The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Atlanta by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday March 8, 2010

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Atlanta

Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 8, 2010

 

The Key Moment: Kurt Busch held off Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya on the final restart to score his second consecutive spring Atlanta race win.

In a Nutshell: Where were the elephants and the clowns? If you’re going to have a parade you need to have elephants and clowns.

Dramatic Moment: You’d have thought that double wide restarts with two laps to go would have spiced things up. Not so much as it turns out.

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

OK, we may now officially have a feud on our hands. Having been put into the fence at Talladega last year and wrecked earlier in this weekend’s event, Carl Edwards apparently leapt to the head of the line and finally gave Brad Keselowski a little payback, landing Bad Brad, who has pissed off numerous drivers during his short tenure as a Cup driver, on his lid. Edwards was a mere 156 laps down when he wrecked Keselowski, leading to the first major challenge of NASCAR’s new “Let Boys Be Boys” rules initiative. For my part, I saw the impact as surgical despite the rollover. Bad Brad had a lesson coming to him given his take no prisoners attitude on the track. Perhaps a change in latitude learned him some manners. I will say that having recently brought a life onto this mortal plane, Edwards should have been a bit more circumspect about risking taking one off of the playing field in a pine box.

A race that ends by 5 o’clock, with over an hour and half of sunlight left before sundown. I’m down with that.

Remember the uproar at the Daytona 500 when FOX started covering the Cup series and they showed the cars in the starting lineup shorn of their decals if they weren’t sponsors of the broadcast? Has anyone else noticed that the entire pre-race broadcast seems to be devoted to drivers who buy ad minutes during the race itself? When forced to show drivers who are not race sponsors, like Kevin Harvick this week, the still shots of the driver were shorn of their patches. If you want to see a bigger bunch of whores, you’ll have to be in Shanghai when the fleet comes in.

With the grand opening scheduled for May, all of a sudden NASCAR is heavily promoting the new Hall of Fame in Charlotte, offering something called Charter Memberships. (Which doubtless offers 50 cents off a hot dog at future NASCAR races.) Long-term readers know I am a huge fan of the history of our sport, but right now I’d like to see a little less emphasis on the Hall of Fame and a little more on getting the cars Haulin’ the Same as they did in the 1980s.

Sometimes I get questions on why any sponsor would back a team that’s going to run in the back or even start and park. According to Jayski.com, Joe Nemechek’s last minute Daytona 500 with England Stove Works resulted in a half million dollars in unexpected business and the traffic crashed their website. Long time readers know I do sponsor plugs about as often as I compliment Brian France but after the winter from hell here in eastern Pennsylvania, it was my England stove that kept me warm through the worst of circumstances without going broke paying for fossil fuels. What’s more, when my first stove died just out of warranty, these folks replaced it free of charge and paid for the shipping of my old stove to figure out what went wrong. American products benefiting Americans to break their addiction to foreign oil? Yeah, I am so down with that.

Does anyone else find it suspect that Olympic athletes are eating McDonald’s high fat, high sodium food prior to competing?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Polesitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr. never managed to lead a lap and wound up 15th in the final standings. But as our old friend Kenny Mayne might say, he remains popular.

Jimmie Johnson’s bid for a third straight win was upended by a slow pit stop (not characteristic of the robotic 48 team) and subsequent right front fender damage. For one day, at least, they looked merely mortal.

Tony Stewart struggled all weekend and a flat tire with 18 to go left him thirteenth in the final standings.

Denny Hamlin had a competitive car most of the afternoon but an equalized tire left him 21st when the checks were written at the end of the race.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Greg Biffle wrecked in practice and had to start out back but fought back to an eighth place finish in the race.

Kasey Kahne had to overcome a horrifically slow pit stop to finish fourth.

Worth Noting

  • Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick finished in the top 10 in last winter’s Atlanta race and again this year.
  • Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle all have top 10 finishes in the season’s first four races. Guess who’s leading the points? Go figure.
  • Juan Pablo Montoya’s third place finish equaled his best finish since Martinsville last fall.
  • Kasey Kahne’s fourth place finish was his best since Talladega last fall.
  • Paul Menard’s fifth place finish was easily his best result on a non-plate track.
  • A.J. Allmendinger’s sixth place finish was his best since the 2009 Daytona 500.
  • Scott Speed’s tenth place finish was his best ever on a non-plate track.

