The Frontstretch: Mirror Driving: Nationwide Chaos, Chase Rebounders, And Turn Off The Testing Ban? by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday October 13, 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:
Amy Henderson (Mondays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays / Top 15 & Wednesdays / Full Throttle)
Kurt Smith (Fridays/ Happy Hour)

The race at Fontana was hard on several Chase contenders. Can any of them rebound, or have the days of the “mulligan” in these playoffs disappeared for good? And do those rules apply to Tony Stewart as well after running out of gas at New Hampshire — despite his recent burst of momentum?

Amy: I think you get one bad race. After that, someone is going to beat you.
Kurt: It’s not really a mulligan, it’s a “margin of error,” and yes, you can survive it until Talladega. After that, I think if you’re more than 100 behind, you’re toast.
Mike N.: Technically, they could still do it. The problem is, the No. 48 team doesn’t have bad days like that very often. They already did at Loudon, and unless they have a bad day at Talladega, they’re going to be very hard to catch.
Kurt: We’re going to tracks where the No. 48 is very strong, so they’ll need some luck.

As the racing in California sailed into the sunset, an above average race had fans scratching their heads and wondering where this type of competition was for oh, about the past 13 years.

Phil: I think the so-called “mulligan” is still in play. We’re not going to see anyone finish in the top 5 in all 10 Chase races or anything like that.
Mike N.: You could see Johnson finish top 5 in all but one.
Amy: Or somebody else, Mike. Stewart’s over 100 points out, and that’s a lot to make up on teams with more consistency than he’s had.
Kurt: I don’t think Tony wins it. Too many guys ahead of him yet. Hell, Johnson could win four races in a row like he did it in ’07.
Phil: We’ve got Charlotte this week, and any of the Chasers could potentially do well there. It’s not like the trophy’s already got Johnson’s name on it.
Mike N.: It isn’t on it yet, Phil, but they’ve outlined where they would inscribe his name.
Kurt: Jimmie has the edge right now. He’s up front, which he usually isn’t at this point, and he’s better than the other drivers at just about every track from here on out.
Mike N.: Except for Homestead.
Kurt: I don’t see Hamlin catching him, honestly. The No. 11 team doesn’t seem to be over the top right now. And Jimmie usually just cruises at Homestead, Mike.
Phil: By the way, Brad Daugherty declaring the championship over on Sunday in NASCAR Countdown was infuriating. Declaring it over when Johnson had an eight-point lead with seven races to go is insane.
Mike N.: I completely concur, Phil. I bet the ESPN higher ups were none too happy about that.
Kurt: Nor was NASCAR.
Amy: If Johnson wins at Charlotte and Martinsville, that could clinch it, but he needs better pit work for that to happen. As long as his crew isn’t getting it done, either Hamlin or Harvick can snatch it.
Kurt: Once Chad chews them out, the mistakes usually stop happening. “Knock it off or you’re going to the No. 88 team!”
Mike N.: They are struggling, no doubt about that, Amy, but they got it done at the end on Sunday. Could you believe we saw sub 12-second pit stops?
Kurt: Harvick has gone from point leader to darkhorse, but he isn’t out of it.
Mike N.: Harvick is too much of a douchebag to his pit crew. If I were on his crew, I’d have been railing on him for that speeding penalty.
Kurt: Who says they didn’t, Mike?
Mike N.: They didn’t play the audio, Kurt, and I am sure they would have done that had the left front tire carrier chewed him a new one. They do all the time when Harvick is talking to his team like they’re the worst pit crew in recorded history.
Kurt: They should play it anyway, bleeps and all. Would be entertaining as bleep.
Amy: Not if they had to bleep every other word…
Kurt: Imagine Kyle “Happy Gilmore” Busch having one of his rants aired.
Mike N.: Kurt is even worse than Kyle. But yeah, I’d love to hear radio uncensored.
Amy: On a side note, that was possibly the best race ever at Fontana.
Mike N.: Why do you say that? People were pulling away and leading for lots of laps.
Amy: The first 300 miles were still pretty boring, but it almost got good at the end.
Kurt: I am not sure why people thought it was a great race. It was good — lots of lead changes — but a classic? No.
Phil: Fontana races used to have a different feel before the groove widened out.
Mike N.: Fontana has had racing from the top to the bottom for years. It is just like Michigan, yet people whine about it all of the time. I love watching races at both tracks.
Amy: I didn’t say it was great, I said it was the best race I remember at Fontana. That’s not saying a lot, but it was better than usual.
Kurt: Watching the race yesterday, it was hard to imagine teams keeping up with the No. 48 race-in and race-out. That team is clicking again when it counts. But they’re right up there every week. Where has Tony been? Gordon hasn’t had winning potential cars. Hamlin’s been good, but not great.
Phil: Many people are claiming it was better because it was shortened. In other words, they didn’t have to watch 250 laps.
Mike N.: Good for them. Hope they took their ADD medication. I hate that people want to have the races shortened all of the time.
Kurt: I agree, Mike. Races should be 500 laps or miles. That’s why I like Pocono.
Amy: 400 miles was plenty.
Phil: I don’t mind throwing away an entire Sunday afternoon to watch a race; however, I guess I’m the exception these days.

