The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Best Buy 400 Edition by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday June 2, 2008

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Best Buy 400 Edition

Matt McLaughlin · Monday June 2, 2008

 

The Key Moment: Kyle Busch emerged from the pits with the lead after a green flag sequence of stops and drove off into the sunset.

In a Nutshell: The day started out in the Hollywood Hotel, and ended with Kyle Busch checking out.

Dramatic Moment: In a day where there were damn few of them, I guess the nods goes to the lap 19 melee Elliott Sadler triggered.

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

This is Dover. This is Dover with the new car. Any more questions? (Visualize a frying egg here).

Does that new suite area that stretches over the track block drivers’ vision of what’s going on ahead of them at corner exit, leading to a mess like the big wreck?

Kyle Busch’s quote of the week after being asked a question he found stupid: “Duh.” Did he pick up that one at charm school or in the second grade?

Still think that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. isn’t the most popular driver in the sport? Did you notice the mass exodus out of the grandstands when the No. 88 car was taken to the garage?

To be consistent, I have to give NASCAR credit. At least on Sunday, they didn’t attempt to resuscitate a moribund race with an artificial “debris” caution at the end.

It appears some of my fellow pundits missed the biting sarcasm in Tony Stewart’s post-wreck comments. No, Stewart didn’t apologize and admit fault for the wreck. He sarcastically noted that running within a half lap of Elliott Sadler puts a driver in the danger zone. He was clearly blaming Sadler for the wreck.

Speaking of debris, I noticed a few beverage cans being tossed onto the track late in Saturday’s race. And here’s the weird part: Kyle Busch was already out of the race by then.

Yeah, the weather forecast was grim, but even at that the crowd in the grandstands Saturday was just embarrassingly small. You gotta wonder if there’s a growing number of people not willing to burn a tank of gas going to a Nationwide race to see another Joe Gibbs Toyota stomp the rest of the field.

Was Joey Logano’s sixth place finish in his Nationwide debut a product of his talent, or the strength of a team that has dominated the series this year?

Speaking of Joey Logano, is he really that talented, or could just about anyone run up front in a JGR car right now? My guess is it’s some combination of the two. The kid did drove a clean, smart race and caught a sideways car coming down the front straight to the checkered flag. My suggestion is just that he not take any more suggestions for surviving the first twenty laps of a race from Denny Hamlin.

When you’ve been around as long as I have, you tend to think you’ve seen it all at a race track — but admittedly, I’d never seen a jet dryer blow a portion of pit road into the air like that.

And on a brighter note, FOX’s reign of terror covering the 2008 Cup series is over. Fans will likely feel like they’ve gone deaf with Darrell Waltrip out of the booth, and trailer park residents reporting seeing space aliens after drinking a thirty pack will take over mangling the English language from Larry McReynolds. Among the things I’d like to see FOX leave at home when they come back next year are the Hollywood Hotel and its residents, the Digger cam and graphics, most of the pre-race show, and that annoying little ditty they’ve opened every broadcast with. It’s so bad even FOX stopped promoting it.

Speaking of FOX, it seemed even the boys of the booth seemed to be lapsing into a coma and struggling to find anything to say as the Busch runaway wore down to its conclusion.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

You had to feel for Tony Stewart. He drove his severely wounded race car around the track for hours and didn’t make up even a single position.

A valid point could be made that the 42 drivers who weren’t Kyle Busch had a long afternoon on Sunday.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. seemed to have his car whoaed up enough to miss the big wreck when he got plowed into from behind.

Everyone is always arguing over whether drivers who compete in the Nationwide Series on Saturday learn anything that’s to their advantage for Sunday’s race. And despite winning the day before, Denny Hamlin apparently never figured out the brake pedal is the one in the middle on both cars Sunday.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Hopefully, Kyle Busch will savor this victory, because it’s only once in a great while even a great driver can spank the field like that.

Despite his evident frustration, Carl Edwards did have a decent weekend in Dover, finishing second on both Saturday and Sunday.

