The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Phoenix Fall Race Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday November 16, 2009

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Phoenix Fall Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin · Monday November 16, 2009


The Key Moment: Johnson’s crew got their driver off pit road first on the final set of pit stops. Once the No. 48 car had clean air on its snout, it was unstoppable.

In a Nutshell: Jimmie Johnson drove another nail in his competition’s coffin with a dominating drive.

Dramatic Moment: There weren’t many in a race that started out with some enthusiasm but quickly petered out altogether.

Johnson and Kurt Busch actually waged a somewhat stirring battle early in the event.

The side-by-side restarts at the narrow Phoenix track made for some physical racing and a pair of big wrecks.

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

Cup Racing At Phoenix. Name that acronym!

Denny Hamlin suggested this week that there be a board of drivers to advise NASCAR on key issues, that they should treat input from all the various drivers equally, and that the sanctioning body should listen to the fans as well. He then laid aside his bong, ate a dozen doughnuts, and listened to American Beauty on his eight track player.

You want some clear evidence of how bad the sponsorship market is in the Cup series right now? Mark Martin is one of the most respected, successful, and talented drivers the circuit has ever known. He’s going to finish second in the standings, and has won five races this year. Yet Kellogg’s won’t be returning to the team next year and CARQUEST will only be back for eight races. GoDaddy will sponsor the team for twenty races, while Delphi will be primary sponsor of the No. 5 car for two events. That still leaves six points paying events that Martin isn’t sponsored for at this point. It’s scary to think about, especially for the smaller, less successful team owners…

It was a study in contrasts when Johnson and Busch were battling for the lead. Johnson and Knaus are one of the more enduring driver-crew chief combinations in the garage area, while Busch’s crew chief is a lame duck with one race left to run with Penske South.

It was far from a perfect race, but the 312-mile distance at a one mile track which cars routinely lap at under 30 seconds seemed pretty close to the ideal length for a Cup event. Maybe all the 500 milers next year should be 500 kilometers instead?

The National Enquirer ran an article earlier this week claiming Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s drinking is out of control, he’s approaching a nervous breakdown, and he shows up race mornings morose and resigned instead of eager and enthused. This information was attributed to “a source close to the situation” that could be any one of numerous hangers on who Earnhardt has shed from his orbit over the years. So maybe that’s the solution — hire the Bat-Faced Boy as Junior’s new crew chief.

Give Carl Edwards some style points for not taking himself too seriously. Everyone wondered what he’d do if he won a race and couldn’t do his traditional backflip celebration owing to his still healing foot. So after winning Saturday’s Nationwide race, Edwards got out of the car and did an awkward somersault on the track.

Phoenix had a decent crowd on Sunday, even if it was far from a sellout. But Saturday’s Nationwide attendance was downright embarrassing.

Yeah, it’s a tough real estate market. Having thrown in the towel on developing their Staten Island track, the ISC has agreed in principle to sell the 676 acre tract to another entity for 80 million bucks. That’s about thirty million dollars less than the ISC paid for it. Ouch. You know what they say. A million dollars here, a million dollars there, and all of a sudden, you’re talking about real money.

A lot of folks are quick to point out what the new ESPN coverage is lacking, and I don’t disagree with much of the criticism, but sometimes credit must be given when it’s due. The pre-race tribute to Mark Martin was excellent. It was rather curious, though, that no mention was made that Martin lost a title to Earnhardt in 1990 because of a 46-point penalty NASCAR hit him with at Rockingham, the second race of the season. The infraction NASCAR objected to was a carb spacer that was bolted to the manifold rather than welded as the rule stipulated. Even Earnhardt’s car owner Richard Childress admitted bolting the spacer to the manifold rather than welding it offered no performance advantage, but NASCAR stuck by their call. The penalty didn’t finish off Mark Martin’s championship hopes, though. Roush and Martin shot themselves in the foot during the Atlanta season finale by running a Yates-prepared car rather than the mounts they were used to. (For an excellent article on that topic, stop by That’s Racin’ and read Tom Higgins account.) One thing about the historic footage that was part of ESPN’s pre-race coverage is that it was hard not to notice how much better and more “Stock” cars of that era looked.

A long list of late-race wrecks this season has left Brad Keselowski with a few new nicknames to go along with a handful of enemies inside the Sprint Cup garage.

After watching him take out Denny Hamlin in Saturday’s Nationwide race, I’m beginning to see why some wags refer to the driver of the No. 88 car as “Brad Cause-a-wreck-ski.” Denny Hamlin’s post-race quote was perfect. When asked if NASCAR should do something about Keselowski, Hamlin flashed a nasty grin and replied, “No, that’s OK. I’ll take care of it.” To be continued? Somewhere, the Intimidator is smiling.

What did the No. 19 team call that unfortunate shade of green their car was slathered in Sunday? Back in high school, when the same shade was popular on Chevys we called it ‘Snot Pretty.

It appears with the declining ratings for Cup races ABC is having increasing problems filling its commercial load. Where the problem is particularly evident is during the local affiliates’ scheduled breaks, which are increasingly low rent. I mean, these are the sort of ads normally consigned to late night reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. Will those affiliates dip to the “1-900-Call Me” level in time for Homestead?