Mike N.: I am a firm believer that every race should be 500 miles. Not laps, miles. That’s right, I want 993 laps at Martinsville.
Amy: I don’t think all races should be 500 miles. I like a variety of lengths.
Mike N.: I do, too. One 600-miler and 35, 500-milers.
Kurt: That would be a long race on a road course.
Mike N.: That’s the point. It should be an endurance test. If you want short races, watch the Nationwide or Truck Series.
Amy: I like the idea of tracks with two races having them different lengths; makes the teams think.
Phil: I think 500 laps at Martinsville is plenty. I am in favor of lengthening Watkins Glen to 102 laps, minimum.
Kurt: But you and I know NASCAR is going to be more concerned with people saying it’s boring.
Mike N.: I do like the idea of different length races when they go to the same track. Of course, I also believe every track should be allowed only one points-paying race.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame will announce its second class of inductees on Wednesday. Who’s the one person you feel can absolutely, positively not be left out?

Kurt: David Pearson, who shouldn’t have been left out of the first class.
Mike N.: Pearson. It is a crime he wasn’t in the first class and Bill France, Jr. was.
Phil: Bobby Allison.
Amy: Richie Evans. But since he likely will be, Pearson is the lock.
Phil: Didn’t Pearson ask respectfully to be left out this year so that Raymond Parks could get in?
Mike N.: He said that he would give up his spot for Parks to be inducted. I don’t know that I agree with him. Parks was extremely important, but I’m not positive he should be in this class of five.
Kurt: Waltrip and Allison would be the locks, too, if it weren’t for Pearson.
Mike N.: Waltrip better not be in this class.
Kurt: No? Aside from Yarborough?
Amy: Waltrip deserves to get in, but not yet. I still think they need a better voting system.
Mike N.: I like the voting system.
Phil: Yeah, they should have taken more than five last year.
Kurt: What would be a good voting system, Amy?
Amy: They need to make the voting the same as baseball. Eligibility is determined by set criteria, then the national press votes.
Kurt: I get your point, but the baseball writers screw up a lot, too.
Mike N.: Baseball voting is horrible. NASCAR has a great mix of people who should know something about the sport, although they could use some people with more historical perspective.
Us media have so many jerkoffs that have personal grudges and won’t vote for people instead of being objective. There are a hell of a lot more people I’d rather have voting than the press.
Kurt: The press isn’t any smarter, Amy.

Brad Daugherty, Hall of Fame voter? If Amy had her way … absolutely.