What’s the Points?

Seriously, why are we even talking about points four races into the season?

Oh, OK, Kevin Harvick is still leading the standings, now 26 points ahead of Matt Kenseth who moved up two spots to second. Greg Biffle moved up three spots to third.

Jimmie Johnson moved up a spot to fourth. Why is the driver who won two points paying races out the first four fourth in the standings? Because NASCAR’s point system is retarded.

Kurt Busch’s win propelled him up nine spot to tenth in the standings. Paul Menard’s strong run Sunday moved him up eight spots to ninth in the standings.

Mark Martin’s struggles dropped him four places to seventh in the standings.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) I’ll give this one two cans. I expect more of Atlanta than I got today.

Next Up: The Cup series takes a week off. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe they’re concerned the shift to Daylight Savings Time would be too tough for today’s drivers? Racing returns at Bristol in two weeks’ time.

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Johnboy60
03/08/2010 07:26 AM
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Nascrap will now have to back up their big mouths about “letting the drivers take care of it”. They should just say boys be careful and let it go or their credibility is shot to hell this early in the year.

Mark
03/08/2010 08:33 AM
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FOX/Speed also only pay attention to certain drivers and teams during the race , depending on how much add revenue has changed hands .
It actually wasn’t a bad race , except for the fact that once again , Goodyear can’t seem to make a good tire . I wonder how they can have a much publicized tire test , yet still have a tire that can’t even go through a fuel run . And no , it wasn’t just the Hendrick chassis setup , look at Hamlin , Ragan , etc.
As to the Edwards incident , how stupid must he be to turn somebody around at that speed . Wouldn’t a reasonable person have figured out another mode of payback , maybe a fight , or at least spinning his enemy at a much slower track . Carl doesn’t seem to have the capacity to think things through . And he had over 150 laps to plan things , turning another guy around at that speed was the best he could come up with . Just plain dumb .

janice
03/08/2010 08:56 AM
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race was ok. loved all the empty seats. i can’t remember much of the middle of the race for some reason. again, watch the beginning and then the last 30 minutes or so.

the edwards thing, use i understand feuds and whatnot, but knowing that edwards is a licensed pilot, you would think he’d know about how wind affects lift. those wings on the rear of the cars always lift cars up if clipped the right way and speeds are fast enough. plus at atlanta you’ve got the banking as well. they showed him trying the lap before to wreck brad, then he succeeded on the next lap. i think it would have been different, and not a blatent pay back if edwards hand’t been 165 laps down. i’m just glad that the airborne car didn’t get higher and into the fence. luckily for the track and fans, most of the first few rows of seats weren’t sold, so fans weren’t sitting in them.

Bill B
03/08/2010 09:05 AM
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I thought the race deserved at least a “3 beer” rating.
Very disappointing how many tire issues there were. I thought this was behind us.
If Atlanta or California aren’t one of the tracks that lose a date (assuming someone is going to lose a race) then it is obvious that attendance isn’t a factor because it looked like over half the seats were empty.

Max
03/08/2010 09:27 AM
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Ok, I was there and can give you a stand by stand report of attendance.

Petty stands were about 70% full, Earnhardt was about 60% full, Champions was maybe 80% full, the stands down toward turn one were about 30% full.

Where the old Weaver stands were (the backstretch) where the motor coaches now park, there were 18 where there are probably slots for 40-50. Looks like the folks that can afford that vantage point are dwindling.

Third turn stands were probably 80% full, which is more than I have seen in awhile, but I suspect those are the cheapest seats in the house.

I would estimate a crowd of 70,000. Which by the way, is the optimum crowd Atlanta can handle.

What did the TV goons say it was?

Henry M
03/08/2010 09:28 AM
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In the first incident, it certainly appeared to me that Brad held his line & Carl came down on him. They need to sit Carl down for a race. You do your pay-backs at Bristol or Martinsville, not at 190 m.p.h.!

