The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Richmond Edition by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday May 5, 2008

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Richmond Edition

Matt McLaughlin · Monday May 5, 2008


The Key Moment: Second place Kyle Busch spun Dale Earnhardt, Jr. out of the lead, but it was Clint Bowyer who drove through the carnage to eventually assume the win as the yellow flag flew.

In a Nutshell: It ain’t over until it’s over — and sometimes it isn’t over even when it is over.

Dramatic Moment: When Denny Hamlin’s tire started deflating, it set off a dizzying chain of events over the final twenty laps.

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

Kyle Busch had a pretty clever plan for winning the race. I hope he had an equally clever plan to get out of Richmond alive. But before you toss stones (or beer bottles), ask yourself this question: if Dale Jr. had wrecked the No. 18 car with the exact same move, would you have thought it was dirty pool, or just good hard racing with three laps to go on a short track?

While they may still be trying to find a way to sneak Busch out of Richmond under the cover of darkness (and I can’t imagine how ugly it would have gotten if Busch had actually won), someone might want to order a suicide watch placed on Junior. He’s sounded beyond despondent these last couple of weeks.

Did Denny Hamlin park his car up against the wall to draw the caution in order to give his Toyota teammate Kyle Busch another shot at the win?

There’s one thing about a fight between Kyle Busch and Steven Wallace; a lot of fans wish both could lose. Wallace has been trying hard to show some maturity and patience this year, with mixed results at best. Now, it’s Kyle’s turn to try and give this maturity thing a shot; his older brother Kurt has, by and large, reigned in his immature conduct, so a turnaround is possible if Busch would only try. He might want to start by reviewing tapes of how Mark Martin battled the M&M’s Toyota for second in the final two laps before settling for third.

Kyle Busch will have a lot of reflecting to do this week after a late race incident with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ignited the anger of many NASCAR fans.

Of course, Kyle Busch can also be his own worst enemy. In post-race comments, the 23-year-old tried to paint himself as the victim of the incident he clearly caused. He then castigated one of the No. 88 crew members for daring to come confront him after the race when, in fact, he did the exact same thing after Friday’s Nationwide event. Busch said he’s going to have to “put up” with the rage of Earnhardt Nation after this mess. Well, how about if he just tried a different approach instead: “I screwed up, and I’m sorry it happened. I’ve been screwing up a lot lately because of my eagerness to win; I’m going to learn from this mistake, and move on down the highway.” A heartfelt apology might have gone a long way towards letting Busch visit a burger joint this week without a SWAT team in tow.

The three drivers who are arguably the biggest stars in the sport — Earnhardt, Gordon and Stewart — have still failed to win a race this year.

If they handed out trophies for almost winning races, Denny Hamlin would need a bigger house.

You think these open wheel stars who decided to go NASCAR racing are ready to hitchhike back home yet?

Who are the real winners as Jack Roush and Carl Edwards signed a contract extension while Roush and Greg Biffle seem poised to do the same? The remaining potential, high profile free agents like Ryan Newman and Martin Truex, Jr. just saw their price tag ratchet up a few notches. But the true keystone to this year’s Silly Season is where Tony Stewart might or might not end up next year. Oh, and Jamie McMurray might want to start brushing up his resume if Roush is going to be limited to four teams next year.

In an apparent about face, NASCAR decided this week to appoint a committee to study potential changes to their drug testing policy. Anytime I hear the word “committee,” I think of two things; the Pontiac Aztek designed by committee rather than visionaries, and the old quote about the beach being littered with the bleached bones of those with good intentions who never moved forward.

Will the last mechanic who hasn’t worked as crew chief for Robby Gordon please turn out the lights at RGR when he leaves?

Maybe another post-race dyno test is in order? These Toyotas look all but unbeatable lately.

Why won’t FOX show what’s going on at the track when it turns ugly? And while we’re at it, how much longer is ol’ DW going to change his tune more often than a jukebox? First, Hamlin was throwing away his lead looking in the rear-view mirror and overdriving the car. Then, he was driving brilliantly, being careful with lapped traffic and running just hard enough to keep the lead as he raced the No. 18 car. Typically, Waltrip’s position in the booth is called “analyst;” but these days, he seems to be more of a “conjunctionorist.”

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Denny Hamlin flat out dominated the race, leading 381 of the first 382 laps with ease until a soft tire ended his chance for a win.

