COMPILED BY MIKE MULHERN
Published: July 6, 2008
Toyota's horsepower edge may lead to a penalty
■ NASCAR may be ready to slap Toyota with an engine-horsepower penalty on the Nationwide tour after yet another win by the Joe Gibbs team Friday night.
It was Dave Rogers' ninth tour win as crew chief, this time for Denny Hamlin, in a one-two finish with teammate Kyle Busch. It was Gibbs' 12th Nationwide win in the 18 races so far.
Ford's Jack Roush said the Toyotas have so much more horsepower than Ford and Chevy that Toyota crews can put more downforce in their cars -- with a wider front end -- for better handling in the corners because the Toyotas have the horsepower to push that extra drag. "A monkey could drive that car," Roush said, referring to the Toyota edge.
■ Chevrolet has been pushing for NASCAR to OK its Cup-side R07 engine for Nationwide competition; NASCAR has been pushing Ford to design a new Nationwide engine, but Ford men say they can't afford to make obsolete what engine parts they're currently using.
"If they want to kill that series, go right ahead," Roush said.
In NASCAR's three national touring series this season, Toyota teams have won 24 of the 48 races, including Friday night's victory. The majority of those wins have been by Gibbs' teams, which have won six Cup races going into last night's race.
■ NASCAR's handling of the Nationwide race here has raised some eyebrows -- the sanctioning body declining to OK Joey Logano for the Friday night race.
■ Doug Yates, who has been worried that he might not make it to year two as a NASCAR team owner, is doing better now, according to Roush, a fellow Ford team owner, who said sponsorship is coming through for Yates -- not only enough sponsorship to keep Yates' two teams going but to allow Yates to expand to a three-car operation.
No word on who the third driver might be.
■ The U.S. Army sponsorship, that Mark Martin has carried the past two years, may be moving to Team Red Bull in 2009, and it could provide the backing for that operation to expand to three teams, with Scott Speed, the ex-Formula One driver, getting the nod for the third Cup ride.
■ NASCAR's Nationwide tour may be facing a shortage of top-quality teams because of rising costs, and the sanctioning body may now be ready to delay introduction of the winged car on that tour next season, because of cost issues. NASCAR had planned to debut the new Nationwide car next June at Michigan.
■ The impact of the sluggish U.S. economy appears to be hitting NASCAR directly. Only 45 teams attempted to qualify for last night's Coke Zero 400, and that has some here worried about how many teams might be lining up to run for next February's Daytona 500.
Robby Gordon has been struggling with sponsorship issues, and things may not be getting any better. Gordon's business relationship with George Gillett and Ray Evernham may not be going all that smoothly at the moment, and it's unclear if Gordon will be with Dodge again next season.
Chip Ganassi's decision to shut down one of his Cup teams so abruptly, in mid-season, releasing 70 crew men, has raised speculation that more cuts may be looming for that Dodge operation. Gillett, who has been trying to expand his own Dodge operation, could be bidding to purchase one of Ganassi's teams.
■ Crew chief Frank Stoddard said NASCAR, now that it has the "lucky dog" rule -- allowing the driver a lap down behind the leader the opportunity to get back on the lead lap without having to race back to the flag -- the sanctioning body could opt for double-file restarts, rather than the long-standing single-file restarts.
And such double-file restarts could provide a lot more excitement.
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