The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Food City 500 by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday March 17, 2008

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Food City 500

Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 17, 2008


The Key Moment: Denny Hamlin's car sputtered on the final restart, allowing Jeff Burton to storm into the lead.

In a Nutshell: Let's see what all the folks that said last year the new banking configuration ruined Bristol have to say now. Bristol is Bristol.

Dramatic Moment: Those final five laps had fans on their feet, and featured more plot twists then a good mystery novel.

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

So maybe this new track configuration at Bristol is going to work out OK, after all?

I guess gas prices are finally hitting NASCAR fans hard in the wallet, too. At Bristol, it seemed that there were a lot less RVs on the grounds around the track than in years past. But at eight miles per gallon for a class A truck, it's no wonder. Fans looking to economize with the current price of gas might want to wait until Charlotte in May to attend a race. Why? The track is offering an 89 dollar ticket package that gets a fan into qualifying, the Nationwide Race, and the World 600. That one has Humpy Wheeler's fingerprints all over it; 89 bucks is still 89 bucks, but it's a lot better than most ticket prices I've seen this year, and I just spent that much on a new carb for my new rat rod sand rail (which rewarded me by promptly setting itself on fire… which is why I won't be at Charlotte this year).

What an unexpected treat for race fans! Darrell Waltrip had laryngitis, and surely, it was no coincidence the race broadcast was far less annoying than the normal FOX coverage.

On the other hand, obviously there were computer scoring problems at Bristol that had those announcers who were able to talk spewing a constant barrage of misinformation. I understand some of the mistakes, but some statements like Tony Stewart was leading when Harvick drove into the side of him were obviously wrong to fans watching the race even casually.

Seeing that old ’80s Mountain Dew car just made the new ones look that much worse, didn't it?

Is NASCAR going to allow teams like Roush Fenway Racing and Petty Engineering to swap points between drivers to get folks like McMurray and Petty a guaranteed slot in the next few races? If so, shame on them, but they opened Pandora's Box when they allowed Roger Penske to do the same, swapping points between the No. 2 and No. 77 during the off season.

The Car of Tomorrow celebrated its first birthday this weekend. Big whoop; these rolling affronts to common sense deserved to be mechanically aborted before being brought to birth.

OK, maybe it is time to start wondering what's wrong with the No. 48 team and Johnson this year.

So, Goodyear now says that Tony Stewart won't be invited to any more tire tests? Given Stewart's passionate dislike of any sort of testing, this might be the worst punishment since Monty Python's Comfy Chair.

Rain was a constant for the first half of the weekend at Bristol, washing out Cup qualifying for the second time in five races this season.

Bad weather at a race track is a pain in the butt, and rain once again made a mess of qualifying and the Nationwide race this weekend. But sometimes, you need to keep things in perspective. It was just a week ago we were at Atlanta, and this week a tornado struck downtown in that city. An unthinkable tragedy was narrowly averted when that twister damaged an arena where a basketball playoff game was underway; luckily, the problems were minimal enough to leave the structure standing. Unfortunately, for a lot of folks in Atlanta right now, the weather is more than just an inconvenience; thoughts and prayers go out to the injured and those who lost their homes.

Well, someone slipped one under the noses of the censors. Watch the Matchbox 20 NASCAR promo carefully the next time. When the screen goes into Hollywood Square boxes near the end of the commercial, look at the box that’s the second from the right on the bottom row. That, friends, is Tim Richmond, NASCAR's forgotten legend; and, in a probably intentional bit of irony, the picture of Tim is replaced by one of the Bill Frances — Senior and Junior.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Denny Hamlin still had a legitimate shot at the win when his car stumbled on the final restart due to a fuel pickup problem. That's the same issue that cost Hamlin a shot at the win here last year, and caused him problems during the Fall Atlanta race as well.

Tony Stewart had a shot at the win and a Top 5 finish in the bag until Kevin Harvick drove into the side of him with three laps to go. I wonder if it was the crappy Goodyear tires on the No. 29 that forced Harvick's Chevy to wash up the track?

Kyle Busch was leading the race when his power steering failed and Busch backed it into the wall. That same issue ended Denny Hamlin's day last week; all in all, it was a tough day for the Joe Gibbs teams.

Dale Jarrett didn't exactly cloak himself in glory in his final Cup points race, riding a flat tire and an ill-handling car to a 37th place finish. To newer fans, I promise you Jarrett was a great driver in his era; the death knell came when he signed on as first mate of Michael Waltrip's sinking ship.

Kenny Schrader was having a solid Top 15 run, and seemed headed to the Top 10 when he got caught up in a wreck not of his making.

You have to imagine how pleased the folks at Sprint were to welcome the AT&T car to Victory Lane.

The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune

Jeff Burton is lucky there are old school team owners like Richard Childress still willing to put a 40-year-old driver in a competitive ride, rather than some pretty kid or an ex-open wheel star. Burton was also lucky to drive away unscathed after hard contact from the No. 48 car; but he survived, allowing Childress drivers to finish 1-2-3 at Bristol in giving Chevy their first win of the 2008 season.

