It's that time again! The Bowlesy Awards have made it to a fourth year, recognizing the good, the bad and the ugly that has been the 2009 Sprint Cup season to date. This semi-annual checkup happens each July and December, and recognizes a select number of stock car drivers on their accomplishments -- or lack thereof.
Without further ado ... let's get started:
At the moment, only Stewart looks to be in position to challenge the No. 48 for the title. But his team gets engines and chassis from Hendrick Motorsports, a partnership that could turn into a problem once Johnson and Stewart are in direct competition for the trophy this Fall.
In a season in which Busch has struggled with consistency on the Sprint Cup side, we'll give this one to Busch -- albeit barely. The driver of the No. 18 is still the one you don't want to see hanging off your back bumper late in the race. But after scoring three Cup victories in the first three and-a-half months of this season, Busch has struggled. He has just one top-10 finish since May.
His win-turned-wreck at Daytona is symptomatic of some self-induced problems, the biggest of which is spreading himself too thin. With 10 wins overall in NASCAR's top three series, Busch is in control of the Nationwide Series championship while running a limited Truck schedule. They're outstanding achievements and have him on pace for another record season overall, but the time taken to focus on them is proving a distraction from the trophy he really wants.
After two years of part-time driving with middle-of-the-pack equipment, Martin has made the most of his full-time return with Hendrick Motorsports. Who would have guessed that at 50, Martin would have as many Cup wins (three) as the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports stable combined?
With a dedicated fitness regimen that's kept him in better shape than drivers half his age, Martin is redefining the capabilities of athletes 50 and older, while proving a sentimental favorite to capture his first Cup title. Here's the problem: a long list of poor racing luck and mechanical failures have him on the outside looking in on the Chase. Sixty-five points back of 12th place with eight races left, Martin has to worry that he has no mulligans left -- with tracks like Bristol and Richmond still ahead.
Keselowski chose not to apply for Rookie of the Year this season, as he's only scheduled for 17 starts with a combination of Hendrick Motorsports and Phoenix Racing. But in April, he made the biggest splash of any freshman by pulling out an upset victory at Talladega, sending
Overall, Keselowski has three top 10s, just one fewer than Logano, despite having just six starts to "Sliced Bread's" 18. Yet unless a miracle occurs, Keselowski won't even get consideration for the yearlong award. Maybe it's time NASCAR took a look at revamping the rookie points system?
Two years removed from near-extinction, Michael Waltrip Racing is having a dream season with Reutimann breaking through for his first career win, at the Coca-Cola 600. Fourteenth in points, he has a great shot to give MWR its first ever Chase bid and perhaps another win or two. But long-term, the best man in this three-car stable is
Two years ago, Dale Jr. said he was going to Hendrick Motorsports to try to win a championship. But a year and a half into his time in the No. 88 Chevy, he's on his way to what could be the worst season of his 10-year career. With just one top-5 finish, he's 21st in points and has shown no signs of snapping out of his funk after crew chief
Stewart has this award on lockdown, leading the standings by 180 points in a year in which people wondered if he'd even make the Chase. Stewart hasn't just survived; he's thrived as an owner/driver for SHR, winning twice while collecting a league-high 10 top-5 finishes. A once-temperamental personality, he's done a fantastic job of putting the right people in the right places for his two-car program to succeed.
At this point, coverage on the
Those words have drivers fearful the sanctioning body made a mistake and worried that they could one day be in the same position as Mayfield. One by one, they're realizing that without a union or some sort of unified stance, they're powerless to stop this sort of thing. Will this be the catalyst the drivers need to band together? NASCAR has quashed any sort of driver alliance in the past, but the high stakes involved with this drug policy -- and the sport's unwillingness to change it -- may be enough for spark some private talks.
It may not be the Sprint Cup Series, but
When Dale Jr.'s crew chief was sacked, Busch took advantage to deliver a potshot to his struggling competitor. "It's never Junior's fault -- it's always the crew chief," said Busch at the end of May. "[New crew chief] Lance McGrew has his hands full having to deal with what's going on."
Junior kept his cool with his response, noting, "What Kyle [Busch] says doesn't really surprise me. He's always had a chip on his shoulder about me. I expect anytime he gets an opportunity to throw a jab at me, he's going to do it. It is just his personality."
However, deep down Junior has to be getting frustrated by the constant barrage of insults Kyle's thrown at him through the years. If only the No. 88 could get running up front again, we'd have a rivalry all the fans would really want to see.
"The sport is not so vanilla. A lot of people hated it, and I guess those are the ones with 88s tattooed on their arm. Or maybe still 8s. I don't know which."
"I was one lap from winning the Daytona 500, and that's hard to swallow. With the offseason that I've had, I feel like I deserved that win more than anyone."
"I'm afraid to take my multi-vitamin, because you call them [at NASCAR] and you ask them, 'Is this multivitamin OK?' And their response is 'Well, I think it is. But if it tests positive, there's nothing we can do about it.' What am I supposed to do with that?"
"Double-file restarts are going to create more accidents, because things are going to be more aggressive. You can't change something without there being some kind of negative consequences, and this is an example."