The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder ... After Watkins Glen by Becca Gladden -- Sunday August 12, 2007

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Ten Points to Ponder ... After Watkins Glen

Becca Gladden · Sunday August 12, 2007

 

1. Exasperated with ESPN – I have heard very few positive comments about ESPN’s NASCAR coverage since they took over the race broadcasts after a seven-year absence. But today’s post-race “coverage” was abysmal, showing just two driver interviews (Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon) before switching to SportsCenter and its seemingly endless coverage of baseball and football. Despite promising race fans that they would return to the Glen for more post-race coverage during SportsCenter, they simply replayed the same interviews that had already aired. Completely unacceptable.

2. Rusty’s Remarks – I’ve also been hearing from a lot of you who are not pleased with Rusty Wallace’s work as a race commentator. The main viewer criticisms are that he talks too much and allows his personal biases to seep into his comments too often. Still, it was surprising to hear Wallace say that he was “afraid” to talk to Juan Pablo Montoya after Montoya’s tussle with Kevin Harvick because Montoya would probably answer him in Spanish. Joking or not, I’m sure NASCAR’s diversity directors just loved that one.

3. The Daly Planet – For some really interesting commentary and back story on the TV coverage of NASCAR in general, I recommend The Daly Planet blog by motorsports TV critic John Daly. Be sure to check out today’s entry entitled, “Culture Clash Explodes On ‘NASCAR Now.’ “ Good stuff there.

4. Stewart Streaking – When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Tony Stewart is sizzling right now, winning three of the last four Cup races – Chicago, Indy, and now Watkins Glen – and finishing sixth at Pocono. Stewart has a respectable record at Michigan where the circuit heads next week, notching 11 Top-10 finishes in 17 starts.

5. Earnhardt Ebbing – As quickly as Stewart’s fortunes have risen, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s have fallen. Junior dropped to 14th in the points today, two spots out of Chase contention, and has five DNFs on the season – four with engine failures. Interestingly, Dale is exactly 100 points behind 12th-place Kurt Busch – the same number of points he lost in a Car of Tomorrow penalty earlier this season. Despite Junior’s “What, Me Worry?” nonchalance, the time to start getting nervous is now. If Earnhardt doesn’t win a race this year, it will be his first and only winless season since going to Cup full-time in 2000.

6. Discouraged Eury – You can’t blame Tony Eury, Jr. for being disheartened after today’s 42nd-place finish, stating, “We can’t go to the Chase like this.” But Eury sounded a little too resigned to a fate not yet fully decided, saying, “If we make the Chase, fine. If we don’t, fine.” With Earnhardt, Jr. leaving for Hendrick Motorsports next year, it sounds like a lot of the fight has already left the No. 8 team, and Eury Jr. in particular.

7. Quote of the Race – “I just wanted to know if there was a new rule,” quipped team owner Felix Sabates, explaining why he went to the NASCAR office to ask about Kevin Harvick’s team fixing the No. 29 car under the red flag. No, there wasn’t a new rule, said NASCAR officials, and Harvick’s team was quickly informed of same.

8. Two in the Top 10 – There were just two manufacturers represented in the Top 10 at the Glen – Chevy with seven drivers and Ford with three. Kurt Busch was the highest finishing Dodge in 11th, and P.J. Jones, a road-course fill-in for Michael Waltrip Racing, came home the highest Toyota finisher at 25th.

9. Hamlin vs. Gordon – I’ve been saying for a few months now that Denny Hamlin, for whatever reason, is making it personal between him and Jeff Gordon. Despite all the media hype about Gordon vs. Stewart for the title, it’s Hamlin who’s currently second in points, followed by Matt Kenseth and then Tony Stewart. Hamlin was on the No. 24’s bumper with eight laps to go but couldn’t complete the pass. “I should’ve just knocked the 24 out of the way,” he said later on his in-car radio. “I wish I had it to do all over again.” Hamlin came in second for a 1-2 Joe Gibbs finish, while Gordon’s late-race spin sent him back to ninth, giving owner Rick Hendrick three cars in the Top 10 and all four in the Top 15.

10. Bonus Points or Bust – No doubt, Jeff Gordon was going for the win when he wheel-hopped it and spun in turn one with two laps to go. “I wanted that win really bad. Points don’t mean anything,” said Gordon after the race. Then, asked if he would rather have the trophy or the 10 Chase bonus points for the victory, Gordon replied, “The bonus points.” But he changed his mind again in the same interview, stating, “I’d probably take that back. I’d probably rather have had the trophy than the bonus points. I think we can beat (Stewart) in the final 10 races, whether we’re ahead or behind in the bonus points.” What say you, race fans? Was Gordon thinking more about the win or the bonus points with two laps to go?

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Douglas
08/13/2007 06:26 AM
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Isn’t “good racing” a thing of the past with the “race-to-the-chase” scenario? Half the racing season consists of drivers “protecting the points”, rather than racing for position!

Summed up rather nicely by Jeff Gordon and his “to heck with the points” comment! Being in a big lead for the chase, he can afford to “throw away” a race and ACTUALLY GO RACING!

Do you think, if it were not for chasing the points (or in Robby Gordon’s case being on probation)that much more action would have occurred because drivers were actually trying to improve their positions?

Once Jr. left the scene, drivers like Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton,Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and others, just tried to stay where they were and get a “good points” finish!

Particularly Robby Gordon & Ryan Newman! In Robbie’s case being on probation he just drove around in the top ten without pressing the issues, also with Ryan Newman, just riding around “in position”, not trying to improve position and taking the risk of jeopardizing his “points”!

Congrats NASCAR! What a stinking way to eliminate racing!

Oh, lest I forget! Have never been a Rusty Wallace fan, BUT he seems to be coming around as a broadcaster and is actually becoming quite good!

mmack
08/13/2007 06:43 AM
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Re: Dale Jr’s troubles and recent fall from the top 12. My wife and I were talking yesterday, and we both wondered if Dale Jr. missed the Chase this year, how would NASCAR tweak it so he would definitely make it in 2008? We both agreed there would be a “Fan Favorite Vote In” added if he misses The Chase this year.

Rajeev Jaswal
08/13/2007 07:49 AM
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ESPN has done a very mediocre job and I hope they got rid of the stupid draft animation. Rusty has done a decent job but sometimes he talks too much and adds his opinions too much rather than being neutral. The Chase has added some excitement and it won’t work the same for everyone. Jeff Gordon will whine this year because he is leading by a huge margin. But look at last year, he had his share of getting the shot at the title when the points were reset. The new system won’t make everyone happy but it does add some excitement.

zoomjim
08/13/2007 10:58 AM
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I agree with you on ESPN’s post race coverage – what a joke, and don’t even get me started on the fiasco that is “NASCAR Now”!

However, I think ESPN has done an excellent job covering the races, and their pre-race show is getting better.

john
08/13/2007 11:19 AM
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How did Edwards finish 90 laps in the sand trap///????????

Marshall
08/14/2007 08:41 AM
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As to Rusty Wallace announcing races, he made one comment Sunday that I’m sure NASCAR will take issue with. A caution came out and Rusty referred to it as “NASCAR needing to tighten up the field”. It’s sort of refreshing to hear a comment like that before Brian and the boys put a damper on his honesty.

And Douglas, do you really think Carl Edwards was points racing on that last lap when he went off in the gravel trap? And John, didn’t you see those multiple replays of Carl as he stayed in the throttle and drove on through the gravel?

 

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