The Frontstretch: 10 Points To Ponder ... After New Hampshire by Becca Gladden -- Monday July 2, 2007

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10 Points To Ponder ... After New Hampshire

Becca Gladden · Monday July 2, 2007

 

1. Bonus Points, Part One – In the wake of last week’s penalties against the Nos. 24 and 48, drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kyle Petty said that a better punishment would have been taking away bonus points – the extra 10 points per win that drivers get once they make the Chase. But I don’t see how this penalty could possibly work because not all drivers will have bonus points, making it impossible to apply across the board. Since not every driver with bonus points will make the Chase, taking bonus points away from those drivers would be, well, pointless.

2. Bonus Points, Part Two – If you had any question about whether the new bonus points would encourage drivers to go for the win rather than settling for a good points day, consider today’s admission by race winner Denny Hamlin’s crew chief, Mike Ford:

“I don’t know that it gets more aggressive than what we did. We didn’t have the best car, and the only way we had a shot to get those 10 (bonus) points inside the Chase is to shoot for the win.”

The purpose of these bonus points was to shift the emphasis from point racing to winning, and, according to both Hamlin and Ford, it seems to be having the desired effect.

3. Phoenix Vindication? – The tracks at Loudon and Phoenix are often compared as similar flat one-milers, and Denny Hamlin was bitterly disappointed after losing at Phoenix in April to Jeff Gordon despite leading 70 laps there. Gordon won Phoenix with Hamlin finishing third, but Denny held off a hard-charging Gordon in the closing laps to take the win at Loudon. With these two drivers currently first and second in points, the competition will only get more fierce between them going forward.

4. Toyota Takes P1 – Sunday’s Loudon race will go down in history as the occasion of Toyota’s first Cup pole, achieved by Dave Blaney. Blaney led 30 laps early, but lost the handling as the race went on and finished a disappointing 29th in his Camry. Blaney was the highest Toyota finisher, followed by David Reutimann (38th) and Jeremy Mayfield (40th).

5. And Speaking Of Toyota… – What do you guys think about Brian Vickers missing the race? He qualified 28th, but his time was disallowed after he failed post-qualifying inspection by 1/8-inch beyond the 1/4-inch tolerance for minimum height in the left front. If Vickers was in the Top 35, he still could have raced despite the problem, but as one of the drivers outside the top 35, he was disqualified. Fair or not? What about the Top 35 rule in general?

6. When Dale Junior Talks … – People listen, even at the company that he will soon leave behind. It was May 10, 2007, when Junior officially announced his pending departure from DEI. There had been 10 Cup races before that day and seven races since. In the pre-announcement phase, Earnhardt Jr.‘s average finish was 18.4 – after the announcement, 10.3. Teammate Martin Truex Jr.‘s pre-announcement average finish, 22.2 – since the announcement, 8.6. It’s obvious that Earnhardt’s criticism of DEI lit a fire under a few folks that changed the direction of the company.

7. Trackside Goes International – If you missed SpeedTV’s “Trackside” on Friday, you missed a show with a decidedly international flare. The two drivers interviewed were Juan Pablo Montoya, a native of Colombia, and Marcos Ambrose from Australia. With the Busch series racing in both Mexico and Canada this season (Montreal in August) and the latest rumor of British-born IRL star Dan Wheldon switching to NASCAR, it’s clear that the sanctioning body is forging ahead with it’s goal of world-wide expansion – and it’s working well.

8. Chevy’s Still Superior – Hard to believe that all of the top eight finishers were members of the Bowtie Brigade, with Matt Kenseth in a Ford and Ryan Newman in Dodge rounding out the Top 10. Chevy also has eight of the Top 10 drivers in overall points, with Kenseth and Carl Edwards the only non-Chevy drivers out there…both in Fords.

9. New Hampshire’s New Nickname – Based on both pre- and post-race interviews, there was one phrase that was uttered so frequently it seems like it should be this track’s new motto … or maybe it’s what all of us can look forward to at every Car of Tomorrow track: “Hard To Pass”

10. Kudos to Cousin Carl – Carl Edwards showed a good bit of moxie, recovering from a dreadful pit road incident to finish 13th. Said Edwards,

“The good news is we had an awesome car – the bad news (is) it fell off the jack when were leading the thing pitting under green. Everybody kept their composure,“ Edwards noted. “The car was still good enough. But this is a race-winner right here, not a 13th-place car.”