Phil: The fans have what, 1.5 percent of the vote? It’s 50 voters, right?
Mike N.: 53. There is a nice blend of people who vote and I think they do a good job of discussing it. We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but I did hear it got quite heated.
Amy: I think the people deciding the Hall inductees should have to have some knowledge of the sport and a lot of casual fans simply don’t.
Mike N.: What casual fans are deciding who is inducted into the Hall?
Amy: Anybody can vote on NOL, Mike.
Mike N.: Yeah, but it only counts for one vote.
Amy: And some of those fans voting don’t know who some of those nominees are, I guarantee it.
Mike N.: There are 53 people. The Pro Football Hall of Fame had a fan vote this year. Baseball will soon. Some of the idiots voting on Baseball’s Hall of Fame don’t know who Dale Murphy was.
Kurt: How about the NMPA, the Fan Council, and the Citizen Journalists? That would be fair, yes?
Mike N.: Hell no.
Kurt: Ha ha ha … just kidding.
Mike N.: It should be mostly former drivers and crew chiefs with a handful of media types.
Kurt: How about the drivers? After a certain number of seasons, you get to cast a vote. As well as crew chiefs and owners.
Amy: That would make too many voters eventually. And having years in the sport doesn’t guarantee you know the history of it.
Mike N.: Nope. And having years writing about the sport doesn’t mean you know what it takes to be great, either.
Amy: No, but it means you know who the drivers were.
Mike N.: Not necessarily.
Kurt: Maybe there could be a selection of people to make selections.
Mike N.: Yeah, NASCAR can institute a nominating committee to nominate the nominating committee who, in turn, will nominate a voting committee that will be voted on by the fans and then, in turn, vote on the nominees from the nominating committee that was voted on.
Phil: Early on, the choices are between bona fide Hall of Famers. Once we get to 2022 or so, it might be a bit trickier.
Amy: Maybe, but there will be new drivers eligible each year, too. How long do you have to be out of racing before you’re eligible? Anyone know?
Mike N.: Must have been active for 10 years and retired for three.
Kurt: I don’t think it’s really relevant yet.
Amy: Not yet, but in a few years it could be.

Kurt: So Brian is not yet eligible?
Amy: Brian should never be eligible.
Mike N.: Brian will have to make a Hall of Fame turnaround to ever get into the Hall of Fame.
Kurt: I knew that would get a reaction!
Phil: Exceptions will eventually be made to that 10 and 3 rule for special cases, like every Hall of Fame.
Kurt: Right, and I don’t agree with that.

Phil: If we’re talking like Clemente, I’m fine with it.
Kurt: Clemente would have made it. With all respect to him, the whole point of waiting five years was so that decisions weren’t based on emotion.
Amy: Still say Richie Evans should be a lock, but he won’t be, despite his numbers.
Kurt: And Darrell Waltrip for his contributions as a broadcaster.
Mike N.: David Pearson should have been in the first class and will be a lock this time. Other than that, I’m not sure. I personally think Dale Inman, Lee Petty, and Richie Evans should join him. The fifth slot for me is T. Wayne Robertson, but I think they’re going to make him wait.
Phil: I think Bobby Allison will get in Wednesday, as will Pearson. What Pearson will decide to do once he’s selected is anyone’s guess.
Kurt: And Yarborough?
Amy: I say Yarborough waits, as does Waltrip.
Phil: Lee Petty will probably get in as well, along with Inman. Richie Evans, I’m afraid, will have to wait four-six years.
Kurt: And Rusty.

Mike N.: Rusty has a long wait ahead of him.
Kurt: Yeah, but I liked the Miller Genuine Draft car.
Amy: Rusty may get in eventually, but he wasn’t the best driver of his era.
Mike N.: Rusty isn’t the best driver in his family.
Amy: That, too, but Mike isn’t going to get in anytime soon either.

NASCAR announced that with a couple of exceptions, the testing ban will remain in effect for 2011. Is this move the right one to make, or after two years, is it time to open up the playing field for everyone once again?

Kurt: That testing ban has really kept the parity for the last four years.
Phil: Allow testing once again, but make it seven tests at any track. Get rid of those simulators. They cost a fortune.
Mike N.: I personally think they should allow testing. I’m not sure it is saving anyone any money and it would probably make for better racing if they allowed people to test at tracks they actually race on.
Amy: I think they need to go back to five scheduled tests: Daytona, Charlotte, Kentucky, and two others.
Kurt: Let teams test whenever and wherever they want.
Mike N.: I think they should limit it. No team can test more than 329 days a year.
Kurt: What is the point of banning testing in the first place?
Mike N.: It was to save team owners money. The owners were spending a bunch on having full-time testing programs.
Amy: Testing is too expensive to allow it unlimited, but a few scheduled tests would be OK.

“Please, John and Robin, can we bring back testing? Pretty, pretty please???”

