The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Homestead Race Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday November 23, 2009

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Homestead Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin · Monday November 23, 2009


The Key Moment: Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin made quick work of Kurt Busch on the final restart, and Hamlin prevailed in the battle of the JGR teammates to drive to an uncontested win.

In a Nutshell: With a whimper, not a bang, the 2009 Cup season finished, imploding upon itself with a very unpleasant sneezing and wheezing as the calliope collapsed to the ground.

Dramatic Moment: Unfortunately, most of them occurred at the midpoint of Saturday’s Nationwide race, but watching Juan Pablo Montoya run down Tony Stewart to deliver a little retribution off his front bumper wasn’t bad.

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

Has any other driver in NASCAR history ever won four consecutive titles? I don’t think ESPN ever brought that point up. Seriously, ESPN tends to decide on storylines prior to the race, then spend the next three hours beating fans over the head with them.

Some folks really dislike Rick Hendrick and I have my own doubts about how good one team’s domination is for the sport (while holding him to a certain degree of affection for letting Tim Richmond reach his potential) but it surely does seem that Mr. Hendrick has had to face more personal tragedy than any mortal since Job. Thoughts and prayers go out to his niece and the Hendrick family as they are forced to face yet another challenge.

Starting a stock car race on the east coast after 3:30 with weather threatening? Isn’t that like the NFL holding the Super Bowl at 4:45 AM on a Tuesday? Nope, they’re not going to do that. It would be stupid, simply stupid.

Some highlights from ABC’s pre-race Jimmie Johnson love fest. “My attorney is wearing his lucky shoes.” “Drink the Kool-Aid.” “Chad makes sure the crew has their shirts tucked in and they’re polite….” Was anyone else feeling a little nauseous thinking about how much the sport has changed since Cale Yarborough won his three straight titles?

The final TV ratings for last week’s Phoenix race came in at 3.3 in the Nielsen Ratings. Wow, ouch, Medic! It seems the Chase format isn’t igniting fan fervor to quite the degree Brian France hoped. For the record, the Phoenix spring race drew a 3.6 rating. In 2007 this same race drew a 3.8. In 2005 it posted a solid 5.0. It’s the economy, right? Balderdash. The race was on network TV. Even fans who couldn’t travel to the track or who have canceled their cable TV contracts could have watched it for free.

It didn’t matter if you love Denny Hamlin or you loathe him, if you pull for Bad Brad Kesolowski or you’d like to see him eaten by a pack of Albino Snow Weasels, it was just flat out cool to see Hamlin make good on last week’s promise to rattle Kesolwski’s cage hard in Saturday’s Nationwide race by sending him spinning off his front bumper on lap 35. No innocent drivers were collected, and Hamlin accepted his one lap penalty for rough driving with a wink and a grin but no apology. Genuine human emotion and a dose of rivalry in NASCAR racing? Scotty, beam me up. I’ve found myself back in the 1980s.

There’s the downside of branding a race weekend. During the Ford Championship weekend we watched two races and two titles claimed by Chevy drivers and the other race and title awarded to a Toyota pilot.

I’m not sure Jimmie Johnson was thinking clearly when he decided to continue his burnout down a crowded pit road. What a tragedy it would have been had the car gotten out from under him and he’d driven into that crowd. It would have completely overshadowed a very notable accomplishment.

Among those drivers who finished 2009 with a big goose egg in the win column, you find Carl Edwards (who won nine races last year) Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

If this season doesn’t make NASCAR brass rethink this whole Chase mess, what will? C’mon, guys, it’s time to ship the Chase off to the Island of Unwanted Toys.

Much will be made of the fact that Jimmie Johnson broke Cale Yarborough’s record for consecutive championships. But there will always be that footnote in blinking red neon letters that Johnson’s four titles were under the Chase and Cale had to battle all year for his three championships. And let me ask you this: If you were in a house-clearing barroom brawl, who would you want to have your back, Johnson or Yarborough?

Brian France held a press conference on Friday and used a whole lot of words to say a whole lot of nothing. Apparently, he’s well satisfied with everything and says all the challenges the sport is facing can be dealt with without offering any specifics on to how he plans to deal with those challenges, be it flagging attendance at races, declining TV ratings, or the general malaise that is gripping the sport. To quote that Yoda-like bastion of wisdom, “2010 doesn’t look to be an awfully lot better.” Not what I wanted to hear. “All is well,” said the captain of the Titanic. “Keep on dancing on the foredeck. We’re only stopping by this iceberg to grab up some more ice cubes to keep the party rolling.”

Did it seem like the engines Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were getting from Hendrick Motorsports once the Chase began lacked the oats of the mills under the hood of the 48, 24 and 5 cars?

