The Frontstretch: Cup Making the Grade- Fastlanta by Dennis Michelsen -- Monday March 21, 2005

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Cup Making the Grade- Fastlanta

Dennis Michelsen · Monday March 21, 2005


Pace Laps
Was that really Michael McDonald?

If Crew Chiefs and Drivers continue to break the rules NASCAR is going to need a bigger “Phone Booth.”

We will continue to see great racing here until fate gives us a nasty accident. Then the restrictor plates will come on and the racing will get real boring!

With the great racing here it would fit into what has happened lately if a race date is moved from here to another SMI track. After all NASCAR doesn’t like having any empty seats regardless of how great the TV ratings turn out. (Rockingham proves that!)

Race Grade A
Once again we get a race suitable to be an “Instant Classic.” It looked as if Jimmie Johnson was home free with about 4 laps to go but then Carl Edwards drove the wheels off his car!

F for Bobby Labonte’s Luck
In this as any sport the old saying says, “You make your own breaks.” But this time Bobby Labonte was a victim and now has his back against the wall the next few weeks to get back to 35th in points.

D for Dale Earnhardt Jr
I was in the minority that said the switch of Crew Chiefs was a good idea. Similar to the Bulls replacing Doug Collins despite a winning record to go for the championship with the Zen Master, I thought this was the right move to go with Pete Rondeue. This team has gone into the tank and now needs a major spark to salvage the season.

C for Jeff Burton
His grade was close to a “B” until he faded at the end. Jeff Burton is more than just a driver. His car savvy should help RCR return to the front of the pack soon.

B for Jimmie Johnson
This guy is on an amazing roll lately. Will this team peek too soon before the playoffs? In the meantime you can’t not overlook Jimme Johnson for your picks every week!

A for Carl Edwards
Last year at Mansfield Raceway I learned that this kid really is just as nice as he appears to be on TV. Also watching him in the truck series I knew this kid would be a force in Busch and Cup someday. What I didn’t know was that “Someday” would come so soon!

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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…


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03/22/2005 04:39 AM
Other than the race for first and second place including the final laps in Sunday’s duel at Atlanta, I didn’t see much(racing).

Long before the half-way point of the race there were less than 20 cars on the lead lap. I can see that on a short track, but a mile and a half track? Where’s the racing?

Sure you seen some two, three even four wide some times, but that’s Atlanta more than anything else and the cars were one or two laps down. The cars on the lead lap were mostly single file with passes here and there.

My question is; Do you think that it is the inpound rule or the new rule package that is causing this great disparity in the have’s and have not’s? Or is it the combination of both?

Not having that two hours of practice on Saturday and the time afterwards to re-evaluate the setups seem to be hurting the teams that did not hit the setup before qualifying and is making for less exciting racing.

It seems like to me that NASCAR threw too much change at the teams at one time.
Richard Irion
03/22/2005 05:31 AM
I like the impound rule. At the moment there seems to be some disparity but like everything else in NASCAR the teams will adjust and catch up. Like in the past there are really only 6 to 10 teams that can consistently compete for wins and by mid-season those teams will be doing that. I also like the new rule’s package because it does cause the drivers to drive their cars rather than aim them.
03/22/2005 08:37 PM
As being at the race itself, I can tell you that while the finish is what will be talked about the race was rather boring, as usual. The only race that was ever fully good there was the fall IROC race last year when they were working for 1 million and there were no holds barred.

There was a constant hum around the track of cars circling, and the leader passing, over and over and over, with no real excitement until that very last lap. The only other time there seemed to be excitement was the first lap wreck (and that was only because Jeff Gordon was involved).

In my honest and humble opinion, even though Atlanta is the fastest track w/o RP’s, it is the most boring and ranks right up there with… Michigan. Long, drawn out and boring, with no substance in the middle.
03/22/2005 08:39 PM
Oh and as a last add on, the seats in Atlanta this year were the emptiest I have seen them in 3 years and there was no weather threat this time (as opposed to the fall race a few years ago). Ticket sales are going down for Atlanta because people would rather take a nap during the middle and be comfy, than stuck in the hard stands with the butt groove way off. :)


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