The Frontstretch: Making the Grade: Darlington (Not All Classics Are Classics) by Dennis Michelsen -- Monday May 15, 2006

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Making the Grade: Darlington (Not All Classics Are Classics)

Dennis Michelsen · Monday May 15, 2006


Pace Laps

Was it just me, or does this place look faster at night?

Betcha the Over / under for the first driver to scream "I need new tires" was on the pace laps!

Anyone else notice Roush drivers share the lead better than Hendrick drivers?

Mother’s day weekend at Darlington is one schedule change I applaud NASCAR for; it has given us another cool tradition! (Now, can we bring back the Southern 500 too?)

Race Grade: C+
This was a rather drab race that managed to get one full letter grade improvement during the final laps! I still hope they give us more of this and less of the restrictor plate or flat track nonsense. This is real racing and only gets a "C+" cause I grade on a curve.

F for Kevin Harvick’s Luck
If this same thing had happened to Harvick at North Carolina Speedway, at least he would have had a great tie-in with Prudential as an associate sponsor. (Give it time, the punch line will grow on you!) This will go down in the history of NASCAR as one of the weirdest things to happen to a race car.

D for Jamie McMurray’s Luck
As bad as this team is running, the last thing it can afford is bad luck on top of everything else. Jamie McMurray is the leader so far in the "Most Disappointing Season" award, although he has faced some early competition from Jeremy Mayfield!

C for Dale Jarrett
DJ gets an "A+" for convincing Toyota to invest that much money in a guy who routinely finishes mid-pack every week. Now, of course, we get to see what the going rate is for "Past Champion Provisionals," since this is one driver that is guaranteed a start in next year’s Daytona 500!

B for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Junior never seemed to recover from all that partying at Richmond the week before. Playing hurt is something that NASCAR guys do every week…but driving while less than 100% on such a difficult track and finishing in 5th would make his Daddy proud"¦again!

A for Greg Biffle
This team has found more ways to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory all season than I could count"¦so much so, in fact, I was beginning to think they should add the Chicago Cubs as an associate sponsor! Biffle has had the best car most of the year week in and week out, but finally avoided trouble to find his way to Victory Lane. This is the type of team and driver that will be very scary when they make the Chase for the Championship"¦emphasis on WHEN and not IF!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


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05/15/2006 10:17 PM

Is anybody else wondering if Jamie made a mistake moving to Roush?

M. B. Voelker
05/16/2006 06:32 AM

I’ve been thinking more along the lines of Roush making a mistake moving to Jamie. ;-)

05/16/2006 04:53 PM

It’s not that bad. Jamie’s just had some bad luck as a couple of other of Roush Drivers. (Do I have to mention their names?) But they have found luck in the past weeks, and now it’s Jamie’s turn. It’s probably a hard adjustment to make.

05/16/2006 05:23 PM

I agree, Summer. If Mr. Biffle can pull out a win, I believe Jamie can as well. I mean, think of how well he was running with Ganassi equipment. It won’t take too much longer for Jamie to catch the Roush Racing train towards the top 10.

05/16/2006 05:40 PM

Who here remembers when Biffle was struggling? Turned out Roush was putting inferior equipment in that team. How much you want to bet that a poor showing shuts this team down? That puts Roush right at the 4-team max, which will make NASCAR happy. And when NASCAR’s happy, everyone makes a profit.

P.S. I’m a Mark Martin fan, so don’t nobody think I dislike Roush. I’m just positive that he knows a good business decision when he sees it.

05/16/2006 11:32 PM

Roush doesn’t have to reduce to four teams until 2009 due to sponsor commitments. The difference between bad luck for the 16, 99 and the 26 is the 26 isn’t running up front when bad luck strikes.


Dennis no longer contributes to the Frontstretch, but you can Dennis's commentary at his website bio and archive page.