Brian France and his lawyers are apparently shelling out big bucks to keep a legal dispute involving his divorce from his wife of four years from being made public. The court notes that it’s an unusual request, as such court documents are normally available to the public and such hearings are usually fair game for the media. France’s lawyer pointed out the presence of a Charlotte Observer reporter at the hearing to keep the records sealed by noting “the big bad wolf is blowing at the door.” (France really doesn’t like the media, does he? That’s cool. In this journalist’s case, I really don’t like him either.) France’s lawyer went on to argue that since France is rich and has spent all this money, he ought to be able to keep the records sealed because revealing their content would do him irreparable harm. Now, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV, but my guess is now that the weasel’s halfway out of the bag it’s better to just let the story out. In this tabloid crazed society that made a princess of Paris Hilton — who is most famous just for being famous — absent hard evidence on France folks are going to assume the worst. My guess is readers of the National Enquirer (see above) are going to guess he was caught by his wife beating a homosexual prostitute in their marital bed while in the midst of a psychotic episode fueled by meth and strawberry wine. Or, worse yet, he went on a date with Paris Hilton, and there’s video evidence of the evening…

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kurt Busch seemed to have a car that could compete with the No. 48, at least in clean air, but a slow pit stop dropped him out of contention.

Tony Stewart struggled with an ill-handling car all afternoon. The contact he endured in the wreck Junior triggered just added insult to injury.

Brad Keselowski felt what it was like to be on the receiving end of another driver’s front bumper. Apparently, he didn’t like it.

Kevin Harvick’s win in Friday’s truck race and second place finish in Saturday’s Nationwide race didn’t translate to success on Sunday. His car was so out to lunch I half expected to see his crew hand him a picnic basket and fishing pole during the final pit stop.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

At times, it looked like Johnson was on cruise control much of the event, but Johnson barely escaped potentially race-ending contact with Robby Gordon and Jamie McMurray while lapping them.

The way this season has gone for Jeff Burton, a second place finish has to feel like a win. Burton had the car sideways for the final twenty laps in a Quixotic attempt to catch Johnson.

Jeff Gordon’s tangle with Kyle Busch and the post-contact confrontation could easily have cost him that top 10 finish.

Martin Truex, Jr. enjoyed his best finish of the 2009 season.

Six members of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s pit crew were lucky to escape serious injury when the van they were riding in to the track was hit broadside. Hey, guys, leave the wrecking to your driver!

Worth Noting

  • Johnson’s victory was his seventh of the season and his third consecutive win in the Phoenix Fall race.
  • Jeff Burton’s second place finish was his best since he won at Charlotte last Fall. He now has three consecutive top 10 finishes.
  • Denny Hamlin (third) has finished in the top 3 in three of the last four races.
  • Mark Martin finished fourth for the second straight week.
  • Martin Truex, Jr.’s fifth place finish was his first top 5 result since Watkins Glen in August 2008.
  • Clint Bowyer finished seventh for the second straight week.
  • Jeff Gordon (ninth) enjoyed a top 10 finish for the first time since Martinsville. But he still put a .44 slug in his rental car’s radio when it started playing the Eagle’s “New Kid In Town” over the weekend.
  • David Reutimann (tenth) drove to his first top 10 finish since Kansas.
  • Marcos Ambrose’s eleventh place finish was his best since Bristol. But he’s still the only driver in the series who gets the summer off when he returns home after next week’s race.
  • These Fords seem to be agreeing with A.J. Allmendinger, who has driven to tenth and 13th place finishes since making the switch.
  • Carl Edwards hasn’t managed a top 5 finish since Michigan in August.
  • Ron Hornaday, at 51 years of age, has become the most senior champion ever in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series. I gotta admit, I thought one of Hornaday’s sponsors, Indian Motorcycles, had gone out of business years ago. They haven’t. Really wealthy people with a taste for vintage styled motorcycles can check them out at Tasty, but a bit rich for my budget.
  • The top 10 finishers at Phoenix drove seven Chevys, two Toyotas, and a lone Dodge. A.J. Allmendinger in 13th was the top finishing Ford pilot.
  • Joey Logano’s 21st place finish was the best by a rookie. It’s been awhile since we’ve heard that “Sliced Bread” nickname, huh?

What’s the Points?

And then, there were two. Only Mark Martin can upset Johnson’s apple cart at Homestead. Presuming the visitors from V don’t kidnap Johnson and use him as a pre-Thanksgiving snack, Jeff Gordon will be eliminated when Johnson takes the green flag at Homestead.

Right now, the gap between Johnson and Mark Martin stands at 108. But under the traditional and legitimate pre-Chase points system, Jimmie Johnson would have moved from third to first in the standings after Phoenix. He’d be leading Tony Stewart by 13 points and Jeff Gordon by 56 heading into next weekend’s season finale, and we’d have the sort of barnburner on our hands the Chase was supposed to produce. Sigh.

Well, this is going to be short and sweet. All twelve of the drivers in the Chase left Phoenix in the same points position they entered the race in. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. This is something up with which I’m not going to put.) In fact, the top 22 drivers held position after Phoenix. Tell me again how great this Chase points system is.