Kurt: For what? So they can make a lot more money start and parking?
Mike N.: Now that they don’t test, they spend a ridiculous amount of money on technology to do the same thing testing does. In theory, it made more competitive cars. At the same time, it separated them from the single-car teams. They’re going to test unlimitedly anyway. They’re just not doing it at NASCAR tracks.
Kurt: So we’ve gained nothing: exactly my point. And now teams have one less weapon to use to catch up to the No. 48. Rick Hendrick didn’t get to where he is by asking NASCAR to change rules for him, and smaller teams shouldn’t be doing it now.
Amy: When Hendrick was a smaller team, the money was a lot more equal than it is now. It’s teams like Hendrick that caused the money rift.
Kurt: When Hendrick and so many other teams went to multiple cars, it made for more competitive cars on the track, too.
Amy: I don’t think unlimited testing is the answer — scheduled tests would be OK.
Kurt: Throughout history, teams have pulled away from the pack until someone else caught up to them. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
Amy: But they’re not testing as much.

Kurt: Taking tests away from Hendrick isn’t going to make Joe Nemechek any faster.
Mike N.: Actually, Kurt, I think it might because Joe gets assistance from Hendrick; it might actually trickle down to him if they don’t test.
Kurt: The thing is, someone is going to get screwed with any kind of testing limitations. Right now it’s Gibbs, Roush, and Childress and other teams that are trying to catch up to the No. 48. The testing ban has eliminated Roush Fenway as a championship contender.
Mike N.: I think it would be smart for them to have an open test two weeks before the race at any track so the teams could test some things, go back and make adjustments to their cars, then show up for race weekend. If they figure something out a day early, they might not be able to implement it on the car that quickly. If you give them two weeks, they can go back to the shop and fabricate anything they need to.
Amy: In that case, why not just go a day early and allow telemetry-based testing? That would be a lot more cost effective. Or, how about this solution: five tests for teams in the top 35 in points, seven for those outside (I’d not even be opposed to unlimited for those teams).
Kurt: So what about teams that are just in the top 35, Amy? You want to punish them for it when they’re already struggling to stay alive?
Amy: OK, fine, top 20 then. Give it to the teams that need it.
Kurt: The sport might be doing better if Edwards or Kenseth could hang with Jimmie.
Amy: That’s ridiculous, Kurt. They have the same opportunities as any other big team.
Kurt: But testing was how they gained an advantage. That was what made them so strong in 2005. Now, they have simulations that aren’t as good.
Amy: Roush could be at Rockingham, but instead they relied on simulators and the like … that’s their own fault. Roush is welcome to test at any of the non-sanctioned tracks that anyone else tests at.
Mike N.: I don’t know if that is the case, Kurt, or if Roush’s overdependence on their engineers did that.
Amy: They test a lot less than they used to, Mike. The No. 48 tested something like 25 times three years ago before the ban.
Kurt: So the testing ban hurts the teams that benefited from it. I say this even as a fan of a Hendrick driver: quit putting limitations on teams. No testing ban, no four car per team rule. If we have to have a spec car, then give teams every possible chance to get the setup right. Besides, doesn’t that put a lot of people to work?
Amy: From a safety standpoint, I think they need an open test at some tracks each year, especially tracks new to the schedule or that have been repaved, which is what NASCAR is doing next year.
Phil: I don’t think anyone should be testing 25 times a year. This is why I’m for a set number of tests at whatever track they want. Now, the Goodyear tire tests are tire tests. They need to be distributed out properly to the whole field.
Kurt: Exactly, Phil. That’s the kind of thing that throws a monkey wrench into the rule.
Amy: So limit them to five sanctioned track tests a year and be done with it. You can’t stop teams from going to unsanctioned tracks.
Mike N.: Actually you could, Amy. Put a total ban on it and they won’t be able to go anywhere. I think they should invite all teams to tire tests. That would allow them to actually see what happens when rubber builds up and how the tires change as the track changes.
Amy: You can’t put a ban on independent contractors from testing at tracks you don’t sanction. How about one car per team at tire tests?  You get the same effect, and that could help some of the smaller teams at the same time.
Mike N.: I still would rather see multiple tires for teams to choose from on a race weekend.
Kurt: Tire wars? (shudder)
Mike N.: No tire wars, Kurt. Just three compounds per weekend. I think it is stupid that the crew chief can’t make choices on tires: Hard, medium and soft.

