The Frontstretch: Mirror Driving: Rebuilding Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Penske, And... by Frontstretch Staff -- Wednesday December 7, 2011

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Mirror Driving: Rebuilding Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Penske, And...

Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday December 7, 2011

 

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 (Mondays: Bowles-Eye View & Wednesdays: Did You Notice)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter)
Mike Neff (Wednesday: Full Throttle & Friday: Keepin’ It Short)
Amy Henderson (Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)

Mike Ford was removed from his crew chief post at Joe Gibbs Racing Tuesday after a disappointing season.  Will this put Denny Hamlin back into title contention after a miserable 2011, and who’s the best candidate to replace him?

Tom: My only complaint with the Ford firing is that it didn’t happen sooner. JGR should have gotten a head start with someone new during the Chase. Everybody knew, by the middle of 2011 that duo wasn’t working out. The fact they created momentum over the final few races, actually battling back to ninth in points after sitting dead last wound up a total waste of much time.
Phil: Exactly, Tom. With all the discussion about Mike Ford since his stupid comments about having the title won last year, you’d think this would have happened 4 months ago.
Amy: I think Hamlin can certainly contend. He proved that last year.  But he needs someone who will work with him and not get him involved in head games with the competition.

Trust between Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford appeared to fizzle after collapsing during the Homestead season finale in 2010, handing Jimmie Johnson his fifth straight Sprint Cup title.

Mike: Word on the street is Darian Grubb is going to get the gig. I don’t know if that is good or bad.
Amy: I think it could be good for Hamlin.  Not sure for Grubb, as the JGR structure is much different than he is used to.
Tom: I disagree. Grubb is bad. Hamlin doesn’t need the quiet engineering type, he needs a Greg Zipadelli type. And I wonder if we just don’t see Zipadelli work his way over to the No. 11 when all is said and done… if he even stays at Gibbs. Perhaps that’s the way to keep him happy, by putting the guy with a title contender… and because Logano isn’t going to get there. I think Grubb and Logano would be a better fit.
Mike: It would certainly make sense to have Zipadelli over there. Logano certainly needs to have a different angle.
Amy: I don’t know if that’s true, Tom.  Hamlin has complained a lot about the speed in his cars this year…perhaps an “engineering type” could find something new.  Especially coming from several years of working with Hendrick chassis and engines. Do we know what kind of a coach Grubb really is?  He’s won with three very different drivers.
Mike: There’s no question Grubb can put together a winning car. They did it five times in the Chase. And I don’t know how much weight you put in the Daytona 500 win with Johnson.  But any time somebody wins with multiple talents, it says something.
Phil: Grubb was Casey Mears’ crew chief for his win at Charlotte, right?
Amy: Right. He’s also won with multiple strategies… from the kind where the team dominates all day, to fuel mileage, to just go out, come from behind, and take this thing. Being able to win with multiple drivers in multiple situations could bode well for a Chase where anything can happen.
Mike: I think one good thing is Grubb will gamble and Hamlin seems to like that kind of an attitude. Remember how mad he was at Phoenix when they went conservative and it cost him?
Amy: Well, that speaks to Hamlin’s head. I’m not sure any crew chief can keep it in the game if Hamlin doesn’t take on most of that responsibility for himself.
Phil: You have to want to be in the game.
Tom: Amy, you just said it best when it comes to Grubb. You mentioned that Hamlin needs to be able to push himself through motivation. When has Grubb been looked at as a central motivator? The driver he’s worked with – Stewart – ran on virtual autopilot. And Johnson, while in need of consistent motivation from Knaus was able to suck it up for a few races back in ’06. It’s not like Grubb made a magical breakthrough.
Amy: That’s true, Tom.  That’s a virtual unknown.  He hasn’t worked with a driver who needs cheerleading.
Tom: Right. I just don’t see where Grubb is going to knock around Hamlin enough to kickstart that head of his. Zipadelli? Now he won’t put up with any moping.
Mike: I beg to differ. I think Grubb motivated Stewart in the summer when the team needed to get their act together. That was the impetus to get them into the Chase and earn a title.
Amy: Does that make Grubb a candidate for Joey Logano, then?  I think Joey still needs a mentor type as much as, if not more than Hamlin.
Phil: Joey’s a young chap and he’s been knocked around the last couple of years.  He could definitely use a booster.
Mike: I think Logano needs a change. It obviously isn’t working with Zipadelli so they need to put somebody else on that box.
Amy: Here’s the thing, though…if a driver really is a head case, how much can a crew chief do to change that? 
Mike: Quite a bit if the driver respects them. If the driver doesn’t, then they can’t do anything.
Phil: Is Hamlin really a “head case?“  You know that you’re basically saying he’s nuts, right?

