The Frontstretch: Mirror Driving: Tony The Tiger, The Quiet Fight (Kahne-Newman), And Dirty Deeds by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday September 8, 2010

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Welcome to “Mirror Driving.” Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news, rumors, and controversy. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

This Week’s Participants:
Tom Bowles (Editor-In-Chief; Tuesdays / Hot/Not & Wednesdays / Did You Notice)
Amy Henderson (Mondays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Beth Lunkenheimer (Fridays / Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Kyle Ocker (Frontstretch News Reporter)

Tony Stewart took home his first win of 2010 with just one race to go before points reset for the Chase. Does that give Stewart an advantage, with momentum on his side at Richmond and beyond… or would you rather be in someone like Kevin Harvick’s shoes, where Stewart was one year ago?

Amy: I’d rather be Jimmie Johnson. But if Stewart still has the momentum after Richmond, he’s in a great spot as he’s a very streaky driver.
Phil: Well, I think I’d rather be Harvick as compared to Stewart, since he’ll have more bonus points at the start of the Chase.
Tom: I think Tony Stewart got it right this year. In talking to him a few weeks ago, it’s clear he felt like they made a mistake in 2009 by leading the points midsummer and peaking too early. It’s all about timing when it comes to beating Johnson — so yeah, I’d definitely rather be in Stewart’s shoes. He’s coming like a freight train.
Beth: Stewart missed his summer hot streak and may be coming around at just the right time this season.
Kyle: He’s got to show that the win was from him peaking at the right time, though.
Amy: This has been a weird year in that no team has really found and sustained momentum for more than a few weeks, and then they have gone totally the other way. Harvick has been the most consistent.
Beth: Drivers tend to approach the Chase with a different mentality than they do the other 26 races of the season.
Amy: True, but if you come in with barely a whimper, it can be tough to turn things around.

Phil: They can approach the Chase differently, but that doesn’t mean strange things can’t happen in the Chase.
Tom: I think this year more than ever, teams are really looking to time their momentum. And there are a lot of drivers running well at the same time. I think last year, you really sat there and wondered who was going to challenge Johnson. Now, you can name six, seven, eight guys that have strung just enough of a summer streak together to be considered contenders. Everyone has flashed a hint of consistency, so it’s all about which one is going to carry through.
Beth: And hopefully it’ll make the championship race a little more exciting this season.
Amy: See, I don’t see that at all, Tom. I haven’t seen anyone prove they have what it takes this summer, in fact, just the opposite.
Tom: Well, I think Johnson and Joe Gibbs Racing are taking great pains not to show their hand. Which has made it seem like it’s a wide open race right now. I think there are a lot of people on the cusp … and that puts everyone pretty much on the same page. Other than Gordon, Bowyer, Biffle and Kenseth, I don’t see a Chaser you can count out right now for the title, really.

Jeff Gordon may be second in points but has struggled as of late, without a top-5 finish in the last four races while remaining winless on the year.

Kyle: I don’t think there are that many people that I could honestly say have a shot at the title based on the first 25 races. Maybe three or four, but certainly not six-eight guys.
Phil: How can you count Gordon out for the title? Because he hasn’t won yet?
Tom: I’m just writing about it for Hot / Not. Last four races for Gordon: 10th, 27th, 11th, 13th. Only two laps led. They’ve looked awful in comparison to their peers. I think not getting a win to get them over the hump has finally knocked the wind out of their sails. You can only come close and fail for so long.
Beth: I wouldn’t count Gordon out just yet.
Amy: I don’t think so, Tom. The No. 48 has been absolutely awful since New Hampshire. The No. 11 hasn’t been much better, and yeah, you try stuff, but the last thing they want is to be so far out in left field they run like they have been. I haven’t seen anything out of Gordon that indicates he’s championship caliber this year. Then again, I’ve barely seen it even in guys like Johnson or Hamlin … Harvick is the only one who has been racing like he deserves a title.
Kyle: I don’t think Hamlin can get consistently good pieces from his team. I’d count him out, regardless of the five wins he has. I would count Gordon out, with the no wins, as Tom said, you can only be disappointed so many times. So there’s two out, and Kyle Busch, I don’t think, is ready yet to be a champion.
Beth: He’s still got a lot of growing up to do.
Amy: He lets other things get in his way too much, but the equipment is excellent. Kurt Busch is ready to get a legit title this year, but I’m not sure his team is there yet.
Kyle: Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch are also out in my book. I could keep eliminating people, but really, Johnson and Harvick and maybe Stewart are the only real drivers I could consider “title-worthy.”
Beth:The last several weeks have shown the No. 2 team has some work to do, but Steve Addington has been a tremendous addition for Kurt. They may have something up their sleeves when it comes to those final 10 races.
Phil: I’d say that any of the 12 have a chance, but I’d really only eliminate three or so right now. Come back in a couple of weeks and I might be singing a different tune.
Amy: The sad thing is that we’re even having this conversation. Harvick has a good lead, though not insurmountable by the right team, and NASCAR is going to take it away on Saturday night.
Phil: Agreed.
Amy: They should just crown the real champion after 36 races, but this is where NASCAR is determined it needs to go. It’s been wrong 50 percent of the time and NASCAR still insists it’s working.
Tom: They should give a bonus to the regular season champion. But, this is the system we have right now. You can also say about half of those 12 guys have been pursuing a wreckers-or-checkers philosophy for about the last six weeks.
Amy: Which half? I’ve seen checkers or wreckers from a couple of guys, mostly not in Chase contention.
Tom: Johnson, Kurt Busch, Hamlin. To a lesser extent Gordon, they just haven’t had the car.

