Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2006
Even though there was no racing on the track last week in observance of the Easter weekend, plenty of action was happening off the track.
Jack Roush deemed it time to shake up his ultra-successful organization and changed crew chiefs for Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards.
Bob Osbourne, formerly Edwards’ crew chief, moved to McMurray’s team in the same capacity. Wally Brown got the promotion from Edwards’ lead engineer to his crew chief.
It seems the odd man out is Jimmy Fennig. He moved from McMurray’s lead man to the head of Roush’s Busch series operation. In other words, a position seemed to be created for a long-time loyal employee within the organization.
All five of Roush’s teams qualified for the chase last year, but this year, after seven races, only Matt Kenseth, in second place, and Mark Martin, third place, are currently eligible for the chase. McMurray sits in 21st position, Edwards in 22nd, and Greg Biffle holds the 23rd position.
Before the season began, many people would have said that Biffle had the best shot at winning the championship among the Roush Fab Five, but he holds the lowest position in the standings. At times, Biffle has been as dominant as any driver, but bad luck has been his friend. McMurray and Edwards have just not performed and the shakeup was more than likely warranted.
I thought Edwards’ comments about the shakeup were interesting. He is of the opinion that the moves were made more to improve McMurray’s team than to improve his own.
Evidently, he thinks everything is just peachy with the no. 99 team. Well, neither has won a race and McMurray is 13 points ahead of Edwards in the standings. But hey, you gotta give it ole Carl for having a positive attitude.
I think Carl might have a few stars in his eyes. Maybe the guest appearances on The Weather Channel, FOX’s hit show 24 and the half naked cover of ESPN The Magazine has given Carl a case of celebrititis, you know, the big head.
Only time will tell if Roush made the right decision and I wouldn’t necessarily bet against him.
Several weeks ago, Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick put an April deadline on the contract negotiations for Harvick to return to the no. 29 car for the 2007 season. Time is ticking and as the days pass, it seems to me more and more unlikely that Harvick will return.
Supposedly, Toyota is after Harvick with both barrels and I would bet that he ends up with a sweet deal to drive a Camry next season.
Childress is old school and if Harvick is not in contention for a chase spot later in the season, don’t be surprised if you see a change before the end of the year in the no. 29 car.
We get to enjoy the first Saturday night race of the year this week as the series moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh 500. Phoenix is a longer version of Martinsville, so teams that ran well last race will contend this week.
My pick to win Saturday night is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Junior and Jeff Burton are the only active, multiple winners at Phoenix and Junior is due a trip to victory lane.
Fire up the grill, sip on some cool drinks, and enjoy the race