The Frontstretch: Happiness Is... Early May by Huston Ladner -- Wednesday May 15, 2013

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Happiness Is... Early May

Huston Ladner · Wednesday May 15, 2013


So Darlington is starting to weather in, meaning that it’s gotten its hunger back and is now chomping on tires again. Though Kyle Busch drove most of the race like it didn’t matter, tire wear is a good thing and did make for some strategic decisions near the race’s end. Goodyear, however, has a long way to go to making tires a heart and soul component of thinking out a race. But then again, Pirelli is facing a different issue in F1 as some are complaining that the tires degrade too quickly. Well, whatever, you can’t please everyone.

Happiness Is…Pit Road

Matt Kenseth slid his Toyota at the entrance of pit road Saturday night and nearly wadded up his car on the safety barrels. Considering his talent level and the equipment he’s driving, that would seem to make the incident one of driver error. Now, while one may want to question the validity of robots making errors, it still happened, and it showed that Darlington does in fact have a treacherous pit road. The problem is — FOX tells us that every week.

Is the entrance to pit road each week more treacherous than the last? Apparently Darrell Waltrip thinks so.

It’s as though there’s a light that goes off in the booth and Darrell Waltrip must respond by describing how difficult pit road is at whatever track they’re racing that week. Phoenix, tough pit road. Kansas, whoa, gotta watch pit road. Talladega, sure the speedway is wider than an interstate, but that pit road, it’s tricky. No doubt some entrances to pit road are more challenging than others, but each and every week cannot be the hardest pit road that drivers have ever encountered.

Happiness Is…Kyle Busch in Nationwide

Kyle Busch spoiled the Darlington Nationwide race this past weekend. The outcome of the race seemed inevitable from the start. Even when Busch restarted in the lowly position of sixth, he blistered through the field, took the lead, and then was probably driving one-handed and playing with his car’s radio as he cruised home to victory. Seems like a recipe for good entertainment.

Many fans complain about the number of Cup regulars that can be found in the Nationwide races. It’s understandable, as there’s an unwritten code purporting that the series is for up-and-comers and is a time for them to hone their skill. Well, nothing hones skill like trying to beat one of the best drivers out there. The truth is, that for Busch’s stomping the Nationwide field regularly, he’s still fascinating to watch, and a good TV sell. It’s good to see drivers drive — that’s what they’re supposed to do. Rather than limiting the number of Cup drivers in the other series, they should be encouraging more of them to do it. Get behind the wheel and show something.

Side By Side: Should NASCAR Limit Cup Drivers in Nationwide?

Happiness Is…Kurt Busch in IndyCar

Busch got behind the wheel of an IndyCar and took it for some laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week. He turned respectable laps at 218 mph and came across as relatively solid in the car. Busch is apparently adopting the very mantra of drivers drive. Whether he’s got a bucket list or drinks petrol, he’s been behind the wheel of an NHRA ride, a V-8 supercar, his usual stock car and now an IndyCar. Is F1 next? The space shuttle? (Won’t happen, that program is scrapped.)

What makes Busch’s foray into IndyCar interesting is that he is the first successful Cup driver to look towards that series in a long time. The trend in American motorsports had been to use IndyCar as a stepping stone to NASCAR. With Busch’s flirtation, he’s reversing that idea. While he stated that he’d be unable to race the 500 this year, he’s still looking to run Pocono and a couple other races. Make it happen, let’s see what he or some of the stock car veterans can do in the open wheel rides. And if Busch can do the 500 and Charlotte 600 next year — even better. Bring back drivers doing the double.

Happiness Is…F1

Fernando Alonso earned his 32nd win in F1 this past weekend, placing him fourth all time in the series. The victory also tightened up the championship race and indicated that Red Bull might not run away with the season. Ferrari did something unexpected to in the race at Spain, and one that seemed contrary to what other teams were doing. They raced flat out.

The tire issue in F1 this year has been one that teams felt has handcuffed them. Teams have focused on finding a balance between speed and managing their tires. The Mercedes team took this idea to the extreme in Spain and as a result, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who had qualified for the front row, suffered considerably. But Ferrari challenged the whole notion and didn’t care about their tires falling off — all they did was add a pit stop. With the pace they set, other teams felt compelled to keep up and joined their four4-stop strategy. But it was Ferrari’s playground and they weren’t sharing the kickball.

Ferrari did something fans want to see. They raced hard. While there’s a debate towards the gimmicks in F1, the tires and Drag Reduction System, it was heartening to see a team do what is expected of a race team: race. Drivers drive, race teams race. Fill up the tank and let them loose.

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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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05/15/2013 03:42 AM

OK so you’re a big fan of cup drivers destroying the field every week in the busch series.Not only that, you want to encourage more cup drivers in the minor leagues. Wow. Well hell why not just have 2 cup races every weekend with that logic? What would really be the difference? Different pit crews and a different crew chief on the pit box. Whooo talk about excitement for the fans. Folks the field is the same today as it wil be tomorrow, the only difference is the pit crew. Yep that would be a good sell. You guys keep using the tired old argument that the young up and coming drivers needing to hone their skill against the cup drivers. Well, wouldn’t it still be “honing their skills” by racing the current points leader or one of the veteran drivers such as Elliott Sadler or Vickers? Why does it take trying to race a cup guy on a cup owned team with an unlimited budget for these young guys to supposedly improve? I just don’t buy the argument. The series sucks currently and lots of people have stopped watching and obviously have stopped attending based on the thousands of empty seats.