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Ed
07/02/2007 06:53 AM
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I doubt that JR’s comments had that much of an affect on DEI. Teams usually do better once the driver makes his announcement. JR. might have been doing fine if he had been focused on winning instead of trying to take over DEI.

Victor
07/02/2007 08:57 AM
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Don’t like Dan Weldon and I hope he never shows up in NASCAR. He is a jerk to fans and will make a poor representative for NASCAR. He is just so “full of himself!” I’ve heard before that he wants some of NASCAR’s money. I know NASCAR’s desire for diversity but the foreign invastion ruined IRL for us and I truly hate to see that happen to the stock car series.

HankZ
07/02/2007 09:02 AM
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Jr is running better now that the weight is off his shoulders. And he seems happier – less to worry about. Truex is running better because either he got a kick in the pants or a kick in the wallet.

Sandra Canfield
07/02/2007 09:05 AM
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I think Jr is doing better because he is leaving DEI not because of him trying to take over and he don’t have to worry about anything else but driving. Look out next year. DEI has to figure out if their going to survive they have to get their programs better because their losing their biggest moneymaker.

Travis Rassat
07/02/2007 09:24 AM
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Regarding #5 – I think the penalty on Vickers was fair in light of the current rules – they simply disqualified his time, which I believe is consistent with past rulings.

Personally, I think the top 35 rule and past-champions provisional needs to go away. The fastest 43 cars should be in the race. I think that would be more in the spirit of racing than the current rules.

What makes this especially interesting is that Vickers’ penalty hurt him a lot more than the Hendricks cars’ penalties last week. If the top-35 rule were not in effect and the Hendricks cars were sent home like Vickers, that would have probably been a more effective punishment.

Regarding #7 – Dan Wheldon is a talented driver and seems to be a good guy with a pretty good sense of humor. I personally would like for him and Hornish to stay in the IRL for the sake of the IRL – the IRL can’t afford to lose all of their talent to NASCAR.

Kenneth
07/02/2007 10:19 AM
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I think the penalty on Vickers was completely absurd. David Poole tried to explain NASCAR’s decision on the Sirius radio show earlier and said NASCAR disqualified his time because it was done with an illegal car. Well, that’s nice and dandy, but what about the Gatorade Duel win that Jeff Gordon was able to retain despite having an ‘illegal car’, and JoSauter/KyBusch being able to retain their positions despite also having ‘illegal cars’ (all the cars mentioned were for the same ‘too low’ infraction). I’m just failing to see the logic in that, I guess. Isn’t it more egregious to have a car deemed illegal for a race, rather than qualifying?

I also wish Hamlin would have gone out of his way to praise his pit crew, seeing as how he has thrown them under the bus numerous times so far this year.

jc
07/02/2007 03:16 PM
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I have said this a bazillion times (unfortunately, I am not in a position for anyone important to listen!) that a point penalty should follow you the WHOLE SEASON. It shouldn’t be erased at the beginning of the Chase. If/when Jr, Jeff, Jimmie, Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Kahne, Riggs and/or Sadler (I think that is all the point penalties this year) get their points reset for the Chase, their new point total should reflect their point penalty as well. So, if Kurt Busch makes it without winning a race, he should have 4900 points, NOT 5000. Kenseth should have 4960 (-50 point penalty + 10 bonus points). Jimmie and Jeff should have 4940 (-100 penalty, + 40 BP).

Brian France Sucks
07/02/2007 07:10 PM
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Dan Wheldon; hmmm sounds like an arrogant young Jeff Gordon, minus the driving talent. Too bad this isn’t the good old days or somebody would polish the pavement behind the haulers with his pretty face. The Top 35 rule is a joke; gotta go, along with NA$Car’s inconsistent rulings on everything/anything. Do these guys throw darts at the board to decide what happens? Looked like Cousin Carl had a top 2 car and some Bill Buckner luck. Too bad. Down with Brian France!

Cat
07/02/2007 10:11 PM
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On what Denny Hamlin had said earlier about Jimmie and Jeff losing Bonus Points due to there infractions…I think if you were to take away Bonus Points it is like taking away a win. Those are points earned by winning, not any other way. So NASCAR had it right. 100 points was deemed fair. Sorry Denny, I think Tony is too much of an influence on you when it comes to the complaining department!

 

Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.