Amy: I haven’t seen that mentality in any of them. I’ve seen them roll over and settle. Kyle Busch, yes, because he always races like that. Kurt, maybe a little more than most. Johnson and Hamlin have raced like they just don’t care if they don’t have a great car.
Kyle: Yeah, I haven’t really seen any of the top 12, besides Rowdy, go out there and really risk it to get a win. Some will gamble, but only if they would still be likely to get a top 10.
Phil: Truthfully, I’ve seen more risk taking in the Nationwide Series from those guys.
Beth: That’s because it doesn’t matter in the big picture for them. They’re running circles around the rest of the Nationwide guys, anyway.
Amy: Right. A bad NNS night for them is when they finish third.
Tom: Well, I still think there’s no way Harvick has that big a lead under different circumstances. And I still think Stewart and Edwards have worked themselves into darkhorse title contention by what they’ve done. Are they the favorites? No. But you can’t not talk about them.

Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman got into it at the end of the race at Atlanta, with both drivers claiming it was a non-issue after the event. Is that the way “have at it, boys” should be handled — serving as a bit of a role model for other drivers — or did you disagree with anything that went down between them on Sunday night?

Amy: I disagreed with Kahne racing Newman the way he did from several laps down.
Phil: I guess it’s fine. It’s not like they had a donnybrook or something like that. They talked it over. It’s done now. They were mature about it.
Beth: I didn’t like what Kahne did with three laps to go, but it’s alright. They talked it over and they say it’s over. Looks to me like they’ve handled it just fine on their own.
Tom: Yeah, but Kahne did it the right way, Beth. He didn’t spin Ryan Newman out … just cost him a few spots.
Amy: He didn’t spin Newman only because Newman made a great save. Kahne’s move in the closing laps was dirty, but in the grand scheme of things the whole deal is a complete non-issue.
Beth: True. I still just don’t like the whole on-track retaliation by a car multiple laps down. Had Kahne been on the lead lap, I’d be less upset about it.
Kyle: Whoa, whoa, whoa … they didn’t “get into it.” They were doing what every driver does: talking it out. That was exactly, 100 percent the right way to handle it. Don’t repair your car just so you can wreck a guy (i.e., Carl Edwards). The on-track thing, like Tom said, was OK, just a friendly little bump. But still, a little bump to “rattle his cage” is no big deal for me.

Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin battled for the lead early, but neither wound up with a solid day at Atlanta: Hamlin’s engine blew en route to a last-place finish, while Newman found himself the center of controversy again after a wreck with Kasey Kahne.

