Said’s chances rained on

Published 8:27 pm Friday, August 8, 2008

The first in-season casualty in the Sprint Cup ranks happened this week. J.J. Yeley was dismissed from the No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing team. This is about the time of year that teams start making plans for the 2009 season.

Yeley, who has never lived up to his tremendous potential, missed four of the 21 races this season, and the team currently sits in the 36th points position, 225 points away from the ever-important 35th position. Taking over for Yeley the rest of the season, and apparently already tabbed as the driver for 2009, is 20-year-old Brad Coleman. Currently driving for Baker-Curb Racing in the Nationwide Series, Coleman has netted one top-10 this season and sits 16th in the standings.

However, Coleman will not start his tenure in the car until next week at Michigan. Road course expert P.J. Jones is in the car this week at Watkins Glen.

This move by HOF is just the first of what will most likely be many moves for the final portion of this season in anticipation of the 2009 season. One driver that is off the market and will not be changing teams is Martin Truex Jr. He has agreed to return to Dale Earnhardt Inc. and the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops car next season and beyond.

I would have bet a dollar to a doughnut that Truex would drive for some team other than DEI next season. But, there have been whispers that DEI really broke the bank to keep Truex, signing him to what is reportedly one of the richest contracts in NASCAR. The fact that Bass Pro Shops returning to that team hinged on Truex returning made the decision to open up the wallet easier for the DEI brass.

The second and last road course race of the season is this week at Watkins Glen, New York. Qualifying was rained out Friday afternoon, and the qualifying order will be set by owner points. That leaves Boris Said, a threat to win any road course race, on the outside looking in. That is about par for the course in terms of Said’s qualifying luck.

Only five races remain until the Chase field is set, so some drivers will be letting it all hang out. One driver that needs solid finishes, with a win or two, and a little luck is the aforementioned Truex. He is my pick to win the race.