The Frontstretch: Have At It, Boys: NASCAR's "Powder Puff" Fans Need to Find Something Else To Do by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday July 1, 2010

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Have At It, Boys: NASCAR's "Powder Puff" Fans Need to Find Something Else To Do

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday July 1, 2010


Remember back in the day when, as the late Douglas Adams so aptly put it, “Men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri?”

It used to be that way in stock car racing, too!

With that in mind, I have to say that it honestly gives me the screaming heebie jeebies when I hear anyone from so called “racing” fans to even Champion (and non-champion) drivers complaining about “rough driving,” “idiots during restarts” and even, get this… NASCAR being sexist and discriminatory with their “Have At It, Boys!” approach this year.

Might I remind all of you whiners out there that, just a decade or so ago, racers were real racers, pit lizards were real pit lizards, and small lethal pieces of debris were real, small pieces of lethal debris!

Since I ranted earlier this week about the restarts, I will try not to bring that up too much today, although it may get a mention or two. What I want to focus on instead is rough driving and “Have At It, Boys!” Let’s start this off with a quote from four-time (consecutive) champion, Jimmie Johnson concerning the closing laps of last Sunday’s race in New Hampshire with Kurt Busch.

“That’s what the fans want to see. And if I was in the grandstands, I would love to see a little bit of bump-and-run, watch the guy run him back down, and do the same to get by. I understand it from that standpoint. I have to say I was a little shocked, and I haven’t spoken to him or really seen any video to know, if he slipped and accidentally got into me, or that was his intentions. If it was his intentions, that’s the first time in nine years racing with him that I have experienced that, and definitely changes the way that I race with him from that point moving on. I hate that he felt that I wasn’t going to wreck him [after that bump], because that was my goal: to wreck him.”

And this from Chad Knaus, on the same subject…

“We all were upset. I don’t know, I’m still having trouble thinking that he did it intentionally. I’m hoping that he drove it in there, bounded in there, was hoping he could get to the inside of us and the car turned. Kurt has never raced us like that. So I’m hoping that he’s not trying to act like he did something that he didn’t intentionally mean to do. He’s a good friend of ours, we don’t like racing him like that, and I hope that’s not the case. Steve Addington, his crew chief, is a great friend of mine, so we don’t need to start any shenanigans like that. We are big boys.”

Well first of all, Jimmie and Chad, I can assure you, as Kurt said, he DID do it on purpose… and I’m sure neither he nor your good friend, Steve Addington, are going to be sending apologies your way or asking for your forgiveness. This is, after all, RACING! You are in the big leagues, in case you forgot. And don’t you remember that even though he has matured a bit over the last few years, the dude in the rear-view mirror last Sunday did have the last name of Busch?

As only Jeff Meyer can put it, NASCAR drivers should EXPECT to be roughed up once in awhile once they make it to the Cup Series.

So, friends or not, how can anyone, especially a four-time champion, not expect to get roughed up a little? Is it because Jimmie thinks that no one should even touch his car because he is the reigning champ? Is it because Jimmie is used to being way out front most of the time over the last four years? I mean, being out front is best for Jimmie, seeing as how, over the last four years, it’s not often you find him actually trying to race back in traffic where other racers are! And when he is back there, he seems to not know what to do. Case in point: how do you get Jeff Gordon to actually say “pissed off” unless you are doing stupid things back in traffic? And wasn’t it not that long ago that people were placing bets on how long it would take Jimmie to cause the “Big One” at any given plate race? In comparison, Kurt Busch hasn’t really been lighting the track on fire the last four years. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t raced you that way, Jimmie!

Now, I don’t deny Jimmie and Chad their talent, especially when paired together (although I would love to see them split up, just to see who the “talent” on the team really is) but perhaps they need to remember that this is a race, and there are no friends in racecars, especially during the closing laps. I am simply astounded that Jimmie even became upset by Kurt’s maneuver – especially when Kurt showed remarkable maturity by doing the bump ‘n’ run the right way! Maybe Jimmie and Chad didn’t see it coming, but everyone else on the planet who was watching was not surprised at all.

