The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Toyota/Save Mart 350 by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday June 22, 2009

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Matt McLaughlin · Monday June 22, 2009


The Key Moment: Kasey Kahne held off Tony Stewart on no less than four restarts at the end of the race to claim his first victory in over a year.

In a Nutshell: Everything some fans love and other fans hate about road course racing was featured in a single event.

Dramatic Moment: Those final ten laps were about as exciting as it gets. Unfortunately the action was spread over so much topography it was tough to keep up with who was hitting who where.

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

The double file restarts did in fact spice up the action at Sonoma without any of the wholesale carnage some drivers predicted. Oh, there was enough bumping and banging going on to make the typical mosh pit look like a Church Sunday social but no field decimating wrecks. But if I hear the term “Shootout Style” added after “Double File Restart” one more time I’m going to take a cordless drill to my eardrums. Even Wally Dallenbach seemed to admit just how ridiculous the term has become.

With all the left front camber some teams were running it’s a wonder their tires would last ten laps.

I still don’t like stock cars running at road courses and I’m never going to like stock cars running at road course races. Despite that twice annually some folks will try to change my contrary ways with the usual arguments some of which I addressed in Thursday’s column. Here are some of the other arguments I’ll undoubtedly be hearing this week.

- Road course races show a potential champion driver has a variety of skills- Of course that argument supposes that running ovals as diverse as Martinsville, Bristol, Michigan and Pocono doesn’t take a variety of skill sets to start with. OK, you want a multi-faceted champion? How about one weekend a year we stage a quarter-mile NHRA style drag race and allow the teams to run supercharged engines in elimination style races for points?

- NASCAR actually started on the roads with moonshiners outrunning the cops- Sorry, no sale. While many of the drivers from NASCAR’s early era honed their driving skills in such late night competition, stock car racing started on a variety of horse tracks at county fairgrounds and courses specially bulldozed in fields and around wrecking yards. If this argument is valid than the NHRA ought to stage an event annually with the cars running down Front Street in South Philly, because drag racing has its roots in street racing.

- Variety is the spice of life- True but I’m still not going to have couscous for breakfast tomorrow.

- It’s an interesting change of pace- It’s also a hideous expense for the teams developing specialized cars for the two road courses and sending their drivers to test at non-NASCAR sanctioned tracks to get ready for these two dog and pony shows. In this economy, especially with GM and Fiat-Chrysler cutting back on financial support to the teams, eliminating the two road course races would be a good first step to saving the teams a couple million dollars.

- Road course racing rules! You’re a moron!- Guilty as charged. But based on the TV ratings for the road courses a lot of my fellow morons don’t like watching road course races either. Back in the 80’s, NASCAR had to pair TV rights for the Glen and Riverside/Sonoma with some popular oval races just to get them on TV. And my fellow morons and I are the sort of morons that buy products from the sponsors that keep the moron sponsors buying those decal packages that keep your favorite drivers gainfully employed. Mull on that a moment you geniuses.

Folks who watched Saturday night’s Nationwide race at Milwaukee got a rare glimpse at something special. Milwaukee is a flat mile track and the teams competed in what’s now regarded as the “old car”. There were several desperate side by side battles for the lead and great physical side by side battles throughout the field on Saturday, more so than at any Cup event I’ve seen this season. Cars ran down the straights with their front valances several inches off the ground with suspensions functioning the way God and Junior Johnson intended them to work. Yet the first three quarters of the race were run with limited cautions. Milwaukee was a good clean, hard fought stock car race, old school style. If you missed it, more the pity for you because this sort of entertainment has become increasingly rare in the Brave New World of NASCAR.

You truly have to worry about the health of NASCAR’s Nationwide series after seven drivers who made the field had retired to the garage before the 25 lap mark. Those teams specified reasons like “handling”, “brake”, “vibration” and such. None of them were honest enough to say “We got the check we came here to collect.” I fully expect someone to claim “Driver really needed a potty break” as a reason for retiring soon. An increasing number of fans writing me are enraged the TV networks are purposely and carefully avoiding telling the story of the race by not commenting on the Start and Park teams, showing full field rundowns and using camera angles carefully so as not to show vast swaths of empty seats in the grandstands.

I don’t think NASCAR officials have figured out how to officiate a road course race after all these years. In real road course racing a full course yellow for debris means half the field is the debris and the course is completely blocked. Localized yellows are used for small bits of debris or simple single car incidents.

