The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: NASCAR Notes From The Week by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday May 18, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: NASCAR Notes From The Week

Mike Lovecchio · Monday May 18, 2009

 

Claritin unclear

Apparently, this whole Jeremy Mayfield soap opera isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest episode saw Mayfield in the infield at Lowe’s Saturday night for the Sprint Showdown, a violation of the terms surrounding his indefinite suspension. He was eventually escorted off the premises… but not before taking some more shots at the sport that banned him in the first place. A defiant Mayfield claimed he is considering legal action to override his suspension, and currently has no plans to go through the rehab process — a requirement in order for reinstatement to be considered. The most intriguing claim he made was that Dr. Black informed him that Claritin could have triggered the positive test, but has since backpedaled because Claritin is a sponsor in the sport. Yet despite the conjecture, Mayfield says he has no idea what he tested positive for — because he has yet to get the results. That’s a direct contradiction from NASCAR, as league spokesman Ramsey Poston says that the driver has been informed of exactly that on three separate occasions.

I wish we could get to the bottom of this, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Here we have a classic case of he said/she said, and with Mayfield being one of the sport’s most outspoken drivers and NASCAR rarely backing off of its decisions, don’t expect either side to budge quite yet.

Circle Bar breakdown

A solid run for Circle Bar Racing on paper in Friday’s 200-mile race at Lowe’s didn’t necessarily translate to harmony across the team after the race. Battling for the 11th position coming off of Turn 4 on the final lap, rookie James Buescher got into the door of teammate Rick Crawford and continued to shove him down the track, eventually knocking him into the grass at the stripe. Crawford was not happy with the phenom, offering a few choice words for the driver of the No. 10 who also participates in a monthly driver diary for FS.

At 19, it’s clear Buescher is an extremely talented driver who is still learning this whole NASCAR thing. Earlier this season, Crawford called him, “A combination of Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon,” and he’s 2-for-2 in ARCA starts and victories so far this season. Friday night, it looks like he simply made a mistake against the wrong driver… a teammate. The two will clear the air soon enough, and Buescher will continue to do exactly what he is in the Truck Series for … learn.

Sweet home Charlotte

One of the more popular debates during Saturday night’s Frontstetch.com live blog was the annual debate of whether or not the All-Star race should be run at Charlotte. While I agree with the general consensus that with the exception of the final 10 laps, the combination of the 1.5-mile oval and the new car produced the same aerodynamic advantage that has seen the lead car check out from the field while in clean air, I’d have to say I don’t want a change. Could Bristol or Darlington produce consistently better racing? Maybe. But with such a demanding Cup Series schedule, this provides an opportunity for teams to spend two weeks near home before another eight week stretch on the road. Don’t you think these guys deserve a break? If there’s a problem with the racing, tweak the format — not the track.

The final 10-lap shootout was exciting as advertised, but would the overall All-Star product be better served to be run at another track such as Bristol?

What a difference 16 months makes

Co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Gene Haas, must have been on cloud nine this weekend at Lowe’s. Prior to his 16-month stint in prison for tax fraud, Haas’ race team was struggling to make the top 35 in owner points; but what he saw in his first trip back to the track Saturday was a team emerging as a top-tier performer week in, week out. Haas saw firsthand the amazing transformation of what is now Stewart-Haas Racing — with help from Hendrick Motorsports — as both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart competed for the win all night. Stewart eventually piloted the No. 14 car to Victory Lane, his first win since taking over as part-owner in the offseason.

As SHR progresses each and every week, expectations have now grown from race wins to championships. Not only is Stewart running well, but Newman is showcasing the talent that we saw back when the No. 12 Penske car was competitive. If both of these cars are not contenders next week for the Coke 600, I will be more than surprised. Heck, if both of these cars don’t make the Chase… I’ll be surprised.

Frontstretch.com LIVE BLOG comment of the race

Each week, I will further expand on some of the more interesting fan comments from our weekly Frontstretch.com LIVE Cup race blog. This is one that caught my eye from Saturday’s race:

Just fans at the track wouldn’t be fair. I do go to Dover, but I wouldn’t be able to vote because the race there is next week.

Newracefan on whether only fans who purchase race tickets should be allowed to vote in a driver at the All-Star race.

The vast majority of viewers in our live blog were upset with the Joey Logano fan vote and immediately blamed it on the unlimited online voting. However, I could really care less as to how a driver is selected, because as long as fans are voting it will be a popularity contest and there will always be fans upset their driver is not voted in. The most efficient way is to have an online vote, but I suggest making it so that each person can only place one. But the problem is, even that system can be beaten…

P.S.: Don’t forget, our live blog pops up again this weekend! Check us out Sunday night for a special live blog for the Coca-Cola 600.

