Chicago / Nationwide-Sprint Cup

Sprint Cup Notes: Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli has been “up on the pit box” for most of Tony Stewart’s Sprint Cup wins with the Joe Gibbs team. But with Stewart’s move to the Haas team in 2009, did Zippy feel any sadness? “All good things must come to an end, I guess at sometime. This is our time. We’ve still got 18 more races together I feel obligated to Joe Gibbs Racing because over 10 years ago they gave me an opportunity to start something that most people in this world dream of They stuck with me through the good and the bad. For me to leave (now) and pursue something different than what I’m doing and where I’m doing it -it’s just not for me. What’s exciting for me is I’ll have a new challenge next year with a new driver. I’m going to stick with that I feel very comfortable with what we have and our options for the future Hopefully in a couple of weeks we can be certain of what we are doing and let everybody know.”

Joey Logano has been mentioned as the heir-apparent to Stewart’s seat in the Home Depot #20, but some in the Gibbs organization seem to feel that he might need one more year in the Nationwide Series.

It has been stated by more than one person this weekend that Stewart’s move to the Haas team from Gibb’s Toyotas was perhaps at Chevrolet’s behest, and that the team, that already uses Hendrick motor’s, could be thought of as an unofficial fifth Hendricks team. Joe Gibbs put a different light on the subject when he gave a bit of history to his team’s move to Toyota this season. “One of the first guys we ever went to and talked about changing to Toyota was Tony Stewart. We said, ‘Tony, what do you think?’ We laid out all the things, and he said (that) you need to do it. Where he is now, I don’t know. What their role was in getting him back and how detailed that was or how that went. I just know when the time came to originally make the decision, he was one of the guys that said, ‘yeah, I think that’s a good idea”.

With qualifying cancelled on Thursday due to an ugly rain storm, Jeff Burton gave some thought as to whether that would have any impact on planning strategy for the first cup night race at the track. “I don’t think the qualifying session really has any impact on the race at all other than where you start. But just qualifying tonight wouldn’t have taught you anything about the race track for Saturday So there are a lot of unknowns and I think everybody is just going to take their best guess at it. Most tracks that we go to, they kind of do the same thing at night. They just gain more grip. I don’t think that will be any different here.”

There was much talk this weekend about the report of problems being experienced by the Wisconsin State Fair Board regarding the Milwaukee Mile Holdings L.L.C. and the $1.1 million financial liability the Fair Board has taken on since renegotiating the Mile’s contract. Dave Kallmann’s recent story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted State Representative Suzanne Jeskewitz who stated that closing the track and developing the land might be a better option for the long-term financial health of the Fair. She likened the situation to throwing money, “down a black hole.” Jeskewitz is co-chairman of the state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Kallmann also quoted drivers Dario Franchitti and Rusty Wallace who were both opposed to any closure plans, but Wallace strongly encouraged the Mile’s promoters to become more aggressive in their efforts. Milwaukee Mile L.L.C. chairman Craig Stoehr and State Fair Deputy Director Craig Barkelar both said that talk of the track’s closure is premature. Time will tell

Nationwide Notes: Fifty cars were entered for Friday night’s Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race, the first event ever held under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway. Sixteen Sprint Cup regulars made it into the field, while seven Nationwide regulars missed the race.

Promising rookie Landon Cassill, who was the only series regular starting in the top-ten, celebrated his 19th birthday on July 7th.

Bryan Clauson, 19, who is leading the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings despite running a limited schedule, was replaced by Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti for the Chicago race. Franchitti’s Sprint Cup team was recently shut down without a sponsor, and there is much speculation as to his next career move. Franchitti is currently second in the rookie race.

Matt Kenseth’s Ford Fusion carried Valvoline colors reminiscent of former Roush teammate Mark Martin. This was Kenseth’s first race with crew chief Pierre (P. K.) Kuettel.

Kyle Busch’s win for Joe Gibbs Racing was their 13th of the season. This tied them with RCR for the most owner wins in an NNS season, and it’s only July.

Reutimann’s pole was only his second in the series in 86 career starts.

Regarding the domination by Toyota in the series so far, Busch said, “You can make an engine look exceptional if you’ve got a car that goes through the corners as well as it does, and I blew by a lot of guys in the corners and not necessarily just down the straightaway tonight. We’ve got great bodies and chassis. We’ve got front end stuff that’s working well and rear springs. It’s everything-a whole package

Kelly Bires on the first night race at the track: ” It was awesome. I raced here last year during the day, and it was a struggle. There was just no grip and it wasn’t fun. Tonight we had pretty good grip. It’s a beautiful track and a beautiful area. The lights are really fun to race under

Tonight’s race drew a sold-out crowd as the track’s season ticket packages have all been sold for the season.

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