The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Chicagoland Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday July 13, 2009

Go to site navigation Go to article

Five Points to Ponder: Chicagoland Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday July 13, 2009


Each week, the Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite Frontstretch writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Each of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Chicago live blog.

ONE: Will Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase in his first year at MWR?
Fan Vote — YES: 63%; NO: 38%

It was a move Martin Truex, Jr. had to make. The No. 1 Earnhardt-Ganassi team has been in disarray all season long, and Truex has felt the effects with just three top 10s and a current 24th spot in the driver standings. A move to Michael Waltrip Racing may not be a jump to a perennial powerhouse, but it’s a move that could reap benefits as both David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose have shown that the team does harness potential. The million dollar question is, though, will the partnership between Truex and Waltrip lead to a Chase berth in 2010? I don’t see it. Sure, both Ambrose – a JTG/Daugherty driver who uses MWR equipment – and Reutimann have more top 10s and top 5s than Truex this season, but it’s difficult to field three competitive teams, especially for one that has yet to field a driver in the Chase. Do I believe Truex will eventually make the Chase with MWR? Possibly… just not next season.

TWO: Should Tim Richmond eventually make the NASCAR HoF?
Fan Vote — YES: 57%; NO: 43%

One of the most colorful personalities the sport has ever seen, Richmond competed between 1980 and 1987, garnering 13 wins and 14 poles in 185 starts before his untimely death in 1989. In his seven years in the sport, Richmond’s best season came in 1986, when he won a series-high seven races and finished third in points. He ultimately made NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list, but when the sanctioning body released its inaugural Hall of Fame nominees, Richmond wasn’t on it. Why? Because NASCAR has a “rule” that a driver must participate in at least 10 seasons of competition before eligibility. However, would Richmond’s seven-year run have been good enough to make the Hall if there wasn’t a rule? I say no. The Hall of Fame celebrates what the top drivers have accomplished in the sport, not what they could have accomplished. As it stands right now, 49 drivers have more career Cup wins than Richmond, and he doesn’t have a championship. His career was a historic one, but any opportunity for Hall of Fame-type numbers unfortunately never happened.

THREE: Who do you think Roush Fenway should keep as its 4th driver?
Fan Vote — David Ragan: 67%; Jamie McMurray: 17%; Neither: 17%

Scenes like this from Talladega don’t have many fans giving Jamie McMurray a vote of confidence to keep his spot at Roush Fenway Racing.

Roush Fenway must cut one of its teams to reach NASCAR’s new four-team limit in 2010, and the decision may be all about the money. David Ragan sits 30th in points with one top 10 while McMurray continues to stay just inside the top 20, but it’s Ragan who has the UPS sponsorship and more marketability. Based on performance this season, you may be inclined to say Ragan should be the odd man out, but it’s easy to forget since the No. 6 team has been so dismal as of late that he actually flirted with the Chase for a bit in 2008. It’s a smart business move for Roush Fenway, and I think it’s the best move performance-wise to keep Ragan where he’s been for his NASCAR career… with Jack Roush.

FOUR: Will Mark Martin make the Chase this season?
Fan Vote — YES: 75%; NO: 25%

Saying Mark Martin isn’t going to make the Chase is like saying Kyle Busch isn’t going to make the Chase; their performance has lacked at times, but you know deep down there is no possible way they won’t be in the top 12 leaving Richmond. Martin leads the series in wins, drives for the sport’s strongest organization, and has more experience than 95 percent of the Cup field. Not only is Martin back in the Chase with his win Saturday night in Chicago, but he’s one of my top 3 favorites for the championship. Have faith, the wily vet will get it done.

FIVE: Do you feel there are too many debris cautions?
Fan Vote — YES: 43%; NO: 57%

NASCAR purists dread debris cautions because it smells of conspiracy, but there is no doubt that it makes racing more exciting – especially since the advent of double-file restarts. This week’s race featured three “debris,” aka “mystery cautions” that stacked the field back up after a long green flag run. The question is, is it right to risk integrity for the sake of better racing? The answer — and I wish more fans would side with me on this — is no. Mark Martin had the car to beat Saturday night, but NASCAR’s fascination with throwing debris cautions nearly cost him the win. If there’s debris on the track, whoever is broadcasting the race MUST show the debris. If there isn’t debris, don’t throw the caution …it’s that simple! NASCAR survived for years without strategically throwing cautions at the tail end of green flag runs or in the closing laps of the race, and they still can.