It looked like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was finally going to snap that two year winless streak — now at 72 races — until Busch came to shove.

Once again, the No. 17 car couldn’t seem to get out of its own way; and as a result, Matt Kenseth was caught up in the big wreck.

Jimmie Johnson’s off song season hit another sour note with a 30th place finish on Saturday.

Kurt Busch just doesn’t seem to be able to finish a race lately after a strong start to the season. Maybe Jamie McMurray can lend him a bottle of Crown Royal?

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

He had to be there to be in position to win, but that trophy practically fell into Clint Bowyer’s lap.

Michael Waltrip is lucky half the world is mad at Kyle Busch and they’ve already forgotten his thuggish behavior in parking the No. 5 car.

As bad as Jeff Gordon’s car unloaded off the truck and looked in the first half of the race, coming away with a Top 10 finish Saturday night had to feel like a win.

Despite significant damage in the incident that triggered the big wreck, Carl Edwards soldiered on to a Top 10 run.

Joe Gibbs Racing grabbed the headlines all weekend, but it was Richard Childress with the race win and all three drivers finishing in the Top 12 when they wrote the paychecks out on Saturday night.

Reed Sorenson survived a wreck and several close calls to claim a 12th place finish, his best since a Top 5 in the season-opening Daytona 500.

Worth Noting

  • This win was Clint Bowyer’s seventh consecutive Top 10 finish.
  • Kyle Busch (2nd) is averaging a fourth place finish in the last four races.
  • Mark Martin’s third place finish was his best since Texas last spring.
  • Tony Stewart’s fourth place finish was his best result since Atlanta.
  • Martin Truex, Jr. (5th) scored his first Top 5 run of 2008.
  • Ryan Newman (6th) now has Top 10 finishes in the three of the last four races, though admittedly, he was only a threat to win at Talladega. He’s also the lone man in a 12-car Dodge fleet to have more than a single Top 5 in 2008 (two).
  • Carl Edwards (7th) has Top 10 finishes in four of the last five races. That’s what earns you an early contract renewal with a fat raise…
  • Kevin Harvick’s Top 10 finish (8th) was his first in five races.
  • Jeff Gordon (9th) managed his first Top 10 in four races.
  • After a hot start to the season, Kasey Kahne scored his first Top 10 finish since Bristol (10th).
  • Jeff Burton (11th) hasn’t finished worse than thirteenth in this season’s ten Cup races.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 15th place finish was his worst since Fontana. He’s led laps in all but two of this season’s ten Cup races to date.
  • Kurt Busch hasn’t finished better than 23rd in his last five starts. Matt Kenseth hasn’t finished better than 38th in the last three Cup events.
  • The Top 10 finishers at Richmond drove five Chevys, two Dodges, two Chevys, and a lone Ford (Carl Edwards in seventh).
  • Regan Smith in 21st was the top finishing rookie.

What’s the Points?

Kyle Busch takes over the spot atop the championship leaderboard (not to mention numerous hit lists). He is now 18 points ahead of former leader Jeff Burton, who fell to second in the standings. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains third, 104 markers behind Busch.

A Richmond win leapfrogged Clint Bowyer forward three spots to fourth, one spot ahead of his teammate Kevin Harvick in fifth. Tony Stewart hopped up a spot to eighth, while Kasey Kahne reenters the Top 12, up one spot from 13th place.

Along with that flat right front tire, Denny Hamlin deflated two spots in the standings to sixth, while Jimmie Johnson crunched his way down from fifth to seventh. Greg Biffle fell a spot to ninth; but the big loser in the points at Richmond was Juan Pablo Montoya, who fell four spots to 16th after wrecking on his own coming out of turn two at Richmond (he finished 32nd).

Jeff Gordon fans, don’t despair; he’s now just two spots out of the Top 12, despite a lackluster start to the season by his own lofty standards.

The Top 10 in points now consist of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, three Richard Childress drivers, and two drivers apiece from Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing.

Behind the Chasers, drivers making significant forward progress in the points at Richmond include Bobby Labonte (up four spots to 18th), Travis Kvapil (up four spots to 19th), Martin Truex, Jr. (arresting his tumble and moving up two spots to 15th), and Elliott Sadler (up two spots to 24th).