Kyle Busch now leads Matt Kenseth by 45 points in their battle for “Best of the Rest” in 13th.

And last but not least, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse Earnhardt fell another spot to 24th in the standings. In comparison, Jamie McMurray is currently 22nd in the standings and he’s not only getting the ax, he’s still looking for a ride for 2009.

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 cans, with that extra can added for some decent racing back in the pack and an event that ended by 6:30 ET.

Next Up: It’s off to Homestead to finally end a season that should have been dragged behind the woodshed and had a bullet put between its eyes about three months ago. Somewhere, over the rainbow…

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



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Michael T.
11/16/2009 03:34 AM

I understand that you think Robby Gordon is a rolling pinball out there that bounces off everything in his near vicinity, but Johnson didn’t “barely escape potentially race ending contact with Robby Gordon.” I know these races don’t leave a lot for you to write about, but making up things about drivers you dislike for dramatic effect doesn’t go unnoticed.

The comment about Denny Hamlin and his bong made me laugh though.

Kevin from PA
11/16/2009 06:15 AM

Poor ESPN/ABC – after spending a few dollars this past week to declare that the “Chase is far from over”, I wonder what this week’s promos will be? (“NASCAR: Well, technically it ain’t over yet – live from Homestead!”)

(And for those who want to respond that the Chase is not over:
1) Johnson will not be aggressive in driving or setups
2) Every other driver will be so afraid to be within 50 feet of Johnson
Sounds like a receipe for another trophy for the 48.)

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 06:48 AM

Ahh, so many things on a Monday morning!

But congrats to the most professional duo in motorsports, It’s the Chad & Jimmie show! Is there any better?

WHAT? Jr. losing control and wiping out several other cars? Wasn’t it just last week one of your ‘fellow” writers was using Jr.‘s comments as an example of how bad ANOTHER driver was? Wonder who the IDIOT is this week?

And, well, a HEART BREAKING TALE, I drove from Florida to Michigan over the weekend, took I-95 up the coasst of FL., needed gas so stopped in Daytona. As I am filling up (7 gallons for the Prius) just outside the speedway, I had a bad moment where I wanted to kill someeone!

ALWAYS, when I get near a speedway, in fact Daytona is at the top of the list, my heart is pounding, my pulse is racing, I am hyper-ventilating, all from the excitement knowing what goes on inside the grounds! (was that the Waltrip #17 I just heard?)

BUT! This time, NOTHING! No emotion, no care, no nothing! EXCEPT HATRED for King Brian!

King Brian not only stole our/my passion, he has killed any enthusiasm for racing, and on top of that he has ‘driven the stake” thru the hearts of the old time fan!

NEVER have I ever considered, I would be on the grounds, or close by, a speedway, least of all Daytona, with no excitement in my body whatsoever! Just disdain!

As I am standing filling the tank, I am imagining that the best use of Daytona International would be to sell it to Waste Manangement, and they can start filling it (the rest of the way) with their garbage!

A giant landfill if you will!

In fact, King brian could be the master of ceremonies and throw in the first trash, a couple dozen empty bottle of his favorite drinking stuff, of course he would have to make sure each and every one was empty before throwing them away. Then the facility could be turned into a great big garbage dump, filled to the top of the stands. After all, that would not stink as much as what happens there in Feb. or July!

Of course, before this “filling”, they would need to do a re-check of the stands to make sure no one is still sleeping, after all, it was only July the last race, and that is enough to put you in one deep sleep!

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 06:59 AM

Quote “The National Enquirer ran an article earlier this week claiming Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s drinking is out of control, he’s approaching a nervous breakdown, and he shows up race mornings morose and resigned instead of eager and enthused.”

I’m gonna jump on this bandwagon for sure! Been mentioning this for a long time, everyone said I was nuts! THIS is one of the reasons Theresa did not want to give control of DEI to Jr., (I am also stating this is why Dad did not will the business to Jr.)!

Early on, they even had a hard time finding Jr. to get him to the race track! He hangs with “HIS GANG”!, That’s his life! It is all about “his gang”! Not racing!

And early on Bud even built, or helped build, a bar in Jr.‘s house for him, to keep him home!

At least they knew where he would be, or should be anyway.

Bill B
11/16/2009 07:42 AM

One more race and the weekly tormenting that I subject myself to will be over. Amen!!! Hallelujah!!!

Freddie the Freeloader
11/16/2009 07:49 AM

Well Matt,
You hit a few nails on the head! “My guess is readers of the National Enquirer (see above) are going to guess he was caught by his wife beating a homosexual prostitute in their marital bed while in the midst of a psychotic episode fueled by meth and strawberry wine. Or, worse yet, he went on a date with Paris Hilton, and there’s video evidence of the evening…”

Love it Love it!!!!

I noticed that it’s 7:45 AM and BSPN has yet to link you to the Jayski site…… I guess that’s your slap on the wrist for talking about his Royal “High“ness King Brian Farce. Ande letting the cat out of the bag.

Keep up the good work and keep staying away from the Cool Aid!