I hate racism. I hate it like I hate cancer. Cancer has claimed too many of my family members and friends, some as young as 17. Eventually it will claim me. I know how I’m going to die, just not when. But I hate reverse racism as well. Juan Pablo Montoya is a talented race car driver who has excelled in many disciplines in the sport ranging from F1 to NASCAR. I welcome his talent and his blunt personality with open arms. But all week, NASCAR has been trying to promote Montoya as the Second Coming to Hispanic (well I think the official line is “Latino“) race fans. Well is it OK for white or black race fans to pull for the feisty, outspoken driver too? Is it OK for “Latino” fans to pull for Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, or Jimmie Johnson? I’m an American-Irish Catholic. Does that mean I have to root for a driver with the same heritage or am I free to root for whatever driver lights my fire? Given this week’s promotion, NASCAR wants to go back to the Wendell Scott days when he had to sit out a race because the “colored” ambulance wasn’t at the track.

Last week it was reported Brian France and his legal team were trying hard to keep details of a lawsuit Brian filed against his former wife private. Mr. France’s lawyer said if details of the case became public, it could do his client’s reputation irreparable harm. Then, this week it was revealed that Jeremy Mayfield’s lawyers are trying to depose the former Mrs. France. Am I seeing a relationship here? Then late yesterday afternoon I got an email from a person purporting to be in the employ of one of Mayfield’s lawyers. She refused to give me a number and an extension so I could speak to her and this is the internet so it could have been a bored truck driver sitting in his trailer home trying to toss an Ozark in the cesspool. But this person claims (and had the legal jargon down cold) they want to discuss Brian France’s own past or present substance abuse issues with his former wife. Throw some popcorn in the microwave and a six pack in the cooler. Watching this one play out could be more entertaining to watch than the 2009 Cup season.

For fans who felt ESPN phoned in their portion of the 2009 Cup season, just remember the next time you watch a race FOX and most likely “Little Digger” will be back to annoy the crap out of you. Darrell Waltrip certainly will unless he goes out riding with his brother Michael during the off-season. That’s one of the best things about Christmas. FOX sports doesn’t cover Christmas.

A note to Kyle Busch’s girlfriend about *protocol during the National Anthem*….wrong hand, Hun.

Tom Petty is from Florida. And a long time ago he summed up my feelings towards my the 2009 Cup season and how I feel about all my loyal readers who have stayed with me and the sport this season despite the challenges. “And it’s all over before you know it, and the days go by so fast, the bad times seem to last forever, and the good times they never seem to last, but wherever you are tonight, I wish you the best of everything, and I hope you found, whatever you were looking for.” I want go way off the grid for a second and offer up something for my many readers from here in the Northeast Quadrant of the US of A, and fellow fans of the Boss. Trust me, this is so cool it makes up for watching a dozen boring NASCAR races. And if it doesn’t get you up and dancing, have a registered nurse stop by and check your pulse. Long live the Boss and the Spectrum.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Marcos Ambrose led the race early and clearly had a strong car. Not long afterwards he cut down a tire, then he spun out on lap 81 and again on 108.

Elliott Sadler wrecked his car in a bizarre pit road pileup during the fourth caution period.

Jack Roush’s Fords had won the last five Homestead Cup races. On Sunday none of the organization’s five drivers even led a lap.

Mark Martin knew going into the day the odds were stacked against him to win the title but you have to believe he’d have liked a more competitive car with which to finish the season.

It was another trying afternoon for Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished 28th after hitting the wall umpteen times. Earnhardt finished 25th in the standings while his three teammates finished first, second and third.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Denny Hamlin had to overcome a 38th-place starting spot en route to his fourth victory of the season.

They closed out the season without a win, but Richard Childress Racing has been making major strides back towards respectability lately. Three drivers finishing in the top 11 was a pretty nice way to end the season.

Kurt Busch and Pat Tryson ended their relationship on an upbeat note with a fourth straight finish.

Bill Elliott ended his career with a solid sixteenth place finish in the lightly regarded Wood Brothers Ford.

Worth Noting

  • Hamlin’s win was his fourth of the season and second of the Chase. In five of those ten Chase races Hamlin finished first, second or third. His DNFs at Charlotte, Fontana and Talladega did in Hamlin’s title hopes or he’d have been in the mix.
  • Jeff Burton finished out the year with four straight top-10 finishes and two straight runner-up results. As it stands written in the Book of Bruce, “Man the dope is there’s still hope.”
  • Kevin Harvick (third) ended the season with top-5 finishes in two of the last three races. Those finishes account for two of the five top-5 finishes Harvick earned all season.
  • Kurt Busch (fourth) led nine of the ten Chase races. Jimmie Johnson only led in eight Chase races.
  • Johnson did score top-10 finishes in nine of the ten Chase races.
  • Jeff Gordon (sixth) ends the season with 25 top-10 finishes in 36 races. A lot of seasons, that would have been good enough to win the title. Or it would have been before they invented Jimmie Johnson.
  • Kyle Busch’s eighth-place finish was his best since Martinsville.
  • A.J. Allmendinger (10th) has average an 11th-place finish in the three races he ran in Fords to end the season. I don’t know if his car was running the Ecoboost engine but it had to be an ego-boost for the former open wheel racer.
  • Bill Elliott finished 16th for the third time in his 12-race 2009 Cup schedule.
  • The top-10 finishers at Homestead drove two Toyotas, five Chevys, a pair of Fords and a Dodge. The top-10 points finishers drove six Chevys, two Dodges a Ford and a Toyota.
  • Joey Logano scored the top finish by a rookie at Homestead.