Tom: That, I think, was Carl Edwards’ intent at Atlanta back in the spring. He just bumped him at the wrong time. Kahne used skill to ensure Newman lost a top-5 spot and in the grand scheme of things, it really does cost Newman. That’s a good 20 points … if Bowyer struggles at Richmond, there’s your difference right there.
Beth: It looked to me like it was Kahne’s intent to actually wreck Newman since he turned right into him.
Amy: Right, Tom, and that just illustrates how very wrong that move is, because it can go terribly wrong. I stand by what I said then: when you intend to hit a guy, you intend everything that happens afterward, because the fact is, you don’t know exactly how the car will react. If you are multiple laps down and there are no cars around you that you need to race for position, you have no business racing the leaders like Kahne did. If he had taken out Newman, he’d likely have taken out a few other lead lap cars, and that’s the worst part of that kind of deal.
Tom: I think the most skilled drivers know how to take somebody out. I agree that every time you get together with someone, there’s that risk of disaster. You can’t get around that, but drivers have gone after revenge since the beginning of time. You can’t stop that, either.
Phil: We knew Kahne was probably going to try something late on Sunday.
Kyle: These guys know what they are doing. They know how to get their point across and it happens all the time. Like Tom said, it has been happening for ages.
Tom: And in this case, guess what? It’s over and done with. We don’t have these worries about revenge dragging on until the next race.
Phil: Saying that Richmond’s the next race, revenge may be served anyway. It just might not be Newman on Kahne.
Amy: See, if you’re making a point, you do it like Hamlin did to Keselowski last year: when it’s not going to ruin anyone else’s day. There were other cars racing with Newman, and they didn’t deserve to get wrecked.
Kyle: They didn’t though…these guys are professionals, they can do this without killing people. Every sport has retaliation. In baseball, you plunk the other team’s star player. In NASCAR, you give the guy a little nudge.
Amy: I don’t mind aggressive racing. I don’t mind a correctly executed bump and run in the closing laps for position. I do mind dirty driving. Again, they didn’t get wrecked because of Newman’s skill, Kyle. Kahne didn’t care if he wrecked them, and had Newman not made that save, they were toast.

Kyle: How do we know that Kahne wanted to wreck him?
Phil: Because Newman was responsible for the contact with Kurt Busch that sent Kahne behind the wall.
Kyle: But maybe Kahne just wanted to get him a little sideways, like he did. Maybe the whole time Kahne was thinking that he didn’t want to get other innocent drivers involved.
Beth: Only Kasey knows what his intent was. And since you brought up Kurt Busch, that was a hell of a save he made after that contact with Kahne.
Kyle: Newman took the same exact risk when he decided not to give Kahne a little bit of room down the backstretch.
Beth: An argument could be made that Newman was hit from behind and couldn’t help the contact depending on which camera angle you look at. Either way, the two seem to have worked it out, and this will probably be a non-issue moving forward.
Amy: I agree.

Talks between Hendrick Motorsports and Wal-Mart have officially broken down. Is it more valuable for the retailer to serve as primary sponsor of one of the sport’s legendary drivers in Jeff Gordon, or work in a capacity with NASCAR as the official retailer of its revamped souvenir business?

Beth: Depends on who you ask. If you’re asking Gordon and HMS, my guess is that they’d rather see Wal-Mart working with them.
Phil: I don’t know. Although I did see BJ’s on the 88 on Saturday.
Amy: You know, I’m not sure. It pisses me off that NASCAR is once again taking money from a team to line the France coffers. But speaking for myself, I wouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart if they were the last store on Earth, so NASCAR won’t get any money from me if they only retail there.
Tom: I think Wal-Mart dissing Jeff Gordon is a bigger blow to the sport than most realize. Quick, tell me all the new companies coming into the sport next year as a primary sponsor of a team?
Tom: Waiting…
Tom: Waiting…
Beth: That would be no one.
Tom: Wal-Mart aligning with Gordon could have sent a huge message to all the others out there that NASCAR teams are still worth investing in. The fact they didn’t do it … that’s a serious issue in a world where so many play “follow the leader.”
Phil: Maybe Wal-Mart’s thinking more about going after Target in the Izod IndyCar Series. I guess it fits their slogan more.

Mark Martin’s GoDaddy sponsorship is one of the few new companies involved in NASCAR this year as marketers struggle to inject more money into the sport.

