Hard-racing Newman only did what he had to do in Logano tiff
Fans can't fault Ryan Newman for racing hard when a Chase spot was at stake
Marcos Ambrose's move to RPM may not serve up the success he's looking for
With five career wins at Bristol, Kurt Busch could take the checkers this weekend
1. By now everyone has seen the latest chapter in Joey Logano's coming of age season, in which he and Ryan Newman had a heated exchange after Sunday's race at Michigan, a confrontation that seemed to be more of a tribute to Newman's restraint than another sign of Logano's increasingly vocal behavior with other drivers.
But it's the reason for their blow-up, and not the pleasantries themselves, that piqued my interest. Here's what Logano said after their "talk:" "He races me way too hard, he races everybody too hard. I'm not the only one that complains about it every week."
The incident occurred on Lap 148, when Logano, who claimed Newman didn't give him room to pass, got into the back of Newman's No. 39, causing him to spin out. For all intents and purposes, the run-in ended Newman's Chase as he entered the day 83 points out of the final playoff spot and ended it 103 out with three races regular-season races remaining. From that end, you understand where Newman's anger was coming from. But what about Logano's?
Even if Logano had the faster car, isn't it Newman's job to not let him pass? Isn't it Newman's job as a professional driver to fight for every track position? There's an unwritten code in NASCAR, a give and take where a driver will let the car with the advantage pass, with the hopes that when the tables are turned, the other driver will return the favor. But when you consider what Newman was racing for, can you fault him for not giving an inch to Logano, who went to Brooklyn, Mich., 21st in the standings, even if there were 52 laps remaining? Courtesies and mutual respect are admirable and I get that Newman has a track record of hard-driving, but with the pressures of making the Chase, Logano may have been expecting too much for a driver fighting for his playoff life to let up.
2. Marcos Ambrose said he made two calls when he decided to leave JTG Daugherty: one to Ford and another to Richard Petty Motorsports, the team he'll join in 2011. Ambrose, who made a name for himself driving Fords in his native Australia, believes a return to the Blue Oval posse can deliver the consistency he's looking for ... but you have to wonder if Ambrose's romanticized view of this partnership makes it the right move?
In an interview following his move to RPM, Ambrose spoke openly about what he called a "dream opportunity" to drive for Richard Petty and discussed his past with Ford and how it's "all come full circle" with his taking to the No. 9 car. But at the end of the day, is RPM really a better situation for Ambrose than his current team?
He'll have the luxury of working for a multiple-car operation, unlike his current team. But RPM's current lineup for next season includes just two cars, Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger after Paul Menard signed on with Richard Childress Racing and Elliott Sadler said he's not coming back to Petty's stable.
On the surface it certainly seems like a lateral move as Ambrose leaves one second-tier team for another, though to Ambrose's credit RPM does look more stable than it did in April when news of Kasey Kahne's impending departure for Hendrick Motorsports (with a stop at Red Bull Racing). But it's been eight years since Ford has claimed a Cup title and despite the Roush drivers' recent surge, the manufacturer has two wins in the last 57 races.
In a recent interview, Ambrose spoke to me about his obsession with panning for gold, which over the years has developed to the point where he uses heavy equipment and dynamite to search for treasure. A return to Ford and a dream pairing with Petty could work, but it certainly seems like Ambrose may be hunting treasure in the wrong shop.
3 -- Kyle Busch's wins in seven Cup series Car Of Tomorrow era races at Bristol. Busch won the first COT in March of 2007 and also swept Thunder Valley last season.
7 -- Busch's career wins on at Bristol in NASCAR's top three series, including his third trucks win Thursday night.
900 -- Laps Shrub has led in the seven COT Cup races at the track, which is 275 more than Tony Stewart, the second-nearest driver.
Kurt Busch. Yes, I just got through lauding his younger brother's accomplishments at Bristol, but Kurt does have five career wins at the "World's Fastest Half Mile" and he needs to make a statement before the Chase begins. There would be no more fitting place to deliver than at a spot where he has 11 top 10s in 19 starts.