Sprint Cup Series standings

Nationwide Series standings

More from Dan Wheldon

Defending Iowa Corn Indy 250 winner took time away from hanging out with his new son and adding to his 300-plus pair shoe collection to talk to me. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you defend your Iowa title with this team?

I think so. The biggest thing this year is when you look at the competition, it’s incredibly important to when you can roll off the truck fast. When you do that it gives you the ability to work on the racecar and really perfect it. You can fine-tune the racecar. It sounds like obvious things to do, but if you don’t roll off the truck with a really good package it takes some time to really get it the way you want it. That being said once you’ve done that you can perfect things. We seemed very competitive in the last race at Texas in practice, but for whatever reason we didn’t carry that over to the race. I seemed to do well in traffic. But just given the outright pace we didn’t quite have the same pace. That’s something we’re working on.

What’s the biggest difference from this team to the Ganassi team?

It’s a much smaller operation and I think certainly going into the season I was under the impression that we’d be working on just one car but we’d have a budget to be where they are. But for whatever reason it isn’t quite there. In terms of development and the little things on the racecar we’re certainly not at their level yet.

How much different is Panther racing since last time you were there?

It’s always very difficult to judge after only a couple of races with a team. I was very new to IndyCar. Back then they were competing for championships and working with Penzoil. But I think when you get to the budget they were working on then. But then you compare them to the Penske team, I don’t think you can compare them right now. But the ethics of the team is great. The work ethic of this team is really good. There’s a few of the people left from when that team then.

At Indy did you have car to win?

At Indy the quickest car doesn’t win. It’s about execution on pit stops and strategy. But if you compare my car to Helio’s it obviously didn’t have the speed at the end of the race that he had. But we adjusted our car to work well in the end. When you compare my car to his, I don’t think it would’ve been that much different. We actually struggled in the month at Indianapolis we had a big imbalance. But for carburetion day and for the race we certainly helped it, we weren’t quite there but we really helped it. At Indianapolis it just seemed to be track position, which Ganassi had and Penske had. But when those Ganassi cars got in the back of the pack they couldn’t overtake. That was the theme for that race. Without track position it was pretty difficult to overtake.

What’s the biggest challenge about Iowa?

It changes so much. This will be the third time we’ve been here. The first time it was really comfortably flat out. You were able to run as low of a line as you possibly could. That was comfortable, but passing was pretty limited. It was pretty much in the pits and on restarts. Last year we went back and the second lane opened up and it was sometimes quicker or at least as quick as the low line. But it was about getting your car to work well in between turns 1 and 2. If you can do that and continue to run that low line. If you can do that as your fuel starts to burn off then you can keep pace there.

Is it a fun track?

Absolutely it’s fun. I wouldn’t say, it’s definitely a different race track there. They all have slightly different challenges. Iowa it’s getting the car to work over the big bumps in turns 1 and 2, and then as the track sort of falls away off of the exit of 4 you have to make it shorter in the rear. But if you’ve got the car working for you it sure is a fun track. I don’t think we’re quite pulling 4 G’s at Iowa, but I think Richmond is the track where we carry the most G’s. It’s a very very fun race track and I always like to go there.

Can you pass on the high side?

You certainly could last year. I have to say when you look at the races that we’ve been part of this year it’s been incredibly difficult to overtake. Going on last year I would say certainly that it’s going to be one of those races where you can overtake on the high side. But the big thing is the track position. When you look our last race at Texas, which is typically a side-by-side racetrack, there wasn’t much of that. So I would certainly hope that would be the case. Certainly from last year that would be. But it’s probably not going to be as easy as last year just because of the rules that are.

Have the rules tightened the teams up this year?

I think it’s a variety of things. I think obviously with the competition level. I think Brian Barnhart is in a very difficult position. I think a couple of years ago when we were in side-by-side racing we were trying to, I think his job basically was to try to spread the field out because people complained about how dangerous the IRL was with how easy it was to go flat out. It’s a very difficult position he’s in because now it’s almost gone the other way. There obviously are changes that he’s made that have spread the field out. I don’t think we expected it to be like this year. But I know he’ll do a fantastic job in the future. That’s what the IndyCar Series is about it’s about entertaining side-by-side racing. And I think we just haven’t had that. But I think personally it’s down to a variety of things.

What did you think of last year donating and helping?