The more I think about it, it’s a pity that Jimmie Johnson never got to compete against Dale Earnhardt. Dale didn’t get the name “The Intimidator” by being your friend on the track. Had Jimmie ever raced against Dale, maybe he wouldn’t be running his mouth now about Kurt’s little “bump” – because he would have gotten bumped about ten times harder and lost a win as a result.

As for you fickle fans out there, you all bitched that the races were so boring. NASCAR was too “hands on,” just let the drivers “do their thing,” you said. You raised a big stink when NASCAR forbid those drivers to bump in the turns at Talladega. You got all upset and pissed off when some dude in position 25, starting on the inside during a restart, took out your favorite running inside the top 10 because he was a lousy driver in the first place. Why, even your favorite driver was pissed because he got taken out by a lapped car “driving like an idiot” on a restart.

Now that NASCAR has changed those rules… you still ain’t happy? What the hell do you want?

You think the driving today is rough? Perhaps you should go back and watch the ending of the infamous 1979 Daytona 500, perhaps one of the most important races in the history of NASCAR, if you want to see rough driving! That’s what stock car racing is all about.

This is not a sport for wussies. It is about strapping in, stepping on the gas, and going as fast as you dare… with that ever looming possibility that it may cost you your life! There is going to be “rubbing.” There are going to be crashes. People are going to rough you up, and you will someday be the one doing the “roughing” – all in the name of being able to say, “I beat everyone else!” That’s all there is to it. Plain and simple.

If you cannot accept all that, if you get all riled up by the so called “roughness” in today’s racing, well … you need not waste your time. NASCAR, due to dropping revenue and plummeting attendance, is finally starting to get back to what and how it should be. Go watch curling or something; we don’t need nor want you here.

Finally, let’s get to NASCAR being “sexist and discriminatory!” The following is a quote from a so-called “racing” fan, and is, in my opinion, a sad, sad indicator of the sport’s audience today.

“This new ‘boys have at it’ policy is SO discriminatory against women. NASCAR instituted this new rule so that male drivers can wreck Danica and not get penalized. It’s not fair. And Morgan Shepherd should be ashamed! Has he NO moral compass! If I was his sponsor, I’d drop him like a solid rock! That just simply cannot be forgiven. Or at least dock him enough points that his season couldn’t be resurrected. I mean, who does this guy think he is?”

Now normally, due to simple apathy and the futileness of it all, (that, and I really am usually a pretty nice guy!) I would not even mention a fan comment such as this one… but their suggestions are just downright ludicrous!

Aside from the trivial drivel about the use of the word “boys,” for anyone to actually think or believe that NASCAR wants its male drivers to wreck their female Dale Jr. just totally defies belief. Not only that, but to call out, of all people, Morgan Shepherd! Well here is some news for you, “fan” … Shepherd’s sponsor is usually Jesus! Yes, THAT “gee-sus,” not “hay-soos!” This last week, it was, but to say Morgan Shepherd has no moral compass? You’re nuts!

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Let the “fan” continue…

“…and us women – we need to speak out against “boys have at it!!!!” “ DRIVERS have at it” would at least allow Danica to get some revenge or express her emotions freely post-race. NASCAR wants to make Danica the next vanilla driver clone. I mean, at least they let her start this race. I won’t even get into the REAL reason she only drives a partial schedule. (Ever notice last week’s Nationwide race, and ALL Cup races only allow “gentlemen” to start their engines?) You’d think after all these years, NASCAR would be a LITTLE less redneck than that!”

Boy, do I feel stupid! All this time, I thought it was Danica’s previous commitments to open-wheel racing that has kept her from racing full-time in NASCAR. I’d love to hear the real reasons! And to think… all NASCAR has to do to allow Danica to wreck someone is change one little word! I never would have guessed that Danica was racing under such restrictions! Why, she even has to have one of her crew members reach in and start the car for her!

I must be a redneck!

Stay off the wall (and Jimmie Johnson’s bumper!)

Jeff Meyer

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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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07/01/2010 07:08 AM

Hallelujah and amen! It’s good to see drivers actually fighting for the win! I only hope this new attitude helps make racing at Bristol as exciting as it used to be…although, with the stupid ‘chase’ format, it’s doubtful. Some drivers apparently got thinking that, if they’re running up front, no one should race them too hard, when it should be just the opposite! If you aren’t willing to fight hard for the win, maybe they should take up golf.

