The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: 2010 Watkins Glen Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday August 9, 2010

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: 2010 Watkins Glen Recap

Matt McLaughlin · Monday August 9, 2010


The Key Moment – Juan Pablo Montoya dominated at the Glen, with Marcos Ambrose doing his best to keep the Colombian native honest. But on the restarts, Ambrose was nowhere near as fast or flawless as JPM, and that ultimately made the difference.

In a Nutshell – Yes, you can road race stock cars. You can also drag race trash trucks, but why bother?

Juan Pablo Montoya finally dodged the bad luck and bad calls that have cost him wins recently, taking the victory at Watkins Glen in convincing fashion.

Dramatic Moment – While Montoya dominated the race, various trials and tribulations cost several title contenders and the normal road course experts a ton on Sunday.

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

NASCAR’s approach to the whole “secret fine” brouhaha seems to be the same as it always is when they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar: “What you can’t deny, endure in silence.” At the end of the day, it is what it is, so the makeover of competitors into the Stepford Drivers continues. Ignore the men behind the curtain. The great and wonderful NASCAR must not be dissed.

Eventually, Cup Series officials are going to figure out the “localized caution” protocol on road courses. There was no need for the caution to fly for Bobby Labonte’s spin (which he drove away from) or the debris dropped when Clint Bowyer lost a driveshaft other than to break up the monotony.

I recognize some folks enjoy the NASCAR road course races as much as I endure them. There’s also that tenth dentist that doesn’t endorse Dentyne. Let me throw this out there: would you prefer another race at Darlington and a return to Rockingham, or the status quo with Sonoma and the Glen having race dates? You’ll note the F-1 Series doesn’t stage an annual “change of pace” race on an oval.

I will admit, Watkins Glen on Sunday offered up its share of surprises. You’d have expected that Tony Stewart (five wins), Jeff Gordon (four wins), and Mark Martin (three consecutive wins from the pole) would have been factors in the race, but the three of them struggled mightily for most of the event.

Holy Smokes! After hosting two Cup races a season since I was in cloth diapers secured with safety pins, Atlanta will lose a race next season, yielding its coveted Cup date to Bruton Smith’s track in Kentucky. I guess there’s a few lessons here. First and foremost, if folks get stuck in miserable, soul-grinding traffic before and after your events, they ain’t coming back even if you make every effort years too late to fix that mess. Pocono, are you listening? Secondly, folks seemed to like Atlanta a lot better in its first configuration, a true symmetrical oval. Then, track management decided to change the design to make it a clone of Charlotte and Texas, with a tri-oval set up on the frontstretch to accommodate adding a few more seats… seats that, by and large, went unsold annually anyway. Unique is cool. Clones are not.

As many empty seats as paid customers for some Cup events the past few years likely doomed one of Fontana’s two dates on the schedule for 2011.

In brighter news, reports indicate that Fontana might be losing a race date as well, with its Fall event going to Kansas City. Kansas City? Has anyone contacted the folks at Keebler to see if they might be interested in sponsoring the Cookie Cutter 500? What about Darlington and Rockingham? Remember, it’s when we left those storied venues that race attendance in general and TV ratings went into a tailspin. But Kansas is going to have a casino. So what? If I wanted to gamble, which I don’t, Atlantic City is an hour away. Why should I drive across half the country to play Blackjack? There was a time when Las Vegas was something special because it was the only legal place to gamble in the U.S. As of late, casinos seem to be popping up coast to coast, and if there isn’t a place to wager within an hour of your home you probably also get your mail by carrier pigeon. Even here in the Quaker State, where puritans still don’t allow beer sales before noon on Sunday, we’ve got table games and slot machines. As for Fontana itself, the track might have become a lightning rod of criticism not only because the racing there typically sucks hind-teat, but because its other date was once moved from the storied Darlington Labor Day weekend event in what Mike Helton, in one of his most ludicrous moments, called “the start of a new tradition.” Well, the new tradition was a miserable failure, and maybe NASCAR ought to be spending more time reviewing their own mistakes rather than reviewing drivers’ Twitter comments.

