The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder ... After Martinsville II by Becca Gladden -- Sunday October 21, 2007

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Ten Points to Ponder ... After Martinsville II

Becca Gladden · Sunday October 21, 2007

 

1. Safety, Schmafety – The next time anyone from NASCAR tries to say that safety is their first priority, I want to have a tape of today’s finish on hand, showing David Ragan’s car sitting sideways in the middle of the track coming off Turn 1 and the leaders heading towards him full steam ahead. Rusty Wallace, a seven-time winner here who was calling the race, was incredulous: “The 6 car is sitting sideways in the middle of the track! They’re wide open!” he yelled before the caution came out. What’s worse was the No. 6 car was stopped perpendicular to the wall, with the driver’s side door in the direct path of oncoming traffic. This race saw a record number of cautions, but NASCAR was clearly late with the flag when it counted most. Added Wallace in disbelief, “We saw the caution flags all day long, late in the race, and they were coming wide open in Turn 1 with that 6 car sitting dead sideways in the middle of the track.”

2. Eddie Edwards – Did you see the footage of Carl Edwards shoving and then feigning a punch at teammate Matt Kenseth’s face when the two argued after the race? I’m sure Carl will say he was just kidding around, but it’s obvious Matt didn’t get the joke. Will Edwards, clearly the aggressor, be penalized? Will that Tony Stewart line from a year or two ago about Carl being the Eddie Haskell of NASCAR resurface? Either way, Jack Roush can’t be happy seeing this altercation between his two stars.

3. France Fleeing? – Have you seen this rumor posted in an article by Robin Miller on the SpeedTV website under the heading, Some Rumors, Some Facts: “Jim France moving into the Big Chair and nephew Brian going to Grand-Am?” Hmm …

4. ESPN Again – There’s really nowhere to begin to explain how bad ESPN/ABC was today, and how frustrated fans are as a result. Suffice it to say that if NASCAR has any hopes of reviving their sagging TV ratings (besides getting rid of the Chase and the Car of Tomorrow), then ESPN needs to spend the winter scrapping their entire NASCAR broadcast department and rebuilding it from the ground up. Step One: Talk to some real live NASCAR fans about what they do, and don’t, want to see and hear in a race broadcast. In fact, let’s start the list right here: 1. Don’t subject fans to 500 laps of talk about four or five drivers, while the rest of the field is treated as nonexistent. 2. (Insert yours here) …

5. Chump Chase – Despite the artificial contrivance known as the Chase for the Championship, which is supposed to help NASCAR compete against the NFL for TV viewers, this season has come down to (at best) a two-man race between Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Despite winning today’s race, Johnson only gained 15 points on leader Gordon, while Clint Bowyer – even with a Top 10 finish – actually fell 37 points further behind first place. Will we see more “tweaks” to the Chase before Daytona?

6. Testy Tony – It might surprise you to know that Tony Stewart has four Top 10 finishes in the six Chase races. Yet, he seems to be doing a disappearing act these days, rarely providing an interview after the race or even a quote for his team’s official PR report. I want to hear from you fans of the No. 20 – why is he making such a hasty exit from the track every week? Frustration, disappointment, temper, apathy … ?

7. Accurate Acronym – I thought it a bit clever when someone first suggested that DEI must stand for “Dead Engine Inside”. But after today’s 7th engine failure this season for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it really isn’t a laughing matter. Over 20% of the No. 8 team’s races this year have now ended with blown engines. Said Junior during the race, “The motor’s gotten way, way worse. That’s why we’re losing spots! I wish it would just blow up. I’m sick of being out here losing power like this … I’m tellin’ ya, man, I’m sick of this engine (expletive).”

8. Gone But Not Forgotten, Part One – This month, a five-mile stretch of road in Wilkes County, North Carolina, was renamed Benny Parsons Highway in honor of the hometown hero. Parsons, the 1973 Nextel Cup champ and a beloved figure both in the garage and among race fans, lost his battle with cancer a year ago. “Benny loved his hometown, and moving back here meant everything to him,” said wife Terri at the dedication ceremony. “He would be overjoyed by this.”

9. Gone But Not Forgotten, Part Two – It’s impossible to comment on the fall race at Martinsville without mentioning the 10 people who died in a plane crash en route to the track three years ago – among them were Rick Hendrick’s son Ricky, his brother John, two nieces, and members of the HMS organization, along with Tony Stewart’s helicopter pilot. Mr. Hendrick deserves a ton of credit for being able to attend the race today, something he couldn’t do in the first few years after the tragedy.