11/16/2009 08:41 AM

and people wonder why jr built a bar in charlotte? i’ve said all along that he needs to get his head out of his butt. i guess he’s not busted for dui cause he has the bar and stays there or calls his sister. i read over the weekend where the danica hype with jr motorsports might not happen cause he’s having difficulty getting sponsorship for the #5 car in the nationwide series. shame, shame, shame…..his father never would have had difficulty getting a sponsor deal for a race car, even if it was for the mary had a little lamb daycare center in downtown hoboken.

you can tell when they show pre-race ceremonies that he’s not in it. i believe the national enquirer about as much as i believe a politician, but jr needs to straighten his life out. just what does he have to show for it? daytona 500 trophy and a few others, sure, but whatelse, oh yeah, fan favorite driver based on fan votes cause of his rabit fans, most seem to be his age or younger and enjoy the party lifestyle. most older fans are fed up with him. i cannot believe hendrick is tolerating this behavior. sure he’s reaping the benefit of the sales in merchandise and can say to potential sponsors he’s got earnhardt in his stable, but jr needs to perform before sponsors get tired of seeing their advertisting dollars being shown in the wreck highlights or poor running highlights of the race. few weeks ago jr said after season he was going to focus on getting things in order and focusing on next year, last week i heard he’s probably going on vacation to australia or somewhere in the southern hemisphere. i won’t begrudge him a vacation, but he’s in serious need of some couch time with a good shrink.

a few years ago there was “enquirer” coverage of a party with him and mcmurray and sadler in tampa or miami and a hot tub and women. hum, mcmurray and sadler have grown up and settled down.

blame it on his father’s death? could for a while, but i tell you, sooner or later we all have to take responsibility for our lives. he’s lucky he has his sister and they have the twisted relationship that they have.

11/16/2009 08:43 AM

oh yeah….so will mickey waltrip and brain fart become best buds of the divorced men’s club of na$car?

11/16/2009 08:55 AM

Ah , well , if the Enquier says it then it must be so . I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be true , but i sure wouldn’t rely on the Enquirer as my source for ANYTHING .
I’d say Tony Stewart had a good point when he said the racing wasn’t as bad as its made out to be . There usually is some good racing going on every lap , all through the field . The networks just don’t bother to show it unless it involves a Hendrick car . So we , the viewers , just assume that the crap we’re shown is the only thing going on . It isn’t .

11/16/2009 08:56 AM

What a sight that must have been…seeing a vegetable (turnip) driving an egg (prius). It explains alot.

11/16/2009 09:17 AM

Sounds like all you “know it all race fans” sure like to keep beating on someone that is “DOWN” and having a bad year. That is all you want to talk about. Give it a rest and try talking about a good job one of the racers done on sunday. U are always so NEGATIVE!

11/16/2009 09:23 AM

With Kellogg’s pulling out as sponsors should send a message to NA$CAR. (although I know it won’t). They can’t really blame this one on the “economy” as Kellogg’s has been a poster child for success through these difficult times. They have posted record sales and profits. I think this is a matter of cost vs return and the return isn’t what it used to be.

With only two drivers in contention the “If the race were to end now” will probably be useless next weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if they added “If the old points system were being used now” feature. Just as useless but probably more interesting.

11/16/2009 09:52 AM

if the points were with the old system we would have a nice title fight on our hands.

then again if my aunt had a set of #@!!@ she’d be my uncle right.

has anyone calculated what the points race would be like under the old old points system prior to 1972?

nice piece though matt. i also enjoyed the martin tribute and that article you mention is really good too.

11/16/2009 09:59 AM

Three cans? It is the first race I’ve ever left @200 laps to crack beers in the parking lot. It was nice getting home with the sun still shining but that isn’t the reason why I went to the track IIRC. Giving it two cans is pushing it.

ISC packed the stands by reducing the cost of tickets less than that of hillside, which was as sparse as I’ve seen it in 14 years. I guess burgers/beer/sodas inside the stands makes up the difference.

ISC drones spent some time talking about how they are making the tracks more fan-friendly at Daytona. The heck with fan-friendly, how about focusing on putting a good race on the track instead? NASCAR can replace the seats with nail strips as long as the on track action keeps me standing. Sheesh, what are their priorities? Let’s worry about everything but the racing…

I wish I hadn’t already put my money down for 2010 tickets. This will be my last year.

Don Mei
11/16/2009 10:52 AM

First Ive been recommending shorter races and using kilometers as the measure forever! Second, Jesus, Turnip! A Prius?? I mean if you need 40+ MPG at least buy a Jetta diesel or a 335D! Lastly, OK its over, whatever you think about Hendricks, and Im not a big fan, the kid can drive a race car. Congratulations.

11/16/2009 10:55 AM

Thank God there is only one race left so Matt can be put out to pasture for a few months.

So now we’ve resorted to citing the “Enquirer” for our driver analysis and unnamed sources for the (who cares?) France divorce.

Hey Matt, here’s an idea for your upcoming downtime…How about enrolling in a U of Phoenix journalism course and get introduced to some journalism standards and ethics?

Your recipe for the column is to become more vitriolic and shrill as you have become lazier in coming up with a fresh approach to covering the sport. Worse still, you’re boring.

Have a nice winter.