Cue up the Tom Petty CD, because some drivers are Freefalling: Kurt Busch tumbled five spots to 25th in the standings, and Matt Kenseth fell three more spots to 22nd.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic): Even the worst race at Richmond in recent memory beats the best race at some tracks. I’ll give this one the last five remaining beer cans not tossed over the catchfence at Richmond. They’ll be talking about this one for awhile.

Next Up: It’s off to the circuit’s best remaining race track, Darlington, for the most awkwardly scheduled race date, the eve of Mother’s Day. With new asphalt and speeds topping 200 miles an hour — at a track bulldozed into the Sand Hills back when new Packards and Hudsons still roamed the earth — it ought to be wild.

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 Matt McLaughlin and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Master Braytak
05/05/2008 02:14 AM

Great job by the booth buffoons at being impartial during the race. First Mikey Waltrip shoves Mears down the track at full throttle and not an ill word is spoken nor do we learn that Nascar parked him for the boneheaded move. That was a rare moment when DW actually shut his mouth for a spell. If Nascar actually worries about drug use in racing they will make ‘Ol Mikey pee in a cup.

A more glaring example of Non-Impartiality was when the Danica Patrik of Nascar was leading late in the race and you could just hear from the sound of DW that his official Amp undies were getting moist, then when Jr. came down and Kyle came up the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the booth bozos was quit telling. “Noooooooooooooo, Nooooooooooo-ooooo-ooooo-oo-o, Nooooooooooooo-ooooo-oo-oo-o-o-o, Ohhh Noooooooooooooooooooo.” It was not said but implied that no one should dare race the annointed one and possibly keep him from a win. I bet the response would have been quit differant if anyone else had been in the high line above Kyle racing for the win, or if the roles were reversed the booth would have been squeeling with delight at Jrs win and ranking the move right up there with the Dale Sr. “Pass in the Grass”.

I think maybe it’s time to get announcers in the booth that will call the action according to the action and not the personalities.

05/05/2008 02:21 AM

“It looked like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was finally going to snap that two year winless streak — now at 72 races — until Busch came to shove. “

LMAO!!! Nice turn of phrase there, Matt…but then again, you DO have a way with words.

05/05/2008 07:29 AM

re: Lil’ Busch and Junior – it wasn’t dirty pool, but it wasn’t good hard racing by any means. The dumb thing is, Busch clearly had the better car, and if he’d just kept his head and ran his line, he’d have passed and won, and we’d be seeing highlight reels of that battle come the end of the season.

As for Waltrip… well, contrary to a previous poster, they did actually mention his being parked on-air (twice), but that was all that was said about that. I don’t know if I’m disappointed Fox made a non-issue of it, or gratified. It’s not like Michael Waltrip deserves any additional airtime. Hell, he hasn’t exactly earned the airtime he currently has.

Travis Rassat
05/05/2008 08:09 AM

I liked the “when Busch came to shove” phrasework, too. lol!

I gotta say one thing about Dale Jr.: I really respect him for how genuine he is – it was nice that he was giving such an emotional interview, unshaven and without any sponsor plugs. If anybody was concerned that Hendrick was going to take away Junior’s personality (I’ll admit that I was afraid he was going to turn into another robot), they just need to watch the post-race interview from Saturday night again. While Dale Jr. isn’t my personal favorite driver, I have a lot of respect for him because he is simply being himself. He’ll get a win or two this year.

RCR has definitely been really impressive this year – while JGR seems to be drawing all of the attention, all 3 RCR drivers are quietly sitting in the top 5 in points.

05/05/2008 08:21 AM

The FOX boooooth crew just keeps on getting worse. DW continues to cheer for Toyota without fear and Larry Mac refers to NASCAR as “us.” As for Jr. and Busch, it happens in NASCAR and will continue to happen until NASCAR becomes like the road racers and drop penalties on them like lightening. BTW Jr’s daddy put people in the wall for a win on a regular basis, and I’m darned if I can remember how many penalties he got for it…none maybe? Fortunately, Jr isn’t like his dad…yet, but if he gets desperate enough, he should be able to follow in his dad’s footsteps without any worries.

05/05/2008 08:43 AM

I have to agree with everything Ed just said. I AM a JR. fan, but Ed “hit the nail on the head” about Earnhardt SR. JR. also showed class in that post race interview.
As far as Busch is concerned, if the other drivers will just start giving him some of his own medicine early in each race no one will have to worry about him late in the race. I do think it was hard racing as he said, but the other guys need to “hard” race him back EARLY in the race!!

