NASCAR & Auto Racing

The Elevator, Observations and Key Stats



THE ELEVATOR


TOYOTA

There's really nowhere to go but up, and the early signs have been favorable.

FORD

Robby Gordon's defection to Dodge leaves eight cars in the Blue Oval garage.

CHEVROLET

Given 2007 dominance and loss of Joe Gibbs Racing, treading water would be a feat.



OBSERVATIONS


 It'll take awhile to get used to Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch being in Toyotas. But Kyle Petty said a manufacturer change is not nearly as big a deal now as it once was.

"Guys switch brands now like they're changing uniforms," Petty said. "For Richard Petty to switch to Ford (in 1969), that was huge, man. I remember hate mail coming to the house when I was 9 years old."

 Team owner Rick Hendrick said Dale Earnhardt Jr. is aware of the potential ego minefield that comes with moving to a new team.

"His motorcoach had a problem at Richmond last fall," Hendrick said. "The water heater wasn't working. I had a new coach sitting there and I wasn't going to New Hampshire to spend the night. I told him to take my coach. He said, `I can't take your coach. I haven't earned it like Jeff (Gordon) or Jimmie (Johnson) has.'

" But even that has its limits. When Earnhardt Jr. went to Australia for vacation in December, he took Hendrick's plane.

 I keep saying this over and over, but one of the most noticeable things about this year's preseason has been the Dodge teams don't seem to be bickering among themselves. That's different. Will it mean better results on the track? We'll see.



KEY STATS


120

Every driver who averaged at least 120 points per race in the first 26 races last year made the Chase. Every driver who didn't missed the Chase.

32.24

Average age of a Cup race winner in 2007, the highest since 2002 but more than two years younger than the all-time average of 34.48.

273

Days from the scheduled green flag for the Daytona 500 until the scheduled checkered flag for the final race at Homestead.



COMING FRIDAY


  Comments