Joe Gibbs had an excellent weekend at Dover, winning both the Saturday and Sunday races.

Jack Roush had four of his drivers finish in the Top 10. (Edwards – second, Biffle – third, Kenseth – fourth, and McMurray – 10th).

Jeff Burton weaved his way expertly through the lap 19 carnage en route to yet another Top 10 finish.

Worth Noting

  • The win was Kyle Busch’s fourth of the 13-race Cup season to date. He hasn’t finished worse than third in the last five races, and he’s won three of them. It’s Kyle Busch’s world… we just live there.
  • Carl Edwards (second) scored his fourth straight Top 10 finish.
  • Matt Kenseth (fourth) managed just his second Top 5 finish of the 2008 Cup season.
  • Jeff Gordon (fifth) has finished inside the Top 10 in the last four Cup races. Yeah, he took a bad handling car to a fourth place finish in the 600 last week, but when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.
  • Jimmie Johnson drove to his first Top 10 finish since he won at Phoenix.
  • Jeff Burton didn’t finish on the lead lap for the first time this season. Then again, only six drivers finished on the lead lap at Dover on Sunday.
  • Dave Blaney (ninth) pulled off his second Top 10 finish in the last three points races.
  • Jamie McMurray (10th) scored his best finish since Martinsville, and only his second Top 10 of the season.
  • Travis Kvapil (11th) has finished 11th or better in three of the last five points races. Will somebody please sponsor this team?
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (35th) struggled with his second worst result of the season.
  • The Top 10 finishers at Dover drove two Toyotas, four Fords, and four Chevys. Juan Pablo Montoya in 12th was the best finishing Dodge pilot.
  • Sam Hornish, Jr. (18th) was the top finishing rookie at Dover.

What’s the Points?

Hey, guess what? Kyle Busch is still leading the points. (As he might add, “Duh”). Jeff Burton remains second, but is now 142 markers behind at the halfway point of the “regular season.” Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is third in the standings, but is a sobering 271 out of the lead. Everyone from fourth place Carl Edwards on back is at least two full races’ worth of points behind Busch.

The early wreck did scramble up the middle portion of the Top 12 in the point standings. Greg Biffle moved up a whopping six positions to find himself fifth, while Jeff Gordon moved up four spots to take over sixth. Carl Edwards moved up three spots, from seventh to fourth.

On the flip side, Denny Hamlin tumbled five spots to ninth in the standings, while RCR teammates Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick both fell three spots — they are now eighth and tenth in points, respectively. Tony Stewart fell three spots to 11th and is only 35 points ahead of David Ragan in 13th.

That 150-point penalty is coming back to haunt the No. 66 team in the owner standings. They’ve now fallen out of the Top 35 in owner’s points, and will have to make the field at Pocono 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 race one can of lukewarm Natty-Bo. It was definitely unpalatable.

Next Up: The circuit heads north to Pocono. The combination of the oddly shaped track and the even more oddly shaped new cars ought to make for an interesting weekend.

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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…
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©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Tom
06/02/2008 06:37 AM
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are all the jr fans going to stay home when the shine is gone? admit it, kyle is the real deal.

Douglas
06/02/2008 07:13 AM
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The scores:

The RACE; Kyle #1, Jr. 35th.

The SEASON: Kyle 4 wins,
Jr. ZERO!

Just in case your keeping score!

janice
06/02/2008 08:13 AM
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Matt,

That “new suite” area at Dover has always been there. Before it wasn’t enclosed, it was just a crossover that fans used to get from seats to infield. Dover doesn’t have an underground tunnel. I noticed the empty seats, but I was surprised to see advertising banners on those two sections of seats in turn Two-Four. Guess Dover knew they didn’t have a sellout. I would, however, like Mike Joy to balance my check book as he seems to err on the high side when observing attendance. Sure didn’t look like 160,000 people there to me with the view from the tv.

Do you think Hamlin was the scarificial lamb this week when he seemed to slap into the pack that Sadler waded up?

I wonder if Stewart and Sadler will kiss and make up in time for the “Prelude to a Dream”.