Five Notes to Ponder

Give Regan a ride: Silly Season has begun and full-time rides are going to open up. When is someone going to give Regan Smith – a driver who has yet to DNF in his 51-race career and nearly won at Talladega last season – a ride? Plenty of teams would kill for a driver that won’t tear up equipment, and that’s what Smith does.

Rumors, rumors, rumors: Speaking of Silly Season, take all of these rumors sprouting up with a grain of salt. I’m not saying a Yates cleanout or Keselowski to Penske deal won’t happen, but for every rumor that proves true, there are always five that don’t.

Kligerman continues to dominate: The 18-year-old Penske phenom continues to dominate the ARCA Re/MAX Series. Parker Kligerman picked up his fourth win in his last five races this week at Iowa and has opened up a 120-point lead in the standings.

Eury, Jr. proves himself: Many thought Tony Eury, Jr. was to blame for the struggles with the No. 88 team, but sitting on top of the pit box for rookie Brad Keselowski this week, Eury got the No. 25 Hendrick team into the top 10 before running into problems in the closing laps and finishing 32nd.

Lil’ Busch domination: He may be having a rough time right now on the Cup Series side of things, but Kyle Busch is dominating in Nationwide with six consecutive races finishing in the top 2. Busch may be disappointed that he doesn’t have six consecutive wins, but I’m sure he’ll be happy when that consistency breeds a championship.

P.S.: Our live blog pops up again in two weeks as we break down the racing action from Indianapolis! Come join the fun and have your voice heard alongside your favorite Frontstretch writers!

Follow Mike Lovecchio on Twitter HERE

Contact Mike Lovecchio

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Mike Lovecchio and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

07/13/2009 05:32 AM

I think Jeff Burton described the unseen debris cautions best as “Entertainment Cautions” a year or so ago when I think Fox did a montage of asking drivers about them. :)

Part of me being a purest doesn’t like them, but when the races start out with very long green flag runs, it makes for a boring race. A few cars are dialed in and it basically ruins what could be an exciting race if a caution came out and bunched them back up with adjustments done to the cars that needed them.

The timing of these “debris” cautions are usually pretty debatable too… just before Jr. or Gordon goes a lap down, etc., etc.

And since they have taking away every other non-PC thing, i.e., “rubbing is racing”, fights, etc., they have to do something to keep the races exciting.

While on the subject of cautions, I thought I would bring up something that has bugged me for years… The Mandatory Caution. I really hate the way strategy can be used for these cautions that are only thrown for safety reason. (Usually shortened practice due to rain and they want teams to be able to check their tires.) I think it should be mandatory, since it is thrown for safety, that every car take 4 tires, and that they line back up in the same order they were running when the caution flew… with a reasonable time limit per stop, say 30 seconds max (no letting a team that might have taken some damage work on their car for a few minutes.) Yet every time a decent number of teams take 2 or 0 tires just to gain track position. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having the caution to begin with?

Argh, I’m getting to the point that my list of what is wrong with NASCAR greatly exceeds what is right.

Yesterday I glanced at my mother’s bottle of Adderall. It’s the generic version, and it says “AMPHETAMINE generic for adderall”. I don’t even like Mayfield, but come on, the generic version of the drug has all bold letters saying it is an amphetamine. And NASCAR has the balls/stupidity to claim that Mayfield is a “danger to society”. In reality, since amphetamines increase your memory, awareness, and reaction time, they could at least stated it gave him an unfair advantage on the track. Why do you think all the super smart high school and college kids are abusing Adderall? Because it gets them wasted? No, because it helps them get better grades.

Like I said, the list of what I don’t like about NASCAR just keeps getting longer. Double file restarts are the biggest recent change and the positives are pretty equal to the negatives. (Seems like they get spread out a lot quicker too, but too soon to say for sure.) But it is looking like 2 mulligans are needed for the regular season and 1 mulligan for the Chase. One wreck takes out too many “real” contenders now. As an RCR fan, it has really caused me to hate them.

