The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder ... After Fontana by Becca Gladden -- Monday September 3, 2007

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Ten Points to Ponder ... After Fontana

Becca Gladden · Monday September 3, 2007


1. Lowe’s High – For weeks now I’ve been wondering why everyone was depicting the Chase as a duel between Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. “Wait!” – I shouted, what about Jimmie Johnson? Heading into Fontana, Johnson was tied with Gordon for bonus points, 10 ahead of Stewart when the Chase starts, and tonight’s win moves him ahead of both Gordon and Stewart with 50 bonus points. Johnson’s team typically slumps in the summer but they turn it on when it counts. Don’t hand that Nextel Cup trophy to anyone else just yet. It’s also worth noting that Johnson and Matt Kenseth are now the only drivers to make the Chase all four seasons since its inception in 2004.

2. Enough Already! – Look, I like Dale Junior as much as the next person, but the tunnel-visioned focus of Sunday’s race broadcast on Junior’s quest to make the Chase was ridiculous. Last week, Earnhardt himself complained about the media’s obsession with his points situation, stating, “That’s all y’all talk about. I shouldn’t tell you that you dictate my mood. Now you know. But anyways, when we don’t make it, everybody makes a big deal out of it. They talk about it prerace, they talk about it postrace for a couple of weeks, and it’s a bummer.” Broadcasters, are you listening?

3. Thanks, ESPN – For once again treating NASCAR like the red-headed stepchild of the sports world. The network scheduled an abbreviated 15-minute Countdown show for the Busch race on ESPN2 Saturday, but couldn’t even squeeze that in due to a college football game that ran long (score 35-14 in the fourth quarter). While a scroll on the screen informed viewers that they could catch the prerace on ESPN360 (whatever that is), many fans who went to the website were greeted with this message: “Sorry, your internet service provider does not carry” The football game finally ended just as the race was about to start, but …

4. You’ve Been Warned – In addition to the above, my favorite NASCAR TV Critic John Daly ( reports, “By the way, next week a live college football game precedes the NEXTEL Cup night race from Richmond on ABC Sports. I would suggest that fans plan well ahead for their viewing options, because all of the ESPN Networks will be busy with live football as well. Once again, NASCAR will be all dressed-up with no place to go.” And they wonder why TV ratings are down?

5. Keselowski Crash – If you didn’t see young Brad’s crash in Saturday’s Busch race, it was one of the most brutal hits in recent memory, head on into the wall at 140-plus miles per hour. Keselowski was airlifted to an area hospital, but reports are that he had no serious injuries and was treated and released with follow up scheduled this week in North Carolina. Kudos to NASCAR for making today’s cars safer than ever before.

6. Hot Enough for You? – As a resident of Arizona for almost 40 years, it was kind of funny hearing all the fuss about the heat in Fontana this weekend. My initial reaction was, “Hey, welcome to my world.” I got in my car last summer after parking it outside for a few hours, and it was almost 140 degrees in the car, the credit cards in my wallet were literally starting to melt, and my sunglasses actually did. But I know conditions are different in a racecar, especially for 500 miles, and I really give credit to the drivers and teams – especially after Greg Biffle reported that it was 238 degrees on his floorboard earlier this weekend. Even a Zonie like me will admit that’s hot.

7. DEI Determined – With four DNFs so far this season for the No. 8 team, there was concern that the heat and high RPMs in Fontana could result in another “Dead Engine Inside” day for DEI. Despite pushing the car hard all race, Earnhardt’s engine held up, giving him a respectable fifth-place finish, with Martin Truex, Jr. coming in sixth.

8. Owners’ Outlook – The Roush drivers have a good record at California overall, and a win today would have given Jack Roush his 100th Cup victory. Although it didn’t happen, there’s a good possibility that Roush will hit that impressive milestone before the end of the season. Meanwhile, Rick Hendrick spent the weekend in the garage, apparently miffed at the performance of his cars last week at Bristol where three of his drivers finished 19th or worse. It seems to have paid off at Fontana for Johnson and Kyle Busch, who finished first and third respectively; Casey Mears was 15th, but Jeff Gordon came in a disappointing 22nd.

