Petty back on top|NASCAR COLUMN

Published 6:38 pm Monday, June 29, 2009

By Staff
Jeff Findley
It finally happened. Last week in northern California, Richard Petty made it back to Victory Lane. Kasey Kahne held off Tony Stewart and won the road course race at Infineon Raceway giving the King his first win, in any capacity, since 1999.
It appeared that Petty might never win again given the performance of his Petty Enterprises teams over the past few years. But a merger with Gillette Evernham Motorsports that eventually resulted in Richard Petty Motorsports brought better cars and better drivers into the fold. It was nice to see that famous smile on the face of and that famous Charley One Horse cowboy hat atop the head of Petty in Victory Lane. Maybe we’ll see that scenario again before the season ends.
Now, coming off that victory, word is that a manufacturer change in the cards for Kahne. In what would be an awkward situation at best and an impossible situation at worst, Kahne is rumored to be driving a Toyota after the Chicago race in two weeks.
While Dodge is struggling and going through bankruptcy, the unpaid financial obligations to its NASCAR teams are piling up. And Dodge’s future in the sport is being questioned after a significant buyout of the company by Fiat.
Might this move to Toyota by Kahne, if it happens, be a precursor to a full-fledged move of all four teams in 2010? I don’t see how you could expect anything else. Keep an eye on this one, it will be interesting to see how the team responds to such a big move in mid-season.
Jeremy Mayfield is in a tough spot, NASCAR is in a tough spot and neither are budging an inch. Mayfield was suspended several weeks for failing NASCAR’s random drug test. Mayfield says the positive result came from a combination of a prescription drug and an over-the-counter drug. NASCAR is saying that scenario is impossible.
The reported drug found in Mayfield’s system that led to the positive test was methamphetamine. Now, while I’m not around many meth users, Mayfield sure doesn’t appear to be one to me.
As a result of the suspension, Mayfield has filed suit against NASCAR. As a result of the failed drug test, NASCAR has filed suit against Mayfield. The case goes to court on July 1 and one or the other will have some ‘splaining to do after the judge make a ruling. This could ruin Mayfield’s already shaky career or fundamentally change NASCAR’s drug policy.
This week’s race at New Hampshire is the first of the last ten races before the chase field is set in Richmond in September. If history holds, only drivers through the sixteenth position will have a shot to make the chase. If so, drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr will be on the outside looking in relative to the chase.
While it will be a huge victory for a driver like David Ruetimann, Juan Montoya, or Brian Vickers to make the chase.
Qualifying for the race was rained out, so the starting grid will be set by points and Tony Stewart will start from the pole. My pick to win Sunday is Kurt Busch.

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