Each week, Frontstretch Staff Writer Becca Gladden looks at the prior weekend’s NEXTEL Cup race from a reporter’s point of view, covering the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the race, the drivers, the TV coverage and even the commercials! Check back here every Wednesday for Becca’s fun and thought-provoking commentary.
Who... has noticed the strange dichotomy between NASCAR’s professed desire to be known as “family” entertainment, and the fact that many of the commercials shown during the races are highly inappropriate for children – some even bordering on vulgar? This week’s example: The FX network’s ads for its own program, Rescue Me. The Parents Television Council gave Rescue Me a red flag warning, meaning it “may include gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content, or obscene language, and is unsuitable for children.” As are the ads.
What... is one of the biggest surprises in the first half of the 2006 season? That Ryan Newman, known for his superb qualifying, scored his first pole of the year at Dover. Newman already had four poles at this point in the 2005 season, en route to a total of 8. He had 9 poles in 2004, 11 in 2003, and 6 in 2002. Even more disconcerting for his fans is the fact that Newman is 19th in the standings (last year at this time he was 4th), and that he’s at serious risk of missing the Chase for the first time in three years. The same holds true for Newman’s Penske teammate Kurt Busch, currently 18th in points.
When... is Greg Biffle going to break into the Top 10? If his rapid upward climb in the points continues, it should be pretty soon. Has anyone noticed that over the course of four races, Biffle has climbed 11 spots in the points from 23rd to 12th, and has gone from being 205 points out of 10th to just 85? He also has four straight finishes of 8th or higher, including a win at Darlington.
Where... was Matt Kenseth during this week’s National Anthem performance? I don’t know if he was already in his car like he has been for the past few races, but if he was, I think I know why. I remember Dale Jr. once commenting that when a race is over, he hasn’t even unzipped his firesuit by the time Matt is in street clothes and headed out of the track. Before Sunday’s race, Matt arrived 20 minutes early for driver introductions, saying, “I was a little confused. I thought it was 1:40 and I guess it was – or, I thought it was 1:20 and I guess it was 1:40. See? I’m still confused.” Apparently Matt just likes to be early for things. Either that, or he’s confused a lot.
Why... is everyone suddenly calling for NASCAR to revise its driver injury rules because of Tony Stewart’s fractured scapula? I guess I am in the minority here, but I just don’t think it was that big a deal. Tony felt he could start the race and his doctors gave him permission to do so. The transition out of the car went smoothly and there were no serious sequelae to his actions – so where’s the problem?
How... much clearer can it get that what I’ve been saying about Jimmie Johnson all year in this column is spot on? After Richmond I wrote, “What one quality keeps Jimmie Johnson at or near the top of the point standings every week? Simply his team’s ability to recover from adversity by race’s end.” I brought this up again after the All-Star Challenge. Now, the 48 team’s performance in Dover, recovering from multiple incidents that would have simply overpowered many other teams, should demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the accuracy of this claim.
Rebecca (Becca) Gladden is a freelance writer covering NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series for two of the internet’s most popular racing websites. You can visit Becca’s website at www.RebeccaGladden.com for a complete listing of her articles, polls, unique NASCAR news, and more!
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