The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder ... After Talladega II by Becca Gladden -- Sunday October 7, 2007

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Ten Points To Ponder ... After Talladega II

Becca Gladden · Sunday October 7, 2007


1. Masterful Move – Jeff Gordon clearly demonstrated not only why he has 80 career Cup wins, but is now in sole possession of the title “most career plate wins” in NASCAR history. Gordon turned a push from Dave Blaney into a sweet move to the middle, getting out from behind teammate Jimmie Johnson to sneak away with the victory. Tucking his rear bumper just in front of a charging Tony Stewart, Gordon gave Stewart no choice but to push him to the win. Gordon now has 12 restrictor plate wins, passing the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., who had 11.

2. Discontent DriversNASCAR can’t be happy with the number of drivers who badmouthed the racing action today, including superstars Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon, who both told a national TV audience that from their perspective, it was quite boring. Even more blunt was Ryan Newman, who said, "It was crazy. I think the racing was not very good. I think the racing was disappointing. To see single file racing and the guy that wins the race is sitting in the back all day just lounging around – that's not racing to me. I hope it wasn't what NASCAR intended with this car. I'm not complaining about the car because the old car did relatively the same thing. We’ve got to do something where we can race a little bit. I mean I was driving around with one hand, running 15th, just riding on and off the gas. It's not racing.”

3. Kolber Quote – It frustrates me when one of the TV hosts says something that sounds so obviously wrong, especially when that person is primarily a football reporter. During today’s race, ESPN’s Suzy Kolber claimed that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was “practically guaranteed to win here,” based on his five previous wins at Talladega. Did she know about the engine failures that have plagued DEI all year? Did she know that Jeff Gordon also had five wins at Talladega prior to today? Regardless of what people say about Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, or Larry McReynolds, at least they know NASCAR.

4. ABC Alienates Again – What better way to show NASCAR fans how much you value them than to hype a race all week as one of the best races of the year, have an hour-plus pre-race show, broadcast a 500-mile race with a very exciting finish, and then have ONE post-race interview before cutting off the broadcast to air “Access Hollywood”. And viewers either misinterpreted his comments or Jerry Punch misspoke when he said fans could tune to ESPN SportsCenter for more post-race interviews, as that program didn’t air for another hour.

5. “Miss a Lap … – Miss a Lot.” So claims NASCAR. Then how can any network justify the number of commercials during a typical NASCAR race? For some reason, today seemed especially bad, but if there’s one iota of truth in that saying, then every network that covers the sport should be required to use a split screen so that fans don’t “miss a lap,” let alone a whole bunch of laps.

6. Open-Wheel Woes – Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it. I am not a fan of the big open wheel exodus to NASCAR. One of the main reasons is that it simply cuts the legs out from under all the young (and even older) drivers who are trying to break into NASCAR the old-fashioned way – racing at their local tracks, working their way up through the ranks, participating in driver development programs, and so on. I hope, as some have asserted, that this is a fad that will pass quickly. Agree or disagree?

7. Losing Loren – It looks like NASCAR’s latest sponsorship deal, signing Nationwide Insurance to take over the Busch Series, spells the end for Geico as a sponsor in that series after 2009. Mike Wallace is understandably upset, stating, “I’m really, really frustrated about it. It caught us all off guard. (We) knew nothing about it. Then you hear about it on Wednesday morning. And I honestly thought, ‘Well that is no big deal, we’ll be grandfathered in like Alltel and everybody was in the Cup deal.’ And then all of a sudden that changed.”

8. Vexing Videos – In other TV miscues today, ABC’s Countdown to Green show was intending to present a video with Tim Brewer in the tech center explaining something pertinent to today’s restrictor plate race. Instead, they showed last week’s video of Brewer describing how wedge works at Kansas. During the broadcast, they also played footage of a taped interview with Kyle Busch’s crew chief Alan Gustafson, in which the sound and picture were clearly out of sync.

9. Expired Engines – Wow, how about those DEI/RCR engines today? At least three blew up – those belonging to Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Martin Truex, Jr. – with Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola also suffering motor woes. Somehow, I pictured a guy back at the DEI/RCR engine shop today shoving his hands in his pockets and kicking a tool box under a bench, as a voiceover announcer declares, “NOT … the official tools of NASCAR.”

10. Rabbit Release – I love that Team Tylenol commercial in which a group of drivers tries to figure out Team Tylenol’s fictional “secret” for running so well. Elliott Sadler plays dumb with a malapropism about Rapid (Rabbit) Release, but have you ever listened to what the other drivers suggest as the secret? Jeff Gordon: “Rocket boosters.” Jimmie Johnson: “Plutonium.” Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: “A time machine.” Hmm, rabbit release doesn’t sound so dumb now, does it?

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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

Travis Rassat
10/08/2007 04:47 AM

Regarding #9: During the broadcast, shortly after one of the RCR/DEI engines blew, Larry Mac (or someone) mentioned that RCR/DEI was running the new R07 engines while other Chevy teams were running the SB2. Is it just me, but does having the older, potentially more reliable engine to fall back on kind of give Chevy teams an advantage? Obviously, some teams were more comfortable with the SB2 and chose to run that this weekend. Do the other manufacturers have engine choices? I’m not picking on Chevy or anything – I just thought it was interesting that at some point somebody hasn’t said “OK, the R07 is the only legal Chevy engine.” Any thoughts?

10/08/2007 07:16 AM

In the realm of your point 4: It is truly sad and inconceivable that the producer thought it best to change cameras from the front, to Carl Edwards’ car on the last lap.

By the time they went back up to the front, even the announcers seemed clueless that Gordon had taken the lead. I know I was because they did not show it.

