The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Is This the Same Bristol? by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday March 23, 2009

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Is This the Same Bristol?

Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 23, 2009


The Key Moment: Kyle Busch was able to hold off teammate Denny Hamlin in the final two lap shootout that decided the race.

In a Nutshell: Geographically, it’s in the same place, but this joint just doesn’t seem like Bristol anymore, does it?

Dramatic Moment: Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya actually got annoyed with each other and did a little rooting and gouging. Relatively speaking, everybody else acted like choirboys on a field trip to a basilica.

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

You know, if you look at it dispassionately the racing at Bristol is actually way better as far as side-by-side racing and passing rather than a constant series of wrecks — but it’s just not as much fun, is it?

So, what’s really changed at Bristol? Is it the new track configuration, the new cars, the new tires, or the new points system?

Did I miss it, or was there no Digger cartoon Sunday? Editor’s Note: There wasn’t. Maybe someone at FOX is finally getting the picture. Certainly, there were far less mentions of the annoying little rodent when he popped up on the screen, and the attempts to sell Digger merchandise seemed almost desperate at times. Given the state of the economy and the number of people laid off, we could do a lot worse than to find Digger on the dole.

Fame is fickle. Matt Kenseth was the hottest thing since nuclear fusion after he won two races to start off the season, but his terrible run at Bristol earned nary a comment from the broadcast crew other than a quick note (without visuals) stating he was in the pits with a broken splitter.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. says he wants to finish his career with Tony Eury, Jr. as his crew chief. If his last name was something other than “Earnhardt” he likely already would have finished his career at least a couple of years ago. The 88 team just can’t seem to get it together. It seems like an eternity since Earnhardt pulled off a weekend sweep here back in 2004.

Is Chevy ever going to win a race again? (My gut tells me either Johnson or Gordon will win next week.)

Apparently, Mark Martin would like to compete again full-time in 2010. Color me surprised. Cue up that old Lynyrd Skynrd LP, because I’ll take the word of a liar…one more time. Don’t get me wrong; Martin is a class individual, and his name belongs on any top 5 list of the greatest drivers never to win a title alongside Junior Johnson and Tim Richmond. But I feel he owes anyone who bought his “Salute to You” retirement gear what seems like a decade ago a refund.

Why would NASCAR open pit road with a safety vehicle (the yellow Ford Super Duty during the third caution period) parked sideways in front of the energy-absorbing barrels at the entrance of pit road? They didn’t put those barrels there because nobody ever hits there.

NASCAR’s three short tracks steal a page from Goldilocks. Bristol might be too much and Martinsville might be too little, but Richmond is just right.

Sadly, I must report the demise of the Yates Racing number 28 team. With no sponsorship now and none on the horizon, the operation will shut down for the foreseeable future after Sunday’s race. Those who recall Davey Allison’s charge at the 1992 title and Ernie Irvan’s dramatic Loudon win after nearly dying in that car can’t help but mourn the team’s passing. Back in the day, the No. 28 team came to play, each and every weekend.

Well, that’s troubling. Jack Roush’s sponsorship guru Geoff Smith (who was trying to find backing for the 28 team mentioned above) also noted that Carl Edwards’ primary sponsor AFLAC is looking for “relief.” That doesn’t mean the Duck people want to bail on the team. They just want other sponsors to step up to the plate and pay to run the car at some select events to ease the financial burden on the insurer. If Carl Edwards can’t find a full-time sponsor willing to pay the freight, that doesn’t speak well of the financial situation in today’s Cup garage.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, Sunday’s Bristol Cup race sold out, continuing the trend of a sold out race followed by one with lackluster attendance this season. Hmmm. It almost seems if NASCAR would cut down on the number of races on the schedule, they’d get better attendance and ratings for the remaining races. Nah. Too much of a good thing is never enough… though too much of a mediocre thing is just too much.

For all the hot air expended reminding people what a great driver Darrell Waltrip was at Bristol (and to be fair, he won a ton of races here) wouldn’t it have been nice for DW to put his money where his ever-ratcheting mouth is and run that Saturday night All-Star race?