Tom: Yeah Amy, I’ll be honest… that seems a bit harsh. Hamlin is a much better “character guy” than he’s been given credit for. But he just hasn’t learned to handle the pressure effectively. Like Carl, he needs that 2-3 year period of learning from those mistakes.
Phil: Perhaps Hamlin didn’t fully take his mind off of racing after the end of last season.  As a result, he might have carried some doubt into 2011.  That’s never good.
Amy: Well, Hamlin’s not “nuts,” but he has shown he doesn’t hold up under pressure. And in the Chase format, a driver HAS to have his head in the game.  Why do you think Johnson won five of them?
Mike: Exactly. He loses his focus because he lets outside factors distract him. You don’t have to be bats to be a head case. Fred Biletnikoff was a head case, and he was a hell of a football player.
Tom: Biletnikoff? Um, who the heck is that? Was I born when he played?
Mike: Wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders. Namesake of the Biletnikoff Award for the best receiver in college football.
Tom: He sounds like some sort of Formula 3000 driver trying to get by.
Amy: Anyways, Grubb will be a fine addition to any organization.  What kind of coach he can be remains to be seen, however.
Tom: I say, go get an outgoing, young engineer if that’s the direction you want to go. Luke Lambert and Chad Johnston were great 2011 finds. Maybe a rookie his own age he can relate to will do Denny good?
Mike: I think Darian Grubb would be a great addition to JGR and I think he could be what it takes to push Hamlin over the top, whenever Johnson loses again after he goes on his next run of titles.
Tom: I think it’s a sign of a weak field that we’re leaning on Johnson automatically for 2012. It seems all the top contenders have giant question marks… another question for another time.

Kurt Busch and Penske Racing agreed to part ways on Monday.  Was this the right decision on the part of either side?

Amy: Does anyone really believe that it was mutual?
Tom: Yes. The same people who believe we never landed on the moon. Which means poor Ryan Newman is going to be in shock when the truth is revealed…
Mike: There are no stars in the pictures Tom. Look it up.
Tom: Oh God… we’re not heading down that road. I refuse!
Amy: I think it was the right decision for Penske and for Shell. Maybe it was right for Busch, if he can go someplace that he’s happier. He obviously wasn’t happy.

Despite a disappointing season filled with DNFs, David Ragan remains the top candidate for the Penske Racing ride vacated by Kurt Busch in 2012.

Mike: I am sure it was a mutual decision. But it was only mutual because Roger made Kurt an offer he couldn’t refuse. Whatever that may be.
Phil: Apparently, no one wants to come out and say that it was an axing, but both sides seem to be insinuating that it was a simple understanding.
Tom: Watching that Kurt Busch video, explaining his side one adjective came to mind for me: “uncomfortable.”
Phil: Yeah, that video was painful to watch.
Tom: It just showed how forced the “mutual departure” really was.
Amy: Here’s the thing.  Roger Penske doesn’t take crap.  The berating the crew was a big part of this, I think.
Mike: The berating the crew was a part of it, Amy, but the embarrassment to the sponsors over the Punch video was far more damning. Of course, we also have no idea what he was like in team meetings.
Tom: Amy, while Kurt Busch did this to himself, without YouTube he still has a job. The Punch thing was like taking the cute little bunny, beating it on camera and then flashing an evil smile. All of his flaws were there for the world to see… including paranoid Shell/Pennzoil executives.
Amy: The YouTube tirade wasn’t his first run-in with the media, though.  He had to be held back at Richmond to keep from physically confronting a reporter. It was the third, if you count him tearing up Jenna Fryer’s transcripts at Richmond.
Tom: Your point? So the third strike… at Homestead… to 700,000 YouTube views… and you’re out. How could it be the crew? Yes, the consistency of Busch’s abuse was vile, but winning causes people to put up with a lot. If drivers were fired for just berating their crew, half the field would be looking for work. Kevin Harvick comes to mind.
Mike: No doubt. Harvick, Truex, Earnhardt. All of them have chewed their crews’ ass this year. I’m sure it probably cost them some good crew members, too. For Busch, it was a head of engineering. And we all know how Penske values his engineers.
Amy: True, Mike, but those drivers have different owners.  Perhaps costing the organization a fine crew chief didn’t sit well with the Captain.
Phil: There’s a difference between ranting at your crew chief and complete and total meltdowns on a weekly basis.  Kurt did what the others did, then multiplied it by 12-15.