It was something that needed to be done. My wife and I we drove from Chicago to Iowa and seeing that devastation of the floods, it was the very least we could do. I’m in a very fortunate position to do what I love and to make a lot of money to do it. I think it was the least that we could possibly do. Don’t forget that Scott Dixon did it too and Chip Ganassi was part of it. I felt that it was something that before the weekend started it was something that we could do to give them all the money. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen the devastation of a flood, it absolutely blew my mind. There’s a lot of people that lost everything there. It was the least that I could’ve done. I know it was a very small amount. I was just grateful that I could do my small part. I think that we could make some people smile. I think the race last year the race was incredibly entertaining in difficult circumstances, but if that took their mind off that, I think that was awesome.

Why the success on ovals when your background is on road courses?

It’s one of those things. I would say this year it has been on the other way around. It depends on how you can get the racecar to work for you in the different situations. You’ve got to work incredibly hard with your engineer to get a feel that you’re 100 percent confident, particularly when it’s so competitive these days. I performed well on the road courses, not as well as I would’ve liked. But this year it’s sort of the opposite. I think it depends on the package that you have and the amount of time to get the package to your liking.

What do you think of Jenson Button’s success?

I think it’s great. A lot of people wrote Jenson off in the last few years. And I think it’s great that he’s got the car to show that. He’s the same driver he was last year and he didn’t even win a race and didn’t even feature. But this year he’s won six out of seven. So I’ve known Jenson for an incredibly long time. I’ve got an immense amount of respect for him. We’ve raced together since the age of 8. I couldn’t be happier for him. I really couldn’t.

You’ve never won at Nashville, you’ve finished second a couple of times, but if you ever did would you smash your trophy guitar like Kyle Busch?

No. Absolutely not. I’ve tried really hard to win that race because of the guitar. I have a couple of guitars in my house. So I wouldn’t have smashed it. I didn’t know that he smashed it. That’s crazy. I would’ve bought it off him. I would’ve offered him a lot of money to buy it. I finished second there a few times and I was bummed because I didn’t get it. If I’d have known he was going to smash it I would’ve offered him some money before. But he’s a fellow NOS driver. We’re sponsored by the same energy drink and maybe he was hopped up on NOS or something.

Do you have a favorite pair shoes?

I don’t have one. That’s why I have so many.

Any other superstitions besides tapping the car three times before you get in?

That’s about it, really. I think tap the nose on the right front. But nothing too exciting. It’s little things drivers do. It’s more being repetitive than superstition. That’s the main one, patting the car on the nose.

Questions for Dario Franchitti?

I will talk with Dario Franchitti on Friday morning as he prepares for this weekend’s IRL Texas Auto Racingthird Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
If there’s anything you’d like me to ask him, please post it here in the comments. I’ll post excerpts from the interview here.

Franchitti won the first Iowa Corn Indy 250 in 2007. He returns to the track for the first time since then. He drove for Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team last season.

Ten things I know

With all apologies to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King and his “Ten things I think I think,” here’s 10 things I know after the biggest racing weekend of the year:
Humpy WHeeler1. I know the IndyCar Series needs help at promoting its races and has needed that help for a long time.
It might finally get that help as H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler was at the Brickyard on Sunday.
Although, it might take a miracle to put Indy back on the map as it once was, if anyone can work miracles, it’s Humpy.

IRL Indy 500 Auto Racing2. I know three of the top 10 drivers at Indy won’t be at the race next weekend in Milwaukee. Townsend Bell, left, Will Power and Paul Tracy were one-off deals. They won’t compete at Milwaukee. Six of the finishers in the 11th through 20th spots won’t be there either including Tomas Scheckter and Sarah Fisher. And that more or less sums up what’s eating open-wheel racing these days.
Tracy might find a ride with A.J. Foyt Racing, as Vitor Meira, who suffered the second-most vicious hit of the Indy 500, is out for the season with a back injury.

IRL Indy 500 Auto Racing3. I know Tony Kanaan will race next week in Milwaukee after suffering the hardest hit of the day. It’s no knock on Meira, who certainly is a tough driver, too. But Kanaan is about as tough as they come.
The Andretti/Green driver might have suffered some broken ribs and slew of bruises after hitting the wall almost head on at 195 mph. He told Speed TV’s Robin Miller that the car sustained 175 G’s on impact.

