that Dale Jr. might have some regrets in leaving DEI. It seems to me that he might have jump to soon. — Mary Lou from Harrisburg, Pa.

    A: That's a great question. My guess is he has a little trace of wistfulness, but I know he's very, very excited about going to Hendrick. Remember, DEI and Ginn have to merge two race teams into one. It may take a while to get all the right people in all the right places. Ultimately, DEI will emerge much stronger, but it may take a little while.

    Yes, they can qualify without practice

    Q: Can the cars qualify for a race without any practice time on the track? I think it would hazardous to the rookies who have never raced there before. — Jeremy from Toledo, Ohio

    A: Welcome to FOX. Yes, cars can qualify without practice, though NASCAR always tries to get practice in first. Fortunately, the teams are practicing today.

    SeaBass special

    Q: If Masterfoods is not going to sponsor the No. 38 and No. 88 Cup cars next year, have you heard any rumors who the sponsors might be? And if Citi is leaving the No. 90, who will sponsor that car? — Kathy from Costa Mesa, Calif.

    A: Welcome. I'm not certain who is going to sponsor the newly-partnered Yates/Newman/Hass/Lanigan cars next year. They are still working on that. Doug Yates told me Friday he expect Citifinancial to be on the No. 90 Busch car next year, though that deal isn't done, and Citi could still move elsewhere. Yates also said that three-time Champ Car series champ Sebastien Bourdais could end up driving for the team. He could partner with David Gilliland, who just re-signed with the team for 2008.

    Petty back through season's end

    Q: After Kyle Petty makes his 800th start, will he continue to drive the No. 45 car? If so please give me a schedule of races he will race the 45 car. — Matthew from Spartanburg, S.C.

    A: Hello. Kyle Petty is scheduled to be in the No. 45 for the rest of the season, at least. I don't know about his 2008 plans yet.

    Go four it

    Q: How long has the four-team policy been in effect, and which will be the next organization to go to a fourth team? — Dean from Davenport, Iowa

    A: Good question. The four-team policy was put into effect in 2005. I know Richard Childress would like to add a fourth car and so would Ray Evernham.

    Can qualify without practice

    Q: Since both of Friday's practices were rained out, will they still qualifying or will the lineup revert to points? Can you enlighten us? — Jeff from Richmond, Va.

    A: Thanks for the question. They'll practice Saturday morning. But if NASCAR can get qualifying in without practice, they will. The only way the field gets set by points is if qualifying is rained out, not practice.

    Sadler's new sponsor

    Q: Tom, do you have any updates on the rumor you posted about Masterfoods (M&Ms/Snickers) and maybe Citi moving from RYR to Elliott Sadler? Ray Evernham recented stated that the M&Ms rumor was not true. — Billy from Stockbridge, Ga.

    A: Thanks for the question. The latest I have is that M&M's will not sponsor a car next year, but sister candy Snickers will, but not with Robert Yates. Snickers will not sponsor Sadler next year because of contractual restrictions in place from when Sadler left Yates last year, but could be in play on Kasey Kahne's car. Citifinancial is expected to announce its plans soon and is looking at several drivers, I'm told, including Sadler.

    DEI download

    Q: When are we going to hear what the number and who the sponsor is going to be for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Hendrick ride next year? — Bob from Inglewood, Calif. Q: What will the impact of the merger of DEI/Ginn have for possibly keeping Bud as a sponsor? Also, will it make more drivers interested in the 8? — Jacob from Manhattan, Kan.

    A: Hope you don't mind, but I'm lumping your questions together. I spoke with DEI President Max Siegel this morning at Indy and he told me DEI will have a driver announcement perhaps as soon as two weeks and no later than the end of August. He also told me that DEI will have four fully-funded cars in place for next season, with or without Budweiser. You can read the whole story here. And, yes, I believe the deal will make DEI a lot more attractive to a driver.

    Hendrick or DEI/RCR engines?

