Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday December 19, 2012
Welcome to “Mirror Driving.” Every Wednesday, 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 / The Big Six & Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel & Frontstretch Co-Managing Editor)
Toni Montgomery (Frontstretch IndyCar Managing Editor)
Beth Lunkenheimer (Frontstretch Co-Managing Editor / NASCAR Truck Series Insider)
Phil Allaway (Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter Editor)
Summer Bedgood (Frontstretch NASCAR Senior Writer)
Matt Stallknecht (Frontstretch NASCAR & IndyCar Contributor)
Mike Neff (Mondays / Thinkin’ Out Loud & Tuesdays / Tech Talk & Frontstretch Short track Coordinator)
In recent years, we’ve seen several open-wheel drivers cross into NASCAR with similar results (Danica Patrick, Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, etc.) Are there any open-wheel stars today who could be more successful in NASCAR — and which NASCAR drivers could make a successful transition to the IndyCar ranks?
Phil: I don’t any of them could. No one jumps out as being all that versatile.
Amy: I don’t think so. Drivers are too specialized these days.
Matt S.: Yikes. None of the current crop of IndyCar guys could make it work the other way… I do, however, think Lewis Hamilton (F1) has the mentality and aggressiveness necessary to be successful in NASCAR.
Summer: Juan has won in NASCAR, AJ has come close, and Sam is pretty kickass in the Nationwide Series. They’re not great, but I wouldn’t consider them failures. Also, Danica Patrick has done a spectacular job with her limited experience.
Amy: Patrick isn’t in the same league.
Beth: You can’t say that about Patrick yet, Amy. You never know what she’ll do given more time behind the wheel.
Toni: I don’t think anyone can just come over and pick it up. Even Tony Stewart didn’t. See: his first year in Busch Series. And I don’t think anyone but Stewart or ‘Dinger or Hornish could just hop in an IndyCar.
Amy: It takes a very special driver to do both successfully… Mario Andretti / AJ Foyt / Tony Stewart special. Not many like them in either series.
Toni: But let’s be really honest. A.J. Foyt was a freak of nature. No one even then jumped back and forth with success like he did. No, not even Mario Andretti. Take a good, hard look at his stock car records.
Amy: OK, so Foyt and Stewart then.
Toni: Andretti won the Daytona 500 but so did Derrike Cope.
Mike N.: Please stop saying Derrike Cope.
Matt S.: Why? Cope ran up front all day in that 500, and he won Dover later that year.
Summer: Anyways… I want to see Helio Castroneves in NASCAR. Not because of his driving — I think he’d suck. But the personality aspect of it would be a blast.
Phil: If anyone in the Izod IndyCar Series could do it now, it would be someone like Scott Dixon since he’s actually raced sports cars and done quite well.
Matt S.: I bet a WRC driver like Sebastien Loeb or Sebastien Ogier could cut it in NASCAR. There’s a few V8 Supercars guys who could pull off the transition as well.
Phil: Loeb in NASCAR? That could be interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jamie Whincup in the states in a few years once he finishes decimating everyone in Australia.
Mike N.: Well, any driver can flat foot it around a plate track — which, by the way is all IndyCar racing is on ovals.
Phil: Let’s see. Who could drive an IndyCar? Most of the drivers in NASCAR today wouldn’t do it unless they could snag a top ride.
Amy: I think there are some NASCAR guys who could transition successfully in open-wheel over time. Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman come to mind. Casey Mears was a very good open-wheel driver.
Phil: I’m sure Gordon, Kahne, Marcos Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson could hold their own there. Remember, Ambrose was an open-wheel ace before turning to the V8 Supercars.
Matt S.: NASCAR drivers would fare much better in IndyCar than IndyCar drivers would in NASCAR.
Summer: Matt, how so? I think the IndyCar tracks are more challenging.
Mike N.: The IndyCars are easier to drive.
Phil: I think they’re harder now than with the old Dallara IR07.
Mike N.: They still can take downforce away and race hard, Phil. You don’t have Cup cars taking away downforce unless they’re at Talladega.
Matt S.: IndyCars are easier to drive on ovals. Drivers who are good at drafting tracks in NASCAR would probably see a lot of success in IndyCar.
Mike N.: Maybe Dale Jr. should go Indy racing.
Matt S.: I bet Bowyer, Kenseth, and Harvick would feel right at home in the Indy drafting tracks, too. Throw McMurray in there as well. He loves foot to the floor racing.
Amy: I can’t see Junior doing well in Indy. Or Michigan. That track doesn’t fit his driving style.