What’s the Points?

Here’s a surprise. Jimmie Johnson won the title.

Under the traditional points system Johnson still would have won the title. He’d have beaten second place Jeff Gordon by 66 points and Tony Stewart by 71 points. Of course were he running for a title its doubtful he’d have engaged in that shoving match with Montoya.

Denny Hamlin’s win propelled him forward five spots to fifth in the standings. That’s not bad for a driver with three DNFs in the 10-race Chase.

Thanks to their mid-race bamming and framming, Tony Stewart fell a spot to sixth in the standings and Juan Pablo Montoya fell two spots to eighth.

In the “Best of the Rest” category Kyle Busch finished 13th, 68 points ahead of Matt Kenseth.

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, two for the race and one for the road. See ya on the breeze.

Next Up: A long winter’s nap. Racing, or the putrid approximation of racing NASCAR offers up as computation these days, resumes in February at Daytona. In the meantime, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving (and I am most thankful for my continuingly loyal readership) and blessed and joyful Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate even if it’s Festivus). My best wishes to friends and foes alike for the best of everything in the coming New Year. That’s the news and I am out of here.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


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11/23/2009 06:25 AM

As has been noted on these message boards before, Denny Hamlin has some serious maturity issues to overcome before he can be a legitimate force in NASCAR racing. Over the past few years, Hamlin has picked fights with “STRONG” opponents such as Kyle Petty, Brad Kesolowski, and Michael Waltrip. He even went so far as to hunt down one of NASCAR’s biggest charitable patron’s, and punch him in the face following a racing incident – at that point we should have known something was amiss.
About 6 months ago I openly criticized a columnist on this website for ranking Denny Hamlin in the top 5 current drivers in NASCAR. Since then he has exhibited behavior that puts him on par with such NASCAR “totables” as Brian France, Michael Waltrip, and Pheonix Pheonom Kurt Busch.
This week, a quote from his competitor, Brad Kesolowski, summed up much of our suspicions:
“He‘s got a lot of problem’s; on and off the race track and I don’t think spinning me is going to make him happy”
Unfortunately, we all know that DH will never be suspect to NASCAR’s “random“ drug testing policy the way that Jeremy Mayfield has, but many of us around the sport know that there is legitimate cause for concern. Driving for a super team, you’ll get away with much more than a single car effort. I mean, did Jeremy Mayfield JUST start using meth in 2009???? Come on…
“Oh Denny, we’re so proud of you…” Why don’t you take a cue from your sponsors and deliver rain, sleet, snow or shine?… Not just under “clear” conditions…

11/23/2009 06:50 AM

I rememeber Harvick being parked for a Cup race for spinning someone on purpose in a Busch race, and Hamlin gets a one lap penalty then the lucky dog, come on. What was up with getting an extra man over the wall to clean the windshield, thought they all used tear-offs. Watched maybe 50 laps of the race and had to force myself to do let, along way from 8-10 years ago when Sundays were planned around the race.

11/23/2009 07:16 AM

I believe Denny comment’s after the race could be cause for a drug test, when he said he had NEVER heard the fans chear as loud as they did when he spun Brad had to have been in his head because there was no one at the race.

Michael T.
11/23/2009 07:26 AM

Just a broken record. Do you even bother to watch the races anymore? If you considered that to be a tepid race, then I don’t know what will satisfy you because it has never and will never exist.

Three and four wide, slicing and dicing, slide jobs, green flag passes for the lead, tires rubbing and tempers flaring. I didn’t watch the race hoping for a title race. I watched it for the individual race it was. Almost everybody had nothing to lose and they drove like it.

That race deserves 5 cans. But I’m sure your “followers” will do like they do every week. Agree with you that it was the most boring race ever staged and how they are so much cooler than the rest of us because they DIDN’T watch the race, but ran straight here the next day to inform us of that.

Bill B
11/23/2009 07:28 AM

Not a bad race to end the season (I’ll give it 4 cans) but I’m glad the season is over. I felt someone should have put a bullet in the season back in August.

I’m glad that Brian thinks “all is well” with the sport. That’s all that really matters, apparently.

M.B. Voelker
11/23/2009 07:40 AM

There were some quotes yesterday morning from, of all people, Jeff Burton approving of Denny Hamlin’s payback on Kes.

If Kes has managed to irritate safety advocate and elder statesman Burton he must be acting as an absolutely tremendous jerk in the garage.