Ken Smith
07/01/2010 09:22 AM

What a pair of crybabies Jimmie and Chad are!! I agree – if Jimmie had to run against Dale, Sr., those pretty teeth of his would get rattled real good !!

Carl D.
07/01/2010 09:23 AM

I don’t know of any fans, other than one Danica Patrick fan, who have complained about Nascar’s “Have at it, boys” directive. Yeah, Jeff Burton and Danica Patrick and a couple of other drivers have complained about the rough driving, but that was mostly after they’d been involved in wrecks. I think the vast majority of fans are enjoying the beating and banging.

One thing to remember… for the most part, this is a self-policing sport. Drivers won’t get too stupid too often or they will find themselves in the garage with a torn up race car and pissed-off crew members. Most of the drivers are smart enough to realize that what comes around goes around.

07/01/2010 10:38 AM

Johnson isn’t the only wuss that doesn’t want to “race.” I think one of the reasons is they didn’t spend enough time on short tracks before they got into Cup cars. How old was Big E when he got into Cup. Early drivers had to serve a kind of apprenticeship before they got there. They spent a few years running at the back of the pack learning how to run in the Cup cars. Now they expect to win as soon as they strap in.

On a lighter note, HAPPY CANADA DAY!

07/01/2010 10:58 AM

Well, I remember when fans were REAL fans.

If Kyle Busch were Dale Jr., the fans would already have him in the Hall of Fame and they would be wearing T-shirts with pictures of him smashing the guitar and saying “that was SO cool man!”

The Jr. fans, and fans like that, are half the reason I pay little attention to nascar anymore.

Sandra Monacelli
07/01/2010 12:16 PM

OMG!!! Did you read my mind? I so wish I could put into words everything you just wrote. Thank you so much for telling it like it is. You’re right…if you don’t like the rules and everything else that goes with racing…GO AWAY. We don’t need you in my sport. As for JJ and CK…get a grip! Deal with the real racing that is going on, not what you think should be racing.

And to Mike…excuse me? If Kyle Busch were Dale Jr., I wouldn’t like him any more than I like KB now. Kyle is a great racer, but still needs to learn some manners. Junior is at least more grown up and understands where this sport came from, as do I. Please refrain from lumping all Junior fans into one tub…we are not all alike.

07/01/2010 12:52 PM

I firmly beleive the best way to take JJ off his game is to rattle his cage like Busch did. That was a minor bump and JJ got bent out of shape over it. Heck, when Hornish accidently took him out at Texas during the Chase last year, he was still crying about it at Daytona in February. I hope drivers are noticing this and putting the bumper to him even more now.

By the way, the woman that made those comments about the use of “boys” and “gentleman” is the very reason why this country is so dang politically correct. She really is out of touch with reality.

07/01/2010 01:37 PM

Amen, Jeff! I almost didn’t read this article because I thought you were going to be on the other side of the argument. Glad I clicked on it.

No, boys have at it, isn’t discriminatory to Danica — if it is equality you want, then you can’t whine when things don’t go your way and I must have missed the memo that said “thou shalt not actually RACE the 48”. Chad and Jimmie are the 2 biggest whiners in NASCAR — I couldn’t believe he was saying that — I thought it was a great bump and run — all Kurt did was MOVE him, he didn’t wreck him — too bad that the 48 caught him for the win. More drivers need to do it more often — throw them off their game – especially when they get to the chase. This whole thing of tiptoeing around the chase drivers needs to end — if NASCAR wants to keep the stupid playoffs, give them their own points system, but quit declaring hands off.

Kevin in SoCal
07/01/2010 01:39 PM

Right on Jeff, preach it brother!
I guess Jimmie and Chad forgot about last season when Jimmie and Kurt were magnetically attracted to each other and wrecked about every other race? I bet Kurt didnt forget…

Kevin in SoCal
07/01/2010 01:41 PM

Oh, and I forgot to say, I agree with Mike. 98% of Dale Junior’s fans give the rest a bad name.