In the comments section of my column last week, someone took exception to my comments on Joey Logano, noting that nobody expected him to be racing in the Cup series this year — least of all Mr. Logano. Really? How’d that come to be?

(The morning of the 2009 Daytona 500)
Greg Zipadelli to Joe Gibbs: Joe, we have nobody to drive the 20 car today!
Gibbs: What? Where’s Tony?
Zippy: Well, it turns out Tony Stewart left to start his own team.
Gibbs: Why didn’t I get the memo! Now what? Who around here has a crash helmet?
Zippy: Well, there’s that Logano kid, but he wasn’t expecting to be running Cup this season.
Gibbs: Aw, Hell, let’s give him a shot. He’s got a helmet.
Logano: Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play.

Yes, folks did expect Logano to race in the Cup series this year. He just hasn’t so far; not to any meaningful degree, anyway.

Michael Waltrip’s team unloads his backup car from the hauler at Bristol — but should the team really be considering unloading a backup driver?

Maybe it’s time Michael Waltrip wakes up and smells the coffee? With his team cars running notably better with the exception of the No. 55 car, maybe he’d be doing himself and the team a favor concentrating on running the team and putting somebody else in the car? That’s not being cruel; a lot of good drivers who were a lot smarter than Waltrip found out that they couldn’t do both.

Yes, I know that it has absolutely nothing to do with racing, but I’m from Philly where we’ve endured a yearlong string of losses of our brave police officers in the line of duty. My heartfelt condolences go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of the four Oakland, CA police officers murdered this weekend while doing their jobs. This crap has got to stop now, or convicted felons need to start shooting the judges who gave them lenient sentences rather than cops.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kevin Harvick’s Cup car just wasn’t up to speed all weekend, and getting caught up in an early race caution not of his own making just made his afternoon that much longer.

Despite a pretty spirited run peppered with an occasional flash of brilliance (18th), Travis Kvapil finds himself without a ride next weekend.

Greg Biffle started the race with a rack of bruised up ribs (but no beat up old Buick and certainly not dressed like dynamite), then ended his day in 39th with a whole bunch of expensive engine bits reduced to rubble in his oil pan. On a brighter note, nobody called him “The Biff.”

It had to irk Jack Roush to see four of his five drivers finish outside the top 25.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Marcos Ambrose scored his first top 10 finish on an oval track despite having dropped a cylinder while running in the top 10.

Kurt Busch’s day seemed over when he ran into the back of Kevin Harvick’s car after Michael Waltrip ran into Todd Bodine. Busch soldiered on to finish eleventh.

Jeff Gordon barely drove around the spinning car of Jamie McMurray en route to a fourth place finish.

Ryan Newman finished seventh, which moved him all the way up to 27th in the standings. Sucks to be him, but it pays good.

The good news for Mark Martin is his sixth place finish, which buys him a little breathing room in the that top 35 deal. The bad news is next week the circuit heads off to Martinsville, which oddly enough is Martin’s least favorite track. In fact, Mark Martin once threatened to run naked through the grandstands if he won at Martinsville. I think we can all agree that that’s something (like the movie 12 Rounds) we don’t want to see.

Worth Noting

  • Kyle Busch has won at least one event every race weekend of this season. Nobody has won a Cup race this March other than the Busch brothers.
  • The top 10 finishers at Bristol piloted three Toyotas, six Chevys, and a Dodge. Carl Edwards in 15th was the top finishing Ford driver.
  • Denny Hamlin’s second place finish was his best since he won at Martinsville a year ago next weekend.
  • Jimmie Johnson (third) managed his first top 5 finish of the 2009 Cup season.
  • Jeff Gordon (fourth) has strung together four straight top 6 finishes.
  • Kasey Kahne (fifth) drove to his first top 5 finish since Charlotte last Fall.
  • Mark Martin’s sixth place finish was his best since Dover last Fall.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya (ninth) managed his first top 10 finish on an oval since Talladega last spring.
  • Don’t look now, but David Reutimann has finished in the top 15 in four of this season’s five points-paying Cup races.
  • Tony Stewart (17th) missed the top 10 for only the second time this season. Actually, it was only the second time he didn’t finish eighth this season.