4. I know if Formula One was using a medals system instead of a points system the championship MONACO AUTO RACING F1 GPalready would have been decided.
Not that it isn’t already. I don’t know if anyone can catch Jenson Button, right, and Brawn GP the rest of this year and we’re not even to the season’s halfway point.
Something is fishy in your sport if a team that didn’t exist or was near-extinction a month before the season started ends up winning the whole thing in blowout fashion.
And you thought IndyCar had problems.

windsor5. I know that we should know more about the U.S. Formula One team that allegedly will run next season.
I’d like to know who is sponsoring this team. Everyone else would like to know who is driving for this team.
Here’s what we know, or think we do: The team will use Cosworth engines. Cosworth hasn’t been in the sport since 2006. That’s all I know, and I just found that out last week.
So, judging by the Brawn GP plan for success, might as well just give Peter Windsor, left, and Ken Anderson the championship now.

6. I know David Reutimann deserves a better team than the one he has now. The journeyman has some talent, but runs for a lousy team, Michael Waltrip Racing.

The journeyman driver is better known for this wreck, above, than for anything else he has done on the track, and that’s partly Waltrip’s fault.
Darrel’s younger brother needs to figure out if he wants to be a TV personality, a car owner or a driver and just stick with one. But it was nice to see Reutimann pull out a win Monday because of some good racing luck.
NASCAR All Star Auto Racing7. I know Jimmie Johnson has a Twitter account and it is called fake_Jimmie. His teammate, Jeff Gordon, has an account called fake_jeff. As far as I can tell, those accounts actually are theirs.
They’re keeping it real.
From fake_Jimmie: “I swear the only time I’m alone anymore is the car or the toilet! Actually just the toilet, I have to listen to Chad in the car!”
From fake_jeff: “Just heard Nelly’s “E.I.” on the radio. Hadn’t heard it in a long time. Still cool to hear my name!”
Jimmie follows Kevin Smith. Jeff follows only five people, the only non-racing person is ESPN reporter Marty Smith. I don’t know what to make of that. Stay tuned to this blog for a complete list of drivers’ Twitter accounts.74100267RM003_Dodge_Avenger

8. I know Tony Eury Jr. isn’t long for this world, at least, the world of being Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief. Earnhardt has only three top 10 finishes in the season’s first 12 races.
When asked about Eury Jr., team owner Rick Hendrick was noncommittal. In the past he strongly has defended Eury Jr.
NASCAR Charlotte Auto Racing9. I know the Indianapolis 500 starts too late.
I realize egos have pushed the race start time back to 12:15, too late for drivers to pull a double.
But you’ve now got some NASCAR guys who no doubt would be interested in swinging doubleheaders at Indy and Charlotte, and at least one, Tony Stewart, is free of contractual obligations that prevent him from running at the Brickyard in May. Because as team owner, he writes his own contract.
Want some sizzle? Want more than 300,000 at Indy? You’re gonna need the NASCAR stars’ help.

10. I know that Danica Patrick will head to NASCAR next year. As I have already written. IRL Indy 500 Auto RacingShe won’t be able to say no to NASCAR’s money.
I know she has pretty much maxed out her fame in IndyCar. She hasn’t come anywhere close to maxing out her results, but unless a seat came open at Ganassi or Penske, there’s no way she’ll do much better than she has.
Outside of trying to come back for another shot at an Indy win, Danica is gone.

Live chat from Indy!

Join the live chat with Nate Bloomquist from Indianapolis Motor Speedway at noon Sunday right here:

Paul Tracy speaks, or is it Brett Favre?

In an exclusive interview with me, Paul Tracy dished on everything from wearing wrestling masks to being Brett Favre’s doppelganger, or not. Here are some highlights from the interview. There’s more to come in Friday’s edition of the Quad-City Times and in the Race Trax podcast.

Paul Tracy almost won the 2002 Indianapolis 500, or did win it, depending on who you ask. He’ll start the 93rd Indianapolis 500 from the inside of Row 5 on May 24.

Can you win Indy with this team?

I think so because I think anything can happen in the race. Our race setup is good. We went out on race trim on Sunday. I started in race trim, and the car is really fast and easy to drive. The team is running good. It’s not a brand-new team. They’ve had this year with Mario (Moraes), who’s an inexperienced driver, but the car is fast. Is it going to be easy? No. But in the course of a 500-mile race a lot can change, and we just need to be there at the end.

What does IndyCar have to do to draw more fans?