I thought Denny managed the spin very nicely. Didn’t slam Kes into the wall, didn’t catch any innocent bystanders, didn’t inflict undue damage on his own car, just caught him in the right spot and gently pushed him around.

Kes came across as a good guy before he got tapped for the 88 and infected with swollen head syndrome. Hopefully he’ll learn the lesson.

11/23/2009 07:43 AM

Mr. T,
Yeah, I watched the race. What were you watching? THe margin of victory was almost three seconds, or about 26 car lengths. Througout the day if you watched the ticker, there was usually a second gap between most positions. The only three wide, slicing and dicing I saw occurred A) During the Nationwide race which was actually quite good at its midpoint B) In the first handful of laps after a restart as desperate drivers pushed the issue knowing it was thier only oppurtunity to pass. If that was to your liking, so be it. I didn’t light it up for me. But then again there’s a reason McDonalds serves billions and billions of hamburgers. Some folks just have low expecations. It’s the same with McRacing I suppose. You want fries with that?

11/23/2009 07:44 AM

I did feel ESPN gave more of an effort to show most of the cars around the track..and even talked about more of them. We did see alot of the 48..but that was to be expected in the final race…they should have cut back about 75% of the 48 coverage the other 35 races! From the first rear end boot Montoya gave had to know it was “game on”! It actually spiced up the race…there was alot of passing..and door to door looked like all the drivers were trying to just get the race over with..and by driving faster, harder, and alittle bit crazier..they were hoping the end would come sooner! Usually after the end of the season it is nice to catch my breath after a hectic and great 36 races..this year it is just good to be able to “denumb” my brain from the blah blah blah racing.

Dans Mom
11/23/2009 07:53 AM

Not a whole lot of class for Denny Hamlin to do a burn-out on Jimmie Johnson’s day… But that’s what we’ve come to expect from that guy.

11/23/2009 07:53 AM

Jack Roush was all for no testing because he figured (and rightly so) that it would help the big teams. But it seems it only helped Hendrick.

The Turnip!
11/23/2009 07:54 AM

Well, I was ready to get the backhoe out, dig a big hole, and bury this season, once and for all!

But, after a little thinking, I just took a hand shovel, dug a small hole, cause there ain’t much left to bury!

What a sorry season of “stock car racing”!

I didn’t even mark the grave, I am sure the stench will permeate up thru the ground for years to come!

And, after announcing to the world his intent to take out another driver during a race, Denny gets “one lap”??

As it always turns out, the rules in NA$CRAP coninue to change, minute by minute!

Who can keep up with that crap!

Who would want to keep up with that crap!

You go, Jeremy! You’ll be rich yet!

And for Jr., yet another fine example of “driving a race car with intent”!


RIP Jr.!

Kurt Smith - Frontstretch Staff
11/23/2009 08:03 AM

Hmmmm (did I spell that right) – are you talking about my rankings of drivers earlier this season? If you are, I ranked Denny Hamlin ninth, not in the top five.

And I stand by that. I was ranking drivers based on what I believed was their ability, not their maturity. A maturity ranking would make for quite a different list.

Just clearing the air.

11/23/2009 08:17 AM

Dan’s Mom,
I am at a loss to explain your comment about Denny. It might have been JJ’s day but it was Denny’s night. Did you not get the memo Denny won the race, a notable acheivement. Of course he was going to celebrate.

I give JJ props. He sort of parked out on the track and gave Denny his five minutes before returning to the spotlight he had earned. I recall when Terry Labonte won the title and Bobby Labonte won the Atlanta season finale they did a side by side victory lap. Immeadiately afterwards the network glommed all over Terry leaving Bobby sitting in his car for nearly fifteen minutes before doing the victor’s interview. That was wrong.

11/23/2009 08:34 AM

Why was Montoya’s penalty 2 laps Sunday and Hamlin’s only 1 lap on Saturday? Hamlin’s team was also allowed to put tape on the fender while serving the penalty. As mentioned above it also kept him in the lucky dog position.

Another fine example of NASCAR inconsistency.

11/23/2009 08:36 AM

watched bits and pieces of race. i thought highlight was montoya and stewart. stewart’s temper always shows it’s beautiful side.

how boring can a championship celebration be? i’m surprised na$car didn’t bring in canned crowd cheering. i did notice a few boos being vocalized.

we all know jr loves to rim-ride. you’d think by now he’d know where the walls are at each track. daddy could run the high line and woudln’t kiss the wall multiple times during the race. maybe jr has large magnet in the right hand side of the car to attach his car to the wall and the magnet gets out of alignment. jr’s interviews (one with USAToday last week) are becoming about as coherent as idiot france’s. really beginning to wonder if jr knows what he wants.

happy thanksgiving folks. have a great holiday season!

11/23/2009 08:52 AM


Thanks for your column. It is the only nascar column I read anymore. Yea, another year of boring racing and unpalatable off track stories (thank you brian france).

