Monday, October 29, 2007

Car of Tomorrow: New meaning in Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. - It's really dangerous to draw conclusions based on limited data, but let me offer a couple of quick observations from the car of tomorrow test at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The big story, of course, is that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is testing with the team he'll be driving for next year -- Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt Jr. is wearing a white fire suit with the "adidas" logo. The cars he is driving have the No. 5 on them and are painted in a red and white paint scheme to mimic the way the first cars team owner Rick Hendrick ran back when he got into NASCAR in 1984. I will bet you everything I own there will be a diecast version of it available for purchase within six weeks.

There's 20 times the media here than would be here for a typical test. If Earnhardt Jr. wasn't here, I would have pointed the car north after my Sirius NASCAR Radio show went off at 11 a.m.

Earnhardt Jr. came to the media center at noon during the midday break and took questions. He then walked outside and took a few more. He was surrounded by about 25 reporters.

Inside the media center, Bobby Labonte waited patiently for the reporters to come back in. He was the second driver scheduled for interviews. Labonte already has a championship, by the way.

After Labonte was done, I walked into the garage and another knot of reporters was surrounding Tony Eury Jr., who will be Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief. About 50 feet away, there was nobody bothering the guys at the No. 8 team's truck. Regan Smith is testing that car here today. The car he drove to the track was painted primer gray. There's probably no merchandise program planned for that.

Before I walked back into the media center to write this blog, I stopped to talk to Kyle Busch. He's testing with his new team, too. Busch is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing after leaving Hendrick to create the spot Earnhardt Jr. is moving into.

"Yeah, I saw the 5 car out there," Busch said, speaking of the car Earnhardt Jr. is driving that bears Busch's current number. "It was fun passing it."

Bragging? Nope. When I got back to the media center, they were handing out the list of speeds from the morning session. First? Kyle Busch, at 186.190 mph. Earnhardt Jr. was seventh at 184.450 mph.


Monkeesfan said...

This is like Brock Yates' intro piece in the 1981 Daytona 500 telecast where he noted how many drivers had changed teams.

"So Junior's in the 5 - wait, Kyle Busch is in the 18 - wait, Regan Smith is in the 8.....somebody got a lineup sheet?"

Anonymous said...

It's rumored that Rick Hendrick told Kyle or the team, to back off at Atlanta 'cause Jimmie is in contention to win. Any word on this happening?

Anonymous said...

Harold, I would say that's complete poppycock

Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me how many fans were in the stands for the Atlanta COT Testing sessions? Jr's testing was predicting an unusual # would be in attendance.

Anonymous said...

As a die hard jr fan, I must say I dont give a damn how testing went in Atlanta....he isnt in a Hendrick car yet, he is just learning what he has to look forward to....speeds at this point dont mean anything....and as for Kyle....his radio transmissions, from atlanta, should explain to even the most brain dead fan why Hendrick wanted him out. Jr has alot to prove, hopefully he will do well....right now, nothing he does moves him up in the points next yr, and Poole dont need any more anti Jr fodder.

Anonymous said...

It's awful, isn't it, how Dale Junior seeks out the spotlight? Chasing all those media cameras around begging for air time? Snagging anyone with a notebook and pencil just so he can get a few lines in print? Yes, the attention the media gives Junior is way out of proportion...but why blame him for it? If you want to chastise someone for over emphasizing the amout of attention, blame your fellow media members, not Junior.

Anonymous said...


Have a question for you. Was the car Kyle Busch driving a Toyota or a Chevy? Dale Jr. will be fine next year and it wouldn't surprise me if he wins a race within the first 10 races of 2008. You can bet the Rick Hendrick is going to give him anything he needs to make it happen and they both will be successful!

Anonymous said...

Yeah right, Hendrick told Kyle to back off. That would work. He'd drive that car even harder (if it's possible) if he was told to back off. Get a grip.