From Kolber’s asinine/clueless comments, to Rusty’s inane commentary, it is bad enough to have to listen, now with the aforementioned idiotic camera switch the key driving move of the race had to be shown on replay, a move that Dale Sr. would have been proud of, and most probably the only other NASCAR driver who could have ever made it.

ABC/ESPN blew it.

10/08/2007 07:22 AM

Travis, NASCAR is soooo pro Chevy, that they will allow that to go on as long as any one of their teams wants to run it (sb2). Just another of a long line of Brianisms that is quickly killing th sport!

10/08/2007 07:35 AM

Pre-race host Suzy Kolber suggested that “big wrecks might be getting bigger” because of the COT. Brad Daugherty said no one could “lay back.” Well, in fact the track and the drivers had other opinions.

J. Furjanic
10/08/2007 07:37 AM

1) Dale Jr. will be lost in Jeff Gordon’s shadow next year. Jeff seems happy for the first time in a long time, so look out for him (and I’m NOT a fan of his).
2)NA$CAR is totally broken and needs fixed. How about a 390 carb and no plate at ‘Dega and Daytona?
3)Still part of 2007’s All Jr, All the time.
4)I miss the ESPN and NA$CAR of old!
5)I took a nap mid race, and it was still single file when I woke up. Don’t think I missed much
6)As a former local short track racer, I called this one two years ago. The “progression” is gone!
7)I love the Loren Wallace commercials.
8) Watched the Steelers rather than the 3 hours of pre-race boredom
9)Just a part of plate racing…try to squeeze every fraction of a pony out of the engine. Stuff happens!
10) Their secret? Big $$$ payments to NA$CAR?

10/08/2007 09:28 AM

I was just a little upset that I got an invitation to drive a buddy’s short track car Sunday. Not only did that mean I was going to miss the best church supper in this town all year, it meant that I was going to miss Talledega.

Guess I didn’t miss too much by missing Talledega, and taking second with the short track car kind of made up for the church supper.

Remember a year ago, when people were bitching about NBC and anxiously awaiting the return of ESPN? You have to wonder how much they’d like to have NBC back. I know I would.

10/08/2007 09:32 AM


Point #6: The open-wheel driver exodus to NASCAR. It’s no fad, and it’s here to stay. I’m afraid that NASCAR is going to become more like CART was in it’s heyday as the years go on. The high cost of sponsoring a race car in NASCAR ($15 million for a primary sponsor for one car for a season is a figure I’ve read in other stories) means that more and more drivers will be expected to bring something monitary to the table for any but the very top teams. Usually that will be sponsorship money, which some of these open wheel drivers can bring (Witness Dario Franchitti bringing Canadian Club sponsorship $$$ to Ganassi for next season). The low payouts for drivers in the IRL or OWRS relative to NASCAR will entice more open wheel drivers “over the fence”, where owners will happily hire them if they can bring the money the team needs to keep going. If they can’t actually bring money, the team owners will bank on their fame and accomplishments to bring in sponsors.

I know for NASCAR fans it’s frustrating to see this, but as an open wheel fan I’ve seen this since the mid 1980’s on our side of the fence.

10/08/2007 12:25 PM

6. Open-Wheel Whoa’s.

Here is the problem. Chip Ganassi and the import of imported drivers. The decision makers at NASCAR need a sense of history. I don’t have much confidence, considering the removal of Darlington and the Southern 500. They should realize that the displacement of the racers with the roots in the USA has killed, yes, killed the open wheel series. There is no identification anymore. The foreign borns come in, and move on. Fans don’t get to know them or their sponsors. You don’t root for something, or their sponsor, if you don’t know what you’re rooting for. These guys blow into town, and then just as quickly, leave. NASCAR is already in big danger of losing more of their base core after blowing it with The Southern 500 on Labor Day at Darlington, North Wilkesboro, and Rockingham.

I don’t care much for Montoya or Villenueve, based on my following of the CART series when they were in it. I do like Franchitti, he has become Americanized marrying Ashley Judd and living in Tennessee. And Patrick Carpentier is such a breath of fresh air. A very, very likable racer. My hope is that these guys don’t just blow into town and then right back out again.

10/08/2007 12:33 PM

10. Rabbit Release

One to top all of those would have been for Michael Waltrip to say “Jet Fuel”

10/08/2007 12:39 PM

First off, you’re pretty dead on with this write-up. #2 caught my eye, though … so what if the drivers speak out by stating it was a boring race, and so what if NASCAR has a problem with it? If the drivers thought it was a boring race, imagine how the fans felt, and it’s NASCAR’s job to make it better.

10/08/2007 04:15 PM

Has anyone ever noticed that every time Tim Brewer explains something… ANYTHING…. as soon as he’s finished, someone in the booth says, “That was a great explaination.” or “What a great explaination.” Always the word great.. wonder if Brewer’s contract says all his explainations have to be great, because thats what everybody calls them every time.

10/08/2007 04:48 PM

at least you got access hollywood after the race, they immediately cut away to run an infomercial after the race where i live.

10/08/2007 05:48 PM

Hey guys, GREAT feedback this week (lol!) Seriously, I appreciate hearing from so many knowledgeable readers. It really adds a lot to the site and I enjoy all your insights. Becca

10/08/2007 09:46 PM

What young talent? NASCAR and the current state of the Busch series has killed that. Blaming big ‘ole bad “openwheel” is a scapegoat at best.

And let’s be honest…today’s NNC landscape is one of unprecedented disproportion in regards to so many well-funded GOOD teams and lack of driver talent.

10/08/2007 11:19 PM

Kevin Harvick stated about a year or so ago the DEI/RCR engines suck!


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