Rick Ware Racing Just 949 Steps Away From Contention

Entering its first season with two full-time chartered rides, Rick Ware Racing (RWR) was expected to have its struggles competing on a weekly basis.  However, despite some early struggles, the team believes they are just about 949 steps away from contending regularly.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy when we expanded”, team spokesman Artie Kline said in an exclusive interview.  “But all the top teams in Nascar started out small, just like us.  And we’ve mapped out a step-by-step plan on how to make it to the top—or at least compete for top-20s on a regular basis.
“Team management figures that we’ve already knocked off about fifty steps from our plan, so that leaves us with 949 goals to hit on our way to respectability.”
The team has competed regularly in recent years, though almost exclusively as a backmarker with little evidence of competing even for finishing on the lead lap.  But that hasn’t gotten the team down.
“Look, everybody here at RWR, from the team owner right down to the janitor/shocks specialist/assistant marketing director, we all know that this isn’t a quick fix”, Kline explained.  “We’re all in this for the long haul—if that takes five years or fifty, although I guess if it takes fifty there might be some turnover.”
Kline offered an exclusive look at portions of the plan to success, one that echoed Ray Evernham’s famous “Checklist” for Jeff Gordon and the Rainbow Warriors race team.
“We were definitely inspired by Ray’s motivational techniques”, Kline admitted.  “Ray had ‘From nobody to upstart, from upstart to contender’, and so forth.  Well, we might still be on the ‘From nobody to Daytona crash instigator’, but we’re getting there.”
The list includes such immediate and familiar steps as “Find steady sponsorship” and “Develop the pit crew”, but also included some goals specific to a team at the back of the pack.
“Well, we still have to settle on a full-time manufacturer”, Kline said while scanning the list on his office computer.  “There’s also the matter of making sure all our sponsors actually pay us, and trying to make sure our car chiefs don’t get ejected from the track—although I guess that’s on a LOT of teams’ lists lately.”

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Texas

I picked up another win last weekend in the Truck Series going with reliable old Kyle “Groundhog Day” Busch.  Sure, you could say that those wins don’t matter in my battle against Mystery Picker, but hey—Rowdy’s wins don’t matter in the battle for relevance, do they?
Yep, things are going alright for me—some wins under my belt in Nascar, leading the office March Madness pool, and had a great draft for my fantasy baseball league.  You’ll be reading this after opening day, but my advice is simple: Pick young All-Stars on offense and go cheap on pitching with rookies.  To be fair, I’ve never won a championship in fantasy baseball, but I’m not sure many people can say they actually finished a season.

CUP SERIES O’Reilly 500: Mystery Picker picks Ryan Blaney.  Favorite (2 wins): Kevin Harvick—well, at least he won’t look TOO lame with the cowboy hat and pistols.  Next Favorite: Martin Truex Jr.—maybe he’ll get fishing poles instead of guns.  Dark Horse: Jimmie Johnson—let’s be honest: if ANY Chevy wins, it’ll be an upset.

XFINITY SERIES (3 wins) Bariatric Solutions 300: Kyle Busch—OK, rise and shine campers!

TRUCK SERIES (3 wins) Vankor 350(k): Kyle Busch—and don’t forget your booties ‘cause its COLD out there!

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 4

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 4 OF 24: Bowman, Joe-man, and a Slow Man

OVERVIEW: This pack is strangely rife with Joey Logano cards, although again, even with three of them, no duplicates.  Alex Bowman perfects the “I am posing for a trading card” pose, while Kyle Busch does his best fake smile.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Justin Allgaier gets a double here, with an OPTIC throwback card.  We also see the biggest design flaw on the back of the cards, as the bottom half is pretty much just wasted white space.  C’mon, Donruss, give us some random trivia or mention how he designs his own cars for the seventy-fourth time.

IN FOCUS: Reading that Joey Logano and his wife once dressed as a hot dog and bun for Halloween is interesting.  Using a cartoon of Frankenstein to illustrate that point is just plain weird, unless they’re using it to prove a point on how most hot dogs are made of random parts/ingredients.