Mike: Don’t forget that Busch had his own segment on Race Hub over his idiotic radio behavior.
Amy: Maybe this will be a wake up call for Kurt Busch.  If it is, it could wind up being mutually beneficial. Then again, the broken nose he got from Jimmy Spencer should have been a wake-up call… and the Roush incident… and….
Mike: I still will be surprised if he ends up with a top-flight organization. Unless Busch has something already lined up, there is no way this is actually a mutual separation.
Tom: Where I think Penske must take a small portion of the blame is they let Busch get out of hand through time. They never reprimanded him as those verbal tirades got worse. There’s a way to not fire someone yet put them in their place. That never happened. Instead, in the old days when it was Kurt Busch on “A” level and every other driver at Penske barely relevant, he could scream and get exactly what he wanted. That’s what psychologists call “enabling.”
Mike: True Tom. Now that Keselowski gave Kurt competition, it gave Penske a little leverage that he never had before.
Amy: At least they finally did the right thing. One bad apple can bring the whole applecart down eventually.
Mike: I remember, I think it was at Darlington, that Busch stood up and told everyone that there had never been another driver at Penske, while he was there, who challenged him or was better for any period of time.
Phil: Kurt Busch has apparently been petulant for his entire career. 
Tom: Kurt said in his video “the fun had been taken out of racing.” By his actions, I certainly agree.
Amy: And did anyone else notice that after Shell had to have Kurt…they barely used him for marketing?  I don’t think I saw a commercial with him in it after the infamous football quote.  They used Helio Castroneves instead.
Tom: YES, Amy. We’ll get into this one later, but that’s why I don’t think a one-year replacement is that big a deal for Shell.
Amy: You have to wonder about Kurt’s parents. I’m sure they’re nice people, but their kids…
Phil: I really don’t want to drag Kurt’s parents into this.  It’s bush league.  It’s like ranting at the parents of porn stars.  No thanks.
Tom: The one thing we should say is poor Mom and Dad should be ashamed of the last two months. Not exactly the legacy they’d like to leave behind someday.
Mike: I refuse to comment on porn stars as I might incriminate myself.
Tom: How in the world did I hire you again, Mike? And how are you still employed?

So what about Busch? True or false: Kurt Busch competes in the 2012 Daytona 500, and why.  And who takes the seat in the No. 22?

Amy: True, but I think it’s with someone like James Finch and the No. 51.
Mike: I think Busch will be in the No. 51 at Daytona. Sadly, I think David Ragan is in the No. 22 and I have no clue why.
Amy: I don’t love the idea of Ragan in the 22.  I’d take either Vickers or Reutimann over him.
Phil: It is looking like David Ragan, like it or not. As for Kurt, he’ll definitely find a way to get a ride for Daytona.  Phoenix Racing is a possibility.  TRG is an option if they can get some sponsorship.
Amy: Busch is valuable to someone who needs his provisional.
Tom: Busch? In a small-time ride? Really? God, if Kurt was angry about his performance at Penske it’ll be downright abysmal with a smaller team. I just don’t know if he’s going to bother. I do think there’s a longshot possibility out there… Joe Gibbs Racing.

With Kurt Busch suddenly available, does Joey Logano need to be looking over his shoulder at someone else possibly sliding in to drive the Home Depot car… again?

