This year's Sprint Cup was awarded this past weekend at Homestead, where Jimmie Johnson scored his record fourth consecutive championship with a fifth-place finish behind race winner Denny Hamlin. (Oh yeah, "spoiler alert".) Anyway, on to the interesting part: the oval speedway had some unlikely German visitors for the series finale, leading the motorsport press and the fans to begin asking questions.
The Volkswagen Group's head of motorsports Hans-Joachim Stuck was reportedly among the spectators at Homestead this past weekend, and took a few visible meetings with NASCAR officials. But Stuck was quick to dispel any rumors. Although he kvelled over the purity of the spectacle that NASCAR offers, Stuck said that convincing the bean counters back in Wolfsburg that stock car racing made sense for them would be a tough sell.
If you think it would be an even tougher sell to fans, consider that VW's new plant in Chatanooga, Tennessee, could be only the first step in an increasing American presence for the German automaker, and that Toyota may have already prepared the ground for foreign makes to enter the series.
Meanwhile Stuck did confirm ongoing negotiations over the German auto group's potential participation in the Grand Am sportscar series, also owned by NASCAR's France family. According to Stuck, the Audi/Lamborghini V10 could be a perfect fit for the prototype racers, though they'd have to make it work with the spec ECU. Stuck also revealed that his company was discussing a possible entry into the IndyCar series.
The VW racing chief wasn't the only notable German at Homestead this past weekend, though, as Red Bull flew out its star driver Sebastian Vettel to witness the spectacle as well. After watching the race and chatting with former colleague Juan Pablo Montoya, Vettel said that F1 could stand to learn a lot from NASCAR, and that while he's committed to F1, he'd like to try out a stock car on an oval. This after his professed fascination with rallying as well. It's worth noting that Heikki Kovalainen, now looking for a new drive since leaving McLaren, was also at the race as a guest of Penske Racing, leading to speculation over the Finnish driver's prospects for next season.
[Source: Autosport | Image: Jason Smith/Getty]