SPOTLIGHT: Last year it was Kerry Earnhardt—this year its Wally Dallenbach.  Who the heck considers a guy without a single win like Wally to be a “LEGEND”?  I’m guessing even Wally himself would be surprised by this.

SCORE: 2 lug nuts out of 10

BREAKING NEWS: Timmy Hill Signs with Joe Gibbs Racing

In a move that has shocked the Nascar world, journeyman driver Timmy Hill has signs with Joe Gibbs Racing shortly after this weekend’s race at Martinsville.
“I don’t know how this happened, its such a shock to all of us”, Hill said.  “I guess my pit signs just got mixed up with some of JGR’s equipment and they took it back to their shop by mistake.”
Hill debuted his brand-new Truck Series team on Saturday.  With so many first-time employees and Hill himself both driving for and running the team, that may have been what caused the mix-up.
“We took our equipment back to the shop late Saturday Night—by the time we unloaded Sunday Morning, we saw that we were missing the pit road sign we used to stop the truck in the right stall”, Hill said.  “We put something out of Twitter, half-joking, asking if anyone had seen a slightly-used pit board and the backup sign we hang over the stall.
“We got a response pretty quickly from the Joe Gibbs Racing guys saying they found it in Kyle Busch’s pit stall Sunday before the race”, Hill explained.  “They joked about holding it for ‘ransom’, but they said they can drop it off on their way back to Huntersville (North Carolina) Monday.”
The news has rippled quickly throughout the sport.
“This reminds me of the time I signed with Team Penske”, driver Corey LaJoie said.  “It was one of those track-wide signings on pit road, and by mistake I sat down with Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) instead of where I was supposed to.  Boy, was my face red!”
Hill said that once his pit sign is returned, he will continue to focus on growing his Truck Series team into a weekly contender for top-20s and separating his unibrow.

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Martinsville

Its nice to see that Kyle Busch’s stranglehold on the lower series finally ended last weekend, although it was fun posting Groundhog Day quotes for the past two weeks.  My life’s a lot like Phil Connors’ life, except for the absolution and learning at the end.
Meanwhile, its been crazy at work for ol’ Uncle Max—lots more responsibility even if there isn’t much more, well, monetary benefit.  But hey—I didn’t sign up as an assistant manager just for the pay.  Its about more than that—responsibility, dedication, motivating others.  Oh, and also running the annual workplace March Madness pool, which I still do out of the goodness of my own heart.

CUP SERIES STP 500: Mystery Picker picks Kevin Harvick.  Favorite (2 wins): Kyle Busch—does it count as a “sweep” if there’s only two races?  Or is it more of a dustpan?  Next Favorite: Denny Hamlin—local win etc. etc.  Dark Horse: Alex Bowman—hey, its not like the Camaro’s crappy aero will matter here.

TRUCK SERIES (2 wins) Martinsville 250: Kyle Busch—and put yourrrr little hand in miiiiiine…

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 3

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 3 of 24: Jimmie Double, Buescher’s Stubble, and Trivia Trouble

OVERVIEW: In a near repeat of the last pack, we get a big focus on the drivers of today less a single Dale Jarrett cards, this time showing him in his later years with RYR.  Meanwhile, the plus-side to having a ton of variants and different cards is that its darn-near impossible to get duplicates in the same pack, as seen here by two different Jimmie Johnson cards.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Most of the cards that feature the car (instead of the driver) are printed longways to show the most of the paint scheme possible.  However, then the back of the card is printed right-side up.  Why is that?

IN FOCUS: Here we gets the first of one my favorite sub-sets, a semi-throwback to the cards of yesteryear.  As seemingly all old cards used to, we get a piece of trivia.  And to answer the question, Donruss, no, I did NOT know that Austin Dillon lives in a converted barn.

SPOTLIGHT: This year’s main parallel has cards with a design that throws back to Donruss’s 1987 baseball cards.  No earthly idea why they chose that year for 2019, unless someone at the company really, really liked the look of Jose Canseco’s Rated Rookie card.

SCORE: 4 Twitter feuds out of 10

Richard Petty and Kyle Busch: Compare and Contrast

Lately there’s been a lot of comparisons between Richard Petty, holder of a record 200 Nascar Cup wins, and Kyle Busch, due to pass that number in all three of Nascar’s national touring series. Here now is a look at the ways The King and Rowdy are alike—and how they’re also quite different. 