Phil: When were different compounds ever an option in NASCAR?
Mike N.: When they had tire wars. The crew chief either makes the choice before the race, which compound his team will run or if they have a set number of each type of compound for the weekend. The problem is Goodyear has this dumbass mindset that they have to customize the freaking tires to the tracks. They could make three compounds and take them to all intermediate tracks for the entire season and it would save Goodyear money.
Amy: Why not allow, with a set procedure for doing so safely, other tire companies into the sport?
Kurt: I’d be OK with tire competition. Not gonna happen, though.
Mike N.: I don’t know about a tire war. The companies will try and push the envelope no matter what, and people will get wrecked because of tire issues.
Amy: Plenty of other series, including NASCAR series, race on Hoosiers.
Kurt: Well, back to the question, test as much as you want — that is the Official Position of Happy Hour. Employ people, and find a way to beat the No. 48.
Amy: Unlimited testing is not the answer, but neither is no testing. Go to a set number of open tests and it would be fine.

NASCAR met with Nationwide teams on Tuesday to discuss a variety of issues, including Cup drivers on the circuit and the lack of testing despite the full rollout of the new car. What’s the one biggest issue NASCAR needs to address within that series, and what should they do about it?

Kurt: The Danica Series? Hmmm … Here’s a thought, weaken the exclusivity agreements so that there are more sponsors available.
Mike N.: The purses blow. They need to pay a lot more money for racing in the series. When they make it worthwhile to race, there will be more owners trying to come in and do so. Forget about sponsors; NASCAR should put more money into the purses.
Amy: They need a better marketing campaign for that series.  It needs to be better packaged, better promoted, and pay better to the real NNS teams. NASCAR should filter sponsors to the series instead of taking them for themselves.
Kurt: I’m not for limiting the Cup guys, but don’t promote them.
Phil: Yes, newer sponsors should be dipping their toes into the series.
Amy: Put a lot more in the purses, like Mike says, but also distribute the lion’s share to real NNS teams, not Cup guys. And make the championship worth something — crown a real NNS champion.
Phil: Cup teams can operate Nationwide teams as Loss Leaders, so they really don’t need the money. Their point system is fine for now, but they need to get some more separation in general from Sprint Cup.
Mike N.: I don’t care who gets the money, just put the money in the sport and the sport will take care of itself.
Kurt: Honestly, I really don’t know what to do for the Nationwide Series. There aren’t any budding stars because no one will sponsor them.
Amy: Then limit the Cup guys so they can’t do that.
Kurt: Maybe, but how would you do it?
Amy: Easy: no points and no money for the Cup guys.
Mike N.: No, this is racing. This isn’t some socialistic crap. You line up, pay your entry fee and run. Whoever does it and scores the most points wins.
Kurt: I think we ought to attach a real stigma to Cup guys running in the Nationwide Series.
Phil: You mean like the NC-17 rating, Kurt?
Kurt: Something like that … make it an undesirable thing through ridicule. Seriously, Kyle Busch is obviously too good for the series, so why is he still there?
Mike N.: The same reason Mark Martin used to run half of the series every year: because he likes to race and enjoys being in that series and running for fun sometimes.

The current Nationwide Series rules make it next to impossible for up-and-coming drivers like Ryan Truex and Trevor Bayne to stand out above the Cup full-timers they face – and lose to – virtually every week.