Mike: I just cannot fathom Coach Gibbs dealing with both Busch brothers. Not to mention they don’t always get along.
Tom: They’re the only major team left capable of taking him. Where his brother drives. Where Home Depot, who is used to a volatile driver and is tired of losing to Busch’s main rival Jimmie Johnson, resides. Where Dollar General, who sponsors Kyle and has reveled in the bad boy nature, is coming on board. Where Joe Gibbs has dealt with problem children. Where Joey Logano has worn out his welcome.
Phil: You think Gibbs wants to put up with two tempestuous drivers on his payroll?  I’m not sure he’d want to press his luck.
Tom: I know it sounds ridiculous… but keep in mind Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart were on the same team in 2008. It’s not unprecedented for Gibbs to have two problem children… everyone is acting like it’s impossible.
Amy: If he doesn’t go to JGR, where else will he go?  Bridges burned with Roush (and ergo all the Ford teams) and Penske.  No way Hendrick takes him even if they could farm him to Stewart. But yeah, having Kurt and Kyle on the same team is asking for a tempest.
Mike: If anything, I would more realistically see him in Kyle’s Nationwide car.
Amy: But they don’t always get along and both are SO volatile.
Mike: Why not Stewart-Haas? On a part-time basis for the rest of the rides in Danica’s car?
Amy: He’d have to bring sponsorship for that, Mike.  He sure as heck isn’t bringing the sponsor.
Phil: I don’t think Kurt would be willing to do part-time in the No. 10.
Mike: Knowing GoDaddy, I could see them jumping on with Kurt and running with it.
Tom: Er, I’ve heard Stewart would jump off a bridge before hiring Kurt Busch. But let me just throw these two stats out there, in the midst of Busch not getting a top-tier ride ever again talk. Only three drivers have won a race every year since 2002: Busch, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson. Those three drivers are also the only ones to win a title under the Chase format. Is Busch a public relations nightmare right now? Yes. But is he one of the top 10 most talented drivers out there today? Yes.
Amy: Is talent enough?  There are a lot of talented drivers without rides because of other reasons.
Tom: They’re not champions, Amy. To have this guy sitting on the sidelines, come February while you’ve got mediocre drivers occupying top-tier seats is hard to believe. Maybe I’m wrong… maybe this was the PR kiss of death. But some sponsor is going to realize the value of putting that guy in their car on the racetrack.
Mike: There is no question he can drive the wheels off of it, Tom. But you have to have someone pay the bills and there aren’t many companies willing to do that in our current PC world.
Phil: I don’t know.  It’s just so late in the game.  If Kurt poaches a seat from someone else, they’re done for 2012.
Amy: Which brings us to Ragan… he’s not as talented as any of the other options.  Why he’s the frontrunner I do not understand.
Mike: I have no clue Amy. I cannot explain it.
Tom: He’s squeaky clean politically, someone who won’t ruffle feathers. Shell/Pennzoil, as we mentioned in the last question doesn’t need a big name. They weren’t even using the NASCAR driver in commercials. They just need a guy who won’t cost them money while enjoying a strong business-to-business relationship with Penske.
Phil: In Shell/Pennzoil’s case, Helio Castroneves has a little more of a Q rating than Kurt Busch.  Remember that he won Dancing With The Stars a while back.
Mike: They were using Kurt in commercials. It is great to have a squeaky clean guy, but David Reutimann is squeaky clean and actually won a real race in Waltrip’s crap equipment.
Tom: Competition-wise, the best option is actually Brian Vickers. But I don’t think BV truly realizes how much his cache is damaged by Martinsville and Phoenix.
Mike: How is Vickers the best competition wise?
Tom: Only one available who’s made the Chase. Two wins to his credit, same as Reutimann. 12th in points two years ago. Known as a professional teammate, 2006 incident with Johnson notwithstanding.
Mike: Won two races with far better equipment than Reutimann did. Didn’t do squat with it this year.
Tom: But Kasey Kahne gave him high marks this year for helping out. Would be an asset to Keselowski, an opportunity to prove the doubters wrong. One year to recover from near death… it’s hard to judge his statistics on 2011 and say he’s done.
Amy: Vickers is the best driver of those three. Vickers could win in a Penske car.  And he’s no worse than Keselowski in terms of payback, etc.
Mike: I won’t say he’s done, but I think Reutimann is as good of a driver as Vickers.
Amy: Both of them are better drivers than Ragan.  He still causes too many wrecks.
Mike: Ragan is just not a good driver. I just think Reutimann is the perfect fit for Penske and could actually win for him.
Tom: I’ve been told Reutimann is waaaay down the list. Not a Penske fit, it seems.
Mike: How is he not a Penske fit? I just don’t see how Ragan is and Reutimann isn’t.
Tom: I disagree. Doesn’t fit the Penske image. I don’t consider Reutimann clean cut. The poor guy has been made out in Mikey’s Aaron’s commercials to be a bumbling fool. Not exactly the type of Army-like discipline, at times that comes with confidence edging on cockiness. Which are what Penske drivers are often made of.
Phil: If that’s the case, then I understand why Vickers isn’t at the top of the list.
Mike: Well I guess if you want borderline arrogance, then no, that isn’t Reutimann.
Tom: It’s an unfortunate comparison… Reuti is not like what he’s been made out to be. But perception is everything.
Amy: If JGR does take Busch, what about Logano?
Tom: Nationwide Series.
Mike: Logano will go Nationwide Racing. He’ll be the next Sam Hornish, without the titles.
Tom: Look. JGR was willing to cast Logano aside for Carl Edwards… in the last three months, Sliced Bread responded by performing worse. So what’s different now that he’s suddenly untouchable in the wake of a former Sprint Cup champion getting released? Who has natural rivalry connections with Home Depot and is a proven winner?
Amy: Performing worse?  There was a stretch in late summer when Logano earned more points than any driver.
Tom: No. Just no, Amy. Results after Carl Edwards announced he’s not moving to the No. 20… fifth at Watkins Glen, and then… zero top-10 finishes over the final 14 races. Two laps led. It was ugly.
Amy: Perhaps he wasn’t getting the equipment.  Logano is so hugely overshadowed by Busch and Hamlin at JGR.
Tom: Hogwash. And Kurt Busch is NOT Clint Bowyer, who JGR bypassed in free agency. Bowyer has what, four career Cup wins? Busch has 16, and a title.
Phil: I know Busch-Johnson have that rivalry, but Home Depot isn’t a complete cutthroat company.  If they bring in Kurt, they’ll have a laundry list of behavioral requirements in the wake of these recent shenanigans.
What happens the next time he does something stupid?  His track record suggests that something might go down again soon.
Amy: Huge monetary fine, park him.  There are options. If that fails, fire him. At which point, he’s done in any kind of decent Cup ride.
Mike: I don’t know. I still think Kurt ends up in Kyle’s Nationwide car.
Tom: What Kurt did, while absolutely egregious is reparable through PR reconstruction. He didn’t try and knock someone into the wall the way Kyle did.
Amy: One more observation on Busch. He’s got an NHRA license… would a clean slate be better for him?
Tom: Amy, that’s a fantastic point. See, if Busch can’t get the top-tier ride he wants, and racing is “not fun” anymore… why not go to the NHRA for a year? They would welcome him with open arms. Huge draw; I think that’s more likely than putt-putting around James Finch’s car in 30th. If Penske couldn’t match Kurt Busch’s standards, he just won’t stand for that.

