Roush is a sure bet

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Since everybody else in the world has picked the Pocono tire problems to bits, all I am going to say about last week's Nextel Cup race is congratulations to Jack Roush for finally winning one there!

And to Carl Edwards, for taking the second win of his first full season in Nextel Cup. Now, if you want to pick up a few easy bucks, head for your nearest sports book and get some money down on a Roush car this weekend . . . any Roush car! The Roushketeers took first (Greg Biffle) and second (Mark Martin) the last time the Cup stopped at Michigan, and all five Roush teams finished in the top ten.

On top of that, the Roush juggernaut has won fully half of the Cup races so far this year and they are untouchable at impound races, of which Michigan is one. The only question is which of the five teams will take the checkered flag.

Tomas Scheckter's Indy Racing League win at Texas Motor Speedway last Saturday night just might have been a turning point for General Motors. GM, which is set to pull out of the series as an engine manufacturer, may re-think that stance if it continues to run strong this season.

Since Honda and Toyota came into the series in 2003, GM-badged engines have powered just four winners. Its last victory prior to this past weekend was Sam Hornish Jr. in September, 2003 at California Motor Speedway.

Danica Patrick didn't repeat her Indy magic at Texas, but turned in a creditable rookie performance, finishing on the lead lap in 13th. Some of the drivers showed their feelings about all the media hype surrounding the diminutive lady driver with T-shirts.

Her teammates, Buddy Rice and Vitor Meira, sported Ts reading "Danica's Teammate" and "Danica's Other Teammate," while Dan Wheldon was spotted signing autographs wearing a T-shirt saying, "Actually Won the Indy 500." By the way, IRL president Brian Barnhart announced that the League has no intention of changing its minimum weight rules, a topic inflamed by Danica's 100-pound frame. The IRL is the only top-level racing series that does not calculate driver weight in figuring minimum weights.

If you asked 10 people to name the major difference between NASCAR and Formula 1, you'd probably get 10 different answers, ranging from comparisons between good ol' boys and limp-wristed pantywaist furriners to thoughtful musings on tire and aero considerations. But I will tell you the single major difference is technology.

NASCAR, while bowing to manufacturers, teams, fans, and others, has reluctantly given in to technological advances in some areas, but maintains engine rules that are rooted in the 1950s. Formula 1, on the other hand, seems to embrace technology for its own sake. Well, my friends, that is about to change. While NASCAR floats trial balloons about a new, modernized engine program, Formula 1 is poised to catapult itself into the past.

This past Thursday the FIA, governing body of Formula 1, issued a radical proposal that, if adopted, will turn F1 on its head beginning with the 2008 season. The main reason cited was the need to cut the astronomical costs of competing in the world's premier racing series.

In recent years two teams and one engine manufacturer (Ford) have abandoned the series due to cost, which is now estimated at $1.8 BILLION dollars for all participants. The goal is to lower that by a factor of ten to a mere $180 million or so. This will mean draconian regulations in just about every area of car and engine manufacture.

"Formula 1 must not be allowed to become a money-spending competition," stated the press release. (Personally, I think it's too late for that).

The bottom line is that the fans don't really care if the engineers come up with a million-dollar gearbox constructed of wafer-thin components made of unobtainium. They want to see good, close racing. This is a concept that NASCAR, with all its faults, has fully grasped and exploited.

So if you're a techno-freak, enjoy today's U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There may not be many more chances to witness ground-bound vehicles that rival NASA's finest efforts both in sophistication and cost.

Oh, and all you dads out there? Happy Father's Day!


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