The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder ... After Loudon by Becca Gladden -- Monday September 17, 2007

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Ten Points to Ponder ... After Loudon

Becca Gladden · Monday September 17, 2007

 

1. Brad’s Big Blunder – Fans have not exactly warmed to Brad Daugherty, the former NBA All-Star player and Busch Series team owner turned NASCAR TV analyst. But Daugherty made a big blunder on today’s pre-race show when he opined that none of the Chase contenders could catch the top three drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. “To come from the bottom, it’s insurmountable. It cannot happen. It’s too big of a deficit because those guys don’t make mistakes. It’s not going to happen,” he said. WRONG. Just ask Clint Bowyer – he shot from 12th to fourth in just one race, and is now only five points out of third. Anything can happen over the course of ten races and there’s more to it than not making mistakes – there are cut tires, engine problems, pit road issues, getting caught up in other people’s wrecks, and many other variables that can hurt any Chase driver…even the top three favorites.

2. Nice Guy Finishes First – Clint Bowyer’s first win is one of the feel-good stories of the season for a guy who is widely liked throughout the garage. Bowyer was the only Chase driver without a victory this season (or ever, for that matter), but he dominated today’s race, leading almost three-quarters of the laps and winning from the pole. If you’re going to win your first race you might as well make it a big one, and Bowyer did that today as he took the checkers in the first Chase race of 2007. Said Bowyer in Victory Lane, “I’m not going to kid you – I was about to throw up those last 30 laps.”

3. Two, Four, Six, Eight – Hendrick cars ran really great. Though they didn’t win or lead the most laps, all four HMS cars finished in the top eight: Jeff Gordon (2), Kyle Busch (4), Jimmie Johnson (6), and Casey Mears (8). Mears was the highest-finishing non-Chase driver, as the top seven ahead of him were all Chase contenders. Kudos also to J.J. Yeley, who had a notable 10th-place finish and David Ragan, coming home the highest finishing rookie at 19th.

4. Young Guns Gaining – As NASCAR writer Jerry Bonkowski points out, for the first time since the Chase started four years ago, half the field is under the age of the 30. The breakdown of ages is as follows:

Over 30: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick.

Under 30: Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer.

The oldest contender this year is 40-year-old Jeff Burton, while Kyle Busch is the youngest at age 22. With such a split, it will be fun to see whether youth or experience prevails over the course of the final 10 weeks.

5. Achieving Better CoverageABC did a much improved job on today’s race broadcast than last week, thanks in large part to the fact that the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Chase story was no longer the singular focus. They didn’t miss as many restarts, were much better at covering other cars besides the frontrunners, and Dale Jarrett was a nice addition in the booth. I was very pleasantly surprised that the network gave us over half an hour of post-race interviews, too.

6. Seen on CNN – Two of NASCAR’s more articulate drivers, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth, appeared in a fascinating hour-long interview on CNN’s Glenn Beck show this week. Burton told Beck of his plans to run for political office when he’s done racing, and Kenseth said that he is not afraid of getting killed racing because, “God doesn’t need to have a race car to take you away.” The interview started on a humorous note when Beck admitted, “I don’t know how you guys drive 200 miles an hour for four hours.” Burton quipped, “We just close our eyes,” and Kenseth added, “I’m glad you know nothing about it, so we can tell you whatever.” The entire transcript can be found here if you’re interested.

7. No Passing Zone – The biggest complaint from drivers today was that it’s too hard to pass in the CoT, even when trying to get by lapped traffic. One example: “I just couldn’t pass,” said Denny Hamlin. “Unless a guy makes a mistake or your car is superior to the guy in front of you, I think everyone agrees, you just can’t pass with these cars.” Overall, I’ve yet to hear a single driver besides Michael Waltrip who actually likes this car, and most of them detest it – which makes you wonder what next year will be like when it’s the only one there is.