Aric Almirola scored his first Top 10 finish in just his seventh career Cup start; even better, nobody forced him to get out of the car and turn over the wheel this time.

Kevin Harvick could easily have been eliminated when he tangled with the No. 20, but he was able to get the car straightened out well enough to drive to a second place finish. It also appeared that maybe Stewart was considering wrecking Harvick under caution, but cooled off before he reached the No. 29 car.

Kasey Kahne lost a lap after a penalty for speeding on pit road, but drove back to a solid seventh place finish.

Clint Bowyer had a pretty fair weekend, winning the rain-shortened Nationwide Series race and finishing third on Sunday.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. thought his goose was cooked like a Solex one barrel when yet another miscommunication between him and his crew chief saw the No. 88 car remain on the track during the ninth caution period. But Junior hung on to finish fifth; and, as expected, after the race he got to continue being Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It's tough to be any luckier than that.

Worth Noting

  • The Top 10 finishers drove five Chevys, three Fords, one Dodge, and a lone Toyota.
  • Regan Smith was the top finishing driver officially announced as a Rookie of the Year candidate with a 26th place result, though Almirola had a much better finish. If any of the official Rookie of the Year candidates win a race anywhere other than on a road course this season, I'll eat my "I don't care who wins as long as he doesn't drive a Toyota" cap.
  • Jeff Burton won for the first time since Texas last Spring.
  • Kevin Harvick (2nd) scored his fourth straight Top 10 finish this year. Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kasey Kahne are the only other drivers with four Top 10 results after five races heading into the Easter Break.
  • Clint Bowyer (3rd) enjoyed his best finish since Charlotte last Fall.
  • Kyle Busch has led laps in all five Cup races this season, in four of the five Nationwide races, and has won the last two CTS events. Other than that, he's off to a slow start this season compared to … oh, I don't know … Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • Greg Biffle has Top 5 finishes in the last three races.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has Top 10 finishes in the last three races, too. That might appear to be redundant information, but I've found that by mentioning Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as often as possible in a column, the volume of positive email I get outstrips the hogwash complaints from Toyota and Robby Gordon fans. Hey, if it works for TV, why not writers?
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leads the Most Popular Driver voting.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (4th) has Top 10 finishes in the last four Bristol Cup races. (I don't care what you heard on TV) Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer have Top 10 finishes in the last three Bristol Cup events.
  • Denny Hamlin (6th) has Top 10 finishes in two of the last three races, but has finished behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in each of them. (Editor’s Note : All right, Matt, that's enough of that.)
  • Matt Kenseth (10th) has Top 10 finishes in three of the last four races. He was the only former Cup champion to post a Top 10 at Bristol.
  • Jimmie Johnson has averaged a 20th place finish in the last three races. Jeff Gordon is averaging just a 19th place finish this season. They are teammates with (Matt, what did I just get done telling you!)
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (15th) has Top 20 finishes in the last four races. He was born in a different country than (MATT!)

What's the Points?

The top three drivers in the standings held serve after Bristol. However, Kyle Busch is now just thirty points ahead of Greg Biffle, with Kevin Harvick three points behind Biffle in third.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. advanced a spot to fifth in the standings, well ahead of his three teammates and only 96 points out of the lead. Let’s put it this way: NASCAR officials and TV network brass are busy doing cartwheels across their plush corporate office suites.

Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, and Tony Stewart each advanced a spot to fourth, sixth, and seventh, respectively. And if their last name was Earnhardt, people might care…

Clint Bowyer was the biggest mover; he skyrocketed seven positions to ninth, while Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to 11th. Despite his fuel problems, Denny Hamlin jumped up four spots to 15th.

On the flip side, Ryan Newman tumbled four spots to eighth, and suddenly, the Daytona 500 feels like a long time ago for the No. 12 team. After a tough day, Martin Truex, Jr. fell one spot to 12th, while Brian Vickers had the worst drop of all; he fell eight spots to 17th.

Despite substandard starts to their seasons, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lurk just outside the Top 12 in 13th and 14th, respectively.

In owner points, Sam Hornish, Jr. and the No. 77 team advanced into the coveted 35th place points position that guarantees them a spot in the race at Martinsville. That means that after finishing dead last at Bristol (43rd), Jamie McMurray's team lurks four points out of the Top 35, and will have to make the race on speed.

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 bottles of icy cold Corona. It wasn't the best Bristol race ever, but it certainly was the best race of the young 2008 season.

Next Up: The series takes a week off to celebrate the solemnity and joy of Easter. Racing resumes in two weeks’ time at Martinsville, Virginia… Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be there! (And you might not be, Matt…)

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


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

03/17/2008 03:24 AM

Matt – “OK, so maybe this new track configuration at Bristol is going to work out OK after all?”

So, what hasn’t that been the case after a tracks resurfacing? The hand wringers after last year’s Bristol race were just displaying their misguided hate CoT. Nothing more.

“I guess gas prices are finally hitting NASCAR fans hard in the wallet too. It seemed that there were a lot less RVs on the grounds around the track than in year’s past.”

