I’m one of you. Long before my first article or big name interview and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stock car fan. So for that reason, my name doesn’t matter and neither does my photo. It’s more like we’re just sitting here in the grandstand before the race, talking about Dodges and NASCAR. Hey, you want a cold one? --JC

The '09 Lineup – Leaner, Meaner?

ust got back from the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. At those doin’s, we get a week of meetin’ race teams and hearing how “EXCITED” they are this season. Well, kids, ain’t nobody excited these days, but we’re here to talk racin’ and Hell yeah, we can still get excited ‘bout that - Kinda.

You see, Mopar fans will have less to get excited ‘bout this season. Dodge’s lineup for NASCAR done got what they told us back at the plant was a ‘reduction in the workforce.’ Last year, there was up to 14 Dodges racin’. It’s my duty to give you the bad news that this year, we’re fixin’ to see half that. Kurt Busch can back me up on that. He told us, "The odds are stacked against us. There are only six of us competing against the Toyotas, Chevys and Fords who have bigger quantities...”

Mergers, buyouts and economic conditions done slashed the lineup and now it looks like this: Penske Racing will keep their three Dodge Chargers for Kurt, Sam Hornish and David Stremme, who’ll be driving the #12 that Ryan Newman used to drive. Richard Petty done merged with Gillette Evernham Motorsports to become Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM - catchy, huh?). They’ll run #43 Reed Sorenson, #9 Kasey Kahne and #19 Elliot Sadler. The #44, a Petty number, is part time as of this writin’ and they hope to get fundin’ for a full season for driver A.J. Allmendinger. Slim pickens, ain’t it?

Now, all this brings up some questions. Like how does the King feel about Petty Enterprises closing up shop after 60 – YES, 60 - years? He wasn’t put out at all and told us, “That’s sort of like Rockingham went away and Wilkesboro went away. They were the staple of NASCAR 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, so time moves on. Basically time has moved on from Petty, Earnhardt, the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, you name it. They came in, they did their thing and they went on their way." Yeah, King, but is that really good for NASCAR? "Yes, that's good for NASCAR because you don't have the same situations year in and year out. You've got new blood. So you've got new ideas and new ways of doing things and I think you get new fans that way."

So, that should mean the #43 should catch up to the big teams, right, King? "I think we are the closest we've been since they started doing their thing. When they all came in we were at the top of the heap and they were chasing us. Then we were running even and next thing you know we fell off the hill and they took over. By joining with George [Gillett], I think this puts us back. There are four or five real top teams and we are the sixth one now. We are not the 15th, 20th team which we were before I joined with George…"