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  • September 2008
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David Stremme Is Right Choice For Penske, But So What?

Posted by Keith Murray on September 5, 2008

About this time last year, David Stremme learned that he was being bumped from the 40 car in favor of another driver; one who was a part of the open-wheel invasion of NASCAR. Stremme went on to finish the year 24th in the points. One would think that it would be bittersweet for him to see the struggles of that team with Dario Franchitti behind the wheel. On the one hand, that team never made it into the top 30 this year with Franchitti behind the wheel, and struggled from the time he left until the team shut down operations earlier this year. That’ll show them. On the other hand, whether that team made it or not, he was still without a ride at the top level of motorsports.

Fortunately for him, Stremme had a good ride this year in the Nationwide Series and has shown some stability and promise with several good finishes this year. He also signed a contract to be a test driver for Penske Racing. Of course, that job did not bring with it the prestige (and fat wallet) of being a Cup driver, but it was the right door to go through at the right time because now he has been promoted into the 12 ride that Ryan Newman is vacating for greener pastures next year.

The only problem in this scenario for Stremme is that he has landed a ride with a mediocre team. I understand that a move to Cup brings the above-mentioned perks, but the fact is that Penske has been struggling the last couple of years. Nothing has changed for Stremme’s teammate, Kurt Busch, as far as his ability and talent goes, yet Busch has not had near the success that he had as a Roush driver. Other than their fantastic, dramatic finish at the Daytona 500 this year, that team has done very little on a consistent basis the last couple of years. In fact, if you look back, the 2 and 12 teams started their decline at about the time that Matt Borland left Penske Racing. It could be coincidence, but Borland proved that he is extremely smart and capable as a leader in that shop and the fact is that they have not done as well since he departed. Still, congrats to Stremme for fighting his way back into Cup.

Which brings me to my other point. It has been somewhat amusing to watch the last couple of years as the open wheel drivers have made the move to NASCAR. Those guys thought that they were going to come over here for a ride on the money train and take NASCAR by storm, and show these ol’ boys how it is supposed to be done. I guess there is a lot more to it than just turning left. I know a lot of fans of open wheel racing have watched in anticipation of seeing them show the rednecks a thing or two, also. Well, the wine and cheese crowd can look down their noses at us all they want, but the beer and pork rinds bunch done showed them that our boys and us aren’t just a bunch of ignorant fools with a beer in one hand and a monkey wrench in the other trying to find our way through the world. If that were the case, you would think they could have come over and outsmarted us. But the invasion has turned and now the first trickling of the mass exodus has begun with Franchitti announcing this week that he is returning to his bread and butter. Hope you enjoyed your stay, boys. Come back anytime!

As always, please remember to keep our troops that are in harm’s way in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks for reading and God bless!


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