Oh, what a shocker, you mean it’s not the presence of Toyota that has driven fans to stay home or watch on the tube BTW!!!

Wonders never cease.

“Is NASCAR going to allow teams like Roush and Petty Engineering to swap points between drivers to get folks like McMurray and Petty a guaranteed slot in the next few races?”

Are you advocating NASCAR make stuff up as they go along? There’s no rule on the books that disallows it. If I were to guess, Roush won’t Petty will make the swap.

With a bit of luck neither will.

03/17/2008 07:53 AM

I swore up and down I would not watch a race this year, just tired of the coverage, and more so NA$CAR itself. But, after doing some work on Sunday, went upstairs and just before dinner turned the old TV on just to see either who won, or what the running order was.

Was I stupid to do this or what??? Turned the TV on, about 60 laps to go, all I wanted to see was the current running order, and guess what????

All the scroll at the top of the screen would show was the top ten!!!

33 cars forgotten!! Only the top ten scrolled across the top of my screen! TEN!!! Then after several frustrating sequences, they started scrolling the entire field, and then guess what?? At about 20th place they cut to a commercial! So I still did not know!

And then the commentators were quick to comment when Harvick booted Tony out of the way: “well, did you see Tony slow up suddenly giving Harvick no where to go”??

No wonder I lose interest!!

Folks, both the sport and the coverage is sick these days!

And by the way!! JR. SUCKS! What a jerk!

03/17/2008 08:07 AM

Jamie will have to do it on his own. Roush needs to downsize after this year to four teams. I can’t believe they would sacrifice Matt to save Jamie.

03/17/2008 08:34 AM

Not only were there fewer RV’s but few fans in the stands as well. The economy, a reconfigured Bristol and poor racing overall will keep them away. I watched the F1 race, tuned over to FOX for a bit, didn’t hear Darrell, then took my family to see Horton Hears a Who. A great afternoon!

03/17/2008 09:15 AM

Thank you very much. After three years of hearing and reading that Jr is an untalented, over-rated driver who is riding on his daddy’s coattails, it is a pleasure to read something good about him. I hope your editor won’t mind if you do it again sometime. I think I like you.

03/17/2008 11:05 AM

Too bad there were only ten cars running at bristol. At least this is the way FOX displayed it. What idiot decided this? The other issue is there were other drivers moving up, since they did not show it, and now you cannot even “watch “ the order change terrible broadcast, beginiing to think I am done watching. crappy broadcast.

03/17/2008 11:31 AM

Race broadcast was far less annoying? I turned on the TV with 100 to go, and first time I heard DW, I thought someone was being stabbed in the booth. When I figured out what was really going on, made my stomach turn every time, and tried to mute. Does FOX and DW think that we need to hear what DW thinks so bad that we are willing to listen to someone who sounds like they are gargling their own vomit? Gimme a break and send him home. About made me hurl every time I had to listen to that crap. Unbeleivable. My mute button got some use, anyhow. Disgusting.

Kevin in SoCal
03/17/2008 12:35 PM

Dale Jr has some talent, but he IS over-rated and he IS riding on his father’s coattails. If his name was Dale Smith Jr he wouldnt even be half as popular as he is.

And I still dont get all the hate for new car. Is it the splitter? Is it the wing? Is it the sameness amongst all the brands? Is it because the drivers dont like it? Or is it just because you guys hate change. Was there this much hate for the new Cup car back in ’81? Or when they changed to purpose-built race cars instead of buying one off the lot? Probably not because you didnt have the internet to form your opinions for you and voice your complaints.

03/17/2008 12:59 PM

I was at Bristol and, until he wrecked, the most entertaining show on the track was Kenny Schrader working traffic to stay on the lead lap. He hung on and hung on until a caution brought many of the leaders in on twenty-lap tires. That moved him into the top-15 and he drove up to 11th in the BAM car before getting caught up in a wreck. It reminded me of how much fun it is to be at the track and see the racing they don’t cover on TV. Even the radio guys blew it by giving a nod to Paul Menard for being in 15th in his TEI ride, when Schrader was up in 11th.

It’s a shame the media guys focus so much on the top ten when there’s great racing going on back in the pack.

03/17/2008 01:14 PM

When the downsized cars arrived in 81 everybody hated them. For one thing they had a nasty habit of getting airborne and rolling wildly. NASCAR changed the rules theree or four times during speedweeks trying to keep the cars on the ground and equalize speeds betwen brands. Eventually they stripped Bobby Allison’s dominant H+Grand Prix of so much spoiler it was no longer competitive. Just about every race the next two years was won by a Buick Regal. So much for parity.

Ironically the biggest and most vocal opponent of the new car in 81 was Darrell Waltrip. He said the cars were based on the same shitboxes Detroit couldn’t sell and they’d never make a good race car. So why did he accept that car yesterday?

03/17/2008 01:20 PM

Hey Kevin in SoCal!! If one reads what ALL the drivers say, either indirectly or directly, the CoT drives like a piece of CRAP!