I think they need to have more stars in the show. They can’t just lean on Danica all the time. Granted she’s a big star. But you can’t just use that as your only card. They have some big stars in the series, but a lot of people don’t know them. I’ve been in the sport now for almost 20 years, and people know me. Old fans know me and the young kids know me. I kind of cross the whole spectrum of fan base. I have kids as fans, whether that’s because their parents like them or because I have a Monster Energy hat, and they think Monster Energy Drink is cool. I have young to old. They’ve just only got a few select drivers. Ninety percent of the guys, I’m not trying to say they’re not good drivers, but nobody knows who they are. They’re hard to market.

I just had a conversation with another journalist, he said if you win the Indy 500 do you think you’re going to get a ride? And I said well, I can’t guarantee that. There’s a guy sitting at home who just won the Indy 500 a couple of years ago. So it’s no guarantee.

You once called these cars crapwagons, but they are going to change the car in a couple of years, what improvements should they make?

I think they can make them a nicer car. They’re not the prettiest looking car. They’re not very sophisticated. They’re kind of big and bulky and heavy. The Champ Car was a much more superior car, both the Panoz and the Lola. I can only compare the only track that I’ve run at in both these cars was Edmonton, and the Champ Car there is 4 seconds a lap faster than the IRL car. That’s a lot of time on a 2½ mile temporary track. That’s about the difference between a Champ Car and a Formula One car. Then you’ve got the back part of the grid, guys like (Marty) Roth are 5 to 6 seconds slower than the fastest guys. This car was only geared toward racing on ovals and it’s not really geared toward road course racing. It know they made it heavy and heavy duty, so hopefully the next car can be a bit more modernized.

What happened to the wrestling mask and cape? Where’d they come from?pt-cape
I have the real mask. The mask I wore was a replica of some famous Mexican wrestler. He saw me on TV. His dad was a famous wrestler and his grandfather was and he was the third generation. His name was Blue Demon. I wore it in Montreal because the fans were booing me and going crazy at me because of the whole Tagliani incident. I just thought it would be kind of funny. I was sort of trying to egg them on a little more. But it actually sort of turned them around, and they got to like me. I actually have the real mask from the guy signed by him.

How much of a role do rivalries play in racing? Do you think that’s part of the reason why IndyCar isn’t as popular, because everyone seems to like each other?

You can’t just have everyone liking each other and loving to be there and having nothing to say about anything. If I have to wear the black hat then I’ll wear the black hat. There’s got to be a Dale Sr. or a Jimmie Johnson or a Jeff Gordon. Tony Stewart wears the black hat every once in awhile even though he’s very well liked. But he’s not afraid to say what he feels. I’ve been doing this long enough that if  people want to know something they can just ask me.
Rivalries are good because that’s what piques people’s interest. Whether it’s teams rivalries or athlete rivalries. That’s what it takes to get things popular, and I understand that.

You said you already felt like the guy who made the game winning goal when you made that pass at Indy in 2002 (above). Who did you pretend to be when you were growing up doing that?

pt-favre1I played hockey when I was a kid and always played hockey in the driveway. There’s a lot of athletes I admire, but I guess probably they’re all current-day guys. I’m a huge fan of Brett Favre, and it’s also because he kind of looks like me. I think it’s kind of cool that he’s doing what he wants to do. He doesn’t really care what other people think. I think it’s kind of cool.
I get asked every day by somebody at the gym. You know, “You look like Brett Favre.” Some people ask, “you know, you look like Paul Tracy,” I say, “No, I’m Brett Favre.” They go, “Really? I thought you were bigger than that.” He’s taller than me. He’s probably 6 foot.

Questions for Paul Tracy?

Paul Tracy will talk with Nate Bloomquist this week. Do you have a question for Paul? Post it in the comments

Paul Tracy will talk with Nate Bloomquist this week. Do you have a question for Paul? Post it in the comments

Do you have any questions for the 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner, ahem, I mean, the runner up? I will conduct an interview with the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion this week.

If you have any questions you would like me to ask him please post a comment.

I will post excerpts from the interview in a future blog entry.

Tracy has qualified inside the fifth row for the 93rd Indianapolis 500, which takes place May 24.

The world according to Danica

If you’re talking about IndyCar racing, you’re likely talking about Danica Patrick. This year is no different. So, what did Danica have to say before starting her fifth Indianapolis 500?

Kentucky Derby Horse Racing

Danica Patrick will compete in her fifth Indianapolis 500 on May 24. (AP photo)

Here’s some excerpts from Tuesday’s teleconference:

On qualifying…

Every year is challenging. But, I think you still have a lot of the leaders at the front of the field as you did four years ago. It’s always been pretty tough. Yeah, there are a lot more drivers, and I think there are going to be more knocking on that top-11 door maybe more so than before.