Beth: Agreed Tom, and I don’t know if I like the idea of Wal-Mart being the official retailer of NASCAR’s souvenir business, either.
Phil: I would not like that. Quality would likely decrease. Then again, I haven’t worn clothes from Wal-Mart since 1994 or so.
Tom: Wal-Mart already sells a whole lot of NASCAR stuff. How is that really branching into new markets? That’s the equivalent of saying, “Let’s take a market we’ve already cornered and corner them again.” What, do you think you’re going to squeeze more money out of that arena?
Amy: And NASCAR has made a disturbing trend of making the Official Whatever of NASCAR and taking the money for that rather than directing those companies to the teams which would, in the long run, probably serve the company better.
Kyle: It’s just another way NASCAR is ruining NASCAR. You can blame it on the economy all you want, and it does play a factor, but NASCAR’s focus right now should be making the sport cheaper so that teams don’t need umpteen millions of dollars worth of sponsorship to race. Instead, NASCAR would rather pad their own wallets. Let’s get rid of the “Official _____ of NASCAR” and encourage sponsors to actually help the teams out.
Tom: The times NASCAR should branch out, they don’t do it. And then they branch out in ridiculous ways for the wrong reasons. I don’t get it.
Beth: They may sell a whole lot of NASCAR stuff, but there are fans that are still left out when it comes to their lines. You won’t find a car with a beer or liquor sponsor on it at Wal-Mart.
Phil: It’s always been that way with those cars, Beth. They’re supposed to be unsuitable for children. Apparently, just seeing the word Budweiser these days warps a child’s mind. It was the same when Racing Champions was around. It’s a shame they got shut out.
Beth: But that’s my point, Phil. As long as Wal-Mart doesn’t allow those sponsors on their diecasts, etc., how are you going to make them the official retailer?
Kyle: I want to meet the person that actually thinks taking money away from the teams that make up the sport actually makes sense.
Beth: Call up the France family.
Amy: Ask for Brian.
Kyle: Without the teams, there is no NASCAR. Without NASCAR, however, there are still teams that could easily form their own racing league.
Tom: Well guys, hold on a second. Remember, NASCAR is entering into a partnership with all the teams surrounding this merchandising trust. It’s not like they can run away with all the money from Wal-Mart. All the rich teams benefit under the arrangement. But I think the owners are sending the wrong message here. Hendrick probably thinks he can go back to DuPont and still have them sponsor Gordon at a discount.
Amy: But here’s what NASCAR fails to grasp: Teams need sponsors to race. NASCAR needs teams to show up to hold races. NASCAR needs to hold races to survive.
Tom: What is a stronger message to get companies to look at this sport: The same company re-upping, or one of the world’s most powerful companies taking control? And by “taking control,” I mean standing up and saying, “We want to be involved in the sport with one of its best, most marketable drivers.”
Phil: Wal-Mart does have a lot of power, and basically unlimited funds.
Tom: Jeff Gordon and DuPont … that brand is tired and worn.
Beth: Obviously, it’s going to be that sponsor that is coming in and taking control. It demonstrates that NASCAR is still worth investing in.
Phil: I don’t believe it’s tired and worn, Tom. I think people have become used to DuPont being on the 24. This is year 18, you know.
Beth: Agreed, Phil. When I hear DuPont, I think Jeff Gordon, and I have for the last 15 years.
Kyle: Is it worth it for Wal-Mart, though? They are already the largest retail chain in the world. Investing in NASCAR, or really any sport for that matter, can’t possibly provide much return on investment.
Phil: Maybe Wal-Mart thought that people would have trouble associating Wal-Mart with Gordon, or separating Gordon from DuPont. They’re more than the largest retail chain. They’re the world’s largest corporation.
Kyle: I think it’s the latter, Phil. It would be like Lowe’s leaving Johnson. Or Budweiser leaving Earnhardt, Jr.
Amy: I don’t know, Kyle. It seems to work for Target, their main competition.
Kyle: Target is different, though. They aren’t anywhere near the size and dominance of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart can’t really get that many more customers.
Phil: Not so much in the U.S. They can only really gain overseas now.
What works for Target? Switching drivers? They never really had much synergy with Mears or Sorenson.
Amy: But Target continues to stay in racing, so it must be working. They sponsor in NASCAR and IndyCar.
Phil: I had never heard of Target when they got involved in IndyCars. We didn’t get one around here until 2001.
Kyle: But have you ever heard someone ask what the hell a Wal-Mart is? Plus, most people hate Wal-Mart for the way they allegedly treat their employees.