Phil: The NHRA thought has been tossed around.  Drag racing appears to be a hobby for Kurt.  Perhaps he could expand on it.  Pro Stock’s a toughy, the closest class I can think of over there.
Tom: I’m telling you, though, Kurt’s chances for recovery in NASCAR are better than you think. If Jeff Burton pulled that type of stunt, he’d still have a ride and we’d all be willing to forgive him.
Mike: Like when he dumped Jeff Gordon into the wall, Tom?
Amy: Because Jeff Burton doesn’t have a pattern of that type of behavior spanning a dozen years. Busch has exhibited bad behaviors since his Truck days.
Tom: Yes, I understand the pattern. But still… one other aspect of this to spin the story forward that scares me is will we ever see drivers come out of their motorhomes again? With fans and smartphones now, there are so many people that can capture hidden camera footage that any loss of temper could be captured on film and cost someone their job.
Mike: I agree Tom. The bigger question is will they allow smartphones in the garage anymore?
Amy: Sure.  There are lots of drivers who have personalities, who get frustrated and show it without resorting to the kind of behavior the Busches have.
Tom: Eh. I fear we are going to see vanilla ice cream behavior like we’ve never seen after the Kyle and Kurt debacle of this Fall.
Amy: That still depends on the owner.  Some owners will put up with tirades.
Mike: No smartphones for anyone without a hard card. I could very easily see that. You don’t like it, don’t come in the pits.
Amy: Banning phones is just stupid.  This isn’t anyone’s fault but Kurt Busch’s.  If he hadn’t acted like that, it wouldn’t have been on film.
Mike: It cost him his job, Amy. What happens if someone catches Brian France doing something wrong? When more people lose their jobs because of unauthorized video, something will happen. Hell, they ban camera phones at rock concerts.
Phil: Every cell phone is a camera phone today.  Being able to meet with people is near impossible without one. And Brian France seems to just come out of his mancave to make a statement once a month.
Tom: Mike, these phones are so small you can’t control it… NASCAR would make a mistake trying to do that. It’s how we’re going to react to these individual incidents as a society that define the future. Everyone will have an incident they regret in their lifetime… some minor, some major. In Kurt Busch’s case, he had way too many documented that added up. But if we punish harshly based on one incident… over the course of 20 years, every driver in NASCAR will end up fired.
Amy: No, they won’t. They’ll just wind up with owners like Joe Gibbs, who will put up with it.
Mike: Well, to wrap up I have no idea what Kurt Busch does next year. I guess we’ll know in a week or two because getting a car ready for Daytona doesn’t happen overnight.