Amy: I’d love to see that, Kurt. There should be a stigma on guys stroking their egos by outrunning kids and poor teams every week. It’s poor sportsmanship. Make drivers decide before Daytona which championship they wish to run for.  Then award them points only in that series.
Kurt: I agree, Amy, but here’s the thing: Jack Roush says to Carl Edwards, “I need someone to run my Nationwide car this week, and the sponsor wants you or nothing.” What’s Carl supposed to do?
Mike N.: I didn’t hear you say that when Mark Martin did it years ago, Amy. I think we should just dictate who races where and who wins and forget about competition.
Amy: But he never tried to turn the championship into a joke, Mike.
Mike N.: None of the current guys are turning the championship into a joke. They’re out there running as hard as they can and trying to win.
Kurt: I see a Cup veteran win a Nationwide title and I am completely unimpressed. Course, I’m just a writer.
Amy: BS on they just want to race. Take away the points and the money and see how many still love it so much.
Mike N.: Carl Edwards said earlier this year he’d race the whole season whether he could compete for the title or not.
Amy: I still think it’s a huge problem when real NNS drivers publicly call the series championship a joke.
Mike N.: The regulars say that because they can’t run as fast as the guys who are winning.
Kurt: What is NASCAR worried about happening to the series, anyway? Is there concern that the series will be no more?
Mike N.: There isn’t that much money, but I think you’re full of crap if you are going to say the guys who work on those Cup guys’ Nationwide cars don’t deserve to get paid.
Amy: Sure they do, and the Cup drivers who just loooooove racing so much can pay them for a night’s work.
Phil: Of course the crew guys deserve to get paid. For most of them, that’s their full-time job.
Mike N.: Right, and the purses are part of their pay. Now Amy is saying they lose that part of their pay just because of the fact they want to work for the best drivers.
Amy: I’m saying that if the Cup drivers want to race that bad, they can pay the crews themselves.
Mike N.: Yeah, that is why Kyle Busch ran Billy Ballew’s truck for nothing and took the crew out every time he won.
Kurt: I don’t like it but I’m not sure what to do about it. DW had a good suggestion: put more short tracks on the schedule, where the driver matters more, and see what happens.
Amy: I just hope NASCAR actually listens to the small time owners at this meeting.
Kurt: NASCAR should listen to everyone, Amy. But I would rather they didn’t get advice from start-and-parks.
Amy: Those start and parks are doing it so they can race every week, Kurt; I have more respect for them than the Cup guys. The Cup guys are in it to do what they can’t get done in Cup.
Kurt: So the Cup guys are just in it for the money, but the start-and-parks love to race?
Mike N.: Really, Amy? Start and parks that are taking starting spots away from guys who want to run the whole race? Instead of Cup guys who’re putting on the best show?
Kurt: I sympathize with Cup guys taking rides away from up-and-comers, Amy, but other than putting more short tracks on the schedule, I don’t know what to do about it.
Phil: With the Nationwide Series, I just don’t know anymore. It’s a mess, a far cry from 1998, when 50 teams were showing up almost every week. Should have never changed that engine rule to allow 12:1 compression.
Mike N.: It’s because they don’t pay for crap, Phil.  And if they don’t show up and the stands have 5,000 people in them, are you going to compensate the track owners, Amy?
Amy: Promoting the races properly is NASCAR’s job, and the tracks.  They do a piss poor job of it, too.
Kurt: I don’t like Cup whackers, but it’s the reality of the series right now. Sponsors are forking over the cash, and they’ll get what they want.
Amy: Run a NNS race at Rockingham and more than 5,000 are going to show up.
Mike N.: I’m not saying they won’t. But right now, if there are 10 Cup guys in the race, the fans come out. If there are none or a couple, that stands aren’t as full. Then it would level off and fewer people would show up if there weren’t top names in the races.
Amy: NASCAR doesn’t promote the real drivers enough.  If the fans knew them, they’d come out.
Mike N.: What driver do you think the fans would clamor to see, Amy?
Amy: Lots of them, if they knew them.
Kurt: Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires … what happened to him?
Mike N.: NASCAR has had both of them in commercials running all year for the series.
Amy: Yeah, a couple of commercials that run once a weekend.
Phil: The Steve Wallace commercial is annoying.
Amy: NASCAR should not mention a word about Cup drivers in NNS races.  They shouldn’t be promoted on NOL or at the track.

Mike N.: Right, Amy. Because 50,000 people are going to show up to watch Trevor Bayne run Justin Allgaier.
Amy: I don’t mean in the broadcast or recaps … but not a single feature story! Features should be about the real series drivers. The Cup guys can get the publicity on the Cup page.
Phil: You could argue that they wouldn’t be telling the true story of the race if they did that, Amy. Although they do seem to keep features on Truck broadcasts to Truck-only drivers.
Kurt: Just speculating, but I wonder how much of the Nationwide Series problems have to do with how much of the base NASCAR has lost. The hardcore folks are probably the ones most likely to be interested in the stars of the future. The Busch Series back in the day didn’t have Cup guys going for titles, and it did OK.
Amy: That’s probably totally accurate, Kurt.
Mike N.: I’m still trying to figure out how many thousands of people are going to buy tickets because you’re promoting Michael Annett and Robert Richardson. The track owners are the ones who need to promote this stuff. They need to get these drivers onto local radio stations and into local commercials when their races are coming up.
Phil: There is a lot of turnover in the series. It’s hard to get used to anyone when 140-plus people start races in any given year.
Mike N.: NASCAR needs to put a lot of money into the purses to get people interested in owning cars in the series again. Right now, I just don’t see how they’re going to have full fields next year when they’re cutting the purses again and expecting teams to field totally new cars.
Phil: Agreed. The problem is they claimed that the 20 percent cut was so that promoters would be winning to host the series.