Sorry, needed to vent a little. :)

07/13/2009 08:46 AM

You seem to be confused about what constitutes a Hall of Fame . Inductees into any Hall of Fame in any sport are purely subjective . Poularity frequently wins out over talent . The Nascar HOF does not as you suggest include only drivers , nor should it . But drivers will make up the bulk of the names in any year .
Tim Richmond will always be a very important figure in the history of Nascar because of his pure driving talent and his continuing fan following . He was one of the best drivers to ever come along . Should he be in the first 5 . No , of course not . There are a number of names that need to be included first . But Richmond , as your poll shows , is certainly going to be a future inductee if the fans have anything to say about it . Of course this HOF being a Brian France “ everybody pay attention to me “ production , the fan input might not mean anything more than the usual attention he pays to what the fans want .
This HOF for Nascar has already been done once , at Talladega , and since i’m sure that the initial inductees into that one were very carefully thought out , the first 5 inductees into Brians’ HOF should probably be the same first 5 that the Talladega HOF used .

07/13/2009 11:10 AM

Hey Fred! your “Argh, I’m getting to the point that my list of what is wrong with NASCAR greatly exceeds what is right”! DEAD ON!

Welcome to the club!

Mike In NH
07/13/2009 01:03 PM

“Saying Mark Martin isn’t going to make the Chase is like saying Kyle Busch isn’t going to make the Chase..”

Umm, have you seen the standings this week? Shrub’s ahead of 13th by 13 points, even though he’s in 10th… He’s as likely to miss the chase as any of the four or five drivers competing for those last three spots.

07/13/2009 01:26 PM

On race day, NASCAR will often throw a “competition caution” if rain has canceled most of practice or the track is “green.”

Correspondingly, I’ve come to call these “debris cautions” the lack of competition caution.

Yes, “AMPHETAMINE generic for adderall” is true, but Mayfield also tested positive for METHAMPHETAMINE which is a related but different chemical. It’d be like comparing Corn Alcohol and Wood Alcohol. They are related but the first will just give you a buzz while the second will kill you.

07/13/2009 02:32 PM

We were hoping most of the night for those mystery debris cautions sitting at the race. At least then we could see some side by side hard racing for a few laps before they were all strung out again. High speed parades are getting to boring. I almost felt like falling asleep at the race.

07/13/2009 02:39 PM

I don’t see why Roush should have to give up that 5th car! Earier this year, Brian France came out and said that NASCAR is closely monitoring the situation between roush and Yates. Ya? Well, what about the relationship between Stewart-Haas and Hendrick? I don’t care what anyone says, that arrangement is 100% another two Hendrick teams, and Gene Haas’s name is nothing but a cover-up! And this was with Brian France’s blessing! BS!!! And now the rumour is that the Red Bull team will be switching to hendrick Chevys, and that over=rated punk Keselowski will replace Speed? This will then give “The Felon” 8 cars in the field on Cup day. And people jump down on Roush for his five teams? Give me a break! More proof that Rick Hendrick is in full control of NASCAR!

07/13/2009 08:41 PM

I didn’t feel like covering the whole Mayfield topic again. I already wrote a decently long post about it. I was just pointing out that the generic for Adderall doesn’t even have a name to cover the 3 types of amphetamine salts it is made up of.

And as everyone probably knows already, Claritin D contains pseudoephidrine, another type of amphetamine. So, as the judge correctly ruled, IMO, 4 different amphetamines could easily cause a false positive for methamphetamine.

Not to mention that sample B had the seal some how broken before being tested. What for??? Sounds like another Tim Richmond scandal. And they easily could have asked for another sample from Mayfield, but didn’t. They could even do a hair sample that would show drug usage as far back as his hair is long. NASCAR seems to just want Mayfield out of the sport and will end up losing another lawsuit like they did with Tim Richmond (settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.) The whole thing just stinks.

And they also seem to want Carl Long out of the sport. Some how they were able to determine that an engine that had the bottom end blow up was one 2,000th of an inch too big. Come on.

…and NASCAR wonders why their ratings are down.

07/13/2009 09:34 PM

NASCAR survived for years without strategically throwing cautions at the tail end of green flag runs or in the closing laps of the race, and they still can.”

That’s because NA$CAR used to have real racing and didn’t need “Lack of Competition” cautions (good name Andrew).

Kevin in SoCal
07/13/2009 10:08 PM

According to John Potts on Friday’s columns, NASCAR has had mystery cautions for as long as he has been around. He posted such an article about them a few weeks ago.

07/13/2009 11:32 PM

Nobody said they’ve never existed before. Heck, I’ve had them thrown during my late model races. But maybe once or twice a season, not to the extent NA$CAR has to use them to try to manufacture “excitement”.

Contact Mike Lovecchio