It does not handle like a “REAL RACE CAR”, it is simply a huge chunk of metal the drivers try to manhandle around a race track!

A race car should be “nimble”, and “quick on it’s feet”, allowing the driver to place the car where he wants to go!

With the CoT, they just aim the blasted thing and HOPE it goes where it is pointed! All at 190MPH or so! It is a true “hang on” situation.

NA$CAR today is not so much about racing a competitor, than it is racing the car your driving and trying to keep up with it!

NA$CAR did not put enough thought or engineering into this thing, and it is ruining the show!

It, the CoT, is simply a slug!! It is not a race car!

Kevin in SoCal
03/17/2008 01:34 PM

With the technology improving in engines and suspensions, it wont be long before we would need restrictor plates at some of the bigger and faster tracks. This “slug” is supposedly NASCAR’s way of slowing everyone down for a few years.

03/17/2008 01:38 PM

It’s hard to take your “I’ll eat my “I don’t care who wins as long as he doesn’t drive a Toyota” cap.” comment seriously when your overall rating uses a foreign beer.

You know, you could have used Coors, Coors Lite, Millet Lite, or even – gadzooks – Budweiser! They used to sponsor Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ya know, and just those two mentions alone would garner you more positive feedback.

03/17/2008 01:51 PM

Yer going to have to trust me I’ve used my fair share of Coors Light, Bud and Genny Cream Ale in the day.

As for Corona, well that’s my once in a blue moon beer at the price. If all Toyoyta were half again the price of a Ford, I’d have no isue with them

Steve M.
03/17/2008 02:38 PM

Every time I heard DW try to speak yesterday all I YELLED at the tv was to get him off the air and how everyone was gonna be commenting today about how bad a decision it was to let him utter a single word on live television. And guess what? I was right!! And to all of you who hated the new “top 10 ticker” on the tops of your tv screens, well, count me in with you all; whoever came up with that great idea should have his or her ass kicked. Lastly, to be honest, I wish there were more track owners like Humpy out there. Not unlike a Garth Brooks concert, where he keeps his ticket prices at around $25 so everyone can enjoy one of his shows, Humpy is trying to remember that it’s us middle-class folks that make him all his money. Hell, I’m looking at ticket prices to Chicago right now…they START at $190 each!!! Wish I could make it down to your race Humpy.

03/17/2008 03:27 PM

Kevin in SoCal “Probably not because you didnt have the internet to form your opinions for you and voice your complaints.”

BINGO, you win a cupie doll for the correct answer.

Put another way the internet allows people to write before they think, and do it from afar and generally anonymously. In some cases that leads to a herd mentality and they jump on the latest meme floating around the “Sphere that week regardless of its value or validity.

03/17/2008 03:36 PM

I believe the original public forum for dissent was the soapbox, followed by the printing press. Even in the non-electronic 1700s a bunch of agitators not happy with the way things were going were able to forment enough discord to give birth to this nation.

03/17/2008 04:33 PM

Matt “Eventually they stripped Bobby Allison’s dominant H+Grand Prix of so much spoiler it was no longer competitive. Just about every race the next two years was won by a Buick Regal. So much for parity.

Bobby wasn’t competitive in the 500 that year? The hell you say?

Is that an example of faulty memory or an exercise in “creative writing” in support of your theory?

Allison led 117 laps of the 200 hundred run, how is that not competitive?

The single reason he didn’t win and Petty did is due to less tire wear on the Petty Buick and pit stop strategy on the last stop of the day.

We all have dusty memories at times, but in this day and age the truth is out there. On the other hand some people would rather not be bothered with the truth.

P.S. Bobby drove a LeMans in Daytona not a “H+Grand Prix.”

Matt quoting Waltrip:

“He said the cars were based on the same shitboxes Detroit couldn’t sell and they’d never make a good race car.”

Guess Waltrip should have shut up and drove instead. (Assuming he actually came close to saying that)

The Monte Carlos sales went up by 25% in 1981.

However. looking at the overall picture in 1981 revels sales of all domestic produced cars were on average down because of high gas prices and, and Matt this will P.O. you, one out of every four cars sold in 1980 were imports.

That was a result of a tidal wave of government regulations mandating fuel economy, emissions control and improved safety made it difficult for the less-than-efficient American auto makers to survive during the economic crisis of the late 1970s, hence the near-collapse of Chrysler.

03/17/2008 05:05 PM

Anyone who watched Toyota and Honda destroy CART (tragically) and the IRL (mercifully) knows the dangers of Toyota in NASCAR. You’re still one of the few who truly understand things, Matt. Good column, as always.

03/17/2008 05:50 PM

Eventually as in in the week’s after the Daytona 500. Or do we need to have a metaphysical discussion of the term “eventually” and its varied uses?

Starting at Darlington on April 12 1981 the Ranier team Bobby drove for switched to Buicks because NASCAR had rendered their Pontiacs uncompetitive. The team fielded the Pontiac again at Martinsville cause it’s not an aero track and Allison won at Talladega the following week in a Buick.

