Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Adding Kyle Busch to Gibbs mix could prove volatile
By Terry Blount
Mix together Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. What do you get?
A racing version of gasoline, kerosene and nitroglycerin all mixed in one big tub.
Talk about a volatile trio. A disclaimer may be in order next season at Joe Gibbs Racing. Warning: This concoction may be hazardous to your health.
Stewart and baby Busch are arguably the orneriest guys in Nextel Cup. And Hamlin isn't going to back down either.
Busch becomes Stewart and Hamlin's teammate at JGR next season. Start taking bets now on how long it takes before they have their first team tussle over marking each other's territory.
These are three of the best drivers in Cup. They also are three guys with egos that need stroking.
Keeping all three of them happy just became item No. 1 on JGR president J.D. Gibbs' to-do list.
And if JGR goes to Toyota next year as expected, Gibbs better hope the 2008 Cup Camrys are a lot better than the 2007 product.
Trying to tame the Tony/Denny/Kyle beast is a big chore if they're all racing for wins. But call in the crisis management team if those guys are running in the back every week.
Speaking of teammate rivalries, maybe J.D. should give Ron Dennis a call to get an idea of what to expect.
Dennis is the boss for the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team that has Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell get along better than these guys.
Hamilton and Alonso aren't on speaking terms after messing with each other's track position in qualifying last weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton won the race and now Alonso wants out. The defending F1 champ signed a three-year deal with McLaren this year, but wants to return to Renault.
He reportedly told Dennis, it's him or me, referring to his talented rookie teammate who leads the standings.
Hamilton, 22, has been backed by Dennis since he was 13. But loyalty on Hamilton's part may only go so far when someone is offering 100 times his current salary.
The Italian newspaper Tuttosport reported that Ferrari team principal Jean Todt is trying to woo Hamilton away with an offer of $35 million per year.
DEI's next step?
The driver options for Dale Earnhardt Inc. just dropped off the table. Kyle Busch was the top draft pick on the board.
If Busch is a first-rounder, almost everyone else is a fifth-rounder or worse.
The one exception is Greg Biffle, but he remains under contract with Roush Fenway Racing through 2008.
J.J. Yeley, the odd man out at Gibbs, is checking out his options, but could be headed to the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing.
DEI is looking at David Stremme as a possible replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nothing against Stremme, but he's no Busch.
Sometimes a little controversy is a good thing. In the case of the Busch race at Montreal, it's a great thing.
One of the most bizarre endings of any NASCAR race in years left some people siding with Marcos Ambrose, some with Robby Gordon and almost no one with NASCAR officials.
But NASCAR is the real winner. The final 20 minutes of the inaugural event in Montreal left the Canadian fans fired up about what they witnessed and anxious to see more.
The Busch debut north of the border was a rousing success. The grandstands were full of enthusiastic fans.
The front page of Montreal's Gazette newspaper on Sunday had a huge color photo of Kevin Harvick celebrating in Victory Lane. The first three pages of the sports section were devoted to the race, even knocking a controversial qualifying day in Formula One to page 4.
Montreal clearly could support a Cup event, but there's one problem. The picturesque Circuit Gilles Villeneuve island course has no room for campers and RVs.
Carpentier gets Cup shot
Patrick Carpentier's impressive drive at Montreal, winning the pole and finishing second to Kevin Harvick, has earned him a seat in the Cup race at Watkins Glen.
Carpentier's name is on the entry list in the No. 10 Dodge for Gillett Evernham Motorsports, replacing Scott Riggs for the road course event.
Don't hold your breath
ESPN's telecast of the Pocono race Sunday opened with a video clip of Rihanna singing her new single "Shut Up and Drive."
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage was watching and wondering.
Gossage took some abuse from drivers and NASCAR when T-shirts were sold at TMS that read: "Shut Up and Drive."
The drivers were complaining about the track problems at the inaugural TMS event in 1997.
"Either Rihanna owes me some money or NASCAR owes me an apology," Gossage said.
He was joking, I think.
Sponsor switches at Evernham?
Now that Ray Evernham has his new partner, George Gillett, signed up for Gillett Evernham Motorsports, look for GEM to announce some big sponsorship moves in the next couple of weeks.
Budweiser on Kasey Kahne's car and M&M's/Snickers back with Elliott Sadler is what most people in the Cup garage are expecting.
NHRA Top Fuel racer Melanie Troxel is considering a move to Funny Car for 2008, a recipe for a family feud.
If Troxel moves to Funny Car, she probably will have to line up sometimes against Tommy Johnson Jr.
So what's the problem? Johnson is Troxel's husband. He races the Skoal Chevy for Don Prudhomme.
Imagine that final-round matchup. It could make for some awkward postrace dinner table conversations.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.