Ed - GA
03/08/2010 10:13 AM
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I tuned in for the early laps and then back for the last 20 or so. Saw both incidents. I WAS somewhat of a Carl Edwards fan. That has soured a bit. The guy was stupid to do what he did. He endangered drivers and fans and admitted on camera that he did it intentionally. He needs a suspension and a hefty fine. No other sport, even Hockey, will condone such stuff. If NA$CAR does nothing, it will continue its slide into the toilet as far as I am concerned.

janice
03/08/2010 10:22 AM
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max,

elliott grandstands (turn 3) are the cheaper seats. petty had a special offer as well as the earnhardt grandstands. i’d be interested to find out where the $1 seats were (winner of daytona 500 seats sell for that car number). i think those turn 1 seats start at $100 each. i know when i went i’d sit in champions in the upper level, and i know those seats have gone up in price over the years.

my question, how was traffic after the race. i know last time i attended was a 5 hr treck to douglasville where i live. i know on saturday they were giving traffic reports and there was absolutely no traffic issues on 19/41 or on 75 to the 20 exit.

also, normally on race weekend hotels in douglasville are sold out. when i went by 2 on saturday morning, there weren’t many cars in their lots, and that was early in day, before people would have headed out to track. got to remember, lots of people in georgia are still out of work, 10.6% unemployment rate. i have a little savings now and decided to hold onto my money casue i figured that the product of the race wouldn’t be much different than in previous years.

radio stations started giving away labor day race tickets this morning. i might go to that race, have to see if racing changes any when they take the wings off and put spoilers back onto the cars.

with jr on the pole, and our beautiful weather this past weekend, i’d think the track did some good walkup sales. of course jr was a non-issue.

babydu
03/08/2010 10:45 AM
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isn’t carl the same guy who tried to pass someone by bouncing off the wall because “it works in the video game?” failing to understand some basic real life physics rules of how a shot like that is going to scrub momentum not enhance it? golly gee “i didn’t mean for him to get airborne”… he had 150 laps to consider his actions and their potential result. he could have easily thought it smarter to wait two weeks where the speeds and dangers are less. but i guess carl just ain’t that smart. he deserves a suspension because he’s a self centered dangerous driver hell bent on vengeance with out consideration of consequence. ok, so maybe that was a little strong. nascar’s in a quite a pickle here. I don’t envy the decision that they have to make. i just don’t see an outcome that will end on a positive note. go get ‘im brad.

Michael Pittenger
03/08/2010 11:08 AM
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I will really watch NA$CAR when they go back to real cars that aren’t all the same. I guess that means never.

Grump Old Man
03/08/2010 11:26 AM
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Why don’t they blame the real culprit in the payback? The stupid idiotic wing. If it was a real “race” car instead of a bumper car the result would have been like Hamlin last year. Egomaniac Brad would have done a 360 or two (if he was really talented) and kept on going. They know the wing is stupid and they’re going to get rid of it later. Really bright clowns.

Brent
03/08/2010 12:17 PM
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Carl is an idiot. BK crew should have went down to 99 crew and kicked their $%@. I sure would have. Then let boys be boys. If you are going to let a driver wreck someone like that, then you might as well let the crews fight with crowbars. Between this incident and JJ winning races still, I am soon to stop watching the sport, again. If Carl is in the middle of fans sometime, I would not be surprised if he gets knocked on his $%# by one of them.

PARK HIM!!!

stan
03/08/2010 12:31 PM
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I quess no talent brad just lucked his way to 4th place. Carl wrecked himself at the start of the race. Some of brads problems have been of his own making but the sprint cup drivers seem to think when they run the nationwide series the other drivers should just get out of their way. Its racing, don’t give an inch.

Kevin in SoCal
03/08/2010 12:51 PM
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Matt said: Why is the driver who won two points paying races out the first four fourth in the standings? Because NASCAR’s point system is retarded.

What, you think a 35th place finish should pay more points? 4th place is pretty good considering one bad finish out of 4.

And its good to see people talking about the lack of attendance here, too.