What’s the Points?

You’re already worried about the points? How do you sleep at night worrying about a flaming chunk of space debris crashing through your bedroom window and beaning you in the noggin?

For the record, Jeff Gordon still leads the points. (And he still hasn’t won a race in well over a year. Maybe these F-1 folks are onto something? Tune in Thursday, when I’ll discuss just that.) Kurt Busch advanced a spot to take over second place in the standings, 76 behind Gordon, displacing Clint Bowyer who fell to third, four points behind Kurt.

Kyle Busch moved up three spots to jump to fourth in the standings. If he didn’t get wrecked out at Daytona, he’d be leaving the field in the dust.

Further back, Jimmie Johnson moved up four spots to ninth in the standings. Kasey Kahne moved up three spots to sixth.

Matt Kenseth, who won this year’s first two points-paying races, fell five spots to tenth in the standings. Under the new F-1 system he’d be tied with Kyle Busch for the lead. We’ll talk about it Thursday, same Matt-time, same Matt-station…

Kevin Harvick tumbled four spots to twelfth in the standings. Greg Biffle really took it on the chin (and in the ribs) at Bristol, tumbling eight spots from tenth to 18th in the points.

Fellow rookies Joey Logano and Scott Speed find themselves 34th and 35th in the standings, respectively. They’ve also got razor thin points margin gaps over that dreaded 36th spot, which means a driver actually has to qualify for races on speed (the way God and Dale Earnhardt intended) rather than counting on corporate largesse and welfare to make the races.

If the Chase were to start right now… a whole lot of wasted Sunday afternoons better spent drinking beer or riding motorcycles could be avoided. But it’s not going to be, so don’t worry about points… be happy.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Yeah, there was some racing back in the pack and an occasional swap of the lead, but this one won’t go down on the Bristol highlight reel. We’ll give this one three cans because of unfulfilled expectations.

Next Up: Next week, the series takes a step back to yesterday with a trip to Martinsville, NASCAR’s at least partially preserved anachronism of racing the way it used to be back when Cale Yarborough wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a “Honda” hat.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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03/23/2009 01:46 AM

Matt, if the felons start shooting the judges then who’ll give then lenient sentences, just wondering? I see Kyle Busch just couldn’t let it go. Saturday, after telling his crew they sucked he threw them under the bus again in his victory lane interview Sunday. So much talent and so little class. His Nationwide crew ought to take out behind the hauler and give him whatfor!!! See you Thursday

03/23/2009 06:51 AM

For the first time in recent memory , Goodyears’ tires DIDN’T ruin a race !

There were as usual a great many teams and drivers who got little or no mention from the clowns in the booth . How many times did they say “ we haven’t talked about him much today “ . Can anyone tell me what possible purpose the Hollywood Hotel serves . If Chris Meyers and Jeff Hammond were never heard from again , would it be a bad thing . The best entertainment is listening to Larry Mac murder the pronunciation of almost every word and driver name he utters .

Again , the reason for the nonstop barrage of Joey Logano hype , is NASCAR , and to a lesser extent Home Depot . Joey is a pretty low key guy .

I’m not sure i’d take Bristols’ word for it when they declare a sell out . I sure noticed some empty seats . Or in the words of Fontana “ the fans were at the concession stands .

03/23/2009 07:11 AM

Did you find it odd that the track announcer had to remind everyone to place their right hands over their hearts during the National Anthem? Fox stopped showing some shots of drivers, when it became obvious that several drivers, including Kasey Kahne and possibly Dale Jr., were not showing the proper respect

03/23/2009 07:39 AM

Frank, It didn’t surprise me. The American people no longer have pride in their country, and it shows. Drivers are just people so they react about the same way as the general public. This is not a political forum, so won’t mention the causes of this, just that it goes on at ball games in every sport from kids leagues to the pros. Nothing surprises me anymore! Just my opinion based on what I see.