Pocono should be interesting. Sure hope it doesn’t rain. The cup guys are killing the nationwide series. From what has been said about the testing at Pocono, it will be a long afternoon. Guess if it’s clear here in Atlanta, I’ll make sure I clean the gutters on the house next weekend.

Ed
06/02/2008 08:31 AM
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The continuing NASCAR saga of falling attendance. One has to wonder how much of it is the economy and how much of it is the bad racing and all of the other negatives that NASCAR has become. One thing for sure, they are trying to cover up the empty seats, both literally and figuratively. You know that NASCAR is getting bad, when “fans” only go to see a particular driver, not the race. I hope Kyle Busch continues to win all the way to the championship just to spite these fair weather fans.

Mike In NH
06/02/2008 08:32 AM
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Matt, Logano’s sixth place finish wasn’t just because he was in the 20 car – he had an incident in the pits that resulted in him slightly damaging his left front fender, and wound up in 28th for the restart. He then made his way all the way to fifth through traffic before falling to Biffle late into sixth as his car tightened up. He did a great job, getting through traffic AT DOVER. How many experienced veterans have had pit incidents at Dover that have taken them out of races? A few, as I recall.

And JGR has Marc Davis on his way up from the CW East series too. The rich get richer. Though MD got gigged for the lid on his oil reservoir coming off in the second race of the series, thus losing a second place finish…

baker
06/02/2008 09:06 AM
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gotta love that stewart comment! thank goodness i had a ton of yard work to do…to save myself from the dover debacle!

Speedcouch
06/02/2008 09:07 AM
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Uh, the crossover bridge in turn 2 has been there a few years, but the Dupont Bridge on the backstretch has only been there 2-3 years. Get your facts straight before you start bashing.

Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more about the exit of Fox. Now I can actually go back to listening to the TV audio again. That stupid song with BBB in it pushed me into paying for Trackpass so I could listen to MRN.

Speedcouch
06/02/2008 09:09 AM
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Sorry my comments about the bridge are directed at Janice, not Matt. Duh…

Travis Rassat
06/02/2008 09:23 AM
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I thoroughly enjoyed the Tony Stewart post-accident interview. I love his sarcasm. I also got a kick out of the Kyle Busch “duh” comment. I thought it was pretty funny.

While there’s certainly no denying that Joey Logano is a wheelman, the ESPN coverage comparing him to Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Joe Montana was a bit much. C’mon, give the guy a break – he’s just getting started. He’s good, but he isn’t a legend yet.

I found it interesting how disappointed he was with his 6th place finish. I’d be interested in hearing what Greg Biffle thinks of him right now – they raced pretty hard for quite a while there in the early stages of the race, and Logano was able to keep it clean and not take them both out. I thought that was some pretty good driving.

Finally, congratulations to Scott Speed on his first win – he seems to be finally getting this full-fendered thing figured out a bit.

DG
06/02/2008 09:38 AM
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Matt,

I could not agree with you more on the fox exit, but there was one omission you made and that is the awful host they have -chris meyers. Is there anyone worse in the history of motor sports broadcasting? Yes, Waltrip is annoying but at least he has credibility with his racing record and yes, Mcreynolds is light but although his resume is weak, he was there with Davey Allison when he was winning, but chris meyers? He is the worst ever. I want to throw up every time he tries to be funny – which is all the time. How about his demeanor when people are poking fun at him? Ugh! And then I see him announcing stick and ball games? That is the true mark of someone who has absolutely no business being involved in racing. Maybe the only one worse, ever, may be that stupid idiot jeanie zalasko. Hopefully she is gone for good.

Mike Herron
06/02/2008 09:55 AM
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The race was so boring I helped my wife do the laundry and folder socks. That chore was more exciting than the race. When will racing start this year?

