Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday October 9, 2008
I am not a journalist. I am a columnist. As such, I can report or write about the facts as I interpret them. Let’s face it, it’s one of the reasons y’all love me so much… or vice versa.
Having said that, I will tell you now it’s the reason I have Regan Smith’s name first in the title of this article. Simply put, I will give him first billing even if NASCAR will not. I firmly believe that Smith was forced below the yellow line, and no matter how many times I watch the video, I will not be convinced otherwise.
Another thing that I want to clear up is the difference between “blocking” and “forcing.”
Blocking is what you do to keep the other guy behind you. If you try to “block” when the other guy already has his nose beside you, that is a “force.” As I respectfully explained to a highly regarded member of our staff, in the civilian world, blocking is what happens when you get “cut off.” What happens when you get forced? You get run off the road. There’s a key difference here. Getting cutoff is annoying… but getting run off the road is criminal, and Regan should have gotten the license plate number of that car. Oh, yeah; it was number 20! Unfortunately, the NASCAR cops gave the wrong guy the ticket. No surprise there — in either the NASCAR or civilian world.
What was really nice, however, for me as a fan, was the heat that the whole Smith / Stewart debacle took off my (put on fan hat) favorite driver Carl Edwards.
Regular readers know that I had picked Carl to be my favorite when my first favorite, Dale Jarrett, finally retired. I picked Carl for that honor back when he first started flipping off trucks in a way different from what that sounds like. Back then, Carl seemed to be a talented and classy young man with lots of potential. Over the years, I have often said that only time will tell if his class turns out to be equal to DJ. So far, he has not let me down, and the events that transpired on the last few laps last Sunday only served to prove once again that I had, in fact, made a noble choice to fill DJ’s shoes.
“You do the best you can to move as far forward as possible. I was just pushing Greg as hard as I could. It’s my fault, and I apologize to everybody caught up in that wreck. I was worried about the idiots here, and I was the guy that caused that one,” said Carl after taking out about eight Chase contenders.
I found that I ran through a gamut of emotions — just like the fans of a ton of other drivers — as I watched that wreck unfold. I felt everything from being downright livid to drowning in despair; but if you weren’t a Carl fan, I’m sure you stopped at livid. As I braced myself for the derision and even hatred towards Carl that was sure to follow such a massive screwup… well, that’s when Smith and Stewart started their little dance. (After the cleanup of Carl’s mess, of course.)
When you couple the controversial finish with a very humble statement accepting total blame for the big wreck, well, my man Carl comes out looking refreshingly classy in this day and age when most drivers are so quick to blame everyone or everything but themselves. The irony of the whole deal is the simple fact that, had Carl not caused that crash, Regan Smith probably wouldn’t have been in the position he was to create the controversy at the end of the race.
So, the big question that came to my mind was what life was going to be like back at the shop for Carl after having taken out both title-contending teammates: Biffle and Matt Kenseth.
“Carl didn’t mean to do it, it wasn’t his fault. He caused it, but he was just trying to help and he pushed me all the way down the back and did everything he could to help,” said Biffle after the race.
OK. Not too bad so far.
“You knew it was going to be crazy, but I actually felt like we were almost home free. Biffle got wiped out, and he wiped me out somehow,” said Kenseth while failing to acknowledge Carl’s very existence.
Ouch. My guess is, Kenseth’s emotions are still somewhere in the livid range!
And now for something completely different…
The very name leaves me livid. Fortunately, I have a beverage that helps to cure that. At any rate, it is nice to see that this fledgling young company is working so hard to get some traction on this whole “making tires to race on” thing they got going now.
During recent testing at Indy, reports are coming in that they have found the technology to make a tire that you can race on for just over 20 laps!
“We’re not all the way there, but we’re pretty close to it,” NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton said. “We were in about an eight- or nine-lap window before (during testing), and that got up to 10, and now we’re in the mid-20 range. So it’s improved 300 percent already. We walked the track last night, and the track was taking on rubber, so that’s a good sign.”
Goodyear’s General Manager of worldwide racing, Stu Grant, went on to explain some of the more “technical” aspects of the tire.
“In simple terms, it’s a softer tire. I use the term stickier. I can say, at this point, we’re really, really encouraged by what we’ve seen at this test so far.”
It’s good to see that they are finally figuring out what to run on at these new tracks such as Indy!
Stay off the wall, (and put your sarcasm recognition glasses on for that last part!)
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