Bill B
03/23/2009 08:08 AM

I thought it was a very good race overall but it wasn’t everything we have come to expect from Bristol. Probably all of the factors mentioned contribute to it not being “classic Bristol” but I’d have to say the track reconfiguration is most responsible.

Home Depot and NASCAR might be responsible for some of the Logan hype but it really is the media in general that have overhyped the young driver. Starting last year at mid-season a week didn’t go by where he wasn’t the subject of a couple of articles.

How can anyone be surprised at people’s behavior during the national anthem. Have you seen the way people dress to go to church lately. Same downward spiral.

03/23/2009 08:39 AM

Matt…..We had a felon in court shoot a judge, court reporter, deputy and then a federal agent several years ago here in Atlanta. His name is Brian Nichols. 3 yrs later he went to trail for those charges (after pub defenders office went into millions of debt), and the yellow belly jury here didn’t give him death. so us taxpayers get to support him for the rest of his life.

03/23/2009 08:52 AM

I’m just glad it was over by dinnertime!

03/23/2009 08:52 AM

Yesterday’s race made me miss the old Bristol. I kept noticing that the track was much wider. Maybe it was perspective from laying on the couch from working in the yard Sunday after church. Sure not as much wrecking but it just looks so much different.

Personally, if Jr wants to race with Eury Jr as his ownly crew chief, then I guess JR Motorsports will end up field a cup team in a few years. I laughed when they kept saying “if the 88 could get to front he’d have something for the leaders”.

I thought it odd that no moment of silence for Hal Marchman before yesterday’s race. I thought is was horrible that the track announcer told people to put their hands on their hearts for the anthem. And shame on the drivers who do not do so week after week, and for not showing any respect during opening ceremonies week in and week out.

I will miss the 28 car. Another piece of the past fading away.

03/23/2009 08:56 AM

I notice how no one wonders how this convicted felon out on parole got a gun in a state that has the toughest gun control laws in the Nation.

As to Lagono, he is nothing but another Casey Atwood. 2 years from now he will be “Joey who”?

As much as I hate the Car of Sorrow it is quite obvious the 18 and 11 teams got a handle on it.

03/23/2009 09:00 AM

Frank, When I was in grade school we were taught to cover our hearts during the pledge and to stand in military at ease during the National Anthem

03/23/2009 09:07 AM

Dale Jr is the only driver to fly the American flag over his pit. I see it every year at the Brickyard 400 and at Daytona 500. He also drives for National Guard and Ihave never seen him not show respect for this country. Pick on someone else OK?

03/23/2009 09:29 AM

Teams fall by the wayside due to lack of funding. While the sanctioning body sits on a mountain of cash, from companies being the “Official Whatever of NA$CAR” A start, & park, pocket picker team parks in 43rd. After an “Oh my God, they might actually damage my car” moment. They get paid 82,968. A team that actually came to race. Finishes in 16th place, & is paid 91,225. Am I missing something here? There seems to something wrong with this picture. As for Mark Martin, I think you’re missing the point. His Farewell Tour merchandise could become quite collectable. As in “I’ve got the ’05 shirt, as well as the ’07-10, but I’m missing the ’06. I mean, come on. When a driver sticks aroung long enough to be sponsored by Viagra, that ought to tell you something. Maybe AARP, in ’10.

03/23/2009 09:31 AM

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

You know, if you look at it dispassionately the racing at Bristol is actually way better as far as side by side racing and passing rather than a constant series of wrecks but it’s just not as much fun is it?”

An accurate comment, if there ever was one! In other words, we didn’t have 20-some caution periods to pick up junked out racecars pieces.

If constant wrecks and cautions make a fun race… most every autumn, there’s a demo-derby at the local county fairgrounds.