11/16/2009 11:01 AM

Marilyn, the drivers were phoning in the racing, trying hard not to cause a wreck and collect Jimmy. Even MRN broadcasters seemed bored, waiting for this race (and season) to be over.

People said there was good racing in the back—I sure wasn’t witnessing it. There wasn’t passing per se, more like cars drifting back as their tuning didn’t work out quite right. The top 10 was essentially a parade until I left. From the Speed highlights I didn’t miss much.

11/16/2009 11:16 AM

Again, as every week, thank goodness for the NFL to provide something I can actually watch. If I would have sat there and watched the entire race just to watch JJ win, I am not sure what would have happened.

I think Kesolowski is the bomb, I get about as sick of Denny as JJ. Denny is like the little runt who just thinks he has to get the last word in. What does he expect? Put him in the wall, darn it, I don’t like when he gets wrecked but does not get any damage. (sorry I caught the replay online after the race).

Matt’s recaps are all I need to keep updated though, for cup.

11/16/2009 11:20 AM

itsbroken – just curious, what kind of crowd reception did jr get during driver intros?

11/16/2009 11:30 AM

Janice , Dale Jr. got a great crowd reception at the race on Sunday . Of course , all of those fans were drunk .

Carl D.
11/16/2009 11:37 AM

Don Mei…

Let’s rephrase that… “the kid can drive a car built by Chad Knauss with resources at his disposal that most teams can only dream about.

Bad Wolf
11/16/2009 12:27 PM

Turnip, your lucky the ghosts of Nascar greats did not materialize from the speedway and take tire irons to Prius. I’m sure their hearts were not pounding, nor were they hyperventilating while stareing in awe at that high horespower tire shredding foriegn import. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with your choice of car, but they have been known to cause dangerous levels of smug in the atmosphere. I hope you get rid of it before the batteries need to be swapped out ($10,000 last I heard) with a new set while the old toxic set get sent to India for dissasembly by child labor.

As for the race, I checked once during commercials on the NFL and I saw a split screen with JJ on one side and Knaus on the other. After the game I tuned into the race and after a couple of laps of single file a caution was thrown for imaginary debrie. On the restart was a wreck in the rear of the field and the TV was tuned away from Nascar on ABC.

11/16/2009 12:53 PM


it’s almost like being addicted to drugs right? you can’t stand nascar and how it makes you feel yet you still tune in for your weekly fix. it’s all discipline. you have to have enough self discipline to stay away for an entire afternoon. i know it’s going to be tough but why not try it this sunday. you can do it!

by the way what nfl market are you in? which games did you watch sunday?

11/16/2009 01:07 PM

Yes, shorter races would keep the naps from becoming “what happened to my afternoon naps?”

The biggest uncovered story is the continued march of sponsors away from funding teams. Companies that left or are reducing number of races for next year; Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Kellogg, DeWalt, Army, Carquest,, Irwin and more that have smaller packages. Also, many big sponsors are in the last year of their contract in 2010 and may not come back.Now I am not normally an alarmist, but this ship is taking on some water.

Kevin in SoCal
11/16/2009 01:11 PM

Matt said: “But under the traditional and legitimate pre-Chase points system, Jimmie Johnson would have moved from third to first in the standings after Phoenix. He’d be leading Tony Stewart by 13 points and Jeff Gordon by 56 heading into next weekend’s season finale, and we’d have the sort of barnburner on our hands the Chase was supposed to produce.”

Again you assume that drivers in the top 5, already locked into the Chase, didnt go into “testing” or “cruise control” mode during the summer to protect their positions. Does Johnson and Stewart not getting any top tens, and Montoya sitting in 8th or 9th place all race during August ring a bell? My opinion is you cannot compare points from previous systems to the Chase because the drivers race differently. Your opinion varies, and you’re welcome to it.

Kevin in SoCal
11/16/2009 01:20 PM

And speaking of points systems that dont exist, here is my 5 drivers, 5 races fantasy Chase standings:

Johnson: 5629
Martin: 5601 (-28)
Ku. Busch: 5545 (-84)
Gordon: 5545 (-84)
Stewart: 5479 (-150)

Wouldnt that be a lot more fun going into Homestead? With only 5 Chase spots, drivers would have to stay on their toes to maintain their top 5 points standings, and actually race for a top three position, instead of settling for another top ten.

11/16/2009 01:20 PM

Gee, lots of commentaries this week, eh, Matt? I hafta agree with “itsborken” (sp?) though: THREE CANS??? Only way I’d give that snoozefest three cans is if they were empty! I checked in a few times and saw pretty much the same thing so I was pretty content not wasting my time watching the whole mess. One revelation I was afforded, though (and you can take this to the bank!): If the announcers mention that “Track position is everything” or something similar, you can put away the bottle of ambien and fluff up the pillow. (Translation: “Whoever gets in front after the restart will stay there; the CarOfTrouble will not allow any real racing to take place; and This track is so boring that the only passing to take place will be in the pits.”) It’s getting so that the only races worth watching are Darlington, Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville. None of these are large enough to let that albatross of a vehicle get out into the air. Did I say albatross? I meant platypus.

11/16/2009 01:34 PM

To The Turnip
To janice

It’s ironic that those who have the most to say about Jr are the ones who know the least about him.