Notes to ponder

Poole dedication: The deadline room in the Lowe’s Motor Speedway media center will be named in honor of the late David Poole. I can’t think of a better gesture to the family of the beat writer from the local Charlotte Observer.

Follow the leader: At some point, is NASCAR going to do something about the leaders checking out in clean air? The result this week was very few green flag passes for the lead until the final ten laps.

The most important race on the track is…: …the race off pit road. Because of the aforementioned benefit of clean air, the most crucial race in the closing laps are the speed and strategy calls of the over-the-wall crew.

Malsam impresses: Truck Series rookie Taylor Malsam became the first driver this season to earn Rookie of the Race honors twice with his 8th place finish at Lowe’s.

Burnout competition: I know it’s for a good cause, but is there anything any more anticlimactic than the burnout competition. It’s by far the worst All-Star skills competition of any sport.

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Douglas
05/18/2009 07:54 AM
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RE: MAYFIELD vs NA$CRAP

“Ramsey Poston says that the driver has been informed of exactly that on three separate occasions.”

VERBALLY! NOTHING IN WRITING!

You would think that NA$CRAP, knowing they are ruining a drivers career, would put things in writing!

But that is the way NA$CRAP works!

Oh, “we” told him VERBALLY (that way if we go to court we can change our story).

That’s the way this ignorant & ARROGANT organization works!

Ramsey Poston is just another Brian Farce stooge! He does what he is told to do, period!

And then says wheres my paycheck!

Remember, the entire NA$CRAP organization is dedicated to the $$$$, not to fairness or openness!

Remember MIS! “SHUT UP DRIVERS ABOUT THE CoT OR ELSE”!

I think the time is now to challenge NA$CRAP on the issue of drivers being “independent contractors”!

NA$CRAP has crossed the line on this issue, and treats the drivers, no, I mean, tells the drivers, what to do as though they were direct employees!

NA$CRAP SUCKS!

Some things never change!

Doesn’t the everyday fan deserve more from NA$CRAP? Just in the cause of fairness?

I thinks so! Actually, wheter Mayfield is innocent or guilty, the paying fan has the right to know why these actions, or any actions taken by NA$CRAP are done!

midasmicah
05/18/2009 09:21 AM
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Number 1, from his reaction to the whole thing, I don’t believe Mayfield is guilty of the crime. He’s just atest dummy. If this had been jimmy Johnson do you really think he would have been suspended? If you do then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you. This is a farce. To protect Mayfield’s privacy. Right, after they’ve smeared his name and destroyed his reputation. What a joke.

dawg
05/18/2009 09:23 AM
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I worked in an industry that had Federally mandated testing. NO result was ever issued verbally. Results came on a printout, listing substance tested for, & result. At this point, to me, Jeremy has more credibility, than NA$CAR. A problem that Jeremy faces, is that if things are pretty much as he says. The results could be difficult to duplicate. Depending on many variables, such as what he ate, etc. At this point he needs some documentation, that what he says happened. Could have happened. Then he needs to contact Marisa Grant’s Lawyer, because his days in Cup are over. This is a very vindictive bunch he’s dealing with.

yankeegranny
05/18/2009 09:41 AM
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Another web site hinted that Home Depot had sut up computers in the break room and “strongly recommended” that that employees voet for Joey whenever they could. What a farce if it is true. I could not believe he won and my first thought was this is another NA$CRAP scheme to stick it to the fans. Now it seems it is Home Depot that is the manipulator. Next year just drop the fan vote and give everyone who buys a ticket to a nascar race a card to write the name of their driver of choice on it and send it in. That would eliminate corperate manipulation and reward the paying fans for their support.It would also put people to work counting the votes and provide a paper trail of proof……oh I forgot NA$CRAP doesn’t believe in paper trails..does it?

alan4s
05/18/2009 01:34 PM
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I’m curious if team owners who are not drivers are subject to drug testing. Doesn’t it seem like Mayfield is being doubly punished for one alleged infraction?

Would Childress, Hendrick, or Penske be banned from the track for substance abuse? I don’t see how an owner could be a threat to anyone but himself, so why is Mayfield not allowed to act in his ownership role, even though he’s not allowed to drive?

Is this yet another hurdle put in the way of small teams and owner/drivers?

Kevin in SoCal
05/18/2009 04:49 PM
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I would rather see another crew-chief race, or an old-timers race on the small oval on the frontstretch/pit road at Charlotte than a burnout competition. The crew chief race from last year (year before?) was excellent!

Razz
05/18/2009 11:13 PM
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Good call Douglas.
Mayfield was very specific in stating he had not received anything in writing. The press has handled that terribly and if you read most of the articles, they imply he said he had not been informed at all, which is NOT what he said.

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