I quit watching Bristol when over a 100 laps were run under the yellow flag (Call THAT exciting and fun!).

For the most part, the finishing order reflected the racing. Before the track got fixed and allowed for the new side by side racing and multiple grooves, the finishing order was more of a lottery decided by who got caught up in what wreck when. Like plate races, Bristol had become a crap shoot to see who got lucky and survived the carnage.

Over the years, Bristol has been repaved/resurfaced and presented into new configurations several times. This current version seems like something the drivers can race on without using various foul words, throwing helmets at each other, and can walk away from without meeding valium to sooth frazzled anger.

The new Bristol begs the question: do you watch racing to see racing or because you like wrecks?

03/23/2009 10:02 AM

Matt, you stated that “Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he wants to finish his career with Tony Eury Jr. as his crew chief.”

Seems to me that if Dale Jr., keeps Eury Jr. as his crew cheif, his career will be finished, and sooner than he realizes!

03/23/2009 10:02 AM

Was really disapointed when Larry Mac said they were in the garage trying to “fix” the 66 car! First of all, they hadn’t been hit, or hit anything – all they needed were 4 new tires! They started – they spun, and were thanking God that no one hit them – and they parked it. Come on Larry – tell it like it is!!

03/23/2009 10:09 AM

Keep the new configuration, just bring back the old car and the bump and run.

03/23/2009 10:14 AM

I for one enjoyed the race at Bristol. I always hated the single file, bump someone out of the way to pass them, demolition derby that the old Bristol was. Yesterday we saw side by side racing, and multiple 3 wide passes through the middle. That’s the type of racing that I want to see. If real racing is boring then NASCAR isn’t for you. If a wreckfest is what you want to see then go watch a demolition derby.

M.B. Voelker
03/23/2009 10:42 AM

Mark Martin is not a liar and he doesn’t owe me a penny for the Salute to You t-shirt I put carefully away before it got too faded to wear anymore.

Mark NEVER said he was retiring. Fans and media falsely put those words in his mouth and he’s corrected them time and time again.

The liars are you people who refused to listen to what Mark actually said at the time and who continue to refuse to listen to the corrections.

03/23/2009 11:39 AM

In a Nutshell: Geographically it’s in the same place but this joint just doesn’t seem like Bristol anymore does it?

Matt, you couldn’t have said it better. I agree with a lot of people it is nice to see side by side race now. But I sure do miss some of that bumping and banging, temper flares. Maybe a helmet tossed at a car, somebody stomping on a hood. And some emotion from some drivers after the race.

It would be nice if there was a happy medium? Cause I do think Matt is right, it just didn’t feel like a Bristol race?

03/23/2009 12:02 PM

Personally, I prefer the multi-groove racing to the bristol wreckfest. So, while not an “instant classic” the race yesterday was better than the races were before the resurfacing/new car.

03/23/2009 12:20 PM

I have to agree with so many others here who thought the race was boring; it really was. And I also have to agree with those here who think that if you want to watch a demolition race, then go to your local track. However, what I have an issue with is how ‘safe’ the drivers are racing in each and every race. Until the last 10 laps there is extremely little hard racing by the drivers. I want to see Tony Stewart fight for a 15 place finish. I do not want to see any driver go high or low to let someone else drive by just because it’s early in the race. There’s just so little agressiveness at the tracks and I miss it. Not to see anyone get wrecked, but to see the determination Jeff Gordon or Jeff Burton or Joey Logano has to get as many points as possible in a race. Yes, 3 wide racing and the numerous times a driver made it thru a pack of cars without getting into any kind of trouble is great but to me, when the tracks are redesigned to allow 3 or 4 wide racing then when do the drivers have to use their God given talents to actually win a race? If we’re going to have to wait till the last 10 laps every race, then why not just start with the last 10 and get it over with? JMO

03/23/2009 12:28 PM

Let me get this straight – all the cool kids like the crashes at Bristol, but not at Talledega?
I disagree.
Yesterdays race was pretty damn good.