Compare: Both drivers come from racing families. 
Contrast: Maurice Petty never testified that an ex-lover was plotting to kill him. 

Compare: Petty (STP) & Busch (M&M’s) both have long-term sponsorship relationships. 
Contrast: STP never demanded to be taken off the car after Richard Petty wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr under caution. 

Compare: Both Richard and Kyle have hundreds of unique trophies. 
Contrast: Hey, remember that time Richard Petty smashed one of his Martinsville grandfather clocks in victory lane? Yeah, me neither. 

Compare: Both drivers have had to beat some of the biggest stars in Cup Series history.
Contrast: Richard Petty never had to beat such Truck Series luminaries as Norm Benning, Jennifer Jo Cobb, or Timmy Hill. 

Compare: Both of them have become icons of their longtime manufacturers—Petty for Mopar, Busch for Toyota. 
Contrast: Dodge never put out anything as ugly as the current Supra (ok, ok, maybe the Aspen). 

Compare: Both have operated race teams—Petty Enterprises and Kyle Busch Motorsports. 
Contrast: Petty Enterprises was more or less a completely independent team. KBM, meanwhile, functions as a developmental organization for one of the top teams in the sport—Hendrick Motorsports. 

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Auto Club (California)

This is pitifuI.
A thousand peopIe...freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat.
What a hype.

They used to puII the hog out, and they used to eat it—you're hypocrites! AII of you!
You got a probIem, Larry?  Untie your tongue.  Come here and taIk.
Am I upsetting you...princess?
You want a prediction about the weather? You're asking the wrong PhiI.
I'II give you a winter prediction.
It's going to be coId.
It's going to be gray.
And it's going to Iast you for the rest of your Iife.

CUP SERIES Auto Club 400: Mystery Picker picks Ryan Newman.  Favorite (1 win): Kyle Busch—once again the eyes of the nation have turned here…  Next Favorite: Martin Truex Jr.—to this…TINY TOWN IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA…  Dark Horse: Daniel Suarez—Blah Blah BLAH Blah BLAH Blah BLAH!!!

XFINITY SERIES (3 wins) PAG 300: Kyle Busch—There is NO WAY this winter is EVER going to end…

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 2

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 2 OF 24: DJ, Brad K, and Carl’s Gone Away

OVERVIEW: This pack focuses almost exclusively on the now, with the exception of Dale Jarrett’s one-year sojourn in the 28 car (for some reason).  Also, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets the “number on the hat because we don’t have a sponsor this weekend” treatment.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Dale Jr. gets the LEGENDS treatment this time, while the back of the card talks about how rookies drive on guts.  Speaking of which, after going through this entire set, I have a gut feeling that Donruss couldn’t get the license to produce Dale Sr. cards.

IN FOCUS: Joey Logano gets a throwback with the “Action Packed” sub-series, one of many many MANY sub-series, special collections, and parallel cards in this set.  Because when people stop buying your product because its overproduced, just produce more to make up the difference!

SPOTLIGHT: Ross Chastain gets the regular “OPTIC” treatment in a manner that makes it look like he’s a spirit or apparition.  He looks like he’s not even there—much like Ganassi’s DCSolar sponsorship, come to think of it.

SCORE: 5 victory lane hats out of 10

Nascar to Run Midweek “House Show Races”

In an attempt to drum up interest in the sport in smaller markets, Nascar announced today that they will begin running untelevised “House Show Races” midweek starting later this season. 
“We’ve been working in bigger media markets for years—Los Angeles, Detroit, Dover—but we rarely get the chance to run in front of smaller, more-intimate audiences”, Nascar spokesman Scott Tronson said in a prepared statement. “With our new so-called House Show Races we’ll be able to show mid-sized markets what Nascar is really all about.”
Taking a page from pro-wrestling, the House Show Races will not be televised, giving incentive to those in the area to attend the race. 
“We can save a lot of money by not having to prepare the facilities for broadcast”, Tronson explained. “Besides, our media partners FS1 and NBCSN said their midweek schedules are already filled with auto auctions and sports gambling shows.”
To those who will get the chance to see Nascar in this new format, you can expect a different “show” than what you normally see on TV. 
“Of course not every driver will be able to participate in every race, and they’ll be non-points events”, Tronson’s statement read. “However, we plan to introduce a new Intercontinental Points Leader championship for our drivers to chase—just wait till you see Michael McDowell and Daniel Hemric beating and banging for the lead at Gateway!”
When reached for comment, acting Nascar Leader Jim France declined comment. 