Jim
06/02/2008 10:16 AM
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Last week I was at the 600, some pretty decent racing. Yesterday I watched on TV, worst race of the season. I have tickets to the Sept. race @ Dover, maybe have to put them on Ebay, probably won’t be worth the 5 hour drive.

janice
06/02/2008 10:19 AM
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i wasn’t bashing. last time i attended race at dover was 10 years ago (before i moved to georgia) and the cross over bridge was there as i walked across it to get to the other side the the track. it was a bridge, not suites. if i remember correctly it had chain link fencing on each side of the bridge. i remember standing on the bridge and watching the race. they only let you stand there a few minutes.

they just recently turned it into dupont suites a few years ago.

i wasn’t bashing, i was commenting about the “bridge”.

Margo
06/02/2008 10:40 AM
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Pop the corks, send up the balloons, start the party . The unwatchable, untalented,unbearable Fox broadcasts and their on-air “ talent “ are finally gone . Digger was far more entertaining than ANY of the clowns in the booth or the hotel ! Keep Wendy for next season , lose all of the rest including the director and producer .

ss mike
06/02/2008 11:13 AM
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The reason for poor attendance is the racing sucks. The economy is not the cause. Some folks save all year to attend a race.

And the Nationwide series? Stick a fork in it. It’s dead. NA$CAR making them run the COT is the final nail in it’s coffin.

We switched the race off at 4 to watch the NHRA. Now that was some racing!!!!!

Allison Gutgsell
06/02/2008 11:22 AM
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Janice – There are now 2 bridges across the track. The one you saw 10 years ago is still a walkover exit bridge. That one has been there since the track was built and is the one exiting turn 2. The new DuPont bridge is at the end of the backstretch heading into turn 3.

mark
06/02/2008 12:06 PM
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It was interesting to see the stands bleed green and orange at lap 18. The 3 guys infront of us asked if we would watch their coolers… “they were going to paly the slots….” and they didn’t come back until lap 325. But there were lots of holes in the stands long before lap 18, along with 4 whole sections that were covered with promotional banners. It a sad sight to see but NA$CAR is on the downslide… they better get on top of it while they can.

rjh
06/02/2008 12:42 PM
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An Asian car winning all 3 races is my warning shot over the bow. I am giving na$car two last chances @ Michigan. I’m almost done with this farce of a sport. I’ll refuse to watch or spend money to watch na$car fawn over those Asian cars if this keeps up. I’m going to my first NHRA event in Ohio in a couple of weeks….No Asian cars that even look remotely similar to ‘street cars’ there. How can any “good American” root for an Asian car?

Buddy Chandler
06/02/2008 01:30 PM
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Here’s hoping for a Toyota sweep then. That’s one less silly little dollar sign for the S in NASCAR, one less whiney miopic to listen to.

I love FOX. ESPN is no better. I’m glad to see DW get excited about the sport. I don’t care if they have a mascot for their in track camera. It’s minutia that really has nothing to do with the race so I’m not going to get all up in arms about it.

Now you guys can go complain about ESPN for the rest of the season, because really, you aren’t race fans, you’re fans of complaining and this race fan can do without you losers.

baker
06/02/2008 03:45 PM
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perhaps if the network covering the race was able to enhance “race within a race” type coverage the ho hum attitude would change…ie side by side pictures of the leaders and a good race for position elsewhere on the track…can’t be any worse than that stupid gopher.

ss mike
06/02/2008 05:47 PM
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rjh, once you attend an NHRA event you will not go back to NA$CAR. Be sure to go in the pits between rounds and meet the drivers.

And bring some hearing protection. Nothing louder on earth then a Top Fuel car.

Peter Griffin
06/02/2008 10:29 PM
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The IRL race was great, and was shaping up for a classic finish before the melee with 3 to go when Vitor thought he was in the General Lee and jumped over Andretti’s car. If I have to choose between spec series I choose open wheel because the racing is great, where in Nascar it is just hype anymore and the stands are filled with trend geeks wearing green.

rjh
06/03/2008 12:02 PM
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Thanks for the info ss Mike, hey Buddy c, sure hope your kids have trouble finding jobs, keep buying foreign, they probably can’t do any better than walmart anyway