Joe W.
03/23/2009 12:45 PM

I think the race got boring when Kyle Busch took the lead. I can not stand him or his equally smart aleck teammate Denny Hamlin. Any race they lead stinks for me. Legano is partially responsible for the hype. I have never heard him say “hey I’m not sliced bread, I’m just a driver”. No, he played into the hype. I remember Joe Gibbs tried to rush another driver into the seat of a cup car. That driver told Gibbs he wanted to run the Busch Series 1st. That driver did just that and when he came to cup was the best rookie of all times. His name is Tony Stewart. He was older and more experienced than Legano, but wanted to get the seat time in a stock car. I think things worked out pretty well for him. Now the saddest part of the season for me. I am a long time fan of the 28 car. Ernie Irvin was my driver. I sure miss him. I miss that black and orange # 28 Ford, and now it is gone completly. That STINKS. The more things change, the more disconnected some of us become with this sport.

Bill B
03/23/2009 12:48 PM

I understand where a lot of people are coming from but remember this is supposed to be a sport first and entertainment second (well to some of us at least).

I admit that a large attraction of the old Bristol was seeing lots of wrecks and temper tantrums and I enjoyed that as much as the next guy.However you have to ask if those attributes really qualify as racing or if it’s just good entertainment for tv.

Everyone loves to see someone have a meltdown on national television but that is what TMZ is for and, as others have mentioned, if you want to see carnage then go to a demolition derby.

It sounds like a lot of people want stupid drivers – someone that races for the moment but not for the big picture. For instance, it’s lap 100 of a 500 lap race and someone behind is faster than you, do you race hard to the point of ruining your own equipment or do you play it smart and let them go. I think the answer is obvious if you want to win the race, make the chase and win the championship. So why are people faulting the drivers for being smart… just because they want to see wrecks?

As for the desire for people to want drivers to throw things or punches at other drivers to settle their differences… is that how you solve problems in your day to day life? Then why do you wish the drivers to do what you yourself would not?

Like I said, I enjoy watching drivers do stupid things and make asses out of themselves too but it’s not why I watch the races.

03/23/2009 01:28 PM

Well , concerning crashes vs racing , you’ll notice that ALL tv adds for racing , whether from NASCAR , FOX , ESPN , or the individual tracks , feature crashes very prominantly . At least half of every tv ad is wrecks . So they obviously feel that crashes are what draw fans to auto racing .

03/23/2009 01:30 PM

I think the racing at Bristol is better NOW than it used to be.

What kind of skill does it take to hit the car in front of you and put them in the wall?

And…if there were no Jr. or “Jr. Nation”…Kyle Bush would be the new fan favorite.

I laugh my tail off because it’s SO ironic that “Jr. Nation” hates Kyle…when Kyle is SO much like Dale Sr.

Keep goin’ Kyle…this sport needs you!

03/23/2009 01:38 PM

Number 1 and I never thought I’d be saying this, The last few Bristol races have been on the boring side. Number 2, Joey Lagano should habe been put in a nationwide car for a year or two. Do I see another Casey Atwood scenerio here?

Henry M
03/23/2009 02:01 PM

Did you see where Jaguar was the most reliable car? Remember when the two worst words in English motor cars were Lucas Electric? Who’da thunk it!

03/23/2009 02:03 PM

i don’t want to see wreck-fest, but when jp montoya got a bit aggressive, na$car warned him for aggressive driving. what is na$car going to do next weekend at martinsville, closer quarters on track, and turns notorious for bump out of the way. and enough of this g/w/checker crap. i mean, has any race ran longer than 10 green flag laps at the end of the race this year? i remember more g/w/c endings than anything else this year.

i wonder how many times next weekend will the martinsville ‘dogs be discussed?!

MI. Mike
03/23/2009 02:16 PM

Granted the Bristol race wasnt the best, but common it wasnt all that bad either. I think fans need to look at racing vs. demolition derby style wrecking. Call it what you may but smashing someone out of your way isnt racing. It certainly requires no skill.