How about some predictions for Charlotte?

Amy: I’m going to go with Tony Stewart winning two in a row. He’s streaky like that.
Phil: Jimmie Johnson.
Mike N.: Kyle Busch is going to come in and go for broke since he’s convinced his title hopes are done.
Kurt: Going with Jeff Gordon.

Email the Mirror Guys ‘N’ Gals!
Contact Amy Henderson
Contact Kurt Smith
Contact Mike Neff
Contact Phil Allaway
Contact Summer Dreyer

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Spoiling The Oil Sponsor Party, Home Is Where The Heart Breaks, And Speaking Up
Beyond the Cockpit: Dissecting The Thoughts of A Racing Champion Anew
Uncovering the Truth About NASCAR’s Proposed Chase Changes
Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Fontana
Top 10 Unconventional Brian France Flag Calls
The Frontstretch Foto Funnies – Fontana, October 2010
Carey And Coffey: Too Little, Too Late For Fontana?

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-eight races, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Amy Henderson 47 30 3 13 21
Phil Allaway 45 -2 26 4 12 18
Summer Dreyer 23 -24 18 1 8 11
Beth Lunkenheimer 21 -26 20 1 9 11
Mike Neff 18 -29 16 1 6 8
Jeff Meyer 15 -32 19 0 6 11
Kurt Smith 6 -41 7 0 3 3
Garrett Horton 5 -42 8 1 1 3
Matt Taliaferro 4 -43 4 1 1 2
Bryan Davis Keith 4 -43 3 0 1 2
Tom Bowles 4 -43 4 0 1 2
Kyle Ocker 3 -44 4 0 1 2
Vito Pugliese 2 -45 3 0 1 2
Tony Lumbis 0 -47 3 0 0 0
Toni Montgomery 0 -47 1 0 0 0

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … A Return To Richmond, Post-Spingate And Quick Hits
NASCAR Mailbox: A ‘Normal’ Saturday And A Valuable Lesson
Beyond the Cockpit: Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher
Open Wheel Wednesday: Controversial Moves, Long Beach Crowds, and Being a Fuddy Duddy
The Frontstretch Five: Pleasant Surprises of 2014 So Far
IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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10/13/2010 09:40 AM

AS long as there is a ban on testing only the teams ALREADY ON TOP are happy.


Have YOU ever looked to see how many races outside of nascar Kyle Busch runs? Last year I believe it was Anderson, Winchester, Iowa, and The Snoball Derby. Just to name a few. There is a racing world outside nascar and a few of these drivers LOVE TO RACE anywhere they can find a good race.

How can you call start and parks racers? They are stealing money from teams that are actually there trying to race. And then to say you have more respect for start and parks then Cup drivers.

I enjoy reading differing options, that is what makes the world go around and some compromise fixes many problems, but to continue to beat the dead horse of Cup drivers ruining the Busch series is getting old.

How about less Cup/Busch companion events(yes this could hurt attendence where you have a high number of fans camping and making an event out of the races) with more Busch/Truck events, and also go to more of the short tracks that helped build both series(when most of these races are drawing less then 20,000 people, when can get back to The Rock, North Wilkesboro, along with South Boston and Myrtle Beach to name a few. I believe it would be cheaper to build short track cars that do not get as tore up(most weeks) then to build speedway cars that can be destroyed at anytime.

I have also thought nascar needs to set an attendence level that these tracks must maintain to continue hosting these races(but we all know nascar is worried more about THIER MONEY then the quaility of the racing or number of fans in the seats).

10/13/2010 09:43 AM

“Kurt: Jimmie has the edge right now. He’s up front, which he usually isn’t at this point, and he’s better than the other drivers at just about every track from here on out.”

So who picks the tracks in the chase?

