Changing Lanes

June 2013

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crazy Woman Driver performance was the catalyst behind a shake-up in the way points were awarded. He won his second Daytona 500 in 2012, and was one of the first drivers to clinch a spot in the Chase for the Championship. So it was quite a shock when he announced early last summer that he was leaving Roush, his only home at NASCAR's high level, after 13 seasons in which he won 22 races. CHANGING LANES The bottom line, it turned out, was that Kenseth, now 41, was looking for more security than Roush Fenway was willing or perhaps able to provide. All of his previous contracts had been renewed early. When that didn't happen – even after he won at Daytona – he decided to take matters into his own hands. In terms of personality, Kenseth seems like a good fit for Gibbs, and he has flourished in the early part of the new season, even winning at Las Vegas. But there's a lot of pressure on him. For starters, his job is to return the #20 Home Depot Toyota to the prominence it enjoyed with Tony Stewart, but which had waned with youngster Joey Logano behind the wheel. Second, he must serve as a bit of leavening to a garage that also includes the high-strung Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Both are excellent drivers in the primes of their careers. Busch especially has shown a knack for winning races. 24 0613 crazy woman driver cl.indd 2 But both clearly need to develop the kind of consistency needed to win a championship. If Kenseth, by his actions as much as his words, can help them, he'll prove to be worth whatever Gibbs paid to get him. If Kenseth's move was an eyebrowraiser, then Hamilton's switch was a real jaw-dropper. At the age of 10, Hamilton walked up to McLaren chief Ron Dennis and told him, ''I want to race for McLaren.'' McLaren signed him only a few years later, and he remained in the McLaren stable as he made his way up the ranks, joining the Formula 1 team in 2007. In his rookie season, Hamilton finished second in the title chase, a mere one point behind winner Kimi Raikkonen. The young hot foot won the World Championship with McLaren the very next year. Mercedes, like Gibbs Racing, had underachieved in recent years with young Nico Rosberg and veteran Michael Schumacher piloting its two cars. Rosberg had shown flashes of brilliance, but never won and never was a serious title contender. Schumacher, one of the greatest drivers in F1 history, had retired for a few years and returned to find himself unable to master the new cars. So when Mercedes learned of Schumacher's plans to retire, they quickly went after Hamilton. JUne 2013 // WWW.CHANGINGLANESDIGITAL.COM 5/7/13 10:48 AM

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