What yesterdays race was called “DOMINANT” when other teams step up to the plate maybe the racing will be more exciting. Kyle Bush and team simply go for the gusto not settle for a 14th place finish and feel good about it.

Im not a Kyle Bush fan but I’ll tell you this his balls to the wall racing style makes for a better race.

I only wish more of the other drivers had his attitude than you would see stand on your feet races.

All this talk about Jr. this and Jr. that yeah he is #1 selling souvenirs but would someone let it be known this is called “racing” for 1st place.

Any kind of competition regardless if its checkers if your not out to win and feel good about loosing your a looser and will never be a champion of anything.

One more thing thank you to the powers to be…the digger thing is slacking off, I can live with this.

03/23/2009 02:18 PM

I do want to be entertained when I watch a race or attend one live. I think the difference is where people define “entertained”, if you were entertained watching yeasterday race, that is fine that’s the racing your looking for. Some people enjoyed Bristol pre the track be reconfigured and the COT. And thats fine also.

I think the biggest misconception is that fans who think the race may have been a bit boring to watch Sunday are some how looking for a demolition derby. I don’t want to watch a wreakfest. But a little more bumping and what have you might have been nice, and if a wreak ensued, so be it. But yes, all in all it was good racing

And maybe there was more bumping and banging and hard racing going on and I just missed it cause of Fox’s poor coverage of the race. I can’t count the times I heard them say there was some good racing going on in the back or on the track somewhere but failed to cut to it?

03/23/2009 02:43 PM

Yesterday’s race WAS boring. There were 5, count ‘em FIVE green flag lead changes. The people who thought yesterday’s race was exciting are the same people who wet themselves and brag about 4-wide racing at NASCAR’s two worst tracks – Fontana and Michigan.

03/23/2009 06:08 PM

I can’t figure out what the deal is with concrete race tracks. The track was fine when it was asphalt but apparently that wasn’t good enough for management.

At least it’s good to see some actual passing at Bristol rather than the push-shoving that had become commonplace on the other concrete configuration.

The #1 problem with NASCAR right now is that the drivers suck.

Paul F.
03/23/2009 06:23 PM

While a long series of crashes doesn’t make a good race, I think it’s tough to have a good race when there aren’t any wrecks. It’s not the crashes themselves that make the race exciting, it’s knowing that they might/can crash that adds suspense to all the actual racing and battling.

With cars that handle great, the drivers get more confident, make more risky moves, and put themselves in more positions to screw up. Or even if no one screws up, they’re willing to swerve and dart around each other more so it’s more likely two guys go for the “same piece of real estate” on corner entry and, well, wreck. On short tracks especially.

Yeah, they race three-wide but they don’t change lanes like they used to. I’d rather see two guys confident enough in their cars to fight for that chunk of track they need going into the corner rather than one guy not being totally sure about his machine and giving in.

Then again, it could just be the nonsensical playoffs that prevent people like Matt Kenseth from points racing because, you know, it’s easy to run 7th every week.

Master Braytak
03/23/2009 07:33 PM

According to the Neilson ratings this years spring race was 18% less exciting than last year, as that’s how much lower the ratings were this year compared to last year.

03/23/2009 08:35 PM

You know what I loved about Cale Yarborough? (And I’m old enough I’ve seen him win races live at the track). He was a tough little fire hydrant of a guy back in the era when the cars lacked power steering and cooling vents. He’d get out of his JJ Chevy with his face as bright red as a tomato, black rings on his face around where the goggles sat, his thinning blonde hair a mess and he’d rip cord a brew and chug it down. Back in the day men celebrated a signifigant acheivement like winning a Cup race having a beer with thier boys, not drinking a soft drink to appease thier sponsors and the soft drink company who pays them to do so.

Kyle Busch got me curious. I like NOS. Back in my street racing days those folks helped me earn a lot of cash. So I tried this energy drink of thiers, BLEECH!