NASCAR just finished up a three-year contract in Las Vegas for their banquet. Should they return to Sin City, or is it time to move the festivities somewhere else?

Amy: I don’t know.  I think making all those drivers spend days out there is just silly. Do a one-day show like NNS and Trucks somewhere nice and call it good.  This shouldn’t be about the fans, anyway.
Mike: I don’t care where they do it, but they need to get rid of the two hours of total crap that went on before the driver speeches started.
Phil: Yes, they should return to Vegas.  NASCAR seems to be very happy there.  They got big crowds for the events and everyone seemed to have a great time. As for the banquet, yeah, we could do without the performances that I don’t care about.
Amy: Here’s a novel idea… ask the drivers where they’d like it.

Las Vegas may be a beautiful place to visit, but is it the perfect fit for NASCAR’s top drivers, team members, and executives to publicize the end of their season?

Mike: I do have one point I’d like to make about the drivel out there in Vegas. How in the heck can NASCAR fine drivers for actions detrimental to stock car racing and then parade those same actions as part of their video highlights for the year? That is the most hypocritical pile of crap I have seen in my life. If I was Harvick or Busch, I’d file a lawsuit to get my money back. How can it be detrimental if you’re showing it in your highlight packages? And don’t think that NASCAR doesn’t approve those videos.
Phil: Yeah, that’s weak.  If you don’t approve of blatant flauntings of the rules, don’t flaunt them.
Amy: Anyways, after the schedule they keep, making them do three days of fluff is silly.  Race season is about the fans.  The banquet is about honoring the champion.
Tom: The banquet, in this modern-day ADD world needs to be held immediately after the championship. By eight days after Thanksgiving, nobody cares other than the people partying it up in Vegas. It is for the NASCAR teams, after all though and we should remember that… personally, I really miss having it in New York. But that was right in my backyard.
Amy: I thought New York had an element of class that Vegas does not.
Tom: With the sponsorship problems NASCAR is having, I think it would be good to put the banquet, as under the rug as it is, back in the face of Fortune 500 companies. Vegas is one big party… but it doesn’t do much for the boardroom.
Mike: New York didn’t give a crap about the banquet. Vegas celebrates it. I would like to see them end the season at Vegas and then hold the banquets Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for all three series.
Amy: That would be fine. I would like to see NNS and CWTS go separate and honor their top 10.
Phil: You could argue that maybe it should be in Charlotte, close to home.  But what’s the benefit of having it there other than being a 25-minute drive away?
Tom: Again, I think it’s fair to ask the question who the banquet is for? It’s to honor a driver’s successful season… like if you won a special award at work. So in a sense, who are us media and the fans to tell these guys where to celebrate?
Amy: Celebrates it, how?  With the Newlywed game?  And burnouts and other stuff that serves no purpose?
Mike: Although I did enjoy learning that Jeff Gordon can breakdance. And I still want video evidence of Ryan Newman farting the alphabet.
Amy: Do we need three days of hype in which to learn Ryan Newman can fart the alphabet?
Mike: Nope. I’ll agree there is way too much crap before the banquet. Show up, give your sponsor plugs, then move on.
Amy: This should be an event to honor the champion and the other award winners.  Not entertainment for the masses.
Tom: I think you’re only going to have a niche audience watching the banquet no matter what you do. Who watches the Super Bowl Parade other than the fans of the winning team?