Phil: Wal-Mart only really became omnipresent within the last 15 or so years. Prior to that, they were still quite regional.
Tom: Honestly, I think Target would work better with being the official retailer of the sport — if Wal-Mart was involved with Gordon. Because then you would be hitting two different types of markets … I can understand why Wal-Mart doesn’t think Gordon’s the right fit for them, though.
Phil: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gordon apparel at Wal-Mart.
Tom: NASCAR had Wal-Mart cornered. They could have easily sponsored Gordon and then moved on to another team/driver over time.
Amy: Not only does Wal-Mart treat their employees like crap, but how many locally owned businesses have they driven out of business in the last 20 years? In the long run for the good of the sport, the money needs to go into team sponsorship, not the Official Gewgaws of NASCAR.
Tom: Merchandiser is better than nothing at all, but it does little for teams desperate to attract companies to sponsor their cars.
Phil: Gordon’s very marketable. They should have given the deal to Earnhardt Jr. and moved the AMP Energy/National Guard deal to the No. 24. NASCAR doesn’t need any more official randomness. I don’t buy Combos because they’re the Official Cheese Snack of NASCAR. I buy them because they’re tasty.

Todd Bodine had some angry words for Kyle Busch, calling him a dirty driver after Friday’s Truck Series race, which prompted Busch to pay him a visit in Victory Lane as Bodine’s team celebrated their victory. Was Bodine out of line with his comment, and was Busch equally so for his Victory Lane appearance? And is there such a thing as racing too hard?

Beth: Todd Bodine had a point about Kyle Busch driving dirty, but not in the incident Friday night.
Amy: I agree with Beth. The incident in question wasn’t dirty, but ask Jennifer Jo Cobb if Kyle Busch drives clean or not.
Phil: Bodine was definitely in line. He’s still angry at him, as the interview posted this weekend shows.
Beth: Friday night was a clear case of what we see happen so many times in the Truck Series: the outside truck took the air off of the inside truck and the inside truck spun. But Bodine has every right to call out Kyle. Someone had to do it sooner or later.
Amy: Busch has a habit of doing things not quite dirty, but not exactly clean. And he does have the attitude that the waters should part for the great and wonderful Kyle Busch.
Phil: Bodine alleged that Busch took the air off intentionally.

Amy: Kyle going to Victory Lane was classless, but well, consider the source.
Beth: I actually didn’t mind Kyle going to Victory Lane. Rather than having a war of words in the media, Kyle went to the source, and I commend him for that.
Phil: He could have at least waited until after Bodine’s press conference to talk to him. Then, he wouldn’t have had to have his confrontation caught on camera.
Amy: Maybe he did, Phil, maybe he didn’t. Busch toes that line very carefully — and yes, sometimes he very carefully crosses it so as not to look dirty.
Kyle: I don’t think so, Amy. It was where Bodine was. It would have taken Bodine two hours to get his Victory Lane stuff over with. Kyle has a schedule, he had to get out of there.
Tom: I think Todd Bodine speaks for a number of people in the Truck Series when he says he’s had enough of Kyle Busch making moves that could damage other trucks that don’t have the unlimited cash flow he does.
Beth: You hit the nail right on the head, Tom.

Todd Bodine has been competing with patchwork sponsorship all year, often running his owner’s company despite winning several races and leading the Truck Series championship by well over 200 points.

