The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: 2008 Bud Shootout Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Sunday February 10, 2008

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: 2008 Bud Shootout Recap

Matt McLaughlin · Sunday February 10, 2008


The Key Moment: Even though Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had hung new teammate Jimmie Johnson out to dry a lap earlier, Johnson gave the No. 88 the push it needed on the final lap to beat Tony Stewart.

In a Nutshell: Maybe this Earnhardt / Hendrick pairing might work out all right after all.

Dramatic Moment: The last ten laps when the drivers got down to business had the crowd on its collective feet.

What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Combining Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s plate track prowess with Rick Hendrick's excellent plate track equipment might just make Junior unbeatable at Talladega and Daytona.

Note to Junior: Running over your new boss after winning your first race with the team would have been very poor form. Note to Rick Hendrick: Please ensure the car has come to a stop before leaping in front of it.

I guess Tony Stewart didn't get the memo about working with his extended Toyota teammates? Thank goodness.

Well, it sure didn't take Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch long to become reacquainted, did it? Stewart endured Media Day in a clearly bad mood, and that carried over on to the race track. The pit road confrontation was an early test of NASCAR's new policy of
“letting the boys be boys,” especially after Stewart allegedly punched Busch while the two were having a little chat in the NASCAR trailer.

Much was made of the fact that the Bud Shootout wasn't a points race. But for sheer pointlessness, it can't rival Daytona 500 qualifying. With only the top two drivers in the session locked into a starting spot, it's a wonder some of the smaller teams even bother trying to take their runs against the clock. Likewise, the Twin 150 Qualifying races — once some of the most exciting racing of Speedweeks — have lost a lot of their luster, with the Top 35 teams in last year's owner points locked into the field. With drivers having adopted the practice of dropping from good starting spots to the rear of the pack — treading cautiously until the final ten laps of the race — they might as well decide starting spots by lottery. Yeah, I'd say the thrill is gone… with all due apologies to B.B. King.

I find it interesting that Dario Franchitti is the media's prohibitive favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, yet Franchitti and his team still haven't landed a full season sponsor.

OK, it wasn't a surprise for me or anyone else in this country; but still, seeing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in anything other than the red No. 8 Bud car is going to take some getting used to.

Here’s something I don’t understand. They run the Bud Shootout at night… during the weekend, when most people have off. And they run the Qualifying races on Thursday, starting at 2:00 PM when most people are at work. Hmm… I'm seeing part of the problem with those declining ratings here.

He's back… and just as irritating as ever. Saturday night, I was thinking, “Gee, I hope I win the Powerball lottery tonight so I can quit my job.” Then, I was thinking, “Damn, I hope Darrell Waltrip wins the Powerball lottery tonight so he can quit his job.”

This week, Bruton Smith said that as part of his future pre-race antics, he'd like to feature parachuting pachyderms. That's right; elephants would (presumably) be pushed from airplanes, and then an automatically deploying parachute would allow them to float gently to earth. Um, fans might want to take cover when that happens. You thought pigeons and seagulls were bad? But it could never happen… right? Just remember, they laughed at Smith when he proposed building condos at his race tracks, as well.

Tony Stewart was not a man to be messed with this weekend at Daytona; unfortunately, Kurt Busch found out the hard way.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kurt Busch wrecked his primary car in the final moments of Friday night's practice, then apparently got punched right in the yap by Stewart inside the NASCAR trailer, no less. He was forced to start at the rear of the field in a backup car, but raced to the front before incidental contact caused a rubbing fender to cut down a tire. He lost a lap, got it back with a caution, then raced to the front… only to lose the car and go for a wild ride, dirt tracking the car around the bottom while watching his chances for a good finish go up in smoke. Oh, and for the record, Busch was battling the flu all weekend.

Bill Elliott's twentieth start in the Bud Shootout (or similar events with different names over the years) didn't end well. He cut down a tire and hit the wall hard after having also destroyed his primary car in Friday's final practice for the event.

Don't you just know that Budweiser had to be wincing, seeing their former driver win the event they sponsor in his first race with a new sponsor?

The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune

Earnhardt felt he had a tire left loose on his final stop, but this time, it didn't fall off on the race track.