Maybe I’m being overly romantic, but there were some feel good stories in the weekend leading up to the Sonoma race. When TRG driver David Gilliland wrecked his car in practice, Earnhardt/Ganassi racing leased the struggling team a competitive mount that had been slated to be Martin Truex’s backup car. Joe Nemechek yielded the driver’s seat of the 87 car to road course specialist Scott Speed after Speed failed to make the race in his own No. 82. Boris Said needed a pit crew and the Wood Brothers team loaned him theirs since they were slated to be idle this weekend in fair exchange for some of the favors that Boris has done for the team in the past. In this tight economy it seems some teams and owners have figured out that in these challenging times, we are going to hang together or we are going to be hung separately.

Kevin Harvick’s bad luck at Sunday is just the latest in a string of events this year that have people wondering what’s wrong over at Richard Childress Racing.

I found this interesting. Everybody has been wondering what’s wrong with Richard Childress Racing this season. Court documents released this week indicate that GM owed RCR two and a half million dollars that was to be paid on June 15th. Childress was coy as to whether he got the check or not but he did say he remained loyal to Chevrolet and GM. He did say our sport is in uncharted waters financially right now. He went on to note it was likely he was going to have to tighten up his organizations finances in light of the financial crunch but vowed none of the cost cutting was going to affect his teams’ performance. As I see it, if RCR is spending two and a half million bucks on stuff that doesn’t improve the teams’ performances we might be getting a glimpse as to why those teams are running off song this season.

It was a pretty good week for the old guys with 50 year old Mark Martin winning the Michigan Cup race and 51 year old Ron Hornaday claiming Saturday’s truck series race in Milwaukee.

Let’s put this whole Danica Patrick rumor to rest. Every time this young lady’s contract is up for renegotiation she dangles the stock car threat to try to leverage her best deal in the IRL. Besides I’m not sure NASCAR fans are ready for a driver even more effeminate and whiny than Kyle Busch.

Rumors surfaced this weekend indicating Stewart/Haas team principal Tony Stewart might be interested in adding a third team to the organization next season. I’ll admit I badly “misunderestimated” Stewart’s chances of enjoying much success this year either as an owner or a driver so I won’t second guess him this time. But it does seem that the timing is odd with all the upset in the garage area over how much money GM is going to be investing in the sport going forward. As best I recall SHR is still looking for additional sponsorship for Ryan Newman’s team so absent a firm financial commitment from a rock solid sponsor this would seem an unusual time to be thinking about expanding. If nothing else trying to firm up business deals and land a sponsor in a time period where it appears both Stewart and Newman will be competing for a title could be a distraction. In business there’s the Peter Principal that states even talented individuals will rise up the ranks to a level where they find themselves incompetent rather than being allowed to remain in a position where they did well.

One other possible reason for the rumored expansion plans at SHR concerns Brad Kesolowski. Kesolowski is a development driver for Rick Hendrick racing through Junior Motorsports. Apparently Kesolowski is quite convinced he’s ready to move up to the Cup ranks though others have their doubts. With the four team maximum rule set in stone for next year there’s no room for Kesolowski at Hendrick because Gordon, Earnhardt, Johnson and Martin aren’t going anywhere. With the Stewart/Haas team being a satellite operation to Hendrick Motorsports, a third team for Kesolowski would keep him in the fold.

When he acquired the New Hampshire track Bruton Smith promised big changes. There was even talk that he was going to tear the track down and start over with a three quarter mile replica of Bristol. None of that has come to pass but there was “big” news this week from New Hampshire. The track introduced their new mascot Milo The Moose. (Seriously….not even I can make up something this bizarre.) Well I guess it isn’t any more bizarre than the giant spark plug mascot, but I’m not investing my 401k in stuffed plush Milo The Moose replicas. This aberration made me feel like I was having an acid flashback watching Bullwinkle. The scary part is some marketing type got paid to develop the Milo The Moose concept while the rest of us have to do an honest day’s work for a paycheck. Given the typically tepid action at the track maybe promoters could have a pre-race steel cage death match between Milo the Moose and Digger the Gopher. If the gopher goes down Smith would be a hero to us all.

What was Boris Said’s left front fender made of, Kryptonite?

If I were a heavy-hitter with the race’s title sponsor (in this case Toyota) and I could only get a cold pass to the garage area I’d be peeved. (Check out the command to start the engines if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.)