I am one of those who despise rick hendrick. Yes, I know he has suffered personal tragedy over the years to a level not many can bear, but it was his business activities and then trying to cover up things using his drivers, nascar and, of all things, cancer. Let’s not forget this guy is a CONVICTED FELLON! He was caught price fixing cars being sold at his dealership, and plea bargained to a lesser charge of mail fraud. Don’t forget this guy was under house arrest. That brings me to the most disgusting and despicable part of him. When the #24 was winning everything in 1997 and 1998, the driver would get out of the car and give thanks to the Good Lord and rick, who was home “suffering from leukemia and could not be at the track”. The truth was rick was not able to attend the races because he was under house arrest! He would even have those signs in the car for bone marrow donations (when was the last time you saw a hendrick car with that?). Yes there have been others in nascar that have had law troubles but I cannot think of any that were convicted trying to screw the customer and then trying to cover it up using the methods he did. Disgusting.

11/23/2009 09:05 AM

Matt – NASCAR made Jimmie park on the track and wait so that Denny can celebrate. I remember them doing that last year too. Jimmie also did the same burnout down pit road last year, although I think that it was more crowded this year.

As for JPM being marketed to the Hispanic and Latino population (yes, there is a difference), it’s a good thing. No one is saying that because you are not part of a particular demographic group, you can’t root for a driver that group. It’s done to try to draw more fans in. Maybe they will watch/attend a race because of JPM, but decided to follow another driver, then another, then another, and become a multi-year or lifelong fan. There is a reason why NASCAR has the Drive for Diviersity Program. People root for drivers for a variety of reasons, one may be ethnicity. I know I root for teams who have people involved who come from the area I grew up.

11/23/2009 09:22 AM

Not a bad race really . Pretty good action for the most part , but of course as we’ve seen at every race , the car that gets out front just pulls away .

One more time , what Jimmy Johnson did was win 4 of the ten race long championships in a row . Thats a great accomplishment , but in no way does it compare to winning the championships that Cale , Dale , Richard , and Gordon won . You can compare flag football to the NFL all you want , they’re not the same thing .

You’re right , that god awfull FOX coverage is just around the cornor .

I can’t imagine why it would be inappropriate for Hamlin to celebrate his win exactly like every other race winner does .

Bill B
11/23/2009 09:30 AM

Someday, when Brian France is forced to step down and the original championship format is reinstated, all of these chase years will have asterisks after them.

11/23/2009 09:33 AM

I’ve thought the same thing many times about RH and the bone marrow signs, it is amazing how quickly after the house arrest he went into “remission”. Not trying to make light of this or any other illness, just do not believe he was ever “sick”.

Can someone tell me why some drivers when penalized a lap or more are eligible for the lucky dog and others are not. A Busch(Sat) ?.

The Turnip!
11/23/2009 09:34 AM

Please don’t forget to turn out the lights!

11/23/2009 09:37 AM


You used to do an awards column that left me rolling on the floor. Could you bring that back, please?

11/23/2009 09:39 AM

Hopefully that was the last race with Mike Helton and Brian France in charge. But I doubt that is the case. Both of them should be headed for the unemployment rolls.

11/23/2009 09:44 AM

I watched DW on SPEED and it made me want to curl into a ball and weep knowing he was soon going to be on my tv screen again . I’ve turned down the sound on the tv and listened to MRN a number of times over the last few seasons , and believe me , thats the way to go .
As long as Hendrick pays the networks and the announcers to talk about his teams , thats all we’re going to hear . That doesn’t say much for the integrity of the networks or the people on them , but its been allowed to go on for years ( remember the worship of Jeff Gordon by the networks in the 1990s ) and the producers and directors aren’t planning to turn down the money any time soon .
I’m ashamed to admit that i actually watched a bit of the pre race on SPEED . I got to see the parts where Kenny Wallace was telling the fans that they ( the SPEED network ) were tired of the negativity by the fans and the other media . So everyone keep your opinions to yourself . I also got to see DW explain that the fans really don’t know what they are talking about , and if they aren’t impressed with Jimmy Johnson , then they don’t know anything about racing . He also went into a long devotional concerning Rick Hendricks’ ability to walk on water . Gee , i can’t wait till DW , and those two bumbling , stumbling ex- crew chiefs are back with us every week . Go MRN !

11/23/2009 09:56 AM

from last few posts glad i didn’t watch the pre-race stuff. i know when i saw 3 hr show on speed leading up to race i probably would have ended up tossing the tv out of the house.

dw kissing butt…imagine that. yes dw we’re all dumb and stupid cause we haven’t all partaken of the kool-aid and are still capable of independent thought.

680apple – i have always said the same thing. you forgot about the $250,000 campaign contribution to mr. clinton in exchange for the pardon.