10. 12 for 13th – Finishing the season as the highest ranking non-Chase driver isn’t as big a deal as it used to be when there were only 10 drivers in the Chase instead of 12. But there is still some satisfaction in being the “best of the rest”, and over the past few weeks, Ryan Newman, currently 14th in points, has been closing the gap on Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ahead of him. Four weeks ago, the spread between the two was 227 points – today, it’s down to just 66.

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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
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J. Furjanic
10/22/2007 05:54 AM
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1) I agree with you on #1. While I see NA$CAR’s arguement for trying to give Ragan a chance to straighten out his car and finish under green (Yes, I really wanted to see Newman win the race!), they did wait a bit too long to throw the yellow.
2) Didn’t watch much of the race, just the last 50 laps…….too nice of a day, so out on the motorcycle I went!
3) I hope it’s true. Brian France has destroyed the sport I loved. By the way, does he fall under NA$CAR’s drug testing program?

4) Yes, ESPN needs a major overhaul. I like DOc Jerry and Rusty, but it’s not just working. Also, dump Suzy Kolber and get a woman that knows something about racing in that chair. My wife Crew Chiefed my Late Model for 13 years, and would be way better, as she knows something about racing!

5) Richard Petty once said that the special thing about our sport is that there isn’t any playoffs, that every race is as important as any other……The Clown Prince running NASCAR should have had an audience with the King for some good advice!

10) When Ryan passes Jr, it’ll be wailing and whining…..13th will be (in)famous again!

M. B. Voelker
10/22/2007 06:56 AM
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In re: #6 — Lack of maturity and insufficient professionalism.

Its very disappointing because Tony is too good a driver and too good a human being to go around sulking like a spoiled 3yo.

As a mother I’d recommend the application of a wooden spoon where it would do some good but J.D. probably can’t get away with that. ;-) :-D LOL

Mr.Ed
10/22/2007 07:34 AM
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Couple of observations based on your comments:
1.Tony’s dsiapperance? You mean he has been racing??? I though it was just Gordon, Johnson, Jr, and Montoya out there?? I must have missed something with this fine ESPN Coverage.

2. Billy Boy gone? can’t happen soon enough.

3. The COT’s stinks? what do expect from Bret Bodine??? I’m sorry but please…..he would have been the last person I would have had in help with a new car. How about going to the manufactures and getting design input? there is a novel thought.

4.Eddie Haskell of NASCAR, I don’t car who you are that’s funny right there. I’m sure that ol’ Jack is slapping some helmets himself this morning.

5. You didn’t say this but, hmmm i’ts my guess that Jammie Mac won’t be the odd man out next year at the Roush-Boston Red Socks Racing Team.
Anybody want to buy the number 6?
Peace out.
Mr. Ed

Johnboy60
10/22/2007 08:57 AM
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In re: #6 — How about him stewing over having to drive a Toyota nexk year(if he indeed does)

JGR Fan
10/22/2007 09:28 AM
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Let’s see. Tony comments on his bad race and disappointment, we read all week about how much he whines and is a sore loser. If he decides not to subject himself to the stupid questions of the media (how DO you think he feels?) then he’s spoiled and “unprofessional”. Sounds like a “no win situation” for Smoke.

Mike C
10/22/2007 09:35 AM
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I know we’ve all been led by the media and nascar to believe that it is a terrible sin not to stay at the track after the race for endless interviews no matter how bad your day was or how angry or dissapointed you are with your finish . I’m a fan and i don’t care if the drivers leave the track immediatly. They have lives . Maybe the fans and writers should get lives too .

Derrick
10/22/2007 10:23 AM
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Time to count Tony Stewart with the rest of non championship contenders!

Disappointed
10/22/2007 10:34 AM
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Hey Mike C- Take your medicine like a big boy or comment elsewhere if you don’t like Becca’s column ; she does have a life and part of it is allowing you to disagree with her articles!

juniorbb8
10/22/2007 12:04 PM
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Carl Edwards used to be so humble. Now look at him. He had a tough day just like everybody else. That’s no reason to act like he’s going to hit his teammate. He should be fined.

Mike C
10/22/2007 12:15 PM
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Well Becca should consider her job a success then, because i was disagreeing with her article .

mkrcr
10/22/2007 10:37 PM
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RE: #3. Please don’t say it’s possible. I’ve found a series that is actually all about racing and now it could become as polluted as NA$CAR because Baby Brian may come on board. NOT! BB will never leave the spoon thats been left to him. He doesn’t have the talent to run a real racing series and the promoters and teams are doing a fine job building up a once dying series to the quality it is today. Ain’t just them good ole’ boys that can threaten to string someone up from the turn one light pole.

Kevin in SoCal
10/24/2007 11:08 AM
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Mood swings and irritable behavior? Someone needs to check Carl Edwards for steroids.

 

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