And it’s ironic that the people whose private lives couldn’t stand the light of day spew the most vitriolic garbage about him.

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 01:43 PM

Well, lets see who is first! LOL!

From Janice:

“a few years ago there was “enquirer” coverage of a party with him and mcmurray and sadler in tampa or miami and a hot tub and women. hum, mcmurray and sadler have grown up and settled down.” Now thats the frist ever reference I have EVER seen putting Jr., and “women” together! The very first!

Now, for Ann & Don Mei, oh well, my “out” is that it is my wifes car, the Prius! She thought it was a good idea, and since she controls the “happiness” in the house, she went out and bought one! (I dunno, maybe she just likes thing with BIG batteries, who knows)anyway, I decided to drive it to Florida, not bad, but like I said, it drives like the POS, just plain flatfooted on the highway. 48MPH overall on a 3755 mile trip. And for info, I drive a Chrysler Mini-Van, thats my comfort level, and we have a F-150. Never mind the motorcycles (3), and such.

“A Turnip driving a Egg”!

(well, the Prius is white!)


Don Mei
11/16/2009 01:55 PM

You can never have too many motorcycles, Turnip. Oh, did you notice that Brian’s butt-boy is back?

11/16/2009 02:02 PM

ginger, and what relation are you to jr?

you don’t know who i know, and i remember the stink about the tampa/miami party na$car raised about their drivers and their behaviour.

i asked “itbroken” about crowd response at driver intro cause that individual indicated they were at phoenix race, and i was just curious to see if the applause has dimmed. only audiable noise we’ve recently heard on tv broadcasts was when he took lead at ‘dega. just was wondering how “at the track” fans were feeling. i vividly remember hearing all those boos when his daddy was running…you either loved or hated him. i remember the boos for gordon, but they’ve mellowed over the past few years.

11/16/2009 02:10 PM


i was thinking you need to do a “whatever happened to” column. what’s up with johnny benson after that wreck he had earlier this past season? i think i remember hearing jb in booth during a truck race broadcast. saw craven on espn one night last week on their racing show.

The Old Guy
11/16/2009 02:17 PM

I wonder why most have not yet figured out that “Jr.” is not having a bad year?

He had “good” years while driving for the Flagship DEI team with the greatest amount of sponsorship money in NASCAR and with Tony Sr. keeping a boot up his butt.

Now that he’s not the lead dog, it’s become very evident that he simply doesn’t have the talent. EOS

It’s also evident that Rick Hendrick doesn’t like Lance McGrew very much.

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 02:21 PM

Hey Ginger!

What more do we need to know about Jr.? 20+ in points, a string of 30+ something finishes, if running some 60 laps down can be called a “finish” anyway, a guy who’s Sis actually runs the “business” so “you know who” can hang with his gang! (hey, that rhymes)! A guy that goes thru Crew chiefs faster than King Brian goes thru bottles!

I can hardly wait to learn more!

And for Bad Wolf, FYI, I grew up in the Detroit area, in a “big three” family! But please look under your computer you are posting with and let me know where it is made?


And remember, I am not the one that started this “buy foreign” thing, it was the big three themselves that went off shore for parts, long, long, before most people even realized it!

Oh, I asked my wife about the batteries in the Prius, and she said “what”?

Case closed! (until the batteries wear down)!

Hey, that brings up a good joke! Ever seen a woman in a panic when the batteries die?

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 02:36 PM

I heard the following on the car radio coming out of Florida Sunday, MRN I believe it was, pre-race broadcast.

One announcer says “it is a beautiful day here in the desert. The temperature is going to be in the 70’s, with a slight breeze. Will make for good racing. And we should see a pretty good crowd here today.” (second announcer says), yes your right about the weather and the crowd, hey, look, over there, two fans are walking in. (the first announcer then says) hey, there’s, a couple of more people, fans, coming in! (2nd announcer says), no, those are not fans, their the ticket takers milling about, but I am sure a few more fans will show up! Anyways, back to the pre-race festivities!

Get the idea?

(and for Don Mei, my wife owns two Honda Motorcycles,one a Shadow Aero 750, I only have one, a V-Star) So, I am missing something, who is Butt-Boy?

11/16/2009 02:48 PM


don’t take it personal. the only conclusion i have come up with is the their lives are so pathetic it makes them feel just a little better to come here and bash dale jr or the sport in general. for some reason it fills a void in their lives to come to these nascar sites and pretend to be long time fans yearning for nascar racing like it was in the 70s. they come to these nascar sites every day, yes every single day to whine and complain about nascar and how none of them watched it except for maybe a couple of laps. then they spend their whole week complaining about the few laps they did see. i saw one guy on here say he hated the race so much only because of what someone else said. he was too ignorant to even form an opinion on his own. then guys like matt wonder why nascar thinks the media has an influence on fans. i guess he doesn’t realize just how dopey some people can be. to form an opinion and talk shit about something you haven’t even watched for yourself is just plain ignorant. but the real irony in all this ginger is that most of these people sit there every sunday glued to the tv lapping up and slurping up everything that brian france and nascar shove down their throats. the one thing i can’t get past is why do they actually think it’s cool to hate nascar? you would think if they are going to pretend not to watch it and hate it so much they would be embarassed to dedicate so much time every week to it. so try not to be mad at them. actually you should feel sorry for them.

up up and away…….