Amy: I didn’t consider Friday’s move that dirty. He could have given Bodine more room, but he wasn’t obligated.
Phil: Kyle doesn’t have unlimited cash flow for his truck, either, you know.
Beth: Compared to the budgets of the other teams, Phil, he does. Remember, most of this season has been unsponsored for the No. 30 team while Busch has had someone adorn his truck every week, even when he isn’t there.
Phil: Mostly it’s been Toyota on the No. 18. Are they technically sponsoring that truck?
Amy: And Kyle draws a pretty healthy paycheck from JGR. There’s money.
Kyle: Just because Kyle Busch has money doesn’t mean that his Truck team is funded. Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch Motorsports operate as two separate entities. The idea is for KBM to operate on its own cash flow. It’s like JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. Dale Jr, has tons of money, but JRM doesn’t.
Amy: But if Dale Jr. so chose, he could pump plenty into the team. If Kyle wants to put it into his team, he has it — that’s not a luxury many of those owners share.
Kyle: True, but he won’t put anymore than he has to, not for a Truck Series team. He will do like Dale Jr does and get the team out of the red, but not much more. These drivers probably don’t have enough income to fund major, ground-breaking research and development projects. They need to save what they get now for the future.
Tom: Well, again, I don’t even think it’s that Kyle owns his own team that’s the issue. Even if he was driving for Billy Ballew, he’s tearing up equipment for guys that are either going for a championship or trying to extend / salvage / upgrade their careers. And people don’t appreciate that.
Kyle: It was just racing! If Bodine has a problem with that, then he needs to get a career in Formula One.
Amy: Can you race too hard? No, but you can race hard and clean, or you can race hard and dirty. You can’t race too hard, but you can race too dirty.
Beth: There’s no such thing as racing too hard. That’s like saying a baseball player hits the ball too hard.
Kyle: Yes, there is a difference between racing hard and racing dirty. However, Friday night was racing hard. It’s what is expected in the Trucks.
Amy: I agree, Kyle. The move on Cobb at Bristol was dirty. Kentucky could have been cleaner, but it wasn’t out and out dirty.
Beth: Kentucky could have been cleaner if Kyle rolled over and let Bodine pass. The two were racing hard for position, and neither should have been expected to give.
Phil: Kyle didn’t need to roll over, but he also didn’t need to trap Bodine down low.
Tom: I think if Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine were both racing in Cup and this happened, the whole incident would be a non-issue. But the bottom line is it’s not like that. Busch is dropping down into a AA level and beating up on championship drivers while not running a full-time schedule. That’s the issue.
Kyle: Yeah, but that’s not good business.
Tom: I think if he wasn’t rubbing fenders with people, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when people think you come into a series with an advantage to begin with …
Beth: And I see it differently, Phil. Kyle didn’t trap Bodine down low but rather didn’t give up what was his preferred line for most of the night.
Tom: If you were a AA baseball player, how would you feel if Johan Santana came down to pitch against you, struck you out four times and then a talent scout watching the game said, “Sorry kid, we were going to sign you to AAA but now I don’t think you have the skills.” That’s the type of backlash Kyle is experiencing. In this case, he’s going up against a team with patchwork sponsorship who didn’t think they were going to even survive the season.
Amy: Tom has a valid point. Kyle loves to race, he loves to win, but he can’t just run over others at will. His sense of entitlement, like much of his generation, is out of proportion.
Kyle: Kyle’s problem is and always will be not knowing when to take second place. As soon as he figures out that the Ricky Bobby theory of finishing first or last doesn’t work in real life, he will be the best damn driver in NASCAR … and a champion.
Tom: Well Amy, that’s what I read in between the lines of Bodine’s comments. “Come on, man … you already have everything you could ever want. We’re just trying to make a living — it’s bad enough you come down here to kick our butt, just cut us a break and don’t cost us any more money than we have to. Because at the end of the day, you go back to your cushy ‘major league’ job and we’re sitting here trying to figure out how to make it to the next week with the money we have.” Obviously, a wrecked race truck makes it that much harder.
Amy: Bodine’s Beyond the Cockpit was excellent, by the way. It’s nice to hear someone speak his mind.
Beth: And I understand that fully, but it may have been a little ill-timed on Bodine’s part. It made him sound like he was whining even though he won the race.
Tom: I do think that’s a very valid point, Beth.
Beth: I have absolutely no problem with what Todd said about dirty driving by Kyle — he spoke only the truth. But doing so from Victory Lane was just so like sour grapes.
Amy: Maybe it did, but on the other hand, someone needed to call out God’s Gift to Racing, and if Bodine speaks the truth, he’s certainly not the only one who feels that way, and the feeling is not limited to the Truck Series.
Beth: All I’m saying is that there may have been a better place to do it. I don’t disagree on the actual content of the complaint.
Phil: I don’t think it’s sour grapes. It probably would be had he finished well, then threw Kyle under the bus while he was in Victory Lane.

Amy: I think there is an element of sour grapes, but who can blame these real Truck and Nationwide teams for a little sour grapes against these guys coming in and running all over them?
Kyle: Tom’s analogy hit it on the head and I would be pissed, too. At the same time, what Kyle did was hard racing. But I can see where Bodine is coming from.
Amy: This incident was hard racing, but some others have crossed the line. Ask Matt Crafton, ask Jennifer Jo Cobb.
Phil: That Cobb spin was just ludicrous. I’ve probably said it 12 times.
Amy: Again, Kyle is very good sometimes at making a dirty move look like just hard racing, but when you really go back and analyze the tape you go, “Hmmmm …”
Kyle: In Bodine’s defense, he got $78,000 for winning the Truck race and Stewart got $357,000 for winning the Cup race. The lowest a Cup driver earned Sunday was $81,000. That alone would piss me off and make me want to get those Cup guys out of the series. But at the same time, without the Cup guys, the series would likely be even worse paying, if not totally dead. So, in a way, Kyle Busch racing a majority of the schedule is job support for Bodine. It’s a lose-lose: without Kyle you don’t have a job, with Kyle you may not have a job.
Amy: I don’t buy that the series would die without Kyle Busch.
Beth: Not even close.
Kyle: The series almost died with him a couple years ago. These Cup drivers are the only thing keeping it alive.
Beth: Kyle Busch is not the one that’s saving the series, but SPEED sure acts like he’s the second coming or something.

