• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

FINAL INDY RACE MAKES GORDON THIS WEEK'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL'

Thank you to those who have Emailed me comments about The Summer of Our Discontent, my ninth anniversary blog. Given the conversation it has generated, I'm going to leave it up for another week for your further consideration. Here's this week's new "Power Players" list:

POWER PLAYERS for the week of July 19: This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Jeff Gordon -- The last Brickyard 400 for the defending and five-time race winner, who grew up and made his USAC mark in Indiana. It's a reminder how important Gordon's 1994 victory in the inaugural Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not only to his career, but also in the history of NASCAR and American motorsports. Gordon gets a parade in his honor Thursday in Pittsboro.

  2. Tony Stewart -- Marks 10 years as owner at Eldora Speedway with Kings Royal and NASCAR's Truck series. And will be a media and fan focus at the Brickyard as the Indiana native tries to reverse a difficult Cup season. But Stewart didn't sound very optimistic on a media teleconference last week.

  3. Peter Clifford -- New NHRA president goes with Fox Sports 1 to replace ESPN next season, with majority of final eliminations presented "live" and four on Fox broadcast network. It's a big business undertaking for the sanction, which will assume production responsibilities and sell advertising and sponsorship packages.

  4. Kyle Busch -- Remarkable three wins in his last four Sprint Cup starts but still needs to be in top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase. There will be a national media outcry if he doesn't after comeback from leg and foot injuries.

 5. Shane Stewart -- He beats Donny Schatz twice at Eldora Speedway, taking Friday's Knight Before the Kings Royal and then Saturday's $50,000 Kings Royal World of Outlaws "major."

   6. Steve Letarte -- His NBC telecast analysis of Jeff Gordon's final Indianapolis race will be a big test of how candid the former crew chief is willing to be about his former driver and team.

  7. Jim Utter -- Long-time Charlotte Observer NASCAR beat writer begins his new adventure on Motorsport.com on Wednesday.

 8. Doug Boles -- How many grandstand seats will the Indianapolis Motor Speedway president be able to sell for the troubled Brickyard 400? 

  9. Graham Rahal -- Another strong finish at Iowa Speedway for the series' best comeback story moves him into second place in points as a suspension failure puts championship favorite Juan Pablo Montoya into the wall. 

10. Robert Ballou -- USAC's Indiana Sprint Car Week champion.

more next week . . . ]