11/16/2009 02:53 PM

Hi Janice, I missed the driver intros; got there just in time to see that nice old ‘vette driving into the back lot to park. After 14 years of driver introductions it’s kind of lost its appeal to me.

In the past shrub gets the most boos, gordon & johnson a little less. JR is a fan favorite in Phx and gets the most cheers.

The JR fan club seems to have thinned out a lot over the past few years. The sea of red changed to green and has pretty much sputtered out by now.

Notable hat was a guy with a smashed 48 diecast on his head. Even my wife, a 48 fan, got a chuckle out of that (and she thought the race was terrible and left with us too).

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 03:16 PM

Hey NC! your “but the real irony in all this ginger is that most of these people sit there every sunday glued to the tv lapping up and slurping up everything that brian france and nascar shove down their throats.”

“glued to the tv”?

Where in the hell did you ever get that idea?

You, at some point in time, must simply look at the FACTS!

TV viewership is DOWN! Down like the Titanic!


The sport is SINKING! And STINKING!

And you think were “closet fans”??

Your funny, or is that “sad”?!

Either way is fine with me!

Just the facts! Nothing but the facts!

But, then again, it doesn’t seem like it takes much for you to get excited!

(And, psst, Ginger! be careful who your friends are)

Bill B
11/16/2009 03:36 PM

Kevin in So Cal,
“Again you assume that drivers in the top 5, already locked into the Chase, didnt go into “testing” or “cruise control” mode during the summer to protect their positions. “

Please stop using that logic it was valid before they started awarding points for wins and using those points to seed the chase. Now no one puts it on cruise control because wins matter. Consider that argument debunked.

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 03:51 PM

Hey Bill B. guess I have to disagree with you, if your in the top 12 mid-season, you indeed put it on “cruise control” to “protect” your points position!

You don’t go for the win, if you crash and lose 25 positions and a top 12 placing! It simply is “all about the points”! PERIOD! It is points racing at it’s worst!

Wins really, really, don’t matter, if so, some “other” drivers would be in the chase! How many drivers are in the current chase, WITHOUT A WIN?

Kevin in SoCal
11/16/2009 04:06 PM

Hey Bill, if that was the case, then why didnt Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, or Juan Montoya have any wins in the last few races? Tony did win at Watkins Glen, but after that they didnt have any top tens until his win at Kansas. And Juan was nothing but top tens, but suddenly once the Chase started both he and Johnson rattled off a bunch of top 5’s in a row. Explain how that’s not racing differently, please.

11/16/2009 05:44 PM


with every post you make i realize you know less and less.

was tony stewart crusining around at pocno when he almost ran it out of gas for the win in june? when the 48 and 16 ran out of gas at michigan were they not going for the win in june? when mark martin and jimmie johnson both ran out of gas in michigan in august were they not going for the win? when kyle busch put a block on stewart on the last lap at daytona in july was he cruising? when edwards came down to block the 09 at dega was he worried about a conservative finish or was he going for the win? when the 5 and 18 dueld it out at bristol in august were they not running for the win? when montoya got busted for speeding at indy was he not trying to hustle that car to get all he could get to win that race? when he got his penalty at indy did the 5 and 48 not duel it out at the end for the win.

wins mean a lot with this system. if mark could have won the race at indy it would have been a 20 point swing heading into the chase. we have seen titles decided by less than that more than once in either system.

The Turnip!
11/16/2009 06:29 PM

Oh my, NC, your wound up today for sure.

If you want to call that “racing for the win”, you go for it!

Throughout the entire “event”, cars come, cars go, toward the end, a couple of cars “dice” for a while, as long as it is convenient anyway, and you think that makes it exciting?

But you miss the BIG PICTURE!

And that PICTURE is “play it safe”, if something comes your way, go ahead, try it for a while, but ONLY until it becomes inconvenient! Then back off, let a couple of more dudes put on a show! We simply have lost the concept of:


Oh, you do have some fine examples, make no mistake, but one does not “make the chase” taking chances, never happened, never will happen.

And also you probably described almost the interesting action from the entire season. But again, good examples for sure!

Remember, the season is 36 races!

And, once again, what I see is the “nail in the coffin” as far as this “argument”, err, “discussion”, goes!



THAT! My friend, is THE ISSUE! That, my friend, is what this discussion is all about!

The 12 drivers in the chase are treated like royalty, and some have not even won a race!

In fact, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a driver, or drivers, may even get to sit on the podium WITHOUT WINNING A RACE!

