NASCAR boss MIA

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

At Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday Tony Stewart commented that with just three points separating him from Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship leader Carl Edwards, and with the pair battling each other the past couple of races, that NASCAR boss Brian France must be absolutely giddy.

After all it is really the only show left in the motor sports world with the Formula One crown already decided.

Still at every race you can see F1’s Bernie Ecclestone strutting around his fiefdom like the tiny perfect czar that he thinks he is.

But where is NASCAR’s France. Shouldn’t he have been at Texas, where he could have been the one handling the Kyle Busch debacle and then, in turn, celebrating the great Chase race.

Let’s hope that the tall foreheads down at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach dispatch France to Phoenix this week to show that he, too, is more than just a suit with a big office, but a real fan of NASCAR.

He created the Chase format, after all, and it behooves him to be there in its finest moment.

VETTEL ON CUSP OF SHU’S WIN RECORD

When Michael Schumacher drove to the top step of the Formula One podium 13 times back in 2004, there were many who thought it would be a long time before another driver would equal the mark.

But with two races left on the 2011 Grand Prix calendar, Sebastian Vettel is within reach of sharing that remarkable record with his fellow German.

Vettel has 11 wins so far in this, his second consecutive championship season, and was a two-time winner at Abu Dhabi where the penultimate race of 2011 goes on Sunday.

Also in sight for Vettel, if he wins the pole on the final two weekends, is Nigel Mansell’s 1992 record of 14 pole positions.

And he loves the Abu Dhabi Yas circuit.

“The track in Abu Dhabi is special — this will be our third Grand Prix there,” Vettel said in a team release.

“The race starts at dusk and finishes at night, which means we have to drive with special helmet visors because of the different light conditions. The other factor is that we drive anti-clockwise.

“The track’s a bit like Singapore from the speed, but the asphalt is smoother. There are two special features — one is the passage under the Yas Hotel. Where else can you actually drive under your room?

“The second is the pit-lane exit, which is also special. It’s partly underground and it feels like you’re coming out of an underground parking garage when you drive through it.”

McDRIVER BRINGS HOME A CLEAN CAR

They call Michael McDowell “McDriver” because he is so often called to fill in for any other driver who is sick, hurt or in Kyle Busch’s case on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, suspended.

Nobody was expecting the 26-year-old McDowell to win, and he didn’t, but he did bring the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota home in one piece, something that is valued in the Sprint Cup garage.

“They’re happy about that,” McDowell said of the feat. “But I’m a race car driver. I want to win races and I had a car that typically wins races. I wish we had got a couple of more cautions to work on it, but, all in all, it just is what it is.”


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