Mike N.: Actually, it does. He succeeds best when it is easy on the gas and easy off.
Matt S.: Maybe not Indy, but Texas or Michigan? I agree with Mike, Junior would fit right in. Granted, Indy doesn’t go to Michigan anymore but you get the point.
Mike N.: I think any one of the NASCAR guys these days could be competitive in a halfway decent car.
Matt S.: One more on the NASCAR side before we wrap up: I still think Kimi Raikkonen would have been great if he had just stuck with it.
Summer: Oh hell, no. He thought it would be easy. He was obviously shocked.
Amy: I think a lot of them think that way, Summer. But then, they stick with it more than one race…
Summer: I remember sitting at a press conference last year in Charlotte and hearing him say something to the effect of, “This not so easy.”
Mike N.: Raikkonen is good enough at anything. He could have succeeded. He wasn’t serious about it. Raikkonen did it for fun.
Toni: Kimi is not known for being particularly serious… or a particularly hard worker. Unless that work is partying…
Kurt Busch recently gave himself the nickname “Outlaw” on a SPEED television special. Kyle Busch puts “Rowdy” on his truck door. Who has the best nickname, and what nicknames should some other drivers consider?
Amy: Out of those two, “Rowdy” wins, hands down.
Mike N.: Rowdy and L’il Gator (Justin Allgaier) are the ones that I think are the best.
Summer: It’s not really a nickname, but I’m curious when “Joey Logano” will become “Joe Logano.”
Phil: My guess: Never.
Matt S.: Personally, I think “Bad Brad” is just an awesome nickname. So simple, yet so cool.
Amy: Yeah, but doesn’t really fit. Brad drives with too much respect to be “Bad Brad.”
Beth: I like the Bad Brad moniker… though so many people use it because they think he’s cocky.
Phil: Yeah, but Brad’s not really bad anymore. There’s no more inexplicable beef with Denny Hamlin or anything like that.
Mike N.: Rocket is wearing out for Newman now that he doesn’t win every other pole.
Beth: Same with Front Row Joe…
Phil: Front Row Joe made a lot more sense in 1997 than it does now.
Matt S.: How about “The Emotionless Juggernaut” for Jimmie Johnson? I’ve heard that one bandied about on some racing news websites lately.
Phil: Stuff like the “Iceman” is already taken.
Amy: Yeah, that was a great one. And it was perfect for Terry.
Mike N.: I think they should call Jimmie “lefty” after breaking his arm.
Beth: He’s already got a nickname… people call him Five Time…
Amy: Jimmie Johnson doesn’t strike me as a nickname type. If it were even remotely true, Matt, “The Emotionless Juggernaut” might work.
Matt S.: That’s the sad part, Amy. People seem to just conveniently ignore Jimmie’s good personality.
Phil: Johnson probably doesn’t care that he doesn’t have a nickname. Five Time isn’t a nickname. That’s people being lazy.
Amy: Not only that, but Jimmie and those guys called Jeff Four Time before Jimmie even had one, so it’s not original.
Beth: Just because it’s not original doesn’t mean it’s not a nickname. Geez people.
Toni: One of my favorites was always the High Plains Drifter for Rick Carelli — or Magic Shoes for Mike McLaughlin.
Amy: Magic Shoes! That was great!
Mike N.: Devil Racer is good for Marcos Ambrose. And what about Tony Stewart’s? Smoke is OK. I always thought there should be a better one for Stewart, though.
Toni: I always like Rushville Rocket for Tony better, but Tony was the one that opted for Smoke.
Beth: I actually like “Smoke…” in fact, I used to think about the smoke coming out of his ears when he got angry…
Amy: Smoke is great. What about the worst nickname? The same group of Hendrick drivers once called Blake Feese “Feces.”
Phil: Ouch. That hurts. Does that date back to the time he crashed while trying to get to his pit in the ARCA race at Daytona?
Mike N.: Happy, for Kevin Harvick is about the worst nickname in the garage.
Toni: Oh, I got it. The PERFECT nickname for anyone…. “Crash” Townley.
Mike N.: Two fingers Townley would be better.
Phil: Ouch. Townley’s finally starting to overcome that unfortunate reputation.
Beth: To be fair to Townley, he’s working on it. He showed some improvement this season.
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Contact Matt Stallknecht
Connect with Mike!
Contact Mike Neff
Connect with Phil!
Contact Phil Allaway
Connect with Summer!
Contact Summer Bedgood
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Contact Toni Montgomery
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