Dans Mom
11/23/2009 10:12 AM

Frontstretch Staff,

The fact that your writers read and respond to comments made on these boards is really awesome. I enjoy your research and arguments (especially Vito’s) but the fact that you keep it real with your readers adds to our experience as well as the quality of your product – I’m sure you’d agree.

Too bad Brian France won’t do the same.

Carl D.
11/23/2009 10:25 AM

Only three months until the return of Digger, eh? Gee, thanks for the buzzkill, Matt.

11/23/2009 10:26 AM

Wcfan – yea, I feel the same way about “mr. hendrick” and his so-called illness. I recall in 1997 when CBS was carrying the Daytona 500 and hendrick drivers finished 1, 2 and 3. The announcers were discussing how he had radios to all three drivers at his home in NC as he was recovering. How come you never hear any of the announcers discuss his felony? I wonder if that 1-800-MARROW was even real?

Janice – Thanks for reminding me of the hendrick pardon by Clinton. I was thinking about that but then my blood was boiling more and more as I wrote and I guess I forgot to add that. One has to wonder how much illegal money helped build hendrick motorsports in the mid 1990’s. Maybe DW can do some kind of 10 year anniversary of the pardon during the 2010 Daytona coverage? I doubt any of the announcers / analysts would have the guts to ask those questions.

11/23/2009 10:32 AM

I would just like to make a comment about my boy JPM. I remember watching him back when he did open wheel racing and the one thing I have to say is that guy HAS to have the fastest hands in racing! You watch his reaction times when a crash happens in front of him… its like watching lightning flash before your eyes! I dont know how anyone can’t say that he is… and always will be… the greatest auto racer of all time!

And Dansmom… your screen name stinks! I’ve had better!

11/23/2009 10:47 AM

remember when dw had throat issues and couldn’t speak for a race or two? maybe a replay for 2010??!!

oh yeah…..forgot…what was with brad d referring to jr as “junebug”…i thought dw held the trademark on that nickname.

Kevin from PA
11/23/2009 10:53 AM

Can’t wait to hear the official NASCAR answer on the ratings decline for Miami-Homestead.

(“NASCAR research has found Americans are now turning off their TVs to save money on their electric bill. Our fans are very excited about our current product and its leadership” – BF)

Dans Mom
11/23/2009 11:20 AM

SoCal – must be shopping underneath the grandstands for Jimmie Johnson Championship gear.

old race fan
11/23/2009 11:31 AM

Two things:

1. Hey, Dan’s mom: Hamlin WON THE RACE! It’s not about JJ 24/7. He got his turn. By the way, who’s Dan?

1. Tony should have kicked Montoya’s butt all the way back to Bogota, or wherever. To JuanAnotherTaco: Maybe the guy should quit using those “fastest hands in racing” to run into everyone else on the track while blaming them for being in his way or some such. Maybe he & his buddy Chip will go back to the IRL or somewhere there aren’t as many other pesky cars on the track to get in his way.

The Turnip!
11/23/2009 11:38 AM

And if I hear or read once more “Mr. Hendrick”,

(“but it surely does seem that Mr. Hendrick has had to face more personal tragedy than any mortal since Job. Thought and prayers go out to his niece and the Hendrick family as they are forced to face yet another challenge”.)

Quite frankly my dear, screw Hendrick!

“Mr. Hendrick” my a**!

“Personal Tragedy”! My “personal tragedy” is that Rick baby is not in the slammer where he belongs!

Bad Wolf
11/23/2009 11:45 AM

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Brain Frances attempt to hoist the Sprint Cup Trophy. It looked to me like he got it about a foot off the table and it was tipping over in his wimpy manicured hands when Jimmy Johnson took hold and raised it above his head.

I think the only thing Brain has the muscles to raise is his drink to his lips, but then again he spilled one on his lap once and took a header into a tree.

11/23/2009 11:48 AM

you had to notice that montoya left the race track….he is a big man behind the wheel, but put space between himself and Tony after the race. Tony would have kicked his butt white!! Would have been more interesting that the race!!

Bad Wolf
11/23/2009 11:56 AM

Don’t forget that one of the major sponsors of the Hendrick organization is Haas, which manufactures CNC mills and is owned by another convicted felon, namely Gene Haas. Haas is based in California and Gene Haas was convicted of tax evasion and was sentenced to serve time in prison for his deeds.

I don’t know enough about his case to comment on the merits of his conviction, and I have ran Haas machining centers and they are a well thought out and easy to use machine, but the fact is that Gene Haas is an honest to God felon.

11/23/2009 11:56 AM

Last week I watched highlights of Jimmie Johnson winning the 2008 championship and he did the same burnout through the crowd. I thought at the time that looked pretty dangerous even for a professional. Image if a tire shredded and all that would ensue. Darn if he didn’t do it again this year. Very impressive car control, but not something I’d want to be near.

