Action On, Off Track Interesting, Exciting
What an exciting week for racing fans - first, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. says he's leaving DEI and then the teams over at Hendrick dominate another Car of Tomorrow (COT) race and the IndyCar Series is preparing for the Indianapolis 500.
The shock is probably wearing off on the fact that Junior won't be at DEI next year. The new question surrounding him is "where will he drive in 2008?" He still has a shot at winning a championship this year, so look for him and his sister, Kelley, to make a decision relatively soon so that he can concentrate on the rest of the season.
Denny Hamlin dominated the NASCAR Busch Series race at Darlington and dedicated his win to Virginia Tech. It's a great gesture from the Virginia native.
Local driver Clint Bowyer won the pole for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Darlington and got to enjoy the pole longer than most since the race was rained out Saturday night.
Mother's Day brought a new element to NASCAR, which typically avoids racing on Mother's Day. It was soon-to-be-dad Jeff Gordon that overcame an overheating engine to win the race. With about 20 laps to go, the question wasn't whether Gordon would win, but rather when would his engine "blow up"? Gordon held off a strong charge by Hamlin and Hendrick won another COT race.
Hendrick Motorsports has won eight of the last nine races and has the top two spots in the championship standings (Gordon is 231 points ahead of second place Johnson).
Quite possibly lost in the mix is the fact that Helio Castroneves won the pole for the Indianapolis 500. Dario Franchitti spent most of the first day of qualifying on the pole (Indy 500 qualifying has one of those drawn out qualifying procedures similar to the Daytona 500). With about 20 minutes remaining in qualifying, Castroneves made his run and knocked Franchitti from the pole position. Next out was Tony Kanaan, who seemingly was outdoing Castroneves run. A slight bobble cost him the pole, but Kanaan took over second. While Franchitti will still start on the front row for the Indianapolis 500, he still has to be heartbroken over coming so close to winning the pole and now starting third. Keep an eye out for "bump" day - there may be several familiar names struggling to make the Indy 500.
Racing is just starting to heat up for the month of May, so it should be a fun finish on Memorial Day weekend.