Hopefully we don’t have to worry about that and we get in that first day and we have a good qualifying run on the first one and it’s good enough to put us in the top 11 and in the front row.

On her confidence for Indy…

I’ve even had people at Kansas say, people close to me, fans are always encouraging, but people that really get a feeling for things. I think you might win this race.

Here we are at Indy. I have to tell you a funny story. I got a fortune cookie at the track. We went out to dinner in Kansas at this sort of Asian sushi place. I’m reading it right now because I hung it up. I had two fortunes in there, to start with. I didn’t realize it had a second one. When I turned it over, it says, ‘A four-wheeled adventure will soon bring you happiness.’ So that’s in a fortune cookie, right? That’s got to be great.

On Michael Andretti calling race strategy for her…

I don’t think it’s a matter of Mike choosing to pay more attention to me; it was a matter of the team using up all of the resources efficiently and well. Over the last couple of years, we’ve lost personnel here and there, been able to fill in the blanks. And Mike has been one of those guys that’s bounced around from car to car, offered his advice on what was going on, what he would do, playing sort of race strategist for all the drivers.

So it was an idea that went around the table. Mike took the job, and he said he buckled under a little bit of peer pressure for it. But it makes sense. He’s been around it so much. He still keeps an eye on everybody else, but while we’re out there on the track and in the cars, he’s on the Boost Mobile car. That’s just what the decision was for this year.

On why she has had success at Indy…

I don’t really know. I like it here. I enjoy it. I embrace the month. I have a lot of fun. What exactly makes me good here or whatever is subjective anyway I think if I do good or not.

I don’t really know. The first year I came here, I took the advice from all the people around me, the people that have been here the most. The advice was to respect the track, to be patient, and I do that. So, you know, maybe that’s part of it.

On her Kentucky Derby hat…

My derby hat (laughter)? I was running some low downforce because it was very uncomfortable. Like when you’re sitting down at the table there, at the event, I had to look up so far that I had a headache from getting past the brim of my hat. I wouldn’t describe it as a comfy setup.

About the less hot-headed Danica…

Is it OK, do you think? Do you think this is OK that I’m a little bit more calm?

I hope I’m not boring anybody (laughter).

I’ve learned from the past. Look, the emotional Danica is still there, but there’s a time and a place. The time and place is not every weekend. So it’s just easier. I think I always felt in the past like I had to prove to people that I cared and that I wasn’t happy being fifth or 12th or something by being mad. It just doesn’t really pay off, and it turns people off. It’s a lot easier and a lot more fun to be relaxed. It’s all bunnies and rainbows around here (laughter).

Where does Shrub rank now?

Kyle Busch

Is Kyle Busch NASCAR's best 24-year-old? Probably not.

Anyone who watched Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway knows that Kyle Busch won on his birthday.

That’s all nice and sweet and all. But what I want to know is on his 24th birthday, where does he rank. After all, we of the ESPN-this-the-greatest-game-or-athlete-ever-because-we-just-watched-it generation need to know.

Seriously. Is he the best ever, so far, for someone his age?

Here’s where he ranks among the greats when they were 24. I did the research for you. You’ll thank me later. Or not.

Dale Earnhardt
Turned 24: April  29, 1975
Cup wins: 0
What he’s got on Shrub: Earnhardt turned 24 in his rookie season. So there really isn’t enough data here to make a valid comparison. But I’ll try anyway. Kyle Busch is in his fifth season. By the time Earnhardt was in his fifth full season, 1984,  he had 11 wins. Busch has 15 wins in Sprint Cup. Two years later, Earnhardt won his first of seven championships.  

Richard Petty
Turned 24: July 2, 1961
Cup wins: 5
What he’s got on Shrub: At age 24, the King already had a runner-up finish in the Cup standings. The best Shrub has done is fifth (2007). In 1960 Petty finished a distant second to Rex White despite three victories. Four years later, in 1964, Petty won his first of seven titles. At age 24, the end of the 1961 season, he had a ridiculous career stat: 63 top-10 finishes in 102 starts and 40 top-fives.  Busch has 76 top-10s, but in 58 more starts.