The whole Juan Pablo thing is just classic, if dumb, marketing. Reverse racism I don’t think so. Nobody was hurt and I doubt anybody was convinced one way or another to watch races or cheer for a certain driver. Also, Tony Stewart got what he deserved from a certain Mr. Montoya.

11/23/2009 12:10 PM

Anybody remember Cale , David or Earnhardt ever practically bursting into tears over the radio because the other cars were racing too hard around him as Johnson did on Sunday ? OH BROTHER !!! What ever happened to real race car drivers ?

And Matt , why would you be surprised at the big media blitz for Montoya in Homestead ? He has a big fanbase there . While i’d like to think it was for all the right reasons , the big media push was really only about trying to sell tickets .

11/23/2009 12:13 PM

And Turnip , we were all told during the broadcast the Hendrick is known as Mr. H , so get it right .

11/23/2009 12:47 PM

I agree with some of the posts here about JJ making history . The only history he’s made is in winning consecutive Chase titles . Since the Chase hasn’t been around very long , we don’t know how many championships other drivers would have won if they only had to do well in ten races .
And speaking of titles , i’m much more impressed with the championship totals for John Force and Steve Kinser than i am with JJs . If Johnson wins twenty championships let me know .

Noel Snow
11/23/2009 12:54 PM

Earnhart and Petty won their CHUMPionships the easy way. IN a 36 race season there is a HUGH margin for error. In the chase, one bad race can ruin your season. Those guys would have folded under the pressure in the Chase format.

11/23/2009 12:59 PM

FordFan – ever watch proffessional golf events where Tiger hits the ball into the crowd. On his recovery shot there are literally people 2 feet on each side of his shot line. It’s called control.

11/23/2009 01:10 PM


i laughed when i heard that. just put the 48 in a humvee and make sure the armour plating is in place.

11/23/2009 01:22 PM

Did anybody else catch Kurt Busch after the race “throwing Pat Tryson under the bus one more time.”? Man is there a bigger phony in NASCAR. Listen to him on his scanner channel with all the cursing and running down of his team. Then catch him in a press conference with his labored attempts to sound sincere and nice. An example of what his crew thinks of him is when he tried to back up in anger at one race in the Chase and almost ran over one of his crewmen. The guy threw his power gun at the car as it left. Jack Roush had it right. The Captain should give him the heave ho overboard. Good luck to you Pat you deserve better.

11/23/2009 01:25 PM

Nice try Noel . let me guess , you just started watching NASCAR this year , and never miss a second of the pre race shows .
If one bad race could ruin a season , then how is it that Johnson is the champion ? As to your point about room for error , many of the racing seasons in the old days were far MORE than 36 races . More margin for error ? No , much more difficult to win championships .
Actually though , the question really is , how many championships could Petty or Earnhardt have won under the chase format . We can only imagine , but having to run well over an entire year vs having to run well over the last ten races , well…. there isn’t any comparison .
Is the play off type of championship harder or easier than having to compete for a full season ? Who knows , but don’t ever think that the two are comparable in any way , because they aren’t .

Dans Mom
11/23/2009 01:36 PM

FF- I do agree with you on the Kurt Busch issue. You can make some excuses due to a firey competitive spirit, but still – how many crew cheifs has this guy gone through?

- His brother’s not much better.

The Turnip!
11/23/2009 02:39 PM

Hey “Mark”, I am so sorry, YES! ?I stand corrected!

It is “Mr. H”!

Dang, sorry for being so irresponsible about these things!

Mr. H!

Mr. H!

Mr. H!


(got it)


What a piece of crap! (the turnip speaks)

11/23/2009 02:56 PM

tonya – thanks….even if johnson (God forbid) gets 7 championships, no where near the level of driver as earnhardt or petty. they had to drive the cars. these cars now are all engineering.

11/23/2009 03:52 PM

Noel Snow

In 1967 Petty won 27 races, including 10 in a row, in a FORTY-NINE race season. It included three races in a week in three different states.
You have no idea what you are talking about. These wusses are complaining about 36. What happened to real drivers?

Kevin in SoCal
11/23/2009 04:03 PM

Final results for my “5 drivers, 5 races” fantasy Chase system:

Johnson: 5789
Martin: 5728 (-61)
Ku. Busch: 5710 (-79)
Gordon: 5695 (-94)
Stewart: 5581 (-208)

11/23/2009 04:33 PM

Wow, what a bunch of comments, that is cool. Did not watch a lap again – JJ starting on the pole was enough to make me not watch.

Denny is just such a loser, unbelievable, ..he is in his own little world, fighting his own little battle, inside his own little head. Complete loser, and if I was his sponsor, I would send him packing.

The Turnip!
11/23/2009 05:09 PM

Hey Kevin in SoCal, your “fantasy Chase”?

MMM, wonder what other “fantasies” you might have?


A “CROWD” AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY? (a crowd being more than 10 tickets holders)


Isn’t that the world that King Brain Farce lives in?