10/13/2010 09:56 AM

If you want to limit the Cup driver’s influence in Nationwide, then na$car should rule that the top-15 in Cup points are ineligible to run na$car sanctioned companion events. The rule should be updated weekly just as the owner’s top-35 is. That way the drivers contending for the championship aren’t gaining extra track time, and if a Nationwide owner wants a Cup driver, he will have to look closer to mid-pack and potentially have to alter driver line-ups on short notice. This would make the Cup drivers in Nationwide more level talent wise with the developing drivers while, at the same time, making the Cup drivers less attractive to Nationwide owners.

Ending the testing ban won’t level the playing field. Short of a complete spec series where na$car brings all the cars, engines, and sponsors to the track then hands each out lottery style, NOTHING will level the playing field. Does anyone want to see that scenario? A complete ban is possible. F1 does it, so that Ferrari isn’t even allowed to test on their own test track in Maranello. na$car just bans testing at EVERY venue and announces that anybody caught violating the rule will suffer a 1000 point penalty. Then let the teams police themselves. The threatened punishment is severe enough to keep most teams honest, and a couple of violations would bring everybody else into line quickly. As for the shakers, not much can be done. It is possible to ban them, but why? I don’t see very many new teams on the horizon looking to build their own chassis.

As for the tires, a tire war is possible, and could be policed safely. But Goodyear pays na$car too much money to ever allow it to happen.
However, if it was to happen, you could open the series up to any tire manufacturer that chose to participate. Then you have each manufacturer track test the tires so that they can be certified for not losing more than _____ percentage of time per lap from being new to worn. That way you don’t end up with the Hoosier vs. Goodyear catastrophe of the mid 90’s.
I like the idea of different compounds. It would be interesting to see at least two different compounds (3 would be ideal) and the teams be mandated to use at least one set of each during a race (just like F1) and allow them to choose what tires they want after that.

10/13/2010 10:45 AM

Who remembers the tire war with Hoosier? They each wanted to get the pole. That meant going fast which meant softer rubber. That meant the pole winner’s tires lasted maybe five laps during the race. Lots of tire failures until Hoosier quit.

The teams now only have to TRY to get the car to handle with one tire for each side. They have a different tire for left and right.

10/13/2010 11:18 AM

DoninAjax, my post addresses the Hoosier/Goodyear war and allows for building durability into the tires during a tire war.

Nobody want to see drivers hurt, maimed or killed from a tire war, but that doesn’t mean that competing tire manufacturers can’t do so safely.

10/13/2010 01:10 PM

Jacob, my point was that whichever tire was harder was slower and wouldn’t get the bragging rights for the pole and it didn’t seem to matter as much which one won. It came down to speed versus longevity and speed usually won.

I found a video of a winged super during a race at Stafford Springs from an in-car camera.

10/13/2010 02:00 PM

Don, I agree with what you are saying about the last tire war. But I was figuring that if two (or more) tire manufacturers made tires that were of similar durability, they would also be of similar compounds. That should produce reasonably similar speeds and then the pole runs would fall back to whomever’s set-up was better.

But, for the record, I would rather see NO competition, passing, or even racing than seeing another driver killed or critically injured due to corporate negligence.

10/13/2010 03:18 PM

Best way to get good attendance for the NW series is to race at places that don’t host a Cup race as a stand alone or a Truck/NW double header weekend. There are plenty of areas that love Nascar and would show up for these races.

I have to agree with Amy. If the Cup guys are gone, sponsors will have no choice but to sponsor a NW regular. That brings more sponsors into the mix and you may get some more stability with drivers in the series as well.

I guarantee the large majority of “fans” that like the NW series as is are casual fans. The diehards have given up on the series because they want to see the up and comers go at it on Saturday, not Cup Lite.

I cringe at what is going to happen in the future when a bunch of current Cup drivers retire. There is going to be no pool of future talent to choose from.

Kevin in SoCal
10/13/2010 04:04 PM

What’s with all the typos in this week’s Mirror Driving?

10/13/2010 06:10 PM

David Pearson won 11 straight poles at Charlotte and 12 out of 14. He qualified second in the other two. He has 10 wins at Darlington. When a certain other driver gets close to those numbers he might go up in my rankings.

Managing Editor
10/13/2010 06:31 PM

Kevin, our apologies on any type-o’s you saw. I had a problem yesterday that prevented the final version that you see now (type-o’s excluded) from making it up.

All little comma issues and things like that have been corrected.

-Tom B.

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