Josie
03/08/2010 12:59 PM
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Just a side note..I watched practice and qualifying..and I have to say it caught my attention Speed took care to talk about ALL the sponsors on ALL the cars…from the 48 down to start and parkers who’s numbers I don’t even remember…..I was duly impressed…if the car was on the track..they got air time and sponsor recognition..good going Speed.

Who'd a thought it
03/08/2010 01:08 PM
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Were BK not a protoge’ of “Junyor”, the comments would be about 99% in favor of Carls “retalliation”

I think the little punk got just what he deserved.

Max
03/08/2010 01:28 PM
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Janice –

I sit in Champions and those were $115.00….

Traffic was non-existant for me.

I got there at approx. 12:45 pm, drove right in there with no issues off 19/41, got a good spot on the second row near the media parking lot (in front of turn one).

Just walked right in and sat down as they were pulling off pit row.

Stayed for the checker, then briskly walked out to my car and boom, I was out Speedway blvd, and on I75 in 10 minutes.

Never encountered any traffic at all.

There is no need to get down there at the crack of dawn anymore, because that 65 – 70,000 don’t present a big traffic hassle.

RJH
03/08/2010 01:37 PM
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Brent you’re an idiot, the polock with the bad teeth had it coming, and ONLY at a track where you go 195
paybacks are a b…..
Hemingway said it best …only sports are mountaineering bull fighting& auto racing.

The dead 3 guy made a CAREER out of this, AND na$crap never batted an eye.
k-ski had it coming
If your scared to attend becuase of debris, then stay home sissy.

If you’re the fan that punches Carl, I’ll gladly jump & assist your a…kicking
Toyotas blow

79_Magnum
03/08/2010 03:28 PM
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Matt, what are you thinking? Brad did not start the wreck, nor did he at Dega. Both times Carl the Jerk, tried to cut off the “youngster”. If you watch yesterdays replay, Brad had no where to go, was at the bottom of the track on a side by side start, and Carl the Idiot tried to pull down in front of him. The aggressor was Carl, not Brad. Too bad that Brad has “pissed” off drivers for no backing down to them. Its about time we had some spunk out of the youngsters.

Steve
03/08/2010 03:30 PM
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Kasey Kahne had horrible pit stops all day long and this is what cost him the race. I think he was faster than Busch but every stop he would lose spots on pit road.

Mike
03/08/2010 03:40 PM
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The FOX cameras seemed to be spending a lot of time showing the empty grandstands . On several occaisions they panned in and stopped on the empty seats on the frontstretch , and several times on the empty parking lot . And unlike the normal “ oh my god , get that camera off of the seating “ response the directors always have ( not to mention NASCAR officials ) there was no hurry to change the shots . Lets see now , NASCAR races at Brutons’ tracks but the hate each other . NASCAR trying to mess with Bruton by showing that he can’t sell tickets ?? Or did Bruton critisise FOX and paid the price ?

Brent
03/08/2010 04:44 PM
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RJH, back at you. I think Magnum beat me to the punch though. I disagree with Matt’s poor assessment of the situation, saying ‘been put into the fence’ and ‘wrecked earlier in this weekend’s event’, Carl wrecked himself both times, come on. Are you boys watching the same replay I am watching? Carl is trying to put his car into the spot that is presently occupied by BK, but it is BK’s fault? Gimme a break guys. Matt, soon to lose a dedicated reader you keep writing like this. Maybe it is an opinion column, but there is factual info here to base those opinions on. And yes, I have not been this worked up about a Nascar issue in a long time!

Remember, Carl broke his foot playing frisbee. Somebody could probably stick their foot out and trip him and break the other one. But he expects BK to go for a ride like that? IDIOT.

Chris
03/08/2010 05:42 PM
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What Carl Edwards did is unacceptable. There is no ‘boys will be boys’. This drama stuff is bull. Let’s start flipping everyone over at Talladega and Daytona every time someone is mad at another driver. Carl Edwards has some serious anger built inside him and it exploded on Sunday. Another car could have come along and hit Keselowski. Would that have been okay that they were involved in a accident created by a stupid feud too?