11/23/2009 05:24 PM

Great column, Matt. Stick a fork in it, the season is FINALLY done. NASCAR has crowned their 4X CHASE champion. It doesn’t begin to compare with what Cale accomplished over 3 FULL seasons. And yeah, In a fight, I’ll take Cale on my side over JJ any day. Brian France is seriously brain damaged — all is well? Really? Where? In the alternate reality in which he lives? I hope that the court doesn’t side with the guy with the most cast — it would be interesting to see what will come out. Having seen BZF’s interviews on tape, it makes a person wonder about the guy.

Denny is a whining jerk – has been ever since he came into Cup — I keep waiting for him to try that nonsense on with someone like Tony Stewart. The best part of the race yesterday was when JPM finally tried to pick on someone who wouldn’t take it. JPM has been driving like a bully all season. Yeah, I know he wrecked Tony back at the end. I was really waiting for Tony to come back and finish the job.

Someone needs to tell Kenny Wallace that telling the fans to “shut up” is a really bad idea. I no longer watch RaceDay or VL on speed and avoid the stage if I’m at the track. It’s annoying and insulting. Without the fans, there is NO NASCAR and although some of the reason people don’t go to the track is due to the economy, that doesn’t explain why the ratings are down. The explanation for that is if there is good racing on the track, the TV broadcast isn’t showing it and the good racing is few and far between — per your example that there was more than 1 second between each car. I have trackpass and it was obvious at the end.

11/23/2009 05:38 PM

Why is everyone saying that Rick Hendrick is a convicted felon a $1,000,000 payment to the Clinton library got that pardoned. When you have money this stuff is supposed to be erased.

The Old Guy
11/23/2009 05:47 PM

What I really find to be funny is this…..

All of those HMS fans who were on the case of Kurt Busch in 2004 saying that he did not deserve the championship he won, and that it wasn’t a leigitmate Championship, are now screaming at the top of their lungs that JJ’s four are all legit.

I’m a Kurt Busch fan and I don’t feel that his championship is legit and I d*mn sure don’t think that two of JJ’s are legit.

Keep in mind, sans the chase, Jeff Gordon is a six time champion.

11/23/2009 07:22 PM

“Among those drivers who finished 2009 with a big goose egg in the win column, you find Carl Edwards (who won nine races last year) Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.”

Hey Matt, ever think maybe THIS is what was wrong with NASCAR this year? The so-called contenders all SUCKED! What did the Chase have to do with all these guys not managing to find Victory Lane? Get over it, Matt. You are old and tired and you hate racing. Get a new hobby – knitting is supposed to be way cool right now.

And as for Kyle Busch’s girlfriend, well he has you beat there too – he actually HAS a girlfriend. Does anybody care about her hands?

Stay well, but please do NOT come back next year.

Kevin in SoCal
11/23/2009 07:51 PM

Now now Douglas, this is supposed to be a PG rated site, so I cant share my fantasies in public. (evil grin)

I find it hilarious that you fans are ok with Hornaday’s and Busch’s 200+ point lead in the Trucks and Nationwide titles, but at the same time you cry when a driver gets a 2+ second lead during a race. Do you also think Harvick’s and Edward’s 600+ point lead in the 2006 and 2007 Busch-series seasons was awesome and exciting, too? I would much rather have a 10-race fight to the finish instead of seeing a driver get a 200+ point lead and put it on cruise control for the last ten races. I guess I’m in the minority, though, and I can live with that.

11/23/2009 08:12 PM

Does anyone else think that the 48 team found something that they did not “share” with the rest of the teams? It seems Jimm i e not y can pass any other car on the track when he wants to including his “teammates” but they can’t.
When Knaus held up the sign after the race that said couldn’t have done it without you I immediately thought it was meant for HRH Brian.

11/23/2009 09:46 PM

What exactly is reverse racism? Call me crazy but I always thought racism was racism.

11/23/2009 11:36 PM

Matt – Enjoyed reading your column as always. Have a nice Holiday Season and look forward to your return next year…

11/24/2009 11:54 AM

Thanks Matt…although I do not always agree with you, you have the only column I read every week! See ya after Daytona!

11/24/2009 04:11 PM

Does anyone have a address for Jeremy? I would like to send him a few bucks. I found one but its the place they just auctioned off.

Old Gal in SoCal
11/24/2009 05:07 PM

Fordfan-I too was shocked at Kurt Busch’s comments postrace, so I’m glad to hear someone agrees! I had to rerack his interview and listen to it twice. Could he REALLY be that much of a louse? Is it possible that he was being facetious, giving the media a jab? I agree with you that he is absolutely the most insincere-sounding individual in the garage! I remember the incident on pit road that you describe—yikes! The team, especially Pat Tryson, did a good job in not publicizing the true extent of the bad blood. I guess the media did that in airing his scanner sound bites all year!

Matt-agree with you or not, you’re always a great read. I’m glad you have a reliable gig, and I wish you all the best! Thanks much!