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kurt Busch had a strong run for most of the event only to get put into the tire barriers off the front bumper of the 48 car. Busch’s post-race comments showed a lot of class and maturity. Quick, someone send a tape of that interview to his younger brother.

Kevin Harvick desperately needs a good run and he was in fact running seventh when an equalized tire sent him to the rear of the field.

Joey Logano was having an extremely solid run in his first Cup road course start until a bent fender cut down a tire and ended his chances at a strong finish.

Mark Martin’s Michigan win is a distant object in the rearview mirror after a cut-down tire and a last lap wreck left him 35th.

Robby Gordon’s strong run and team strategy were negated by a caution flag that flew the lap before he was to pit, ending any chance he had at winning.

Kyle Busch won both Cup road course races last year but Denny Hamlin sent Busch spinning out of contention and into the pits. It ought to be an interesting team meeting at JGR racing Monday. Sam Hornish was also collected in that mess.

David Ragan had better be on his guard against the Earnhardt Army after he wrecked the 88 car while Junior was in the midst of a half decent run. (And for all those TV folks talking about what a hapless road course racer Junior is, he did in fact beat Ron Fellows to win a Busch series race at Watkins Glen. Now you don’t have to look it up because I did.)

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

It was the first win for Richard Petty Motorsports. Though the King is only titularly involved with the organization he was in fact on hand to join the celebration.

Marcos Ambrose lost his third place starting spot and had to start at the rear of the field after losing an engine in practice. He compounded the error by running into Jimmie Johnson late in practice. Somehow Ambrose was still able to drive back to a third place finish.

Jimmie Johnson was penalized for speeding on pit road (NASCAR’s radar cops were particularly ticket happy Sunday), took an off course excursion of his own and barely missed several wrecks to finish fourth.

A.J Allmendinger got spun twice but soldiered on to a resolute seventh place finish.

Denny Hamlin hit everything but the pace car and still wound up finishing fifth despite a beat up Toyota that could be dubbed “Final Express.”

Two road course ringers, Patrick Carpentier (11th) and Max Papis (12th) aquitted themselves pretty well at Sonoma. Some Cup series regulars will recall Carpentier’s run less than fondly. The others will figure that it was still Michael Waltrip in the car.

Worth Noting

  • The top 10 finishers at Sonoma drove three Dodges (all RPM entries), five Chevys, and two Toyotas. The top finishing Ford was Carl Edwards in thirteenth.
  • Max Papis in 12th was the top finishing rookie at Sonoma.
  • Kasey Kahne won his first Cup race since Pocono last June.
  • Tony Stewart (second) has now strung together four straight top 10 finishes and has top 10 results in six of the last seven Cup races.
  • Marcos Ambrose (third) has two top 10 finishes in his last three Cup starts. I think Ambrose is one of those drivers who even fans of other drivers wouldn’t mind seeing win if their favorite can’t.
  • Denny Hamlin (fifth) scored his fourth top 5 Cup result of 2009.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya now has three straight top 10 finishes. His sixth place result at Sonoma was his best of the season.
  • A.J. Allmendinger’s seventh place finish was his best since the Daytona 500.
  • Clint Bowyer’s eighth place finish was his best since Martinsville.
  • Elliott Sadler (tenth) drove to his first top 10 finish since the Daytona 500. He really has been a master of disguise most race weekends since Daytona. I don’t even recall seeing him out there.
  • Patrick Carpentier’s 11th place finish was the best of his 28 Cup starts. His previous best Cup finish was a 14th place result at the 2008 Daytona 500.
  • Max Papis’s 12th place finish was the best of his nine race deep fledgling Cup career. His previous best finish was an 18th place result at Talladega. But does that ease the sting of having the Italian soccer team lose to Egypt? Egypt? Soccer? Apparently TNT was a little desperate for story lines this weekend as they tried to escape the “There’s No Drama” moniker after Michigan.
  • Mark Martin’s 35th place finish was his worst since Talladega. He remains upbeat. This isn’t the Mark Martin we all know. I think Rick Hendrick is drugging him.
  • For those of you keeping score at home it’s now been seven races since Dale Earnhardt Jr. has visited the top 10. Sing along Junior Nation, “He’s everything you want, he is everything you need, he’s everything that inside you, you wish you could be, he says all the right things at all the right times, but he does nothing out there and you don’t know why….”

What’s the Points?

