Holiday good time for fans

Published 11:48 pm Sunday, May 28, 2006

By Staff
During the Memorial Day holiday weekend we should all be enjoying our family, friends, something cooked on a grill outside, and great racing. Today is the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and the Indianapolis 500; it's a racing junkie's favorite weekend of the year. 
Despite all that, I have something stuck in my craw this week; that something is a blue and yellow Dodge with double nickels pasted on the side with sponsorship from NAPA. Inside that car that is slow as frozen molasses, sits a guy that could care less about winning races.
Michael Waltrip is a great business man, what he is about to pull off with Toyota is brilliant. He won't win any races, but he'll make lots of money.
Waltrip failed to qualify for Sunday night's race in Charlotte.
His team is outside the top 35 in owners points, so his slow qualifying time didn't cut it to make the show.  In fact, his qualifying time was eight miles per hour slower than the pole-winning speed of Scott Riggs. That's awful.
I think I might have been able to motor my 2002 Chevrolet Silverado truck around the track as fast as Waltrip turned a lap.
Superstar drivers like Chad Chaffin, Hermie Sadler, and Kevin Lepage all posted faster times than Mikey.  
Those three drivers didn't qualify for the race, just like Mikey, and they will go home. One guy who did qualify is Derrike Cope in the no. 74 Dodge and Waltrip is buying his position. Yep, if you can't cut the mustard, pull out the checkbook.
Waltrip will be able to expose the NAPA colors and logo for a huge television audience Sunday night, but he will earn no owners points for the race. Not that should have expected many points in the first place, but the listed owner of his team, Doug Bawel, will fall further in the standings after missing this race. Cope's car owner, Raynard McGlynn, will earn the points for this race and will pocket a good chunk of change by allowing Mikey to get in the race.
I said earlier in the year that Waltrip didn't care about winning races, his main concern is selling product and making sure that his face is on the television screen as much as possible. This is the first time this season that he has had to resort to buying another team's qualifying speed, but I would be willing to bet that it won't be the last.
And just think, this is the guy that Toyota is hanging their hat on this guy to get their program started in Cup racing. Message to Dale Jarrett, I bet Robert Yates would take you back, you might want to consider your options.
Jimmie Johnson continued his mastery of Lowe's Motor Speedway last weekend by winning the All-Star race. It's hard to bet against Johnson this week, he has won the last four races at Charlotte and five of the last six. His luck is due to run out.
Greg Biffle won at Darlington two weeks ago and is making a steady climb in the standings. My pick to win this marathon is Biffle and after this race, he should be close to cracking the top-ten.
Dig in for the long-haul and 600 miles Sunday night at 6:00 Sunday night on FOX. Have a great holiday weekend and please be careful, we have a lot of racing to talk about.
Jeff Findley writes a weekly column about NASCAR.

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