Weekly Lugnuts: 1/13/11

13 01 2011

This is going to be my new thing, a weekly collection of NASCAR & Denny Hamlin bits & links and news & notes from around the web. I’ll try to update it every Thursday, but that might change during race season to possibly a Monday, or possibly Thursday and Monday. Who knows.

All Left Turns picks their top 5 drivers to watch for 2011

You NFL fans have heard about the “Super Bowl Hangover”; the phenomenon where a team comes so close and misses it and then is so deflated they struggle the following year. Hamlin takes losing hard, very hard. How will this affect the 2010 runner-up in ‘11? That may be the real test of maturity for series leader in wins (8).

Wood Bros. Racing is looking to extend its races to 17 for 2011. Trevor Bayne apparently will be behind the wheel for at least a few of them:

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said Tuesday that he has no driver deals signed for 2011 and only confirmed Bayne for the test at Daytona, but it appears the team is working on several more races for the 19-year-old and he possibly will be its primary driver for the season.

Looks like Regan Smith’s crew will come from the Stewart Haas stables.

Furniture Row Racing’s over-the-wall pit crew for the team’s No. 78 Sprint Cup Chevy and driver Regan Smith will be employed and trained by Stewart Haas Racing, the team announced.

 NASCAR is making drivers to chose one series to earn points in, in an effort to let a Nationwide driver win the Nationwide championship.

“The brand-new license forms that are out, there’s a box and in it, it states that you have to mark — put an X — what championship you’re running for,” Wallace said, quoting his application. “A driver will only be permitted to earn driver championship points in one (1) of the following three series: NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Nationwide or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Please select the series in which you would like to accumulate driver championship points. Choose one.”

Gillette is expanding the Gillette Young Guns to multiple sports, and kicking out all the NASCAR drivers save for Denny and Kyle Busch. After reading it, I have to think that they’re kidding about Kyle.

The 2011 class of Gillette Young Guns was selected not only for their individual sporting accomplishments and future potential, but also for their strong leadership qualities.  They are a group of exceptionally motivated young men who hold themselves to high standards on and off the field.

ESPN’s “moving up or moving down?” list is picking Carl Edwards as “the man to beat” for 2011. Remember when Carl was the championship favorite in 2009? Yeah, me neither.

Edwards won the last two races of 2010 and qualified in the top three at the final three events. He’s in his early 30s now (will turn 32 in August), about the time many contenders step up. And he’s a dad now, something that tends to make a man see things differently.

The Chase is hurting NASCAR’s popularity, according to CBS Sports. Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.

My fan and comment inbox filled up immediately after that happened, people claiming they’d had it and if no one down in Daytona was listening to them, their viewing habits would stop the second the Chase started in September. Already, those final 10 races, with the exception of Talladega, are in the bottom tier of NASCAR’s ratings, numbers off some 20-25 percent for seven of those 10. It was refreshing to hear the same response across all platforms of people within the sport, in line with what I’ve heard from drivers off the record, other reporters, and people in the garage. It’s clear what the fans want to see: so why won’t NASCAR listen?

The drivers for the 2011 Bud Shootout have been announced. 30 drivers are eligible, including Kevin Conway. Why don’t we just let the whole rest of the feild in, while we’re at it?

Thanks to that last stipulation, and the fact that he was the only rookie in 2010, Conway is in.

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