Stewart survived that altercation with Kurt Busch in Friday's practice and didn't get his butt booted from the track for throwing a punch. He then went on to finish second in the Shootout, and nobody even made fun of his boy band haircut. Let’s just say it's going to take a few more years without barbers or razors for Stewart to pull off that Jerry Garcia “fat era” look.

Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both wrecked their primary cars in Friday night’s practice (there was a lot of that going around) and weren't very happy with their backup cars in the first twenty lap segment. Gordon even felt he had an engine going flat; still, they both came away with Top 5 finishes.

Worth Noting

  • Well, it looks like another long season for everyone else at first blush, as Hendrick-owned cars claimed four of the Top 6 finishing positions Saturday night. And something else hasn't changed, either… Casey Mears’ No. 5 car was found to be too low during post-race inspection. Conspiracists, start your engines!
  • The Top 10 finishers drove five Chevys, three Toyotas, and two Dodges. The best finishing Ford was Carl Edwards, who finished twelfth and hopefully got his long overdue bathroom break.
  • Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson were the only two drivers to post Top 10 finishes in the 2007 and 2008 Bud Shootouts. Mark Martin was the only other driver with Top 10s in both events. Stewart now has Top 5 finishes in the last four Shootouts.

What's the Points?

There aren't any. I just wish it would stay that way all season.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic): We'll give this one four-and-a-half cans of cold Budweisers. Yeah, good luck with that Kasey Kahne thing, guys.

Next Up: The Twin 150 Qualifying races are slated for Thursday, with the Daytona 500 to follow next Sunday. Temper your enthusiasm.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/11/2008 08:16 AM

For Tony Stewart, it’s still the Busch (as in Kurt) Clash!

Margo L
02/11/2008 08:27 AM

ESPN and FOX seem to listen to the fans about as well as NASCAR does . Fans have expressed their dislike for Waltrip ( both of them ) the constant pontificating by Joy , the murdering of the English language by the insufferable duo of Hammond and MacReynolds , along with the mystery of why Meyers is even on the broadcasts as he lends nothing to the show . Yet here we are at the start of a new season , and despite all of the complaints we still have to suffer the same cast of talking heads .
The saving grace of the terrible FOX production was the fact that the race was top notch .
By the way , how much does Hendrick pay DW and Mac to constantly shill for his organization ?

02/11/2008 09:26 AM

Wow..How can one article be so one sided? “Tony was in in bad mood on media day…”. Everything I saw showed him to be rather cordial and rather relieved to be racing again. Besides how many times can one guy answer the question “When are you going to cut your hair?”.

In this article there is not one mention of the fact that Kurt Busch used his car (once again) as a weapon because he felt his was wronged. Kurt continues to put crews and drivers in danger when he uses his car to smash into another driver on PIT ROAD. Kurt and Tony are not the guys that have to fix the cars..the crews are and on pit road they have the protection of their metal cages…crew members DO NOT. Kurt should have been parked for the Shootout. He’s seriously going to hurt someone one day!

02/11/2008 09:47 AM

Don’t you just love it when Larry Mac squeels “Hiiindrick “ like a little girl . So far in the fox tv casts , about 70% of the time has been used by dw and mac to tell us that rick hendrick is the second coming and that no other team in history is or ever will be as good . Of course the facts don’t back any of that up . Fox should tell them to tone down their hero worship of hendrick . They are sounding like they are trying to get a date with rick .

02/11/2008 04:10 PM

It’s Toyota’s world. Tony just drives in it. (sorry Matt)

I wish they’d restart double-file like that within 10 laps of all the races…that made for some sweet racing even on a plate track.

Irritated by Fox
02/11/2008 07:07 PM

Notice how the in car shots now have corresponding graphics? Expect more shots of nothing from the in cars while real racing is going on somewhere else on the track just so they can get the “Amp in car” graphics on the screen.

02/12/2008 03:38 PM

Larry Mac needs a little practice on pronouncing new drivers’ names. Hey Larry, it’s “Carpentier” not “Komparteeay”

02/13/2008 08:23 PM

“…Bruton Smith said that as part of his future pre-race antics, he’d like to feature parachuting pachyderms….”

Hahahaha…“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”