The Frontstretch: If I Ruled the (NASCAR) World: Pocono by Becca Gladden -- Tuesday July 26, 2005

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If I Ruled the (NASCAR) World: Pocono

Becca Gladden · Tuesday July 26, 2005

 

Pennsylvania 500 Edition
 
If I ruled the NASCAR world, I would be a benevolent dictator, issuing edicts for the good of all who reside in my racing realm.
 
These would be my decrees for the week of July 24 – July 30, 2005:

  • I would summon Matt Kenseth to the royal palace to ask about his surprising pre-race comments regarding Jamie McMurray.  Seems Kenseth was upset that he first learned about McMurray joining Roush Racing when he read it on the internet.  Ouch.  Did Kenseth mean to imply that he might leave Roush after 2006 to avoid being teammates with McMurray?  And did the perceived slight have anything to do with the incident between the two drivers at New Hampshire?

 

  • In my kingdom, it would be unacceptable to avoid a competitor's phone calls for more than a day or two after the race, even if you were unceremoniously dumped by that person on Lap 27.  C'mon Jamie, be a man.  Answer the phone.

 

  • I would put a strict limit on the number of companies that can exploit Tony Stewart's fence climbing in their ads.  As Stewart's sponsor, Home Depot has an excuse for its new "Hey, Tony, we've got ladders!" slogan.  But did Bank of America also have to showcase Tony's climb as its "Higher Standards" moment of the week?

 

  • I would offer all the palace riches to see Richard Petty do the "Wally's World" segment  every week.  How cool was it to see the King back on track for the first time since 1993?

 

  • I would dispatch the royal camera crew to film the action when Richard and Kyle try to keep Mama away from the TV when their pre-race segment airs ... not to mention her reaction when she finally does see it.

 

  • I would command Carl Edwards to win a race, just to see him do his new back flip with a twist.

 

  • I would chastise Marty Snider for being way too hard on Elliott Sadler in a feeble attempt at an M&Ms reference.  No driver should be told that his season is "melting away" when he's still in the top 10, even if he has struggled for a few races.  Besides, M&Ms melt in your mouth.

 

  • I would emblazon this classic Rusty Wallace quote on the dashboard of all racecars:  "I'm approaching every single race like it's the last one."

 

  • But I would have to ask Rusty what he meant when he said he was driving in a "conservatively-aggressive?" style.  How's that again?

 

  • In view of the many driver complaints, I would instruct the track execs at Pocono to fix the tunnel turn.  But it was wonderful to hear Mark Martin's old-school theory about the excessively bumpy road:  "It's not that big a deal.  It's a bump.  Whoop-de-doo."

 

  • Chevy tells us in its latest truck commercial that "there's no word in Japanese for pick-up truck."  I would ask Chevy what the word is in Japanese for Silverado? 

 

  • While I know what he was getting at, I would still have to tease Allen Bestwick for reporting, "A little bit of pre-race good fortune (for Tony Stewart):  Moments ago, on pit road, this is his crew changing a flat left rear tire on the Home Depot car."  Wow, how lucky can a guy get?  Maybe next week he can have two or three flats before the race.

 

  • It was reported that Doug Richert's strategy was to have a fast qualifying lap in order to keep Greg Biffle out of early traffic.  Biffle started 7th and finished 17th, losing a spot in the points.  Given that this was an impound race, I would ask Richert, in the words of Dr. Phil, "How's that workin' for ya'?"

 

  • I would advise the TNT crew that they were unnecessarily harsh on poor Jamie McMurray Sunday. First, they kindly pointed out that although McMurray has four career Cup poles, he has never led the first lap of the race.  Then, after Kurt Busch led the first lap from the outside pole, they mentioned that McMurray's "record" was still intact.  Moreover, Bill Weber added that "Jamie McMurray has led only one lap all season - and that was under caution."  Geez.   

 

  • This week's Commissioner Appointment:  A Commissioner of Canvas, to create a giant mural on the palace wall of the 6 and the 2 racing side-by-side in the closing laps at Pocono - just so no one forgets what good racing looked like.

 

  • I would rebuke Dave Burns for his statement that Casey Mears' car was "rear-endy," adding that Mears had used a different word to describe the problem - yeah, like maybe, loose?

 

  • I would issue a royal reprimand to the marketing firm behind the TV ad for Watkins Glen.  The commercial, which ran several times Sunday, featured an ugly white rodent running in a squeaky wheel, with a voiceover asking, "Tired of watching things go 'round and 'round?"  Hey guys, if you're trying to entice NASCAR fans to come to your track, it might be better not to insult them and their preferred style of racing.  Tired of watching things go 'round and 'round?  Nope. 

 

  • I would thank Mark Martin for voicing the exasperation we all felt:  "We were sitting so good on strategy, then the had to have 50 cautions at the end (of the race)."  Well, not really 50, but it sure felt like it.

 

  • I would ask Kurt Busch the question on everyone's mind - was he trying for a burnout in the shape of a 97?  And more importantly, is every race winner now going to try and top the previous one with newer, more creative celebrations?  Please say it isn't so.

 

  • On the other hand, I would present Busch with the royal "Kindness to Animals" medal for kissing his dog in Victory Lane.