Tony Stewart retained his points lead. Jeff Gordon, who remains second in the standings, is now 84 points behind Stewart. Jimmie Johnson remains third in the standings and Kurt Busch remains fourth.

Jeff Burton had the worst day in the points standings, falling three spots and out of the Chase cutoff to 15th. That means that there are currently no RCR cars qualified for the Chase. Damn, that’s going to leave a bruise.

Mark Martin fell three spots to 11th in the standings despite his three wins this season.

Denny Hamlin moved up three spots in the standings and now finds himself seventh.

Juan Montoya moves into Chase contention up two spots to 12th. If every Cup race was held on a road course Montoya would be the presumptive champion. Of course if every Cup race was run on a road course there’d be so little fan interest the Cup title would probably pay “two dollars and fiddy cents.”

Carl Edwards took over fifth place in the standings displacing Ryan Newman to sixth.

Matt Kenseth moved up a spot to tenth in the standings while his teammate Greg Biffle fell a spot to seventh.

Kasey Kahne moved up two spots to 13th in the standings and is now just three points outside of 12th.

The “Chances of Junior Making the Chase” death watch rolls into its fifteenth week. Earnhardt fell two more spots into the standings to 20th. It would take a comeback that would rival Lazurus’ for Earnhardt to overcome those odds.

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 three plastic cups of screw top strawberry wine. The race was better than I expected but then I wasn’t expecting much.

Next Up: The circuit is heading to New Hampshire but I’m heading to my small town’s car show and hosting the post-event party next Sunday. Life’s too short to waste watching races at New Hampshire. If you find yourself in Guthriesville next weekend stop on in and set a spell.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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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…


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Bad Wolf
06/22/2009 01:24 AM

Tickets are available for the Bristol night race.

I need say no more about the current state of Nascar.

Carl D.
06/22/2009 06:11 AM

Whether or not stock cars should be racing on road courses is irrelevant to me; I admit that I enjoy the road course races. However, two are enough.

The road course specialists seem to do pretty good most of the time, but they never seem to actually win a road course race.

I wonder how close Kyle Petty was to exploding when Wally commented on what a great Father’s Day present it would be for Richard Petty if Kasey Kahne won the race. I don’t know what “titular” means, but I’m guessing it means something like “we bought your name, now go find us some more sponsors.” We all know how Kyle felt about that whole deal.

06/22/2009 06:58 AM

Road courses are a heck of a lot better measure of a driver’s skills than having them all go the same speed. If all the races were plate races, Michael Waltrip could be the champion.

Call me nuts, but I’d say Montoya is a little bit better wheelman. I’ll take Sonoma or Watkins Glen over Talladega every day of the week.

Steve Cloyd
06/22/2009 07:31 AM

I usually agree with you, but not in this case. Sunday’s action was what NASCAR used to be at the oval tracks as well; tons of rubbing and bumping with lots of side by side racing. I also got a kick out of watching them fight the car so much, especially late in the race.

I realize it’s not for everyone. Neither is Talladega.

I do understand your point on the expense though. I just think it would be yet another nail in their coffin to end this tradition as well. Of course, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it if they had a car they could actually race on ovals and didn’t go to so many tracks where they can’t pass, but I digress.

06/22/2009 07:32 AM


Second, I HATE NA$CRAP running SONOMA! (not that the Glen is much better). No passing areas, banzai runs to the corner knocking someone out of the way, single file (except after the double file re-starts!) (or when your simply so frustrated you run double wide to into the corner creating mayhem!

And throughout the “race”, who knows who was in contention because of pit stop timing and how much fuel was left, never mind the stupid TV people could not keep up with pit stops either.

The mid-part of the race was just a bunch of cars going round and round on different pit stop sequences!

And don’t tell me JJ’s banzai move on Kurt Busch was not intended! When you run over the curb, and I mean DIRECTLY
over the curb, he sure didn’t think his car was going to stick did he?

In summation of the “event” at Sonoma!


(and remember, the CoT highly contributes to a car that does not handle and is not capable of being properly set up for road course racing)!

By the way, this is the ONLY race I will watch this year! why waste the time, I had hoped for better!

And to quote: Milwaukee is a flat mile track and the teams competed in what’s now regarded as the “old car”. There were several desperate side by side battles for the lead and great physical side by side battles throughout the field on Saturday, more so than at any Cup event I’ve seen this season. Cars ran down the straights with their front valances several inches off the ground with suspensions functioning the way God and Junior Johnson intended them to work”!


