Martin Loses His Head · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday May 24, 2006
Q: Boy, the All-Star race really seems to have an effect on some people’s brains. What was Mark Martin thinking? I get tired of people saying how careful he drives all the time, because he sure didn’t Saturday night! No wonder Jamie McMurray is having a bad year "" Martin keeps wrecking him! Don
A: I don’t remember any other incidents between McMurray and Martin this year, Don. And while Martin was involved in a handful of incidents "" it’s the All-Star race. This is a short-format race that’s probably the most like any small-town weekend feature you’re likely to see. Since there are only a few laps "" and since it’s basically understood that the rules are a little "bent" for this one to begin with "" historically, NASCAR and the drivers have seemed to follow a slightly different code of conduct. There’s also some question of whether McMurray checked up in front of Martin, although Martin could and should have done something to avoid him. In a points race, he would have. Mark Martin will be Mark Martin again this week.
Q: Attended the race at Darlington two weeks ago. First time there; a great place to watch a race. Just wondering if drivers were on their best behavor because their moms were present? Maybe NASCAR needs to invite them to more races. I’m not sure but it looked like the Busch boys’ mom was also booing when they were introduced. Bob Haynes
A: More likely, they were all on their best behavior because Darlington scares the bejeebers out of them. I know it does me. For pure danger, qualifying and racing at Darlington and Charlotte back-to-back remind me why these guys are the best in their field. As for the Busch boys, at least we don’t have to worry whether they’ll ever get the fan favorite vote for the All-Star race. Good thing for Kurt he doesn’t need it.
Q: Was the tire situation at Charlotte that bad? There were a lot of good names that couldn’t make it through qualifying, guys that don’t usually wreck. If it’s that iffy, why bring that tire? J-Col
A: I don’t think it was necessarily bad, but we’ll have to wait on the 600 this week to know for sure. Another take on the Mark Martin question above is that he might not have been able to help it "" and if he couldn’t, it raises some significant issues about the tire. The problem with Charlotte right now is that if you let them run a grip-happy tire there given the condition of the pavement, it’s going to be so fast it will be like Texas was when the IRL first started running there and guys were getting G-force sickness, only in NASCAR’s case, it would be so fast it would blow tires and endanger everyone in the field. Humpy has put Goodyear and the drivers in a bad spot, but repaving was really the only option left.
Q: The whole "vote for Kyle Petty" thing was a disgrace. Assuming it wasn’t rigged, why put him through in the first place? He’s way beyond washed up. greg t.
A: Who should have gone through in his place, Martin Truex, Jr.? Just because his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is popular? It’s been years since Petty has done anything in Cup, but Truex hasn’t done anything yet. His success is in the Busch Series. What REALLY was a disgrace was Truex making it through last year when he wasn’t even a full-time Cup driver. To answer the "why put him through" question, Kyle’s winnings went to the Victory Junction Gang camp, which is what we call "good deeds" around here, something NASCAR is known to do and should be applauded for. The fans (and other drivers, like J.J. Yeley, who publicly stumped for Petty) were the ones responsible for it, anyway, so I can’t imagine what the problem is. By the way, Petty finished ahead of the only DEI entry in the feature, so if he’s "washed up," DEI has some explaining to do.
Q: I wouldn’t call myself "old school," but I draw the line when the Red Hot Chili Peppers get more face time at a race than most of the drivers. Maybe France’s boy needs not to stand so close to the tailpipes. I felt like I was at a traveling carnival. The only thing missing was the Goofy Golf course and the windmill. madmanwithbeer
A: Amen. I’m all for some pageantry for this event, but if they’d cut out some of the noise, as well as that insipid Nextel promotion with the oversized cell phones when they do the inversion, maybe they’d have enough time to split the Open field in two and run two heats, or something else that actually involves CARS.
Have an explanation for all that All-Star Challenge pageantry, more specifically why Ryan Newman’s crew dressed up as a bunch of crazed pimps? Email Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him all about it…or just give him a regular question or comment and you may be in this very space next week!
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