 

  • For curiosity's sake, I would instruct the palace pollster to gather statistics on this question:  Who else besides me gets a real Eddie Haskell vibe from Busch during his interviews?

 

  • I would strongly admonish Busch's sponsor Irwin for having a gigantic box cutter on display in Victory Lane behind Busch.  With 9/11 still relatively recent, is it necessary to even mention how strangely inappropriate that was?  What's wrong with a nice vice grip, anyway?

 

  • And finally … drivers and crews have argued for years against the scanners that pick up their every word on in-car radios.  No doubt comments are made in the heat of the moment that would otherwise never even be thought.  It was painful to hear Mark Martin call the driver behind him - which clearly appeared to be teammate Carl Edwards - an "idiot" in the closing laps at Pocono.  Even the guys in the booth were momentarily speechless.  My royal decree for the week is to institute a long-enough delay so that these embarrassing moments are prevented in the future. 

Until next week, I remain your Benevolent Dictator … Becca

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Curt
07/27/2005 07:06 AM
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In regards to to your comments regarding Mark Martin’s scanner comments in your “If I Ruled the (NASCAR) World – Pocono” column.——
Are we sure yet that Mark was the one making the ‘idiot” comment? I did hear someone saying that but I was of the opinion it was a member of Rusty’s team relaying a message from Mark to Rusty. If it was, was he relaying verbatum or was he inserting a colorful metaphor of his own when describing the car behind Mark?

I do know that Mark totally avoided comment about the remark when asked about it in a post-race interview. That leads me to believe Mark may have made that exact comment.

He also skirted the issue of asking the lapped 8 car to move aside because the 8 was interfering with the aerodynamics of his car, making it impossible for him to pass someone else on the lead lap. That’s a dumb request. If the 8 car was affecting his car that way, the car he was attempting to pass would too. I note that Jr. responded to Mark’s request by passing the car that Mark was trying to pass. Did Mark ever pass it?

Of course, we also had Edwards telling Jack Roush that he gave Mark Martin a break and helped him out, when he actually screwed it up. Then he confided in Jack that he was faster than Mark and Jack mentioned something about noticing that too and telling Edwards to go ahead and pass Mark. Give me a break. Edwards car was obviously not as fast as Mark’s.

I am not a real proponent of scanners being used to pick up team conversations but it does do one thing. It confirms that the drivers we see and listen to before and after the races and all during week aren’t the same ones driving during the race.

Mark Martin has been my personal favorite for many years but that bubble began bursting about the time that he won the All Star race and announced he’d do that race again next year if Roush would give him a car. That was his first sell out. Apparently it wasn’t his last.

Is Mark Martin really the person we’ve all been led to believe he is, for all these years? And what’s going on with Roush Racing, in general? I smell a rat.

Curt
Nikki
07/27/2005 08:43 AM
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First, your comment about scanners proving the drivers you see off the track aren’t the same as the ones you see on the track, I know a lot of people that are totally different animals when they are on the road!! :)

And what is so wrong with Mark agreeing to run the All-Star race next year? Mark decided to retire from Cup and run the Trucks because he didn’t like the long and packed schedule. The All-Star race is run on a weekend the trucks are already in Charlotte racing and it’s just for fun. And why is he a sell-out for wanting to come back another year? The man obviously still has the drive and talent to compete in the Cup Series and be competitive. It’s always possible that he realizes he just isn’t ready to stop, especially when he has the opportunity, like he does with Roush, for one more year. I know plenty of regular folk who retire then decide after sitting on the sidelines for even a week that they can’t do it yet and they go back. I see nothing wrong with what Mark is doing and I still have nothing but respect for him.
As for the radio communication between Edwards and Roush, I could be wrong but I thought I heard Edwards say something about being a tick faster and Roush’s comment was, “Then go get him.” I don’t remember him saying he saw that to and go get him…but that’s really not a problem.
Stu
07/27/2005 12:11 PM
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Your Biffle/Richert comment is way off. He was in the top 10 ( I think 6th at the time) and he blew a tire with about 13 laps to go. He fell back to 27th and got back to 17th in the last 10 laps.

So his strategy to stay up front worked pretty well, considering he lead several laps and was in the top 10 most of the race.
Ray
07/27/2005 07:16 PM
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Mark did not want to come back ,but was talked into it by Jack because he doesn’t have a driver for 2006.
Dave
07/27/2005 10:51 PM
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Pertaining to this comment:
I would strongly admonish Busch’s sponsor Irwin for having a gigantic box cutter on display in Victory Lane behind Busch. With 9/11 still relatively recent, is it necessary to even mention how strangely inappropriate that was? What’s wrong with a nice vice grip, anyway?

HOLY CRAP!!! That was 9/11/2001. 4 1/2 YEARS ago! I believe the time to be “a scared” of everyday tools has past. Please don’t be one of those sad, pathetic PC fearmongers who claims the world has changed since then. The reality is, blind-folded America has finally ditched the fold and taken a look around. Secondly, I’m sure you have no problem looking at the ocean, or having the ocean shown anywhere, and that sucker snuffed out 150,000 plus! Time for everybody to toughen up and stop the baby stuff.

Thanks

 

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