9. More Milestones – Two other fan favorites approached or completed milestones this weekend at Fontana. It was Ricky Rudd’s 900th Cup start, placing him second on the all-time career starts list behind Richard Petty, who has 1184. Unfortunately, Ricky’s day ended with a wreck and a separated shoulder, but knowing Ironman Rudd, he will be back in the car at Richmond if at all possible. And Bobby Labonte needs just one more race to make his 500th start. Fans can order a free t-shirt (you pay shipping) to commemorate Labonte’s accomplishment at

10. Skinner Skunked – If you missed the truck race, you may not know that Mike Skinner, who started on the pole and had the points lead heading into the event, was apparently locked inside a porta-poty by another competitor and almost missed the start of the race. Perhaps it was a bad omen, as a blown tire and subsequent damage to the car dropped Skinner to second in the standings, now four points behind Ron Hornaday. Gee Mike, with friends like that …

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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!

09/04/2007 05:43 AM

ESPN can run football games right up to race starting time as far as I’m concerned. I could care less about all the pre-race hype. For years, ESPN did a great job of covering races by coming on the air with a short intro, then going straight to the race. The race is important. All the predictions and talk mean nothing. Let’s face it. The most important thing to the majority of people right now is college football. College football fans far outnumber NASCAR fans, and they will tear ESPN up, if the network breaks away to cover a race. All the pre/post race talk is about the chase and Jr. anyway, so it would really be a blessing to have it all preempted.

Fred W
09/04/2007 07:08 AM

I’m wih you. As long as they catch the Green flag at the start, I’m good with it. Way too much hype at the start, and not enough coverage at the end. All the networks that cover the race have it backwards.

09/04/2007 07:57 AM

I am with you—I never watch the pre-race hype anyway. I tune in for the green flag— lately I also miss the middle of the race, coming back for the finish. Too many talking heads who tell you nothing new or only the obvious. The pre-race show is just a chance to add a few commercials and shill more more stuff. And it goes on and on and on….

M. B. Voelker
09/04/2007 08:08 AM

I was MAD about missing the pre-race for the Busch race. I want to see the interviews. I want to be up-to-date about who is going to the back and why and to have all the rest of the current news.

IMO, its downright fraudulent for ESPN to claim they’re going to broadcast Nascar and then set their schedule in a way that its inevitable that their coverage will be overridden. A game in overtime is one thing. A game with the majority of the 4th quarter remaining is no accident.

09/04/2007 09:44 AM

I agree with # 2….

If you watched the race Saturday, you would have thought that Jr. was the only driver in the race. He could have been in 43rd place and he would have been all that ESPN would have talked about!

09/04/2007 11:21 AM

I have to agree with Ed. Even if you liked the pre-race hype, ESPN does such as terrible job, I don’t even watch it anymore. So as long as they don’t miss the beginning of the race, I don’t care.

Race Fan
09/04/2007 12:31 PM

Nobody wins in this kind of situation. Had they cut the college football game off early, then college footballs fans would be angry with ESPN. ESPN had to choose between cutting off the broadcast of a game in progress, or cutting into PRE RACE coverage. Seems to me you continue to cover the game in progress.

I know some people like pre race shows, but they bore me to tears. They talk about the same five drivers and that’s about it. Most of the important stuff that you need to know about the race (such as who has to go to the back, etc) you can find on or Jayski. They could start the coverage when the cars are doing their parade laps and that would suit me just fine.

jeff moore
09/04/2007 01:25 PM

would be bad enuff to miss prerace if i dint have to listen to mindless drivel from a former basketball player all race long !

09/04/2007 02:24 PM

First off, 10 PM Eastern time for the Busch race was a little ridiculous. What would have happened if the football game ran 50 min. past it’s scheduled time? I am so not impressed with ESPN, they added way too many programs last year, and NASCAR needs to find a way to ditch them, or get them to get their act in gear. Draft Track sucks, there’s too many people running around the race track or putting in their two cents, and lately their satellite feed has been spotty. In addition their qualifying and practice coverage isn’t the most entertaining two hours. I think I’d rather have TNT doing it. I wish SPEED was available in more households, I get it, but I think they do the best job with their truck races and the all star race was pretty good too.

09/04/2007 07:27 PM

Did you know theres FOUR DEI cars?

hm..what an ODD think Mark Martin/Aric Almirola and Paul Menard would agree?


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