For a full discussion of the aerodynamics rules changes see Greg Fielden’s Forty Years of Stock Car Racing Volume Four Pages 319-323

Margo L
03/17/2008 05:53 PM

Yeah , Toyota and Honda will destroy racing by dominating it . Just the way Offenhauser did . Oh wait , they didn’t destroy anything . Or maybe the way that the small block Chevrolet , totally dominant in racing for the past 50 years destoyed racing . No wait , that didn’t happen either . Oh , i know . Like the Hemi destroyed drag racing as the engine of choice since the day it was introduced . You know , i can’t think of one instance where a car manufacturer was able to destroy racing . What destroys racing , and might eventually destroy NASCAR is ridiculous rules , poor management , and greed .

03/17/2008 05:56 PM

Tim “Anyone who watched Toyota and Honda destroy CART (tragically) and the IRL (mercifully) knows the dangers of Toyota in NASCAR. You’re still one of the few who truly understand things, Matt. Good column, as always.”

And you must be one of the few, along with Matt, who wants, dare I say needs, to lay all the blame on Toyota.

Right! Lets absolve Tony G and Champ Car’s co-owners, Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe of all blame and lay it at the feet of Toyota.

It wouldn’t have a thing to do with KK & Forsythe not being able to start a good arson fire in a match factory would it? Nope it’s all Toyota’s fault!

And of course it was all Toyota’s fault CCWS lost teams owned by Bobby Rahal and David Letterman, Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi to the IRL wasn’t it Tim?

Well wasn’t it?

03/17/2008 06:34 PM

I’d have to say the dominance of the Penske Porsches driven by Mark Donahue destroyed the once vibrant Can Am series that had been envisioned as America’s answer to F1. It was a fascinating series in the day with very liberal rules. I seem to recall one car that was powered by four snowmobile engines, one at each wheel.

And when the factories pulled out of the Trans Am A series which had been a playground for Javelins, Mustangs, Camaros, Cougars, Darts, Cudas, Challengers and Trans Ams, and the SCCA allowed foreign cars in and liberalized the “stock appearing” rule interest in the series plummeted. I’m sure Marc can cite some bar in Anchorage Alaska where interest actually increased in the Trans Am series once the furriners were in, but short of digging through 25 year old copies of Car and Driver to get exact quotes and citations I can’t convince him otherwise. And it’s nice out, the sun is still out and the buggy needs work. See Ya’ll.

Kevin in SoCal
03/17/2008 07:45 PM

Thanks Marc, I wasnt sure if anyone else caught my last sentence there. It sure seems like people are taking the popular opinion on things instead of thinking for themselves. Then again, I guess that’s why its the popular opinion, right?

03/18/2008 01:40 AM

Matt “I’m sure Marc can cite some bar in Anchorage Alaska where interest actually increased in the Trans Am series once the furriners were in,”

Actually I believe it was in the bar in Star Trek, which is about as far out as you are with some of your facts.

That aside it was you I believe that had to dig back nearly a decade to mount a snipe attack on ISC over allegedly not caring enough about installing SAFER barriers. The reality is, and was you could have a bit more intellectually honest and cited the ongoing work at Darlington. That by some indications may be beyond your capabilities.

03/18/2008 02:02 AM

Matt “Eventually as in in the week’s after the Daytona 500. Or do we need to have a metaphysical discussion of the term “eventually” and its varied uses?”

Metaphysical discussion?

Interesting you should use that term considering it’s defined as “highly abstract, subtle, or abstruse” and pretty much describes what you’ve done with this comment in an effort to avoid the obvious.

Just prior to any “eventualities” you very plainly stated rules were changed during the 1981 Speedweeks, specifically.. “theree or four times during speedweeks trying to keep the cars on the ground and equalize speeds betwen brands.” is what the contentions was.

You correctly pin-pointed the aero difficulties in the new body style but clearly implied Allison suffered for the changes during the event.

A patently false statement then continued to “support” that by claiming no one was buying the small sized car for the street.

Again far from the whole truth as evidenced by increased Monte Carlo sales for one example. Many factors went into the lagging industry not the least of which was an economy that sucked hind teat on a boar hog thanks Carter being in office.

But what the hell it was all NASCAR’s fault just as it is with it being all Toyotas fault now right?

03/18/2008 07:17 AM

The Can-Am didn’t need Porsche to kill it , it commited suicide . Great series , great racing , great cars . Poor decisions on the part of the sanctioning body killed Can-Am. Manufacturers had nothing to do with it .
The Trans-Am series was an off-shoot of SCCA road racing . And SCCA road racing survives very nicely today , evil import cars and all .

03/18/2008 08:56 AM

….but clearly implied Allison suffered for the changes during the event.

No you’re just being argumentitive and looking for something to snipe at me about. I’ll leave it to the rest of the folks here to decide if I said that Allison suffered during the Daytona 500 over and above the sitting out two rounds of qualifying to protest the reduced spoiler on his Poncho.

And I’m surely not going to debate politics with you. You want to blame Carter for thwe malaise of the 70s go right ahead.