Phil: Is that Parade even televised outside of the NFL Network?  If not, I couldn’t even watch it if I wanted to.
Mike: I like the banquet in a town that wants the banquet. Vegas is fun, but the actual banquet portion should be the speeches. Not the other incessant drivel.
Phil: I really don’t care about the banquet, to be honest.  The ceremony is a little hard to watch.
Tom: I just want NASCAR to get a memorable host for the banquet. I know someone like Colbert isn’t going to be available… but someone funny? Please?
Mike: As much as I don’t watch him, I would think Jay Leno would be an ideal host.
Phil: Reba needs a better writer.  Maybe someone from her passable sitcom.
Amy: If they would cut out the crap, they wouldn’t need one, Tom.  Just have Mike Joy intro the drivers, do the speeches (and for the love of PETE, honor the champion crew chief at the real banquet!) and that’s it.  Bet the drivers would appreciate getting it done and getting to the afterparties anyway.
Mike: Agree on that, Amy. How in the world the crew chief doesn’t talk at the banquet is just stupid.
Amy: If you need comedy, get Matt Kenseth… he’s funnier than anyone they’ve ever had!
Phil: Dry humor?
Mike: Oh yeah. Gave me crap at Charlotte for having two boxes of Cheerios in front of me. It was hilarious. Kenseth still had the greatest idea for a car cover and the marketing mopes poo-pooed it. When he had Crown Royal, he wanted the car cover to be a purple cover like the bag that Crown comes in. It would have been awesome. The marketing types shot it down. Thought no one would understand it.
Phil: I agree.  That would have been sweet.  Although I don’t get why marketing thought no one would understand.
Mike: Because they are marketing people. They have no idea what real people like.

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Steve
12/07/2011 10:11 AM
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I would like to see Regan Smith given an opportunity. He won a race this season too. Not sure why David Regan is at the top of everyones list. While I don’t dislike the guy, he had his shot at Roush and failed. Smith has never had a shot in top notch equipment. I say give him a shot to see what he can do for a season. Its probably only for one season anyway.

Michael in SoCal
12/07/2011 11:04 AM
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I’d bet Regan Smith would be under consideration for the 22, but he is under contract with Furniture Row Racing through 2012. Personally, I like Reutimann in the 22. Not sure why is is way down on their list.

jim
12/07/2011 12:12 PM
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regan smith is in top notch equiptment,the only negative is the team is not in north carolina,those cars,and engines were new for furniture row,they we’re not hand me downs.

Barke
12/07/2011 12:19 PM
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Kurt should call Mike Ford and pitch a package deal to the Furniture Row/Denver Mattress folks. They have ECR engines and could make a deal for cars. Mike’s connections could get them a good crew and they could compete on a very high level.

Whatcha think??

birdman
12/07/2011 03:42 PM
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Don’t really care where they have the banquet, just don’t have all the truly lame speeches. Drivers Drive. They aren’t public speakers and most are terrible at it.

RamblinWreck
12/07/2011 05:31 PM
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Imagine the Sprint Cup banning phones in the garage? If that wouldn’t be the worst marketing move ever, what would?

They should have the banquet in Charlotte; isn’t there a banquet hall and convention center at the Hall of Fame?

DWS44
12/13/2011 12:54 PM
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Ban cell phones?!? Did anyone on the panel happen to notice who the series sponsor is?

HINT, HINT…I hear their business involves cell phones. ;)

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