Spade Racing Picks: Uncle Max vs. Mystery Picker—Phoenix

D.J. #1: Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.
D.J. #2: It's coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?
D.J. #1: Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that, you know, that, uh, that blizzard thing.
D.J. #2: [mockingly] That blizzard - thing. That blizzard - thing. Oh, well, here's the report! The National Weather Service is calling for a "big blizzard thing!"
D.J. #1: Yessss, they are. But you know, there's another reason why today is especially exciting.
D.J. #2: Especially cold!
D.J. #1: Especially cold, okay, but the big question on everybody's lips...
D.J. #2: On their chapped lips...
D.J. #1: On their chapped lips, right: Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?
D.J. #2: Punxsutawney Phil!
D.J. #1: That's right, woodchuck-chuckers - it's...
D.J. #1, D.J. #2: [in unison] GROUNDHOG DAY!

CUP SERIES TicketGuardian 500: Mystery Picker picks Ryan Preece.  Favorite: Kyle Busch—And put yourrrrr little hand in miiiiine…  Next Favorite: Kevin Harvick—there ain’t no river or mountain, we can’t cliiiiiimb…  Dark Horse: Ryan Newman—Babe.  I got you babe.  I got you babe.

XFINITY SERIES (2 wins) Arizona 200: Kyle Busch—Well, it’s Groundhog Day…again…

Opening a Sealed Box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards PACK 1

Recently I got a sealed box of 2019 Donruss Racing Cards—24 packs, 8 cards per pack.  Join me as I go through the entire case, pack-by-pack, to see what awaited me. (Click any picture to enlarge)

PACK 1 OF 24: Patrick, Reddick, and a Petty Hat-Trick

OVERVIEW: We kick things off with a pretty good combo of drivers—even if we get 2 less cards per pack than last year *grumble*.  A few current stars, some legends, and even a few rising stars as well.  And Danica.

SPECIAL SPECIAL: Dale Jr. gets the ICONS treatment, rendered in “Yo! MTV Raps” font for some reason.

IN FOCUS: So the issue with making physical trading cards is the long lead time to get them designed, copy-written, proofed, printed, finished, sealed, packaged, and distributed.  That’s how you wind up with cards for Danica Patrick, someone who raced a grand total of one race last year.  Yeah, she ran in the Indy 500 as well, but I don’t think all seven IndyCar fans will mind all that much.

SPOTLIGHT: Donruss heavily hyped its “OPTIC” line of reflective cards this year—included in that line are these “Illusion” cards like the one here for Kevin Harvick.  While I guess “Illusion” is a good description for how the card looks, its kind of a bad idea to have a picture of a driver with a word like “Illusion” in front of him—might as well just have it say “Phoney”, “Fake”, or “Dillon Brother”.

SCORE: 7 tapered spacers out of 10

Cup Series Busts: Nascar’s Top-10 Most Disappointing Drivers PART 2


For every Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson—drivers who excelled from early-on for Nascar’s best teams—there were plenty of other drivers who would prove themselves unworthy of such a chance.

Here now are the biggest busts in Cup Series history since 2000—Nascar’s Top-10 Most Disappointing Drivers.

NOTE—drivers were judged based on their performance in the Cup Series ONLY, not on performance in other series.  Also, while there are some drivers with wins on this list, the way those wins were gained (fuel mileage, plate track) were taken into account.  The quality of the rides the drivers had was also factored in, as was any dip in performance of said rides while they were driving there.  All statistics are through the end of the 2018 season.