Racer X
03/18/2008 12:52 PM

Geez Matt, I bet you didn’t expect a Spanish Inquisition.
I will correct one thing though, I believe the Can Am car you’re talking about was the Chapparal “sucker” car. It had a normal drive train but had 2 snowmobile engines powering fans that created a vacuum under the car.

03/18/2008 02:51 PM


how bout getting your own damn column? You have some salient points, but all I see is refuting for the sake of refuting everything Matt writes and again, you are successfully hijacking this thread.

You’re akin to a sports talk caller who won’t give up and doesn’t realize that people aren’t tuning in or “logging on” to read or listen to him.

I’ll help you:

Joe said:”“

One question for either of you guys. Which Daytona was it where Bobby Allison’s spoiler flew off? Was that the 82 race? Also, would like either or both of your thoughts.

03/18/2008 03:22 PM

Personally you go Mark. It’s pretty easy to take apart one of his columns isn’t it? The world according to Matt doesn’t fly with everyone, thank you.

03/18/2008 05:30 PM

I have been following you around for a lot of years and have enjoyed it.Glad you have thick skin.Hang in there.

03/18/2008 08:01 PM

Joe “Marc, how bout getting your own damn column? You have some salient points, but all I see is refuting for the sake of refuting everything Matt writes and again, you are successfully hijacking this thread.”

Now that’s HI-larious!

How about you opening your eyes and look one of two places:

1. My name on each post that leads to my “column.”

2. Just below this comment form and that little thingy labeled “Full Throttle.”

That’s me and has been for four plus years.

Where’s your “column” Joe?

And BTW, you haven’t clue #1 what “hijacking” a thread means.

03/18/2008 08:16 PM

Gee, I guess I’m just a dumb country hick too. I had no idea your name led to another site either.

I had me a look while the Permatex holding the gaskets to my valve covers on the buggy dried.

Here’s a hint from someone who had been doing this for more than four whole years. If’n I were you I’d be a bit more concerned about what you’re writing than what I’m writing. I’ll take the giant bunny suit thing under advisement though. I haven’t laughed that hard since my last root canal.

03/18/2008 08:36 PM

marc said “inane BS”

I haven’t a clue what hijacking a thread is? It is what you do with your every single bitch moan and complaint about what Matt writes. You know what, if you don’t like his material don’t read it. You’re actually the dumbass giving frontstretch your business by the number of hits.

I’m sure you’ll have some great refuting or something of that sort that you’ll cobble together at 1:34 am or whatever, but I’m kinda tired of it. Now if you guys were to do a point/counterpoint sort of thing, that’s great, but all I see is you can follow but you can’t lead. If you had a site, I’d love to read your stuff so that we could poke holes in every damn sentence you write.

03/18/2008 08:48 PM

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with everything Matt writes. I don’t agree with his assertion that Toyota is the death knell of NASCAR, but he was one of the guys railing for safety in the pre- 2001 days. I don’t think he’s all that off-base about drivers being better back in the day because they had personality, they were more accessible back then, and they weren’t the media whores that they are now. I remember as recently as 1996 that I could go and shoot the crap and have a beer with Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven, Robby Gordon, Randy Lajoie, in the infield during Speedweeks. Those days are long gone and I like Matt wish that the access was like it was back then. Times change. Maybe the racing wasn’t as great as there were many times that you’d only see 4 or 5 cars on the lead lap and partial fields and races took place at venues like Riverside, North Wilkesboro, Hickory, Richmond Fiargrounds, Texas World Speedway, etc. and not California, New Hampshire, Dover, Miami, Chicago, Kansas City. Also, TNN and TBS covered the races and you’d hear Buddy Baker’s cackle or Eli Gold with Glen Jarrett in the pits and you didn’t have the contrived “entertainment” or a name the camera that is destined to get lodged in some driver’s radiator or worse some day contest.

I personally watch hoping to see a race end like Bristol this week, or Daytona last year and not for ancilliary garbage that the suits at Daytona Beach have force fed us since 2001.

If that makes me “behind the times” then I guess that’s me.

03/18/2008 08:51 PM

marc’s site

Born and “semi-raised” (Isn’t there a kid in all of us?) in the Mid-West, Marc’s first attraction to “go fast” machines went down the 1/4 mile. Try as he might to hang on to the Daddy Garlits, RAMCHARGERS A/FX Dodge and A/FX Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt era of the sport, he wandered over to the local 1 mile and 1/2 mile dirt ovals. It was all over…if it raced it had to turn. Left!

That led to an aborted five year career as a figure eight driver that ended with a T-bone crash at the intersection and calls for an immediate appointment with the nearest shrink. The appointment was missed.

That explains it all.

03/18/2008 10:25 PM

Matt “Here’s a hint from someone who had been doing this for more than four whole years.”

“Doing this?” Meaning what, blogging? If so good on ya, but based on your past performance I’m not impressed and any “hints” will fall on mostly deaf ears. (not to mention not having a clue what your own software is capable of)

03/18/2008 10:35 PM

Joe “That explains it all.”