(I’ll double check that, me thinks it is correct anyway)

11/16/2009 06:42 PM

i just don’t get how you can say they are not racing for the win? alan gustafson’s call to leave mark out there in michigan in august was to go for the win. he could have easily brought him down pit road and cruised to a top 5 finish. tony stewart at pocono the same thing. he was cutting the car off and on trying to save enough gas to get to the checkers. he could have went conservative and pitted for fuel. i mean there are endless examples. kyle busch at daytona could have easily took a 3rd place finish but instead blocked the 14, got turned and finished 18th going for the win. same with edwards at dega. he could have top 5’d it with ease but going for the win he put the block on keselowski and paid the price going for the win. jimmie johnson could have coasted in 5th behind the 5 car yesterday but hung it out there all day to win the race. look at the 5 and 48 at both darlington and indy. jimmie burned his tires up at darlington trying to pass the 5 and mark wore himself out at indy trying to pass the 48 as well as at bristol battling the 18. i know i am repeating myself here but i just dont get how you don’t think these teams are racing to win every week.

points racing does go on from time to time but that is not anything new. i have watched guys points race at certain events for 15 years now. sometimes in the bigger picture you have to back it down but that is a small percentage of the time. for the most part these guys are out there trying to win. winning races puts you in the press and attracts sponsors who pay big money to give you a chance to make the silly chase.

11/16/2009 06:47 PM

you keep bringing up about guys being in the chase and not winning races? is this something new? guys have finished top 10 in points for years and years and years with no race wins?

this whole stupid @#$%^&* chase was created basically because kenseth waxed em in 03 with only 1 win. what a disgrace huh! in the winston cup era the champion won the title with 1 single win. in 2002 when mark martin took it down to the wire with smoke he had 1 single win in the 600. i mean i could go on forever with examples of guys finishing top 10 in points without a win. not only without a win on the season but not even winning a race thier whole career.

11/16/2009 07:03 PM

“Oil Causes This Week’s Earnhardt Woes
November 16th, 2009
(By Sarah Farlee, Senior Staff Writer) “We had an oil leak before the restart,” said Earnhardt, Jr. from the seat of his car behind pit wall. “We had oil on the side of the car and I spun out in the oil.”
“I hate it for everybody that got caught up in that, it was a big mess,” Earnhardt added. “We have something broke on the motor and we can’t find it. It’s been leaking the whole race.” “
Why was Jr. put & left on the track with this dangerous situation?
It is time Hendrick let Jr. go, show us what a fair-minded man he is, like JJ says. RH could be using some of the money Jr. is bringing into HMS and hire a top tier crew chief for him. Since he hasn’t I can only guess that he doesn’t want Jr. running up front. And what is odder yet…why wasn’t the oil as the cause of the spin reported on the HMS post race recap…? Marybeth

11/16/2009 08:16 PM

What idiotic, stinking, no good moron listens to what the National Enquirer has to say? Their stories are fantasy at best, and lies at worst. But then if your an Alzheimers patient with Depends on, you might just get away with it.

Doug In Washington (State)
11/16/2009 09:19 PM

It has always been possible in the modern era to win the NASCAR Championship without a win. Chase or no Chase. The fact that it hasn’t happened shows how difficult it is to be consistently good but not win-a-race good.

It’s not restricted to NASCAR. There are other motorsports where the championship is based on points, making it technically possible to win a championship without a single win.

I’m not saying the Chase is good- I think it’s stupid to have a “playoff” where the rules and teams are no different than the “regular season” but what are you going to do? BF loves his Chase and that’s what we have to live with, or we can tune out. Doesn’t seem to change anything.

Most pro sports are run by an all-powerful commissioner, and they ALL have their detractors. This is nothing unique to NASCAR.

Maybe change will come once BF has driven the thing into the ground, but he’s still raking in the dough. The question is do you want to let it die first, or wait it out until BF retires, only to get another member of the France family who might not be any better?

11/16/2009 10:41 PM

In regards to no racing on the track, I watched the race on Directv Hotpass (Marks channel) and MRN’s broadcast. At one point they said “it sure is a shame TV wouldn’t show anything outside the Top 10 ‘cause there sure is a lot of good racing going on further back.”
Whether the racing was there or not, I thought it was a great dig.

Bad Wolf
11/16/2009 11:48 PM

Nascar Crusader, It’s good to see you glued to your computer monitor all day lapping up everything the we disgruntled fans are feeding you. SLURP SLURP. I just don’t get why people like you who pretend to be fans for 15 years come to a site where they hate what the people are saying yet spend all day, no, all week trying to defend the defensless like you are a real fan and not a brain dead France zombie. You have the whole internet to find sites with like minded tools and you can post happy happy joy joy nascar hurrahs all day long and be looked at as a Nascar God. You just can’t stand the thought that there are people that think differently than you about Nascar and you are not secure enough in your Nascarhood to allow anyone to speak ill of the sport that you derive your self worth from.

By the way, my first exposure to Nascar was in the ’60s on Wide World of Sports and from the ’70s on I never missed a Nascar or Indy race on TV if at all possible, untill the last few years under the reign if King Brain the Dead. You just can’t imagine that anyone could have been a fan before your era of Jeff Gordon, and I don’t even believe that you were a fan back in the ’90s like you claim. You seem to have the crusader mentality of a 3 year newbie.

NC, been a suffering Vikings fan since the ’70s, and now Favre has given us something to get excited about. I’m sorry if you don’t believe I’ve been a fan since the days of Fran Tarkington, Chuck Foreman and Allen Page. For all you know I went to Wiki and I’m a 15 year old pimply faced kid like you.