A look back at the silly NASCAR NEXTEL season:
The Daytona 500 started the year off with some major news as Michael Waltrip and his car wound up with some fuel additive in his car. The team picked up some harsh penalties as Michael Waltrip picked up a 100 point fine. The crew chief got a 100 grand fine as well. It finally took Michael until the end of the 13th race before he could finally get into positive territory in the points.
The Car Of Tomorrow made its debut this year. The car was brought in because it was safer and be cheaper in the long run. A load of fans did not like much of the racing though.
It was the first year that 12 drivers had a shot at making the chase up from 10.
Mart Martin started the year off hot for Ginn Racing even staying in the top 12 in points early on while missing a few races. People in the media did not want him to stop racing, but he did it.
Toyota cars made their debut this year. They did not win a NEXTEL NASCAR race this year, but a change to the engine helped them out to be more competitive. Loads of Toyota cars were missing races all year long. The best they could do in a driver was Dave Blaney who finished 31st in points.
Toyota did get some big news this year as Joe Gibbs Racing junked Chevrolet cars For Toyota cars. Later on in the season Hall Of Fame Racing made the same move.
It was merger madness this year as partnerships were formed all over the place. Ginn Racing combined with DEI to field a four-car team. Roush Racing Teamed up with the Red Sox’s owner to form Roush Fenway Racing. Evernham Motorsports formed an alliance to create Gillette Evernham Motorsports. Hall Of Fame Racing sold of a bunch of the team to the Arizona Diamondback owners. Robert Yates had a short time had a partnership that was called Yates/Newman/Hass/Lanigan Racing. Petty Enterprises was in talks to join up with Gillette Evernham Motorsports this year as well.
Lot of major driver changes and announcements occurred this year as Dale Jr. finally decided to leave DEI for Hendrick Motorsports next year. Kyle Busch then decided to move from Hendrick Motorsports over to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008. Mark Martin and Regan Smith moved over to DEI after Ginn Racing folded. J.J. Yeley decided to move over to Hall Of Fame Racing next year. Jeremy Mayfield Moved over to HASS CNC Racing. Joe Nemechek signed on to race for Funiture Row Racing. John Andretti for 2008 signed on for BAM racing. Aric Almirola moved from Joe Gibbs over to DEI for 2008.
A trio of open wheel stars made their move over to NASCAR as Sam Hornish Jr. moves into a Penske car, Dario Franchitti moves into a Chip Gnassi car, and Jacques Villunueve moves into a Bill Davis Racing car next year
One of the weirdest incidents of the year occurred in the Watkins Glen race while during a red flag session a fan somehow got onto the racetrack and asked Matt Kenseth for an autograph.
At the end of the season Bruton Smith wanted to build a drag strip on the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The local city complained, then Bruton wanted to build a whole new track. The city and Bruton compromised to keep the track open.
Jimmy Johnson repeated as champion. The last person to do it was Jeff Gordon. Jimmy went on a roll at the end of the season winning four of the final five races of year. His total amount of wins on the season was 10.
Jeff Gordon finished in second place, but racked up 30 top ten finishes which is a new NASCAR record. He racked up 6 mote wins this year and was finally able to pass Dale Earnhardt Sr. for wins.