Sure does explain it, and far more than your “column” as you put it.

Oh wait, you don’t have one, sorry.

Lets see if a little instruction takes:

Thread hijacking: Defined as posting a blog comment or forum comment that is wildly off topic in an attempt to drive the conversation from it’s intended subject.

Now Joe, and Matt for that matter, can you quote anything that has done that and has not been in direct response to what was asked and answered of me?

P.S. Matt, guess your “boss” here (Tom Bowles) thinks my blog deserves more credit than you give, it’s been linked here from it’s inception.

03/18/2008 11:10 PM

I’m sorry you’re deaf.

I’m even sorrier you have software problems. Never had that issue. Try Viagra.

I never had much use for this whole blogging thing. When I used to “blog” I’d just call it Random Notes to indicate I had a bunch of ideas about a possible column but none of them were worthy of an entire column so here’s the first paragraph of what I might have written.

Hey, maybe this blogging thing is the future and you’re going to be Blog-Meister Nasty Z but I’m still a rock and roll, hot rod and hamburger guy. Rap,hybrids and tofu don’t do it for me.

03/19/2008 01:18 AM

Matt “I’m sorry you’re deaf. I’m even sorrier you have software problems. Never had that issue. Try Viagra.”

Typical response from you. Heaven forbid you stay on topic, and the moon would have to crash into earth prior to actually correcting factual errors posted on your part.

And have a fun and prosperous Easter. Even without the Bunny Suit.

P.S. And BTW you’re free to stop by Full Throttle anytime in an Easter Eg…. er sorry, a factual error hunt.

Be glad to demonstrate to you how they are corrected.

03/19/2008 07:18 AM

marc said “oh, you don’t have one!”

burn. got me. I assume you DO know how many of these columns work as the glut of NASCAR related sites are one of the negatives to following NASCAR and has given it pro wrestling status. I used to write for a website but hey anyone can if the webmaster deems it to be fit to print. You think all of these web writers have press credentials at Sprint Cup races? If they do, I doubt they get more access than a regular fan would. I doubt seriously they get into the driver’s meeting, garages, driver’s lot or any place like that. So in effect website writers are alot like handicappers, they all have their “sources” all think they’re credible, but in the end they regurgitate what is already out there. Hell, even Jayski doesn’t get the scoops like he used to back in the pre-FOX days, and many times it’s some hotshot webbie trying to make a name for himself and cannot substantiate it.

Look, it’s quaint that you have your very own website and see yourself as an authority on racing. I saw some of your stuff it wasn’t bad. Kind of covers a lot of racing forms. But, you come across as very petty especially seeing that you have your own site and you seemingly hammer Matt at every article. I’m sure you can reference one or 2 where you don’t so save it. You come across like the new kid in town trying to throw sand in the bully’s eyes to be king of the mountain.

As for the that explains it all comment, I was referring to your aborted career due to a T bone crash at a figure 8 race. Hell, I race go karts at the local fun center. Loren Wallace wouldn’t hold a candle to me.

Guess that makes me an expert too.

03/19/2008 03:58 PM

“Which Daytona was it where Bobby Allison’s spoiler flew off? Was that the 82 race?”


That was the 1982 Daytona 500, and it wasn’t the spoiler, it was the back bumper. (Yipes!) I saw it happen live on CBS, and IIRC, part of the rear bodywork above the rear bumper came off too. Some people claimed Gary Nelson, Allison’s Crew Chief, intended the bumper to come off the car.


03/19/2008 05:55 PM

Joe “I assume you DO know how many of these columns work as the glut of NASCAR related sites are one of the negatives to following NASCAR and has given it pro wrestling status.

So, that means you believe that’s true of MLB, MBA and NFL who all have far more blogs and other news sources that follow those sports. Right? That makes zero sense, popularity breeds media coverage of all types.

“I used to write for a website but hey anyone can if the webmaster deems it to be fit to print.

Your ignorance is showing, again. In todays age YOU are the webmaster and don’t need the ok or approval. Wanna get on line, blogger offers free service, so does and a few others.

Does that end up allowing a “glut” of sites as you call them?

Sure does and that’s where your childish cherry picking of a past incident pulled from my “about page” is nonsensical and again… very childish.

Every tom dick and jane can and do get online and write but not everyone gains the creditability and interest to stay around.

Rather than take one small incident and make a sad attempt at attacking me an honest effort by you would have included noting FT has been a finalist in 3 of the last 4 weblog award events going against some media giants like Deadspin blog Gawker Media, and’s blog.

With just a bit more effort you would have noted FT is rated among the top ten NASCAR blogs in the Sports Blog Index

Check the refs and how those blogs are rated Joe, check who that organization represents then try to claim the “glut” of NASCAR sites are in the same league.

But that would take an honest effort and interest on your part rather than spending less than 5 minutes on site and pulling what you thought was a slam against me.

You slammed yourself, not me.

“But, you come across as very petty especially seeing that you have your own site and you seemingly hammer Matt at every article. I’m sure you can reference one or 2 where you don’t so save it.”