8. I.D. Please – It’s expected to be announced this week that Kasey Kahne will take over the lucrative Budweiser sponsorship in 2008 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. makes the move to Hendrick Motorsports. It will be interesting to see what kind of commercials the Madison Avenue types dream up for a guy who probably still gets carded every time he tries to order a beer.

9. The Biggest Loser – That would be Kurt Busch, who plummeted seven places in the standings from fifth to 12th as a result of a disappointing 25th-place finish. Kurt entered Loudon 40 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and now trails him by 102, falling to the bottom seed in the Chase. Busch was plagued by mechanical problems – it was initially believed to be a dropped cylinder, but sources later diagnosed it as a carburetor issue. “We lost power and tried to troubleshoot it the best that we could,” Busch said. “It's kind of tough to accept this one. We just didn’t need this to happen at this point.”

10. A Mystery from NASCAR’s History – One more item to leave you with. If you haven’t already done so and need a break from the Chase hype, please check out my story about an important figure from NASCAR’s past who mysteriously disappeared in 1983, never to be seen or heard from again. It can be found “here”: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/the_bonus/09/11/nascar/index.html?eref=si_writers.

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

tucsondon
09/17/2007 03:56 AM
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“Unless a guy makes a mistake or your car is superior to the guy in front of you, I think everyone agrees, you just can’t pass with these cars.”

As much as I detest the COT, Hamlin’s quote would hold up if it was said 30 years ago. To pass another car means one of the following needs to be true or happen:

1) Your car is faster, or

2) The driver of the car you are trying to pass makes an error, which gives you an advantage.

M.B. Voelker
09/17/2007 06:33 AM
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The “Kasey looks like he still gets carded” line was lame to begin with and has gotten VERY tired through overuse.

Kasey is in his late-20’s. Kasey looks like he’s in his late 20’s. The brewers of the less expensive brands of beer market to people in their 20’s. The last thing on earth they want for a marketing message is “Drink our beer because this guy who looks as old as your dad does.”

If you look at Budweiser’s advertising campaign as a whole you see that it is marketed as the party beer of the young. Kasey is the perfect choice for that image — he’s young, handsome, and wildly attractive to women. That’s precisely the image that Budweiser wants to connect to their brand.

People in their 30’s and 40’s either have their brand preference for cheap beer firmly set in stone or they are ready to move up to something more sophisticated. There would be no sense whatsoever in using a 30-something or 40-something spokesman as the main face of the Budweiser brand.

Becca
09/17/2007 11:41 AM
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Hi M.B., I always appreciate your thoughful feedback, but I beg to disagree. Having been face to face with Kasey, he definitely does not look like he’s in his late 20s, at least not to me. Perhaps the appearance of maturity is in the eye of the beholder, but I bet if you asked him you would find that he does indeed still get carded from time to time. Dale Jr. is a 30-something and there’s no question that Bud would have stuck with him for many more years if not for the team change. That being said, Junior has much more of a party animal reputation than Kasey. Perhaps it isn’t so much age as persona, but I just can’t picture Kasey making his post-race Bud references sound natural and believable the way Jr. did. That’s why, as a fan of marketing strategy, I am anxious to see what the ad agencies come up with for KK.

angie
09/17/2007 01:06 PM
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Perhaps those “Girls” in those Kasey Kahne commercials could show up in some Bud commercials and surprise Kasey. That would be a hoot!

Marc
09/18/2007 07:19 PM
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Brad Daughtery is to racing what Jimmy Spencer would be to basketball. It is a match made in an effort to diversify by ESPN. He knows nothing about racing and says some of the most unintelligent things during his commentary. Now, that doesn’t make him that much different than a lot of other so called reporters, but the people in the booth ought to know racing. I would have no problem with Bill Lester in the booth, or anyone that knows racing. I do not watch the pre-race shows, and I do not watch Victory Lane or other post race shows. I like to watch racing, not dribble about racers. I wish ESPN would spend more time on the actual race, and less time on the air-flow colors or the cutaway car.

 

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