In my younger years (dirt bike afficianados this was during the Honda Elsinore period)I used to race motocross. After forty minutes of max eretion I learned that nothing will make you cramp up and retch like a sugary soft drink. Back in those days water was avaialable io only one brand (tap) so I used to chug a beer to cool off.

It might sound simplistic to say but NASCAR lost its way when soft drinks replaced beer in victory lane and cars wound up getting sponsored by home improvement stores rather than car part companies.

03/23/2009 08:38 PM

I was at Bristol for the first time, and the seats weren’t all filled by a long shot.They may have been sold, but there was plenty of space for those who got there.
All I can say is, what’s all the excitement about Bristol? Richmond has much better racing, by far. We won’t be going again to Bristol. Been there, done that.

03/23/2009 09:15 PM

Say what you will,Bristol lost something with this “new” track.And no I didn’t mind a push or two on the old Bristol.Wrecks are part of it or use to be.But most of all it was seeing the drivers at the rear of the pack trying to stay in front of the leader as he came up on them,pushing the guy in front doing whatever it took not to go down a lap.

That’s gone now if you’re bad and he’s good you just get passed either high or low,no way to protect your position now.

Drivers have lost their fire or the guys driving now are so afraid of Nascar they choose just to “race” for the money and settle for a nice finish twenty something finish in the race.

It has taken some time but Nascar is in my mind about as PC as you can get right now.

Bill B
03/23/2009 09:28 PM

“Back in the day men celebrated a signifigant acheivement like winning a Cup race having a beer with thier boys, not drinking a soft drink to appease thier sponsors and the soft drink company who pays them to do so. “

Yeah and back in the day I could drive around at night polishing off a six pack (or more). If I got pulled over and they didn’t find anything other than beer all was cool. I would be sent on my merry way with a warning. Yeah, things have changed since back in the day haven’t they.

03/23/2009 09:56 PM

I hope more people than I suspect, comprehend the passing of the 28. Another passing of rich history. Sorry for your loss Robert, and Davey, some of us still remember.

03/23/2009 10:01 PM

Hey, If you want to be entertained, watch WWE. Well, anyway, I see a joint match coming where John Cena and Kyle Busch team against Triple H and Carl Edwards for the
WWE Cup Series Belt and Trophy Buckle. All out racing, no holds barred, in a cage match. Folks, this is not racing, you know its not racing, and we just need to call it the show, not the race.

03/23/2009 11:28 PM

Matt- i agree the passing(hopefully temporary) if the 28 car is a sad thing. The old black/gold/white Havoline T-Bird may have been the best looking car ever, and Yates has always been a class organization. Oh Davey, what could have been!

03/24/2009 01:09 AM

A few thoughts:

Hurrah for Newman having a good race, finally.

Kyle Busch is the best there is right now, like him or not.

I had to miss being at Bristol this year, and watching it on TV is a sad excuse for the real thing.

I really like some of his drivers, but a bad day for Jack Roush at the racetrack is a good day for me.

Go 14!

Next week is going to be tough to watch without Davy’s car, the 28, in the show. How can it not get a sponsor when a start-and-park car can?

How can Joey Logano be called “sliced bread” while Mr. Bland, Jimmy Johnson, is around? Talk about dull!

The 28: RIP

03/24/2009 09:59 AM

jwcalla, concrete is a better race surface. It stays much cooler then asphalt. It is a lot easier to clean up oil etc.

03/24/2009 01:16 PM

Sorry folks this isn’t racing and I’m not sure why its brought up with Matt’s fine column but..

The general accepted etiquette for the National Anthem is to stop what your doing and stand quietly, face the flag if possible.

Not remove your cover(hat), not place your hand over your heart(thats for the Pledge of Alligence).

Diplomatic and Military ceremony may be more formal. Good grief people, I read something every week (Obama did something at his inauguration?) Enjoy the anthem, reflect on the good fortune we have to be in the USA. Quit looking around for something to cry about.