    Q: Does Ginn have to return cars and engines to Hendrick Motorsports because of the merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc.? — Dick from Lakeland, Fla.

    A: Great question! Mark Martin will race Hendrick engines this week at Indy and next week at Pocono. From then on, it'll be DEI/RCR engines under the hood of the 01 US Army Chevy.

    Not for sale

    Q: Could Michael Waltrip buy the No. 13 owner points and use them on the No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry? Have you heard if Michael Waltrip Racing and any other organizations are attempting to buy the points? — Tyler from Anderson Township, Ohio

    A: Welcome to The Brickyard and thanks for the question. NASCAR would not allow DEI to sell its owner points in the No. 13, because the only way a team can sell points is if it retains a partnership interest with the selling entity. And with NASCAR capping team size at four cars, DEI was already at its maximum limit, so the No. 13's points simply go away, moving the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford into 35th in owner points.

    Garage Mahal museum?

    Q: I understand the need for a larger facility with room for expansion along with needed equipment like the seven-post shaker at Ginn Racing's current facility. Since DEI is moving its Cup operations there in the wake of the merger, what happens to the magnificent "Garage Mahal" built by Dale Earnhardt Sr.? — Billy from Inman, S.C.

    A: Welcome to FOX! In all honesty, I doubt that even DEI has figured out where everything is going to go yet now that they've acquired Ginn Racing. If nothing else, the Garage Mahal would make a magnificent museum. With DEI moving its engine operations to Salisbury, N.C. in early 2009, there should be plenty of space.

    Nemechek is proven

    Q: I believe Ginn had financial problems before coming to NASCAR so I'm not surprised at what is happening with their teams. Joe Nemechek is still good! Who is gonna grab him? — Dunbar from Tifton, Ga.

    A: Thanks for the question. Where Nemechek ends up is one of the big questions of Silly Season. He's a proven commodity. I just hope he doesn't become a casualty of NASCAR's youth movement. If Furniture Row Racing does indeed add a second car in 2008, Nemechek might be a great fit with Kenny Wallace,

    Lawyers sort Sterling's details

    Q: What is going on with Sterling Marlin now that he is without a ride? — Matt from Galien, Mich.

    A: Hello! Sterling told my pals at NASCAR Scene that he's waiting for the attorneys to sort out his contract. He says Ginn Racing still owes him money, and if he signs with a new team, he loses what he's owed for the balance of the year so he's trying to have the lawyers work out the details.

    Milwaukee misgivings

    Q: Hey Tom, just found out that Aric Almirola will be joining Ginn Racing next year. Do you think this has anything to do with what happened at Milwaukee? What are your thoughts? — Chad from Mansfield, Pa.

    A: Great question. Yes, I absolutely believe Aric Almirola was furious when he was yanked out of the JGR Busch car at Milwaukee, and that played a big part in his decision to leave. No one has said that publicly, but he'd have to be superhuman to not be furious after that.

    Biffle may move

    Q: Hey Answer Man. I am a Greg Biffle fan, and with all of the talk about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch, Biffle's sponsorship deal has taken a back seat. I guess I have a few questions for you regarding Biffle. What is the reason for his slide, or was his 2005 finish a flash in the pan? Why has he had such a difficult time keeping sponsors? Who is likely to be his sponsor next year? What happens with him after his Roush contract ends next year? — Joe from Fargo, N.D.

    A: Thanks for the questions. Biffle is the real deal, certainly one of the top drivers in the series. The fact that he's won Busch and NCTS titles and was a Cup runner-up is proof of that. I think Aflac will be one of his multiple sponsors in '08, and the fact that he's had a bunch of sponsors is not because he's done anything wrong. In fact, he's great with sponsors. The whole Roush organization got behind last year, and Biffle, like all top-notch racers, wants to win and win now. The subpar performance got him frustrated. As far as what he does after next season, we'll have to wait and see, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him move on to another team.

    Tagged: Sterling Marlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek

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