The Frontstretch: Scanner Static : Cup Veterans Fed Up With Ragan-omics by Jess Nicholas -- Wednesday October 25, 2006

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Scanner Static : Cup Veterans Fed Up With Ragan-omics

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday October 25, 2006


Q: I may be the last Ken Schrader fan standing, and I was really hoping he would have taken that piece of bumper he was holding and knock David Ragan’s block off Sunday. What a mess Martinsville turned out to be, thanks to that kid. Does Jack Roush not have anyone better to put in that seat? Can NASCAR not administer a driving test? Stuck on 25

A: I’m afraid neither Jack Roush nor anyone else really has an answer for the driver shortage problem. I also don’t think they were ready for the embarrassing showing that Ragan put on at Martinsville. I’m not really sure why they leapt over Todd Kluever to get to Ragan in the first place, but they’ve made their bed now. As for your driving test, that’s a great idea; NASCAR already requires basic competence, but I’d like to see a real skills test before letting the kids out onto the track for real. Maybe NASCAR can hire some of these older drivers that keep getting put out of rides by the kids and have some kind of driving school. They could even make a reality show out of it…anything’s better than what we have now.

Q: Is Bobby Labonte really close to winning a race, or is this all just a tease? That third-place finish at Martinsville gives me hope, but I’m still not sure Petty can get it done. Chucky

A: Well, Labonte probably had a Top 15 car Sunday, and finished third mostly due to pit strategy. Having said that… yes, I think they can win. It’s going to have to be at the right track with the right conditions and a little luck, but this is no longer a backmarker team running around out there. Kyle Petty may have even had a better car than Labonte, and when was the last time you could say that? Baby steps…baby steps…

Q: (From Charlotte) Restrictor plates? PLEEEEEASE ... Those things never did anything but turn a bad situation worse. Look at Daytona and Talladega. Safer? No, hell no! Forty-three cars riding around three-wide, less than a half-second between first and last, massive wrecks, cars and debris still in the stands. Safer? No way. The problem with Charlotte isn’t the track or the surface. The problem is these “pretty-boy“ so-called drivers cannot actually drive a car. If the car is loose, they have to pull in and give it over to some engineer to “fix“ it. There is nothing that says they must run a car flat-footed at every track. Sometimes, you have to feather the gas or brake to get through a turn. It’s called “driving.“ Place some of the blame on Goodyear, too. I know I expect a lot from them to make a tire that can stay together for a few laps. After all, they’ve only been making tires for over 100 years. You’d think somebody there could at least get close. Why not bring in Goodrich, Firestone, or even Hoosier? I bet Goodyear would tighten their collective (expletive) up then. Gary

A: The reason I advocated restrictor plates was simply to get the top speeds down. I know you bring the “Big Ones“ back into play if you were to do that, but take another look at Martin’s crash and tell me we’re not headed for a skull-cracker there at some point. The talk about feathering the throttle is all well and good, but show me someone who’ll actually do that in a race, and I’ll show you the guy running 30th.

Q: You’ve got to hand it to Jimmie Johnson : he wins the race, gets to third in the Chase. You keep saying he’s going to fail, but I don’t see it. Care to admit you’re wrong yet? Junior Es You Ex

A: Nope. For one thing, he’s got to go through Matt Kenseth, and I don’t see Kenseth falling off.

Q: I see where David Ragan won’t be allowed to run Atlanta. That’s odd for NASCAR to do something like that. Why do you think they’d keep him from running? Krystal

A: The NASCAR receptionist just called; Ken Schrader left that piece of his bumper on Mike Helton’s desk.

Tried restrictor plates at Lowe’s with Charlotte in your own personal car…and lived to tell about it? Think David Ragan is the second coming of Buckshot Jones…with staying power? Email Jess at and tell us all about it…or, email him any other NASCAR-related question or comment, and you could end up in this very space next week!

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10/26/2006 09:44 AM

Everybody seems to be ragging on David Ragan. NASCAR has created the situation with the driver shortage so why don’t we blame the organization?

The last several races of the season have been used to break a team’s new driver in for the coming season. David Ragan has been Roush’s choice of drivers for 2007. Given the limited options that Jack had, he chose David over drivers like Todd Kluever and Erik Darnell. Did he have other choices? I’m not too sure given the state of developing drivers. With the Busch Series team and sponsors demanding Cup drivers fill the seats, we are losing out on a true development series. David Ragan in a Cup car is an example of that.

If something isn’t done by NASCAR to open up the Busch and Truck Series as development series, I’m afraid what we saw at Martinsville may become the norm at all races. I don’t put the blame on Ragan because NASCAR has created the situation.

10/26/2006 10:25 AM

Well..if we look back at now established drivers first year in Cup ..could half of them say they did better then Ragan? It is the sponsors problem..Until they realize 3-4 years of a contract with a winning and established driver is better then 3-4 years of crashes, unfinished races, and bizzare acting ablitlies in commercials..we will continue to see the “Ragans” of Martinsville ruin the series….I think it is a “trickle down” effect..if more established drivers were in vogue we would see less “Buschwackers” invading the Busch series..they would be too busy with their “real” jobs..

Paul A. Echols
10/26/2006 01:36 PM

The problem is absolutely the Busch Series is Cup Lite and testing for Cup. There were consistently 15 to 20 Cup drivers in Cup Lite every companion race. NASCAR has to lose the greed and fix CUP Lite. Until then every driver that comes up to cup better be a phenom and make the Chase right out of the box. Hell even Earnhardt Jr did his time in Busch. His Dad was smart enough to see to that. NASCAR is not smart! NASCAR is GREED. NASCAR also needs to mandate at least a year or two in the Busch Series before a driver can move up to Cup and demolish all that great equipment. Even for JPM a great open wheel driver but what does he know about heavy stock cars?? If NASCAR fixed Cup Lite they might even fix the ratings problem that is developeing

10/27/2006 07:38 AM

David Ragan = Daddy’s Money—that’s why he got the seat. My pick would have been Darnell, but he wanted to stay in trucks for a couple more years. He’s going to be a good one! But it is sad to see all these money-fed pretty boys now down south. They sure don’t grow’em like they use to. Few have talent, but they sure look and talk good. Old race fans are getting sick of all what’s going on—that’s why the ratings are down and will continue to do so. Bring back the talent that the 70’s and 80’s had.


Jess no longer contributes to the Frontstretch, but you can still read all his articles on his archive and bio page.