05/05/2008 09:09 AM

I think Master Braytak makes a good point in that in did look like Jr. came down as Busch was going up. Of course none of the 3 Jr. lovers in the booth could see it that way.

Mike in NH
05/05/2008 09:41 AM

I’m not going to cry foul on Shrub’s racing to the inside resulting in a crash. Any more than I cried foul about the Kansas incident with these two racers last year. And if Junior had done it to Kyle instead, most of the same fans would hollering about what a great racer Junior is. So thems racing folks, get over it. Junior WILL win, and in the meantime he’s in a heck of a lot better position than this time last year.

Here’s another thought: maybe it’s because it wasn’t Jeff Gordon running into it and then whining, but Richmond is another track that doesn’t have the SAFER barrier on the inner walls, and Patrick Carpentier gave it a pretty good shot on Saturday night. However, nobody has commented on it. I have to wonder, in addition to saving impact on the driver, if the #10 would have caromed that far back into the track – and in the way of other drivers – if that SAFER barrier had been there to absorb some of that impact.

On the other hand, Patrick got t-boned in a very similar way to Dario Franchitti and walked away fine, which is another thumbs up for the new car.

05/05/2008 11:26 AM

Did anyone else notice that Fox missed multiple restarts throughout the race as well as many passes for the lead but didn’t miss a single section of the red flag period? That’s right, when nothing was going on at the track (except replays of the big wreck) we were treated to commercial free coverage. I loathe Fox right now.

05/05/2008 11:55 AM

my concerning problem with how shrub races, as i had read in an interview he gave on saturday that he’d wreck anyone and everyone to win. dale sr was aggressive, but i don’t recall him publically saying he’d wreck someone to win. heck he almost killed rusty at ‘dega, but didn’t say it was everyone elses’ fault. last driver i recall hearing that said from is mike skinner when he almost won cup race at ams several years ago. skinner said he’d wreck his own grandmother to win a cup race.

shurb’s pompous attitude also rubs me the wrong way. it’s never his fault. always someone else.

i’m beginning to think toyota has written brain fart a big check. yeah chevy won, but those toyotas, especially the jgr ones, seem to have a horsepower advantage. wonder if brain fart drives a new lexus suv? oh wait, wasn’t he driving one when he got pulled over a few years ago after an evening out with some adult beverages?

05/05/2008 11:58 AM

And how about Mafia Mike in the booth giving Fox a pat on the back for their awards? If this lousy coverage deserves awards, then TV here in America is in deep doo-doo.

Fox needs to make the booth buffoons give a full disclosure of who all is paying them so we’ll know who not to buy products from.

If reporters on TV have to give full disclosure, then why don’t the booth buffoons?

LOL@DW’s pants getting moist.

Racin Jason
05/05/2008 12:06 PM

Fox did miss several restarts.. but passes for the lead????? what race were you watching?

Mike in NH
05/05/2008 12:21 PM

It’s funny Joe, I think anyone who thinks that anyone that thinks differently than them is an idiot, so I guess we’re in some sort of sync there ;) … It’s dangerous to put someone into the wall – like what Junior did to Shrub at Kansas in 2007.

I’ve been hearing for years how dangerous Shrub is, and yet I don’t see him getting put into the wall yet by the other drivers, so I guess they’re not as mad at him as the fans are.

Janice, how about telling us what interview he said he’d wreck anyone to win in, because you’d think a comment like that would be splattered everywhere, and I haven’t been able to find it. I’ve seen him take the blame on things he’s done, like at the first truck race this year. I don’t expect him to take the blame for what amounts to a typical reason for a crash – two drivers who want the same real estate.

Hey, I don’t see the FBI being called in to stay at Shrub’s house like they had to do for Rusty that time, so I’m sure this will all blow over. And besides, NASCAR’s more fun with a couple of bad guys on the track anyway. Or do we want everyone to be Mr Manners like Jeff Burton and Mark Martin? That sounds boring to me…

Kevin in SoCal
05/05/2008 12:24 PM

Janice, are you thinking of brother Kurt Busch getting pulled over in Arizona?
Mike in NH has it right. If Jr had put Busch in the wall, these same brown-nosing Jr fans now crying foul would be cheering and congratulating him on a great move. As I said last week about Busch’s Talladega pass below the line, your opinion of the move is directly proportional to your opinion of the man who made it. Also, Busch said after the Nationwide race Friday night that he’d would wreck anyone to win.
Mike at 11:58, they mention the sponsors at the end of the race in a window with a grey background. It usually says something like “Promotional consideration paid for by the following companies.” Are you one of the people who turns the TV off after the checkered flag?