How about some predictions for Richmond?

Amy: I think Clint Bowyer wins it, proving just how much he wants that Chase spot.
Kyle: I think Clint Bowyer finishes outside of the top 10, proving he doesn’t deserve it. I think Kevin Harvick picks up another win.

Beth: Tony Stewart goes back-to-back. That team is just getting hot and wants every bonus point they can have going into the Chase.

Phil: Richmond has a history of somewhat surprising winners. I’m going with Newman. He won’t get into the Chase, but he can claim victory here.
Tom: A little outside the box, but I’m going with Carl Edwards. I know he’s not typically a short track racer, but he was fifth at Richmond and that team is knocking on the door.

Email the Mirror Guys ‘N’ Gals!
Contact Amy Henderson
Contact Beth Lunkenheimer
Contact Kyle Ocker
Contact Phil Allaway
Contact Tom Bowles

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
Top 10 Reasons Dale Jr. Didn’t Make The Chase
Did You Notice? … Regular Season Stats DO Lie, Bruton Whines, And Wooing Wal-Mart The Right Way
What Money Can’t Buy, Front Row Is Banking On For The Future
Busch Bashing: Justified Jeers Or Just Sour Grapes?
Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Atlanta
Carey And Coffey: Why NASCAR Needs Kyle Busch
The Frontstretch Foto Funnies! Atlanta, September 2010

Mirror Predictions 2010

Welcome to our fourth consecutive year of Mirror Predictions! Each week, our experts take the end of this column to tell us who the winner of each Cup race will be. But as we all know, predicting the future is difficult if not completely impossible … so how do you know which writer you can trust when you put your own reputation (or money) on the line?

That’s why we came up with our Mirror Predictions Chart. The scoring for this year is simple:

Prediction Scoring
+5 – Win
+3 – Top 5
+1 – Top 10
0 – 11th-20th
-1 – 21st-30th
-2 – 31st-40th
-3 – 41st-43rd

Through twenty-five races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Phil Allaway 38 21 2 10 16
Amy Henderson 37 -1 24 3 10 17
Beth Lunkenheimer 23 -15 17 1 9 11
Summer Dreyer 21 -17 16 1 7 10
Jeff Meyer 16 -22 16 0 6 10
Mike Neff 9 -29 12 1 3 5
Matt Taliaferro 4 -34 4 1 1 2
Bryan Davis Keith 4 -34 3 0 1 2
Tom Bowles 3 -35 3 0 1 1
Vito Pugliese 2 -36 3 0 1 2
Garrett Horton 0 -38 5 0 0 1
Tony Lumbis 0 -38 3 0 0 0
Kurt Smith 0 -38 5 0 1 1
Toni Montgomery 0 -38 1 0 0 0
Kyle Ocker 0 -38 1 0 0 0

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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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Kevin in SoCal
09/08/2010 01:36 PM
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Wow, something Amy and I agree on: Wal-Mart sucks!!

banzaibonnie
09/08/2010 02:27 PM
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For a Bodine to say anyone races dirty is laughable-they invented it!

Graceann
09/08/2010 03:47 PM
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Gee, Kahne returns the favor once & he is a dirty driver? Kahne is one of the cleanest drivers in the sport & very rarely has he ever bumped another driver with intent to wreck someone. IMO he needs to be a little more aggression & maybe some of the jerks will show him the respect he shows to them! Newman included!

Pete
09/08/2010 04:56 PM
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Do you think KK’s team wanted him to get back out and get at Ryan? They fixed his car and got him out timed perfectly to catch up with Ryan on the track. All he gained was 3 points coming back out and that was only because Harvick came in 1 lap early. Amy and Beth just judge Kasey by a differtent standard than they do for other drivers.

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