NASCAR

The Covington News - - Sports -

Gibbs Racing, Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports, Roush Fen­way Racing and Richard Chil­dress Racing — is so steep, Kahne and the GEM gang have been year.

Those big four own­ers placed three cars each in the Chase and have com­bined for 22 of 26 wins this sea­son. Kahne has two and Penske Racing driv­ers Kurt Busch and Ryan New­man grabbed the other two.

But none made the Chase, and — co­in­ci­dence? — all drive Dodges.

The au­tomaker is reel­ing, lags far be­hind Chevro­let, Ford and Toy­ota on the race track and in show­room sales, and on Satur­day re­vealed it was pulling out of NASCAR's Truck Se­ries.

So as the race for the ti­tle be­gins Sun­day in New Hamp­shire, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what hap­pens to Dodge as its teams are left out of the action.

It's also go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to see how Ste­wart and his Joe Gibbs Racing team han­dle The two-time cham­pion is leav­ing at the end of the year to run his own race team, and the ten­sion from his de­ci­sion has been build­ing all sea­son.

Zi­padelli has con­sis­tently pre­sented a united front, but ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions have re­vealed cracks that could crum­ble the team be­fore Ste­wart moves on. streak dat­ing back to last sea­son, Ste­wart has had victory in sight sev­eral times this year only to lose in heart­break­ing fash­ion. Sun­day wasn't one of those crush­ing de­feats: He waged a stir­ring late-race bat­tle with Jim­mie John­son, but ul­ti­mately didn't have a car strong enough to win.

As he pulled off the track fol­low­ing the sec­ond-place per­for­mance for let­ting an­other victory slip away. In au­dio re­played sev­eral times by ESPN, Zi­padelli sharply re­minded him they win and lose as a group.

Af­ter, Ste­wart was surly and didn't want to dis­sect yet an­other on-track de­feat.

A cham­pi­onship bat­tle with Ste­wart in­volved is the best

tional driver usu­ally leaves ev­ery­thing out on the track he and Zippy give up on each other be­fore this sea­son is over, there's very lit­tle chance Ste­wart will be a fac­tor in this Chase.

Mean­while, Ste­wart is be­ing pulled in sev­eral di­rec­tions as he shapes Ste­wart-Haas Racing for his im­pend­ing takeover. He's hired a driver in New­man, a crew chief in Dar­ian Grubb, se­cured sev­eral spon­sors and is now seek­ing a gen­eral man­ager.

His sights are ap­par­ently on Frye, who kept a mi­dlevel team swal­lowed last sea­son by Dale Earn­hardt Inc. That freed Frye to take over Red Bull in Jan­uary and clean up what was a heav­ily funded but poorly man­aged team.

The Sprint Cup ti­tle will be but there's plenty of other in­dus­try is­sues to keep an eye on.

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