Mike in NH
05/05/2008 12:59 PM

Well, if Kyle really thinks he can wreck anyone to win and get away with it, he’ll have some learnin’ applied by the other racers pretty quick. Not to mention NASCAR, which will eventually step in if things get out of control, like they usually (but I admit not always) do.

05/05/2008 01:22 PM

There are only 42 people that can “fix” the Busch problem. The guy is too agressive period. Once his “peers” get him to understand, the quicker he will calm down, or tear up a lot of JGR cars, or just go away……

05/05/2008 03:29 PM

Hey everyone seemed to miss that Bowyer won the race. How about talking about him!!! He deserved it!!!

Sally B
05/05/2008 03:37 PM

My beef is with Denny Hamlin. He knew his tire was going down for 5 laps, yet ended up parked on the track, instead of pitting to bring out the caution. With Jr having a 5 second and growing lead, it certainly helped his teammate out. And not all Jr fans feel what happened was anything more than hard racing…with maybe a touch of impatience from the one driving the better car, with 3 laps still left to go.

05/05/2008 03:55 PM

Kyle Bush didn’t spin out Jr.

Funny how people want racers to show how they feel, like the ‘good ‘ole days’, yet Kyle is called immature. Yet if he says what others think he should say then he will be ‘mature’. And sound like Johnson and Gordon.

Stay ‘immature’ Kyle!

05/05/2008 04:14 PM

First off…I’m a HUGE Jr fan. HOWEVER, just as the King said, “The best you can do is put yourself in a position to win.” This 88 team is still lacking that “it” factor to get into victory lane. Now, I don’t want all of the “what do you want, he’s in the top 10” whailers to come out of the woodwork but winning is everything. Ask a driver (except Mark Martin, of course).

Something disturbing happened with JR. When it was late in the race (and Tony Eury hadn’t slowed the car down too much) Jr did not protect his team’s lead. He continued to run the high line and left the door WIDE open for Kyle. Why not go low and make your car 3 cars wide? Aren’t the last few laps of a race considered to be when blocking is socially and professionally acceptable?

I don’t consider for a moment that Kyle caused the wreck. Jr actually came down on Kyle. Now, it is undeniable at that point that Kyle took the free pass and turned th car right and finished what Jr started. I think Jr tried to bump and run from the side and forgot 2 very important things 1)his car wasn’t handling as well as Kyle’s and 2) he was trying it against Rowdy…while Rowdy was leading…in the last few laps. Poor judgement at the least.

Jr needs to get AMP’d up! (sorry_)

05/05/2008 07:26 PM

Wow! This guy Mike seems to have it all together. He actually KNOWS what Busch did or didn’t do! If you are that good man, then I need your help on some investments.

Listen, NONE of us fans know who was at fault (if anyone). Just remember, Busch sure has been in this position a LOT during his short career. He WRECKS people. Maybe he didn’t do it this time, but no one really knows. Remember Mike, in EVERY walk of life ones reputation precedes them. Please, never make a statement you cannot backup or prove.

SS Mike
05/05/2008 07:43 PM

The FOX clowns are one of the reasons I do not watch much anymore. Usually mute the TV. I watch the races when FOX is finished for the season.

And it does not matter if you are a Busch fan or not, the video clearly showed him with his front wheels turned right.

05/05/2008 07:57 PM

Speaking of the Fox Cavalcade of Broadcast Buffoons….

I found out one of the greatest things EVER for this race.
I just switched from cable to DirectTv and purchased the HotPass for 19.99. To my pleasant surprise, I was able to watch the race WITHOUT DW….No Boogity, no shameless Toyota plugs, no unbearable Hollywood Hotel visits.

Worth every penny!

Kevin in SoCal
05/06/2008 03:07 AM

His wheels were turned right because, as any driver’s ed teacher will tell you, you steer into a skid. His front wheels didnt turn right until after his back end started sliding. Unfortunately, Jr’s car was there on the outside, otherwise he would have simply slid up the track.