Are you listening NA$CRAP?

Probably not, they never do!

06/22/2009 07:43 AM

Call me crazy, but didn’t it just seem uncomfortable watching the King in Victory Lane with his winning car adorned by a beer sponsor, especially recalling all those years they never had the Bud/Busch Pole sticker on their car as an agreement he made with his momma?

The times are a changin’.

Bill B
06/22/2009 07:45 AM

I have to say I like the two road courses. If nothing they are a good change of pace. Also, some great aesthetics with cool camera shots of the cars on the track.

I have no respect left for Boris Said. He goes out there with nothing to lose and proceeds to make dubious on track decisions which leave others wrecked in his wake. I know some may like that but to me he is a guest in the series and he should show some respect for others on the track.

Also, Jimmy Johnson must have gotten used to always having the best car. He never seemed willing to back off even when he had been out-maneuvered on the track. He was lucky he didn’t end up with the short end of the stick (in the dirt) on a few of those moves.

Isn’t titular one of the seven words you can’t say on tv?

06/22/2009 08:20 AM


I’ll be at NHMS next week and will provide you with all the details.
As with any race, it’s 100 times better at the track than on the tube.

Those lame-o mascots drive me nuts. The Bruins recently brought some creepy bear on board and he gets routinely booed at every game, so I can’t wait to see the reception Milo gets. I don’t think moose hunting season begins in NH until November, but you never know…

06/22/2009 08:58 AM

Nascar does in fact already have two drivers more effeminate than Danica Patrick . Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson .

Racer X
06/22/2009 09:07 AM

Nice Vertical Horizon reference!

06/22/2009 09:09 AM

Well Matt , you seem to be outnumbered here . The majority seem to like Nascar road racing . The Sonoma race was rerally pretty good . Certainly couldn’t ask for much more action . And again , TNT showed how much better they are than FOX at broadcasting Nascar .
TNT still needs to concentrate on the other drivers in the field besides Gordon . Way too much camera time for someone who isn’t anywhere near the front .
Keep watching the road races Matt , you’ll come around .

06/22/2009 09:17 AM

I felt sorry for Richard Petty when he decided that he needed to jump into the victory lane camera shot . When i watch him i can’t help but think of DW , on the verge of being totaly irrelevant but wanting to be on camera at all costs . The RPM team has nothing to do with Richard , except the team uses his name for whatever marketing value they can wring out of it . He’s a great champion , he shouldn’t be pimping himself .

06/22/2009 09:22 AM

Saw Kyle Busch on TV after the NW race the other night. While I have no problem with a general ‘in your face’ demeanor, he really came off as an unsufferable prick, rather than a disappointed non-winner. I hope that’s the image his team and sponsors are going for, because it can be a fine line between the two…

Mike in Floyd Va
06/22/2009 09:50 AM

I think the reason Scrub whines so much when he doesn’t win is because nobody has bothered to change his Pampers.

There was a time when the media loved sticking a camera in King Richard’s face for an interview or an opinion. Notice how quickly they moved him out of the way to interview Kahne. Of course, they had the totally irrelevant Sprint girl in camera though.

Sonoma wasn’t one of the best road course races I’ve seen, but it wasn’t one of the worse either. It would be a lot better if they had an actual race car instead of this generic wanna-be.

The reason they still have road course races goes back to the criticism offered up by other racing series when Bill France Sr was running things. NA$CAR was criticized for just running in circles. Bill Sr didn’t like the criticism and made sure that road courses stayed on the schedule. Since then, it’s become a tradition, like it or not.

06/22/2009 10:50 AM

Reagan did not wreck JR….Uncle Carl wrecked Reagan which then turned June Bug. For a Road Course it was not a bad race…pretty exciting at the end.

Fred S.
06/22/2009 12:02 PM

I like road racing in NASCAR. It shows skills that are not shown in all the other races.Wonder if I could get one of the transmissions for my street truck.As for Danica Patrick we don’t need her in stock car racing with her attitude. She needs to stay where she is and consentrate on winning Indy races.News letters and TV should never mention her name in relation to her moving to NASCAR.
Why does it take years for drivers from outside NASCAR to learn to drive a stock car when years ago A J Foyt, Mario Andretti,won races and Gordon Johncock(probably others) competed in several races without years of practice.
If Brad Kesolowski thinks he is ready for cup racing Hendrick should put him in the 88 car for a rew races. Jr.“ain’t doing nuttin anyway.”