Jeff Gordon
Turned 24:
Aug. 4, 1995
Sprint Cup wins: 7
What he’s got on Shrub: Won his first of four championships this season. He dominated with seven wins and eight poles, possibly intimidating the Intimidator. While Wonderboy has lost some wonder over the years, he’s higher in the points standings than Busch because he is way more consistent.

In short. Shrub has got a ways to go. But his future looks promising, as if you didn’t know that already. Is he the greatest? Talk to me when he’s won a championship. Then maybe he’ll be in the group picture.

Uncle Sam should pull the plug

NASCAR fans might soon get some extra enjoyment out of Sundays. They’ll see their taxpayer dollars at work.
But the U.S. government would be wise to stop that sort of foolhardiness. It, after all, knows a thing or two about wasteful spending.
While GM and the rest of the Big three skid closer to bankruptcy, the government likely will step to prevent the tremendous blow to the economy.
But as Uncle Sam fills the auto industry’s tanks with cash, the Big Three will spend hundreds of millions of dollars at NASCAR race tracks. The car companies long have claimed that wins on Sundays meant car sales on Mondays. Perhaps my Internets are broken, but I have yet to find a survey that proves that. Car companies likely justify the colossal expense of motorsports because spending money there always has worked in the past.
But in today’s economy that’s not a good enough reason. The “it always worked in the past” line of thinking is the same logic that allowed mega banks to crash and burn and left the government to — knock on wood — clean up the mess.
U.S. car sales are about the only thing that has fallen faster than the housing market. And the drop comes coincidentally, or not if you’re a conspiracy theorist, at a time when NASCAR runs a car in which the only difference between Fords, Dodges and a Chevys are the stickers on the hoods.
Racing used to be a sound investment for the Big Three. You can’t beat 4 hours of network TV with big company logos flying past, sometimes in the lead at 180 mph. That’s not to mention the hokey, but market-research friendly ads that run during the races.
Today the money just isn’t there. For as much as fans might want to buy a Ford Fusion or Chevy Malibu after seeing one in Victory Lane, they can’t afford it. Until that changes, spending millions on NASCAR while having to cut millions of jobs isn’t right.
There is a solution. After all the U.S. car manufacturers have done for NASCAR, it’s time for the sport to return the favor. Send the marketing, engine and research and development costs to the France family. With a multi-billion dollar TV deal and sold-out races every weekend for the past 15 years, they can foot the bill.
Call it a NASCAR bailout.

Send Kyle to F1

Why not give Kyle Busch haters what they want. They’re right. Shrub should go away… to Formula One.
He’d be perfect there, and Sunday’s win in Las Vegas proved it.
And with a group announcing last week it would run an all-American team in Formula One in the 2010 season, Busch has a perfect opportunity.
Busch should join the USF1 team. If the equipment is up to snuff, he would dominate.
The Gibbs Racing driver has mastered road-course racing, so turning right shouldn’t be a problem. And on Sunday he showed his great car control and maneuvered from the back of the pack all the way to the front for a victory.

Kyle Busch would be a perfect fit in a Formula One car. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Kyle Busch would be a perfect fit in a Formula One car. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Car control is a key to success in Formula One. In the super technologically advanced sport it’s not necessarily how fast you can make the car go, but it’s more about how well you can handle corners.
F1 cars can go from 0 to 60 in less than a heartbeat, but it’s how quickly they can go from 200 to 0 that makes them even more impressive. Busch could handle that kind of challenge with ease.
Beyond his skill in the car, Busch would provide a boost outside it, too.
He would provide the stodgy, sometimes Euro trash F1 with some much-needed character.
The Las Vegas native would fit in nicely on the casino-lined streets of Monte Carlo and likely would make rivals elsewhere faster than you can say Fernando Alonso.
But for Busch to tackle the legendary road courses of Europe, USF1 would have to pony up NASCAR-sized coin. And the team has said it will run on a $64 million budget next year, which doesn’t even begin cover McLaren’s FIA fines some seasons.
But it would be money well spent for USF1, which hasn’t announced a sponsorship or backers yet, although it claims to have those things. With Busch in tow, they’d likely have multinational companies beating down their doors to get a piece of the shrub. While F1 barely is a speck on the sports radar in the U.S., it’s a bump draft away from soccer’s popularity elsewhere.
If he did succeed, Busch could become a national hero. The last guy from the U.S. to win an F1 title was a little driver from Nazareth, Pa., named Mario Andretti, who won in 1978. How’d things work out for him?
In these difficult economic times a safe bet is hard to come by. But I’d be the house on Busch striking it big in F1.