Stewart ‘coasts’ to victory | NevadaAppeal.com

Stewart ‘coasts’ to victory

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

I’m not sure that it mentions anywhere in Tony Stewart’s biography that he ever raced in the Soap Box Derby as a kid.

But judging from the coasting skills he demonstrated at Kansas last Sunday, he must have had some Soap Box experience. Normally I hate fuel mileage races, but you have to admit that holding your breath waiting to see if your favorite driver is going to pit, run out of gas, or make it to the flag does create a certain amount of suspense.

Of course, if somebody had crashed two laps from the end, setting up a green/white/checker finish, the outcome would most certainly have been different. It’s not all about luck in racing, but luck is a factor that can’t be denied.

Let’s have a couple of choruses of “Another One Bites the Dust,” as Scott Wimmer makes his exit from Nextel Cup for the season. Morgan-McClure racing has released Wimmer effective immediately, and Todd Bodine will be in the seat for the next two races.

After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The team has indicated that it will likely try out some veteran drivers, both to audition for the seat in 2007 and also to get some input on what improvements may be needed to the cars.

To no one’s surprise, the recently released 2007 NASCAR Busch series schedule includes a road-course race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montreal, Canada on August 4. The Canadian round joins the March 4 race (also a road course event) at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City as an International race.

Now we know why Paul Tracy has been dipping his toe into the NASCAR Busch waters, aside from the money. He wants another chance to wear his mask and cape, and taunt the Quebecois in Montreal!

I have loved David Hobbs’ dry British wit since I first ran into him back in the early 70s when he was racing in Formula 5000. Hobbs has earned the right to his biting, sometimes sarcastic commentary, having driven just about everything with wheels on it, including racing in the Indy 500, Formula 1, the Can-Am series, the International Motorsports Association’s Camel GT series, you name it.

I think he even had a few stock car starts. Last Sunday he was on Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel, and had me rolling on the floor with his comment about Juan Pablo Montoya’s stock car debut.

“Formula 1 to ARCA . . . not what I’d call a good career move,” quoth Hobbs. But Juan Pablo barely missed qualifying on the pole for Friday’s Talladega contest, and in the race he acquitted himself admirably. Montoya survived getting hit by a spinning car, made a rookie mistake by pitting while the pits were closed, came from deep in the pack twice, and finished a strong third in his first-ever stock car outing.

Of all the racers from other disciplines that have come to NASCAR, Montoya may be the one to show the good ol’ boys how it’s done. Of course, one race does not a stock car career make. Montoya will race a couple of Busch events this season and will strap into his Ganassi Nextel Cup Dodge for Daytona early next year. Then we’ll see how he’ll stack up against the big boys of stock car racing. My prediction is that he’ll do pretty well.

Speaking of Formula 1 stars, it appears that Michael Schumacher may be headed for his eighth championship in his final season in the sport. The winningest driver ever in Formula 1, Ferrari driver Schumacher appeared to have no chance to catch Renault pilot Fernando Alonso early in the season, but the German has pulled even with only two races to go in the F1 season.

By the time you read this, the Japanese Grand Prix will be history, and the outcome could very well decide the Championship. There is one more race to go, Brazil in two weeks, but if either Schumacher or Alonso falls out at Suzuka, that could be the deciding factor in the season. In any event, Michael has given us a spectacular career in the top level of Motorsports, and win or lose this season, he will leave the sport a winner.