Bill B
06/22/2009 12:09 PM

Fred S.
Re “Jr.“ain’t doing nuttin anyway.”

He’s still bringing in sponsor money. In these tough economic times that might be more important than winning races.

don mei
06/22/2009 12:09 PM

My my!! Aren’t we getting pouty about road racing!! You really want to compare the event at Sonoma with plate races or those boring cookie cutter one mile tracks? Hell I would pay more attention if we had road races at Road Atlanta, VIR, Laguna, etc. Come to Lime Rock in CT some time or Canada. And spare me the concerns about $$$..I would be willing to bet a road racing cup car is set up a lot like a short tracker. I still have memories of full size sixties stock cars at the old Bridgehampton track on Long Island. “Two dollars and fiddy sents? “ about Buschian petulance!!!

06/22/2009 12:40 PM

As far as SHR adding 3rd team goes, Stewart has strong ties to Bass Pro Shops going back quite a ways. So, Truex goes to MWR, Bass Pro Shops goes to SHR w/Brad K as the driver. Maybe even Jr’s Nationwide Team gets folded into SHR as well, giving SHR 4 teams and Hendrick 8! Rouse would not be happy.

Kevin in SoCal
06/22/2009 12:48 PM

How come you praise Milwaukee yet bash New Hampshire? They’re almost identical 1 mile flat ovals.

06/22/2009 01:07 PM

I was wondering the same thing. New Hampshire has got to be one of the hard-drivin’est tracks out there.

And since the poll wasn’t up, I’d give the Sears Point race five cans of the cold stuff. Fantastic late-race battle, tons of hard side-by-side racing, and a guy nobody hates to see in Victory Lane at the end. Not sure what else you could ask for; that was one of the most exciting races this season, and the excitement didn’t have anything to do with wondering who was going to run out of gas.

06/22/2009 01:20 PM

Itahad , i suspect Tony would pass on that scenario . Bas Pro Shops will likely be on the SHR cars at some point , and Truex would make a pretty good fit at SHR himself . Brad is simply not ready for a full time Cup ride . And it looks like Tony can probably build a better Nationwide team than Jr. so why take his team into the fold .
Now that i think about it , HMS might want to look at replacing a couple of their drivers , because for a team that is accused of having exact copies of Hendrick cars , Tony is sure eating Gordons’ lunch almost every week . If both SHR and HMS truly have identical cars , then i guess we know who the best driver really is .
I tried hard to find a reason why the double file re-starts wouldn’t work , and i can’t find one . Since the fans , the drivers , even the announcers are making fun of Brians’ “ shoot out style “ hype , maybe the marketing dept. will get the message and quit making fools of themselves .

06/22/2009 01:35 PM

Can someone explain what you mean by:

“If I were a heavy-hitter with the race’s title sponsor (in this case Toyota) and I could only get a cold pass to the garage area I’d be peeved. (Check out the command to start the engines if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.) “

06/22/2009 01:39 PM

i watched the last 20 laps of the race. i was surprised, beyond belief, that jr was in top 15 and running in 10 when the mess started.

i too thought it ironic that the bud car was in v/lane with cans of bud and richard petty. how many petty drivers over the years could not participate in shoot out because he didn’t run the bud sticker?

personally i was hoping marcus ambrose would have been able to pass stewart and kahne. that would of been an incredible celebration, as well as seeing how tnt media would handle marcus’ accent in interivews.

if gm owes(d) rcr 2 million dollars, i wonder how many other bowtie teams are waiting for checks? what is this i saw this morning, toyota is pulling funding too? wow…guess the honeymoon is over. wonder if brain fart will have to turn in his keys?

seems like bruton’s tracks all have mascots. remember we have lug nut here in atlanta.

06/22/2009 01:40 PM

I like the road courses, although this isn’t a very good track, IMO. Still, I’d like to see 4 or 5 road courses on the schedule. And bring back Rockingham and a couple more short track races. heck, I’d even enjoy a couple dirt tracks on the schedule. Get rid of about half of the mile and a half cookie cutter ovals to make room on the schedule.

