Hamlin Hamms It Up At Richmond · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday May 10, 2006
Q: Man, Denny Hamlin looked good at home, didn’t he? I guess this is what NASCAR was waiting on, one of those rookies to break out. I guess the only bad thing if you’re NASCAR is that it wasn’t Martin Truex Jr., because they were sure pushing him at the beginning of the year. I’m a new Hamlin fan now, though. He’s got charisma and guts. Dave Rocks
A: That’s the best way for young guys to break through, Dave "" get out there and race against the best and hold your own. Denny surely won a lot of new fans over the weekend, and it was good to see someone honest enough to admit he was literally scared behind the wheel (when he took the lead for the first time). A little more honesty and a little less doublespeak like, "I’d like to thank the Tagamet-Prilosec-Rolaids folks for keeping my digestive tract in check during the race," and we all might be bigger fans. Now I’m waiting to see how long it takes my preseason rookie prediction (Clint Bowyer) to break through.
Q: What in the world was Bobby Labonte’s team thinking? Is it true they switched his front and rear tires by mistake on the last pit stop? KingSnayk
A: Sort of. They inadvertently swapped the right rear and left rear. Labonte ended up going down the straightaway looking like he was running one of those temporary donut spare tires on his right rear. He probably would have finished anywhere from eighth to 12th without that foul-up. This is the kind of thing that Robbie Loomis and Todd Parrott need to fix, fast. Parrott can get pretty red-faced at times, and I’ll bet he was about ready to eat those tires after the race was over with. You can’t live with those kinds of screwups, and until Petty fixes it, they’re going to continue to run in the 20s on race day.
Q: Regarding driving five wide at Talledega, what were the spotters doing? Isn’t it their job to let the drivers know they are two, three, four wide? I haven’t seen any comments on this. Dot
A: Apparently, the spotters were scoping some of the college girls that come down from Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, or the drivers just weren’t listening. You’re right, though. I’d like to hear a few spotter-driver audio tapes from the half-lap just prior to that accident. The whole situation was foolish and unnecessary, and wrecked a lot of innocent race cars. Ultimately, though, the driver has the wheel in his hands, and he has to be smart enough not to put himself in tight spots early, no matter how ignorant his spotter may be.
Q: Why does NASCAR bunch up its short tracks at the beginning and end of the year, and leave the middle empty? I love short tracks, it’s the best racing we’ve got. And now it’s going to be what, August, before we see another? Does NASCAR even think about this? Pete Downing
A: I’ve wondered the same thing, Pete. I think the whole schedule needs a big edit. The two Pocono races need to be more spread out, for one. The snow from this year aside, I’d actually move the first Bristol race earlier and have the other one in the Chase. And I’m going to catch flak for this, but I would like to see one of the road courses put in the Chase, or a third one added. As to what NASCAR thinks, a lot of it is dependent on weather, on the individual track’s schedules, and on sponsorship…that kind of thing.
Q: Well, you called it "" Brent Sherman is out of the 49. Is Kevin Lepage going to be any better for them? ebs171
A: I like BAM’s story in NASCAR, but they’ve looked behind the curve on technology ever since they started. I think Lepage will qualify better and take care of his equipment better than Brent Sherman, but I don’t know if this team can score a Top 15 or better unless Lepage qualifies for the second Daytona or Talladega race and gets a draft-aided finish.
Q: What a weekend! My man Stewart finishes in the Top 10, my wife bought me a new truck, and I guess Jeff Gordon’s team can’t figure out how to hook up all the wires, so I don’t have to hear the guy who works across from me talk about Speed Racer Boy this week. I think I’m going to get dressed up in my Stewart stuff tomorrow and just walk around Lowe’s. Nice job, Jeff! Only 114 laps down! You geek! E.J.
A: Whatever you’re drinking, E.J., pass me some, ’cause you sound like you’re having a heckuva time.
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