07/01/2010 02:02 PM

If I were an owner, or sponsor, and a driver stated that he could have punted the leader out of the way and won but he does not want to win like that.

That driver would be on the unemployment line the next day.

This ain’t bean bag. It’s racing. I would bang into JJ on lap one and keep doing it till the end.

This is foolish. I don’t want to see a demolition derby (well sometimes I do) but I don’t want to watch a bunch of cricket players tipping their hat and yielding to each other on the track either.

07/01/2010 02:18 PM

Oh, what a difference 15 months make! Last April, (2009), everyone was cheering Brad Kesolowski for plowing Carl Edwards and sending Edwards into the fence, and nearly into the crowd, at Talladega. How dare Carl block a guy! I said, “What? How dare Carl protect his possible win?” Everybody complained about blocking. forgetting that someone like Dale Earnhardt Sr. would have run Kesolowski down into the grass or into the wall to protect his win! Now we have “What’s his name”, the undeserving 4-time chump, whinning because he got bumped, and everyone is saying bring on more! I guess it’s all in who’s involved, if it’s a driver you cheer for, or a driver you hate. I like it when someone bumps another driver out of the way! I loved it when Edwards did it to Cryle at Bristol! You don’t think Cryle would have bumped Edwards? This is supposed to be racing, not be a gentleman and let someone pass just to be nice! After all, you could be nice and let Cryle or Brad by, but do you think they would return the favour? Ya, right! If I want the lead, I will lay a bumper on you! And if I’m leading, you want by? Prepare for a trip into the grass or the wall! I never liked the man, but I will say this, Senior must be laughing his head off about all the whinning!

07/01/2010 07:06 PM

“Now that NASCAR has changed those rules… you still ain’t happy? What the hell do you want?”
Oh, let’s see now, hmmm. How about no POS COT, no Chase, no Top 35, no Brian France, no……
JJ and Chad think they live in this holier than thou world now that the Big Four was accomplished. How dare those other drivers race us hard. Don’t they realize who we are? I would have loved to have heard the reaction if Kurt’s car hadn’t faded and JJ couldn’t have got to him. Why, they may have filed a protest. JJ needed that win. Now that he’s having a kid, he’s got twice as many diapers to buy. At least Chad can teach him how to put them on.

07/01/2010 07:12 PM

Oh, and bring back friggin’ testing so someone other than the Big Boys have a shot a competition.

Jeff Meyer - FS Staff
07/01/2010 07:38 PM

To mkrcr: “Oh, let’s see now, hmmm. How about no POS COT, no Chase, no Top 35, no Brian France, no……

Im with you there, 100% !!!! But I still have to face reality! Baby steps! At least nascar has started to change a few little things. Maybe someday the rest will come to pass. The first step is getting Brian out of there. Most of the things you mentioned were HIS ideas, and we all see where their bottom line has slid to recently. Maybe the rest of the family will finally see the light some day. We can only hope!

07/01/2010 08:48 PM

Jeff, the scary thing is, who will step in to fill BF’s position when he’s finally committed? I haven’t looked real close but the gene pool seems pretty thin.

irvan fan
07/01/2010 09:31 PM

well said jeff…somebody needs to send chad and jj a box of kleenex

07/01/2010 10:34 PM

My take…the driving talent has actually gone down over the years since technology, better? engineering, and the COT came along. Very few of the drivers actually know how to just bump someone out of the way. All they know is how to put them in the wall to get by. Most of the drivers have no idea what setup is under the car, only what the crew chief, engineers, and computer simulations told them to put under it. The drivers don’t have to fix the car after they wreck it, they have no involvement and quite honestly no investment in the building of it, so the car they drive has no real meaning to them, which transfers to them wrecking another car on the track to just someone else’s problem to pay for. So either the respect for the cars has left the building, or the driving talent has left the building. There has to be a reason the ability of a driver to pull the bump and run without wrecking someone has left the building.

John McManus
07/02/2010 07:47 AM

You may want smaller crouds , low viewership and less sponsorship, but is it good for the race teams?

No. Only better racing will work. Having at it won’t.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
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