06/22/2009 01:43 PM

Jr was having more than a half-decent run. He was running 9th and going forward when one of Nascar’s pinball machines (Carl Edwards) dive bombed his teammate David Reagan who then hit Jr. Back to 34th or 35th, with 7 laps remaining, Jr made his way back to 26th. Carl is a flipping nuisance on any track. He went to Jr’s trailer to apologize. Wonder how that turned out. Jr is too forgiving for his own good.

M.B. Voelker
06/22/2009 02:17 PM

As I said back when everyone was whining about Bristol, if you didn’t like the race we saw this past Sunday then you simply don’t like racing.

Even my DH, who doesn’t much like racing, was glued to his recliner forgoing even his most beloved computer games until the checkered flag fell.

This year’s edition of the Infineon race was exactly what racing ought to be every week.

Milwaukee was OK, but both the trucks and the Nationwide cars were, like almost every other oval on the schedule, victimized by the clean air effect on the leader.

06/22/2009 02:38 PM

Sonoma showed it’s true colors once again. It is a highly technical course that demands precision in all eleven turns. All this while doing battle with the rest of the field. For once the COT was not a factor in this race. I’ve been with several classes of cars on this track and it’s always the same style. Hit your marks and take advantage in the two passing areas. That for me is what makes it so much fun to watch NA$CAR drivers on this track. You could put them in Grand AM cars or Street Stocks and the style of race would be the same.

06/22/2009 04:00 PM

Why does it take years for drivers from outside NASCAR to learn to drive a stock car when years ago AJ Foyt … competed in several races without years of practice.

Foyt started racing in 1956, and was a 3 time USAC Nat’l Champion and had won his first Indy 500 before his rookie year in NASCAR (1963). He won the Firecracker 400 and his second Indy 500 in 1964.

He had plenty of seasoning…

To turn your question ‘sideways’ a little – why do racers that have won a single race feel they’re ready to make the jump to Cup? Danica may be a great racer; but, she’s still the Anna Kournikova of the IRL until she wins regularly. Her GoDaddy ads aren’t helping that image, IMO

Walt B
06/22/2009 04:02 PM

When I originally got into racing I was a fan of F1,Trans Am and the Can Am series. I’ve been to races at Mosport,the Glen and Bridgehamton to see those races. But there has been sense of obligation with Nascar running road courses as to validate it as a true race series. If running mile and a half ovals is so easy why haven’t the road racers that have come into the series dominated the sport? The lead sled car that Nascar is using makes the road races even worse. Heck the original Trans Am cars were still mostly stock cars. Nascar should eliminate the road courses and give the dates to tracks that need dates and get back to what they used to do right.

Kevin in SoCal
06/22/2009 04:06 PM

Christopher, I didnt catch it, but I am guessing the Toyota executive who was part of the 3-person command to start engines was not wearing the same “all-inclusive backstage pass” that the other two gentlemen did.

06/22/2009 04:49 PM

Nascar has clamped down tremendously on the available number of pit passes of all types . And the All Inclusive and Hot Pass even more so . You still see hayseeds in the background of tv shots , on their cell phones trying to get their 15 minutes , but they are becoming increasingly rare . Haven’t heard why , but have heard that passes a really getting hard to find , even for people who normally get them .
Contrast that to the NHRA , with their far more crowded pit area , and even the IRL . They welcome the fans in to the pit areas with open arms .

06/22/2009 06:00 PM

Road courses suck. Always have when it comes to so called stock cars.

Kyle Bushe is way over do for an ass kicking.

Michael T.
06/23/2009 02:55 AM

The race at Sonoma was very exciting to watch. It reminded me of why I got into watching NASCAR in the first place. Beating and banging, tires smoking, dust flying, fenders crunching. If you can’t get past your hatred for road racing in NASCAR after a race like this, then you are too far gone and nothing will please you. Just tune in for your “traditional” 1.5 mile tracks.

06/23/2009 11:47 AM

Marshall, you are so right. The NHRA wants fans in the pits where NA$CAR does not.

06/23/2009 03:21 PM

Kevin in SoCal
06/22/2009 12:48 PM

How come you praise Milwaukee yet bash New Hampshire? They’re almost identical 1 mile flat ovals.

You sir have obviously never been to Milwaukee. I have been to both and they are in no way similar.

Kevin in SoCal
06/23/2009 04:12 PM

Patrick, I’ve never been to either track, so what is the difference? Milwaukee is 9* of banking and 1265’ of straightaway, and New Hampshire is 7* banking and 1500’ of straightaway. So Milwaukee has more curved track. Is that the difference?