Notes and Quotes: Chicagoland NASCAR Weekend

Joliet, IL

? Winner David Reutimann: “You think about these moments all your life and you think about the right things to say. I’m about to cry; this is awesome. I don’t know what to say.”

? Despite the constant concern over a weak economy, NASCAR had forty-seven cars in each division (Sprint and Nationwide) at Chicagoland Speedway. The entry numbers were greater than for some races run much closer to the Daytona and Charlotte homeland.

? Led by pole winner Kevin Harvick, eight Sprint Cup regulars competed in the Dollar General 300 Friday night.

? Jamie McMurray started in last place after qualifying ninth due to missing the drivers’ meeting. He also started on the pole for Saturday’s LIFELOCK.COM 400 Sprint Cup race.

? After starting 29th in her fifth NNS start, Danica Patrick went a lap down to leader Kyle Busch on lap 36. She did score a 24th place finish-her best NNS, NASCAR result.

? Everyone who was asked, from media members to NASCAR personnel, expressed optimism that the Nationwide Series will return to Road America in 2011 after a highly successful 2010 event. Many were hopeful that any future RA race would be run when the Sprint Cup Series was closer to Wisconsin so that the NNS race would be able to attract more Cup regulars. No one felt, however, that the track would be hosting a Sprint Cup event in the near future, due especially to the already crowded schedule and the demand for Cup dates that already exist. reports that Auto Club Speedway in California, and New Hampshire Speedway are each likely to lose a race in 2011, while Kentucky and Kansas will add those events to their schedule. What a great time this would be to bestow a moveable Cup date, revolving between a variety of tracks such as Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Nashville or Memphis. Rotate a Cup event among two or three of these venues, giving each a Cup race every two- three years and a Nationwide/Camping World Truck doubleheader the other years.

? The Harley Davidson motorcycle that Carl Edwards won at the recent Nationwide Series race at Road America, will go on charity auction this fall to benefit Back2Back Ministries. The proceeds will go toward building an orphanage in Mexico.

? Elliott Sadler will be leaving the Richard Petty Motorsports Sprint Cup team after the current season. Sadler, who has been with RPM since 2006, recently reunited with former crew Chief Todd Parrott. The duo visited victory lane twice in 2004 while they teamed at Yates Racing. Sadler joins teammate Kasey Kahne in leaving RPM. Kahne has signed with Hendrick Motorsports for next season, leaving AJ Almendinger as the only RPM pilot for 2011, and after his recent verbal confrontation with owner Richard Petty at Daytona, his future could be in jeopardy.

? Matt Kenseth on running against son Ross at Sunday’s Slinger Nationals: “I’ve had a chance to race against Ross a couple of times now, and I really enjoy watching him race. It will be fun this weekend for sure, and fun to see how he reacts to that race track because he doesn’t have a lot of experience there. It should be a good time.

? Again, Kenseth on his less than successful season thus far: “I think that if Jack (Roush) had the answer, he would fix it. I don’t think any of us have the answer right now. We all have our different ideas and theories. The people running the place don’t like mine, so we will just keep going the way we are going and hope it gets better If you ask me today, I don’t feel like we’re making gains, I feel like we’re going backward. I think the No. 9 (Kahne’s Budweiser Ford), has run better, but the rest of us (Fords) haven’t improved very much, to be honest. Everybody else probably says we’re improving but I don’t see it.” Could a return of Robbie Reiser to the No. 17 pit box be a possible solution?

? The Key Motorsports Nationwide group announced that they are in the process of forming a second team that will compete in 5-7 races yet this season. Owner Curtis Key is talking to potential partners for the new effort, and a driver is being sought to team with Key’s current driver Mike Bliss.

? Sunday’s Chicago Sprint Cup race was the last of a six-race package for the TNT network’s mid-season NASCAR coverage. ESPN/ABC will pick up the rest of the season beginning at the Brickyard 400 on July 25th.

? Surprisingly, or maybe not so, there were plenty of empty seats for Saturday’s LIFELOCK.COM 400. This is the first year that fans could buy race tickets ala carte, and speculation was that sales for the August Indy Car race would suffer if buyers weren’t forced to buy the entire season package. With the economy suffering, and corporate sponsorship tight, perhaps a smaller than capacity crowd shouldn’t be surprising. Or are fans saying that 1.5 mile “cookie cutter” tracks tend to produce somewhat boring events? Sixteen laps into the race, the 43 starters were strung out single-file around almost the entire length of the track.

? A stirring that they hadn’t felt in awhile aroused Jeff Gordon fans as Gordon led 47 laps after the half-way mark, only to give up the lead to David Reutimann’s Toyota on lap 213. Reutimann held serve during green flag pit stops on lap 233, beating Gordon out and leading by 3.2 sec. After the field cycled through their stops. Gordon hasn’t won since April, 2009, in Texas.

? Gordon’s strong run came on his 600th consecutive Cup race dating back to November, 1992 at Charlotte. That milestone day was also Richard Petty’s final drive.

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