The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder ... After Pocono by Becca Gladden -- Sunday August 5, 2007

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Ten Points to Ponder ... After Pocono

Becca Gladden · Sunday August 5, 2007


1. Robby Robbed? – I’m going to take the minority position here, but I believe NASCAR initially made the right call placing Robby Gordon in 13th for the restart in Saturday’s Busch race. The issue according to NASCAR was not where Gordon was when the caution came out, but the fact that he failed to “maintain a cautious pace” under the yellow. However, NASCAR did compound the confusion by initially telling Gordon to line up in first…then in second…then in 13th. The officiating crew also messed up by restarting the race with Gordon still in second, knowing full well that he would wreck Marcos Ambrose after the restart – which, of course, he did. For his part, Gordon said that the reason he didn’t move back was that he was going to appeal the finish and “wanted to make sure that the race played out the way it should.”

2. Robby Wrong – Even if you side with Gordon on the initial protest, his failure to acknowledge the black flag and subsequent burnout after the checkers was quite over the top, a move which resulted in his suspension from Sunday’s Cup race. On his website today, Gordon apologized for his actions, stating, “I want to start by expressing my regrets to the sponsors, fans, and all competitors for any part I played in the miscommunication, confusion, and uncertainty surrounding the finish in this weekend's Busch race in Montreal.” Robby added, “It was not my purpose to disrespect the authority of NASCAR or the officials. I do respect their authority to run the race and make the calls, and I understand the significance of the black flag.” Read the entire statement here.

3. Robby’s Revenge – On the other hand, Gordon might show everyone next week that hell hath no fury like a racer scorned. “We’ll sit this weekend out, but we will come to Watkins Glen with a vengeance to win both races,’‘ Gordon said Sunday. In his career, Gordon has one Cup win in eight starts at Watkins Glen – he has yet to score a Busch victory there.

4. Ambrose Annoyed – Marcos Ambrose led half the laps in the Montreal Busch race, but was on the receiving end of a retaliatory spin by Robby Gordon with two laps to go. Despite finishing seventh, Ambrose maintained his composure after the race, explaining, “I promised myself that I wouldn’t get mad” about racing incidents in the Busch series. Asked how difficult it was not to be angry, Ambrose quipped, “I’ll be in therapy for about two years, I think.”

5. Pocono Runaway – Looks like the Car of Tomorrow can’t come to Pennsylvania soon enough. Today’s Pocono race was a total yawner – even Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s official race report described the event as “mundane.” There was very little passing up front, and the majority of lead changes occurred on pit road. Kurt Busch simply blew the rest of the field away – leading 175 of 200 laps for an easy victory. Not even a series of late-race cautions could create a close finish in this one.

6. Tussle for Twelfth – Entering today’s race, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was barely hanging on to the 12th-place Chase cutoff spot with a slim 13-point lead over Kurt Busch. Busch and Earnhardt finished one-two on Sunday, but the win was enough to give Busch the 12th spot and move Earnhardt into 13th – now seven points behind Busch. Before the race, Earnhardt said that he had the Chase situation “under control,” but Busch clearly has the momentum, with an average finish of fifth over the past four races compared to 23rd for Earnhardt, Jr.

7. Kenseth Consistency – In typical under-the-radar fashion, Matt Kenseth is quietly having an impressive year, second only to points leader Jeff Gordon in Top 10s, lead lap finishes, and average finishing position. Matt has finished 14th or higher in all but three races this season and is third in points after Pocono, trailing Gordon and second place Denny Hamlin.

8. Bud on Bud Pole – Were you as surprised as I was to hear that Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s Pocono pole was his first in 175 races? Before this weekend, if someone would have bet me that he had gone that long without a pole, I would’ve lost.

9. Waltrip’s Woes – Here’s the good news: All three Michael Waltrip Racing cars raced on Sunday for the first time since the season opener in Daytona. The bad news: None of Waltrip’s cars finished well, with Waltrip coming in 38th, David Reutimann 41st, and Dale Jarrett 42nd. The funny news: Mikey’s new NAPA commercials take full advantage of his troubles, as Waltrip responds to “fan” mail in truly self-deprecating fashion. In the meantime, Dave Blaney had the best run for Toyota at Pocono, finishing 20th.

10. Pondering the Points – It’s kind of funny to still hear folks using the phrase “under the old points system” with the Chase now in its fourth full season. But a Jeff Gordon fan emailed me this week to say that “under the old points system,” Gordon would be solidly en route to his sixth Cup championship, having theoretically “won” his fifth in 2004. Your thoughts?

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


©2000 - 2008 Becca Gladden and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Robert Eastman
08/06/2007 08:31 AM

The NASCAR CUP point system debate will probably go on forever, at least until all of the “new system” detractors have “passed on.” Maybe the very fact that Jeff Gordon would now be going for his 6th Championship instead of his fifth, is proof that the new system is working. (I am a JG fan).
In F1, everyone got sick, tired, and bored with Michael Schumacher’s domination of the racing and championships.
Though many of us longtime fans, refuse to embrace the new system, it’s fascinating that the new FEDEX CUP on the PGA Tour has adapted the NASCAR points format and has backed it with a “ton of money.”
Everyone on the PGA Tour seems to think that it brings a new excitement to their sport. Probably the resistance to it in NASCAR is the fact that it is “change.” Many people hate change, even if it’s for the better.
A toast to nostalgia, a cheer for the future!
A CHEER for Marcos Ambrose, a CLASS ACT !!!

08/06/2007 09:19 AM

I am annoyed by the old points system talk. Keep in mind that every racer that was in the top five in points well before the chase started did things to test various setups, parts, combinations etc. to prepare for running better in the Chase. Gordon probably would not have won in 2005 or whenever the Jeffie boy fans are talking because the other teams would have done things differently. Yes his finishes in comparision to everyone else would have had this affect, except that the finished would have been different if other teams did not experiment, race a little different, take chances, etc.
So let’s stop talking about it.

08/06/2007 01:08 PM

Robby was the victim of Nascar’s poor officiating again. Robby’s reaction was a little over the top but who wouldn’t be upset.

Nascar will milk the publicity at Robby’s expense again.

08/06/2007 03:20 PM

Amen Brian:

I’ve been saying that same point about Gordon and the 2004 Championship. For a history lesson, Jimmie Johnson had a big pt. lead before that Chase and started working on stuff and eventually lost that lead going into that year’s Chase. He would not have done that under the 2003 format. Heck, Richard Petty might’ve won 10-12 championships under the Latford system throughout his long career. Only judge championships given their time and place.


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