05/06/2008 05:52 PM

Joe – “Kyle Shrub is dangerous!…and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot!!! I hope to goodness someone puts him in the wall…HARD!!!!”

WOW Joe, that’s some statement. Wishing great financial damage on someone you don’t know, will never know and more to the point haven’t clue #1 whether Busch hit Junior with ill intent.

Question, why expel so much hate his way when Michael Waltrip did in fact do something in the same event that was demonstrably intentional?

And BTW, there must be one helluva lot of “idiots” around because you seem to be in the minority on this subject.

05/06/2008 05:59 PM

Matt – “The remaining potential, high profile free agents like Ryan Newman and Martin Truex, Jr. just saw their price tag ratchet up a few notches.”

Just a bit behind the news cycle aren’t you?

Truex Jr’s. contract option was picked up by DEI for 2009 7 days ago.


05/06/2008 06:14 PM

marc, it’s not that easy. Truex Jr. has already said he has conditions HE is in control of. it AINT a DONE DEAL….

05/06/2008 07:01 PM

Sorry Marc, you’re the one a few fries short of a Happy Meal here.

Associated Press Article

You’ll have to read down a ways to find the info so don’t let your lips go numb.

Treux has to agree to the extension and its terms. He’s got an opt out clause where he can leave the team citing lack of performance.

If that’s the best you’ve got, this is going to be a short week. No wonder you took so long to crash the party this week. Stop me if you’ve heard this before but if anybody needs me I’ll be out….

SS Mike
05/06/2008 07:42 PM

Kyle is a younger and a lot less classier version of “Swervin Irvan”.

05/06/2008 10:52 PM

Why do these folks keep referring to Busch as the Shrub? A near beer maybe, but not a shrub. A shrub is a bush. A little spelling lesson here.

05/07/2008 03:54 PM

Matt – “You’ll have to read down a ways to find the info so don’t let your lips go numb.”

Not that I take your advice on many things (actually none) I did read it and oddly enough prior to you pointing it out.

The para you ref says this: “That leaves Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman as the top remaining free agents. Dale Earnhardt Inc. holds an option on Truex that it wants to exercise, but Truex has to agree to the terms under the language of his existing deal.”

That in no way suggests he’s going anywhere no matter how or why you want to spin. The option is picked up, he’s now under contract thru the 2009 season and the only thing remaining is trivial BS details.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for Truex to move anywhere and you shouldn’t either.

05/07/2008 04:01 PM

uhm..i think “agree to the terms” would suggest a salary hike is possible.

Matt’s right, pretty paltry effort from you this week. I’m disappointed.

Kevin in SoCal
05/07/2008 11:15 PM

Ed, “Shrub” is the nickname given to Kyle by his older brother Kurt. Kyle is a younger Busch, hence the name shrub. It has to do with the pronunciation and not the spelling.

05/09/2008 06:33 AM

I just read another outstanding race analysis by my favorite Nascar writer. Matt, I keep thinking you’ll pen one of those Nascar/Harlequin books (probably have to use a pen name)so at least one of them might actually be readable. I loved your last book!

As to race attendance vs television, I usually attend the Texas races and a few others occassionally when the budget can handle it, went to Martinsville and Daytona last couple of years.

However, with all the new toys to watch the races with, those trips aren’t as attractive. I have DirecTV’s hot pass (Now in HD, yeah!)and’s Raceview. Between the two and Sirius radio, I never miss anything! Hot Pass continues to show the designated driver in a square at the bottom left of the screen during commercials, and Raceview gives constant timing and scoring as well as a nice “virtual” representation of the cars and their relative position on the track. Raceview had all kinds of neat gadgets now, you can zoom, change views (top, front, rear), and keep up with pit stops as they are happening. All cars pit times are accessible. I no longer have to wait on the network returning from commercial to sort out the order after pit stops. It is easy to tell who actually got two tires, checking their pit times.

Hot pass is wonderful, but they only cover 4 drivers a week now. So, I listen to the radio broadcast, watch a Chevy driver on Hot Pass, it also has the network feed in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and follow my favorite driver on Raceview. I’m also DVR’ing the network broadcast to watch later or during cautions, red flags, etc.

When the race is over, I’m sitting at home instead of fighting traffic and airport congestion. All said, it’s a good time to be a NASCAR fan!