5. PAUL MENARD—1 win in 435+ Cup Series starts.  Top teams raced for: Wood Bros. (allied with Penske).  Mid-level teams raced for: RCR.
Who knows what impact the relatively
late start to Paul Menard's Cup career
has had on his on-track performance
Why he’s on here: If we take away the elephant in the room—accusations that the only way he’s been able to sustain his racing career is due to the considerable financial support of his wealthy family business—and look at Menard’s career simply by results, what we have is a journeyman who has yet to show that he can win on more than just a fuel mileage gamble.  Menard raced seven years for RCR and while the team was not exactly top-flight, he never posted a single top-ten season points finish.  Meanwhile, it was hoped that a move to the Wood Brothers team—now essentially a part of Team Penske—would finally show that he could contend if given the best equipment.  Instead he posted a single top-five and finished 19th in points—ten spots lower than Ryan Blaney had done in the 21 car the year before.
Mitigating factors: Menard had a later-than-usual Cup Series debut, running full-time for the first-time in 2007 at age 26.  This may not have mattered had he had a start to his Cup career with a better team, but two years with a rapidly declining DEI did him no favors, nor did another two years split between Yates Racing and RPM.  While he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning, he still has time to turn things around under the Penske umbrella.

4. DAVID GILLILAND—0 wins in 333 Cup Series starts.  Top teams raced for: None.  Mid-level teams raced for: RYR/Yates Racing.
One of David Gilliland's
Robert Yates Racing cars
Why he’s on here: After winning an Xfinity Series race in 2006 for a decidedly low-level team, David Gilliland established himself as one of the hottest free-agents in Nascar.  Soon after, he found himself in a solid Cup ride with Robert Yates Racing, and while he failed to impress in his 13-race 2006 rookie year, hopes were high for the future.  Unfortunately Gilliland never delivered on the promise of that single Xfinity Series race—outside of plate tracks and road courses he never posted a top-ten in the Cup Series.  After the 2008 season he was gone from Yates, eventually finding a home for the low-budget Front Row Motorsports team.
Mitigating factors: RYR/Yates Racing was on its way down before Gilliland got there, and the team soon succumbed to sponsorship departures and became an also-ran.  FRM did little to allow Gilliland to show what he could do, meaning that he essentially went his entire Cup career without a shot in truly top-level equipment.

3. SAM HORNISH JR.—0 wins in 167 Cup Series starts.  Top teams raced for: Penske.  Mid-level teams raced for: RPM.
A hero card from Sam Hornish Jr.'s
time at Team Penske
Why he’s on here: With three IndyCar championships in tow, Sam Hornish Jr. was transferred to the Nascar Cup Series full-time in 2008 by team owner Roger Penske.  For the next three years he did little-to-nothing of note—despite racing for a top-level team, Hornish posted only two top-fives in three full seasons.  After attracting criticism for his driving style and failing to finish higher than 28th in the points standings, Hornish was out of the Cup Series after 2010.  He would make two brief comebacks—in 2012 again with Penske as a substitute for AJ Allmendinger, and in 2015 for Richard Petty Motorsports—but didn’t come close to contending for wins.
Mitigating factors: The Penske team was arguably in a slump during his three-year stint there, although the cause-and-effect of having an unproductive, inexperienced stock car driver like Hornish there has to be considered.  His 2015 comeback came with an RPM team on the way down, and its arguable that the team (which had little steady sponsorship) was barely mid-level.

2. DAVID STREMME—0 wins in 200 Cup Series starts.  Top teams raced for: Penske.  Mid-level teams raced for: Ganassi.
David Stremme's "unbranded"
Penske Cup car (unofficially
sponsored by Verizon Wireless)
Why he’s on here: If this list was for most-disappointing drivers across all three of Nascar’s national touring series, Stremme might be number one.  Despite frequently showing promise in the Xfinity Series, he never posted a single national touring series win in 250 starts.  As for his Cup career, despite running two years for the capable Chip Ganassi Racing team, he failed to impress, finishing 33rd and 24th in points.  After a year spent regrouping in the Xfinity Series he returned to Cup with the opportunity of a lifetime—running for Roger Penske.  However, Stremme again failed to deliver, posting zero top-ten race finishes and getting released from the ride with three races left in the season.  He would race for low-level teams for the rest of his career.
Mitigating factors: Stremme showed improvement of nine places in the final points standings from 2006 to 2007 with Ganassi—2008 could have been a breakout year, but he was released in favor of Dario Franchitti.  His time with Penske was arguably at the team’s lowest ebb, as the three-car team posted only two wins the entire year.  While its arguable if he “deserved” a third shot in a decent ride, he never received one after his departure from Penske.