When Allison and Yarborough had there famous incident at Daytona in ’79 they wrecked again at the next race. Other racers came up to them and told them that the stupidity had to stop. Edwards and Keselowski should not continue ‘feuding’ as it is not good for the sport for a driver to be eventually killed by these unacceptable and dangerous moves. This fake ‘macho’ activity is ridiculous.

Carl Edward as a racer and human being should have better sense than spin someone out at 190 mph. He should know how easy it is to flip over a car with the faulty rear wing. There should be consequences and penalties to his actions. I would have felt this strongly about Edwards if he would have spun and flipped other drivers like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., Joe Nemecheck etc.

There is no excuse for his animal like behavior. Edwards helped ruin the finish of the race and he was over 150 laps down! He wrecked a car that was in the top 10! More cars were involved in a wreck after the caution he helped bring out. Millions of dollars down the drain. And instead of talking about a great finish that could have been between Busch and Montoya people talk about the stupid move by Edwards. This was completely unacceptable behavior by Edwards and it is really a sad commentary on society that people rationalize and condone this type of behavior by a stock car driver. Talk about actions ‘detrimental to the sport of Stock Car Auto Racing’.

NASCAR maybe could get closer to the NFL in ratings if they created a destruction death derby and drivers were rewarded points for how many drivers they maimed and killed during a race. That could really fill up the seats and add to the TV ratings! Every time a driver got mad at another he could just crash his car into his fellow competitor and the more crushed in the car was the better. Could you imagine the excitement at the restrictor plate tracks? Just put the catch fences higher so no innocent spectators were taken out in all of the mayhem.

Carl D.
03/08/2010 06:30 PM
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I love the fact that Keselowski doesn’t take any crap from the veterans. As someone already commented (albeit crudely) Earnhardt the Elder made a 7-time-champion career out of hard racing and not backing down. Go Brad!

wingcars6970
03/08/2010 07:21 PM
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I gotta agree with stan “I quess no talent brad just lucked his way to 4th place. Carl wrecked himself at the start of the race. Some of brads problems have been of his own making but the sprint cup drivers seem to think when they run the nationwide series the other drivers should just get out of their way. Its racing, don’t give an inch.”

Mike In OKC
03/08/2010 07:56 PM
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So so race. As for tire issues, it was mostly Hendrick associated teams. The others scrubbed the wall or another car. Maybe this is Nastycar way to slow down the Hendrick juggernaut – make a side deal with Goodyear to supply them bad tires – and Goodyear didn’t read the fine print that said junior was not supposed to get bad tires.

As for the wreck, Brad has made many enemies and this is no different than everyone’s jobs. A new person comes to your work and calls everyone out and doesn’t learn how it operates is asking for trouble. So after countless wrecks the past year, he got his payback. Some say “do it at Bristol”. I disagree. Do it there you take out 10 cars. I don’t like Carl, he’s too cocky for me but Nastycar needs to let this be between them. I’m sure they can personally put Carl on “double secret probation” and maybe his sponsor will chip in some extra money to make Nastycar feel better.

These announcers just piss me off. It’s not a stop for fuel, even they have to pimp a sponsor just like drivers taking a swig of drink. Both of those efforts are so obvious and really turn me off. Another thing, had they been paying attention to the race they would have noticed Petty Motorsports had 3 of the top 6 finishers, and had those 3 in the top 10 most of the race. Dinger raced his way to the front all day long, Menard had a good race day but some pit stategy to him up to the top 10 where he moved up more. Both those drivers had their best ever non plate finish.

And why take a break now? All the Carl talk in the press helps the sport get noticed, but then when new viewers tune in this Sun to see what all that comotion is about – no race this week! Stupid schedule.

And the writer of this article (if I many inject) meant that JJ is in 4th but has won 2 races – and winners of races should be given more points than they are. 4 races, you win 2 of them and are in 4th place? I agree. And I am tired of the Hendrick dominance but this should apply to anyone that wins. Give them at least 50 points over 2nd if they win a race. That will give more incentive as we get closer to the cutoff for final 10 races.

Enjoy the week and I think F1 and Indy are on this weekend?