No I won’t save it again you assume something not close to reality.

Fact, his posts only caught my “interest” with his factless, racist diatribe (along with many in that comment thread) against Toyota that was posted approx two weeks ago. Matt has posted dozens of article prior to that that have been read by me and was left uncommented by me.

And frankly as a long-time reader of Frontstretch I was very surprised Tom Bowles ever let that piece of trash hit the net, it was far, very far below the standards normally associated with this site over the last 4 years.

“You come across like the new kid in town trying to throw sand in the bully’s eyes to be king of the mountain.

Well, as already noted I’m hardly the new kid in town, but here’s a question for you.

Isn’t it common to write into whatever news source you choose, (NYT, WaPo whatever) asking for corrections to things they print or put on line?

Why shouldn’t a blog that contains errors be called on to do the same thing?

And what does it say about an author that not only doesn’t correct the errors but ignores the fact they were brought to his or her attention?

On that note, I’ll give you the same offer I gave Matt, find a factual error at FT (surely they exist because no one is perfect and over time circumstances changes what once were factual at the time of writing) point it out and I’ll demonstrate how an honest author operates.

I won’t alter my normal respiration rate waiting, that would actually require you to take more time than you want to spend. Your efforts as already proven are limited to finding what you “think” are the most damning to me and fir into your agenda and nothing more.

03/19/2008 07:14 PM

Joe –
Please don’t respond. Save us from this agony.

I know you have better things to do.

PS: The “trash” comment really got to me.

03/19/2008 09:40 PM

I’ll leave it be as I doubt I will be afforded the last word anyway. You win Marc. Feel free to post that on your award winning “site”

Thanks for the info on the 82 Daytona race. I did mean to say rear bumper not spoiler as that would be a heck of a feat to run 200 with no spoiler. Bobby Allison was ahead of his time. Ashame he had to endure the tragedy that he has had to.

Ren Jonsin
03/19/2008 10:08 PM

Just to clear up a couple of things,

The software on the site is MY software. Matt’s nice enough to use it. He really doesn’t have to know how everything about it works, just how to enter his article and hit the publish button. We’ve got seven editors to handle the rest. Actually, most of the editors don’t know how to do everything on the site. Heck, I built the site and own the site along with Tom and Kim DeHaven and still don’t know everything that Textpattern is capable of.

Second, the reason your site is linked at the bottom is because yours is the only other NASCAR site I take the time to read on a regular basis. I’m a big Marc fan actually, the only way I’d like it better was if it was on the Frontstretch. The rest of the links are there out of obligation or because a Frontstretch staff member or alumni is either the owner or a contributor. Actually, Darren’s is there mainly because I like his site (One Bad Wheel for those that don’t know Darren) but also because we use his next race widget in the message group.

Finally, the Frontstretch isn’t a blog. We’re a NASCAR website that offers news, commentary and features along with a newsletter, message board and fantasy games. More of an internet magazine I guess. If we are a blog though, we were a blog before blogs were cool since we’ve been doing this for over eight years. Since we aren’t a blog Joe, we do have access to areas that most don’t. Nearly every race weekend, at least one Frontstretch staffer is at the track, either with Frontstretch credentials, or with another entity that is covering the race.

But please, we don’t care what you call us, just keep coming back!

03/19/2008 10:25 PM

One big problem Ren,

I never called frontstretch a blog.

Those were your boy Marc’s words, not mine.

Ren Jonsin
03/19/2008 10:38 PM

Not a big problem, I never said you did. Even if I did, if that’s your idea of a big problem, I’ll take all of yours for one of mine! lol


03/19/2008 10:48 PM

no sweat man, this site is strictly for entertainment. I mean you guys aren’t like the crew chiefs and drivers who may be here today gone tomorrow. We can all agree we follow (and you guys cover) NASCAR for the love of the sport and if there are things you (writers) feel are good or bad with the direction you feel things are going and react accordingly.

I think you can agree that you get people like Matt because he elicits a reaction, good or bad. We can all agree there really is not much middle ground with Matt’s writing.

No such thing as bad press right?

03/21/2008 06:46 PM

Ren “Call us what you want marc, and if your cat has kittens in the oven you can go ahead and call them biscuits, but the fact is that that’s a narrow view of what Textpatten is.”

It’s not what I call it Ren, it’s what a lot of others call it and what it was first designed to do. Text Pattern made the marketing decision to go “upscale” by using the term Contact Managment System vice blog.

This is not the best source but note the list.

You can also note from way back how it was listed as blog software.

It’s nothing more than semantics, some developers call it blog software others use the term CMS, but in the end they all other the same end product, a blog.

Ren Jonsin
03/21/2008 09:48 PM

Really? Well then check out these “blogs” all powered by Textpattern:

Popular Wedding Favors
Makeup by Celso
Grainne Crowley Interior Design
Laser Treatment Centre

Textpattern is a tool. It can be used to make any kind of website and is a very capable tool for web logs too.

NASA’S Astrobiology site (alpha stage)