1. DANICA PATRICK—0 wins in 191 Cup Series starts.  Top teams raced for: SHR.  Mid-level teams raced for: None.
Danica Patrick during her ill-fated
year sponsored by Nature's Bakery
Why she’s on here: Perhaps no driver has entered the world of Nascar with more hype, hope, and hoopla than Danica Patrick did for JR Motorsports (in the Xfinity Series) and Stewart-Haas Racing.  A pole in the first race of her first full-time season offered a bit of hope that she could deliver on the promise of the marketing machine behind her.  Alas, in five years—all of them with the championship-level SHR team—she posted only seven top-ten finishes and never finished higher than 24th in Cup Series points.  After a few short years she was looked at less as a potential star and more of an afterthought, and her departure from the sport after the 2018 Daytona 500 barely registered on a national scale.
Mitigating factors: Throughout her entire career Patrick ran a grand total of TWO races in developmental series (one in K&N East, one in ARCA), arguably stunting her ability to properly develop as a stock car driver.  She entered the sport with the most expectations to perform of any driver this side of Dale Earnhardt Jr., and her behavior on and off the track seemed to sometimes show that she was cracking under the immense pressure.  Furthermore, the departure of longtime sponsor GoDaddy and the resulting controversy from ersatz replacement Nature’s Bakery likely contributed to her relatively young departure from Nascar.

WHO MISSED THE LIST (and why) in no particular order:
JJ Yeley—if this list was a top-11, Yeley could have been in that spot.  He barely misses out on being included due to his lack of a true “second chance” in a decent ride after his two-year stint at JGR.
Scott Riggs—he did little to impress in his five full-time Cup seasons, but he spent them with mid-level equipment at-best with the MBV, Evernham, and Haas CNC teams.
Juan Pablo Montoya—two wins in seven full-time seasons in Cup—both on road courses—isn’t exactly setting the world on fire.  However, he was a consistent threat for top-fives and had a career-best 8th-place finish in the points standings in 2009.
Marcos Ambrose—yes, his two Cup wins were both at Watkins Glen, and yes, his near-third win was at Sonoma, but he managed to post top-fives at oval tracks despite running for subpar teams in JTG-D and RPM.
Patrick Carpantier, Christian Fittipaldi, Dario Franchitti—part of a brief craze in which Nascar teams became obsessed with bringing in IndyCar and F1 drivers directly to Cup, none of these drivers did anything of note in stock cars.  However, none of them got more than a partial season to prove themselves.
Ty Dillon—while he hasn’t posted a single top-five in 90+ Cup starts, they’ve all either been in substitute roles, part-time rides, or with the lower-level Germain team.  Plus, he’s very early into his career.
AJ Allmendinger—his lone Cup Series win in 371 Cup starts was on a road course, but he only had a single shot in truly top-level equipment—his year with Penske that was cut short due to a drug suspension.  The rest of his career has been for mid-to-lower-level teams like RPM and JTG-D.
Reed Sorenson—his three year run with Ganassi only showed hints of promise, but after that it was one year with a disintegrating RPM before being stuck in inferior equipment.
Jason Leffler—he had a terrible rookie year with Ganassi (in which he pulled from the car for both road course events), then got a half-season shot with JGR before never again coming close to even a mid-level ride.
Scott Wimmer—he finished third in the first race of his rookie season, then did little else over the next two-plus years.  However, he did so with a declining Bill Davis team and a nearly out-of-business Morgan McClure team.
Scott Pruett—the road-racing ace did little in his full-time Cup season in 2000, but did so with the brand-new single-car team of PPI Motorsports.  He never got a shot with anything other than a one-off after that.
Brendan Gaughan, Travis Kvapil—neither did much in their rookie seasons with Penske-Jasper Racing, but neither driver got a second chance with a full-time top-flight Cup ride afterwards.