A.J. Allmendinger could have used a job with Team Penske when he was an aspiring -- and five-race-winning -- driver in the now-defunct Champ Car World Series in 2006. He had to wait six years and switch regimens to finally land a job with one of motor sports' most storied teams, but the 30-year-old unwrapped the last plum job opening remaining in Sprint Cup with just four days left until Christmas.
Energy drinks all operate under the same basic formula. They mix together a concoction heavy with sugar and caffeine, giving the user a boost of stamina and enthusiasm. Suddenly anything seems possible, no task seems too great. Mountains can be climbed and tall buildings leapt in a single bound.
For most of the last decade three teams have dominated NASCAR, forming the sport's ruling class: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing. These teams have combined to win the last 11 championships, and last season alone, five of the top six drivers in the final standings were from this triumvirate.
Five races remain in this year's Chase for the Championship, but that's far from the only compelling storyline hitting NASCAR down the homestretch. Too often, the fight for the title obscures other, important changes that will shape the sport not just on the grid, but off the track in 2011. So let's examine five under-the-radar moves to watch as the season winds to a close:
1. By now everyone has seen the latest chapter in Joey Logano's coming of age season, in which he and Ryan Newman had a heated exchange after Sunday's race at Michigan, a confrontation that seemed to be more of a tribute to Newman's restraint than another sign of Logano's increasingly vocal behavior with other drivers.
A rather tame Silly Season finally lived up to its name this week, with driver swaps, scheduling changes and rumors of financial ruin inducing the busiest NASCAR news cycle of the year. It's a deluge of racing drama that's left fans with plenty on their minds, so let's not waste any time. Remember, firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter at NASCARBowles are the way to make your voices heard.
After a four-month circus, the Kasey Kahne soap opera came to an end Tuesday. Let's break down his announcement of a one-year deal to join Red Bull Racing in 2011, revealing who was smiling once the merry-go-round finally stopped:
Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso have all restated their intentions to boycott the 2010 Formula One world championship because of a disagreement about the future of the sport, despite being included by the sport's world governing body on a list of official participants for the next season.
Start-ups in any industry are an arduous undertaking. They stumble, they fall, they inevitably make changes. They look for any light at the end of the tunnel to help them find their way out of the darkness.
Petty Enterprises hasn't won a race since 1999, and owner Richard Petty had to do something dramatic to turn things around. So in the off-season he moved the operation from his tiny family shop in Level Cross, N.C., to a sprawling complex in Mooresville, N.C., the hub of the sport. Petty hopes the new digs will help him recruit top talent, and it's already working out that way: He lured Jeff Meendering, the former car chief for Jeff Gordon, to be crew chief for Bobby Labonte.... Another underfunded team that will struggle to finish in the top 20 in points this season is Robby Gordon Motorsports. Gordon is the only full-time independent owner-driver in the series, and while he had two top 10 runs last season, he also finished 30th or worse 13 times.... Red Bull Racing Team, on the other hand, is flush with cash and has the man, Brian Vickers, who led more laps (106) than any other Toyota driver in 2007. Still, because their outfits are inexperienced, Vickers and teammate AJ