I got an interesting if somewhat pissy email this week in the wake of my column Thursday lambasting NASCAR for their secret fines on drivers who called into question the fundamental goodness and infallibility of the sanctioning body. The note was purportedly sent from someone at ISC, and the return address seemed to bear that out. The gist of it was “people like you” (meaning me) are a major part of NASCAR’s perception problem. Yeah, OK, but it’s also people like me that used to buy race tickets and dutifully watch every race every Sunday afternoon… but don’t anymore. So, deal with it, NASCAR. Fix it. And as we say here in the City of Brotherly Love, “Shuddupabouditwouldja?”

It’s hard to cipher how many fans attend a road course race. Many of them choose to populate the infield, where they can wander around the track and enjoy the race from various vantage points. Some reports from the track said attendance was sharp, with the official NASCAR report claiming a 5,000-person increase. But from my vantage point, it did appear the grandstand seats were particularly empty this year at the Glen. Which driver do we fine 50 grand for causing that this week?

Is there a cosmic rift in the universe? All of a sudden, FOX’s Darrell Waltrip suddenly doesn’t like the Chase points system, changing his tune after dressing in a tight sweater and short skirt, waving pom-poms championing the concept all these years. (Yes, it’s a frightening visual.) My guess is that his brother Michael is now shunning DW for daring to be negative about a NASCAR initiative. Ought to make for an interesting Thanksgiving dinner at Ma Waltrip’s table, right? One day, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will open a special wing for drivers who managed to garner the most TV time without any corresponding on-track success. The first five inductees will be Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, and Michael Waltrip.

I’m getting the feeling Jamie McMurray might eventually develop a knack for stock car racing after all.

I daydream about a kinder, simpler, more intelligent world when Allen Bestwick uses the term “the tricky triangle” for the final time.

Kevin Harvick wasn’t exactly thrilled when a last-lap flat tire left him tumbling down to eleventh in the final results.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kevin Harvick would have finished far better than eleventh had it not been for a deflating tire on the last lap.

Boris Said had his best shot ever at winning a Cup race prior to his irritating and crowding Tony Stewart.

Jimmie Johnson just happened to be in the way when Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton got to arguing over the same real estate. Denny Hamlin ended up an innocent victim in that mess, as well.

Usually, the Hendrick organization does pretty well on road courses, a trend that dates back to the late and lamented Tim Richmond in the Folgers car. But this weekend, the team never really seemed to get up to speed. While Gordon soldiered on to a tenth-place finish, Mark Martin ended up 23rd, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th, and Jimmie Johnson finished 28th.

Whatever his faults, nobody can deny Robby Gordon is pretty handy on the road courses, where he used to ply his trade before well and truly pissing off the Ford Motor Company. But a broken transmission ended Gordon’s chances at a decent finish, while his team car, driven by P.J. Jones, also fell out due to mechanical issues. They wound up 36th and 41st in the final running order, respectively.

One of the pre-race favorites, Greg Biffle ran up front most of the day, only to get shuffled out of the deck on a late restart. That dropped the No. 16 car from eighth to 25th, and Biffle managed to recover only one spot after that disaster.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

A week after announcing his November departure from JTG-Daugherty Racing, Marcos Ambrose went out and won the Nationwide Watkins Glen event. Even if he faded at the end of Sunday’s race, that victory — combined with a third-place finish on Sunday — adds a little luster to his resume as he begins searching for a new seat in 2011.

Internal strife resulting from a driver beginning to question his crew chief’s strategy can tear a team asunder. But a win at the Glen will go a long way towards healing the rift between Juan Pablo Montoya and Brian Pattie.

Kyle Busch’s day seemed doomed when he was forced to pit on the pace laps for a ballast that hadn’t been properly secured to the car. (It’s a rare mistake for an organization as professional as Joe Gibbs Racing.) Yet despite starting from the rear, then tweaking up the nose of his car in a charge to the front, Busch recovered well enough to finish eighth.

Chip Ganassi had a pretty good weekend, claiming victory in the Cup, IndyCar, and Grand Am races. It’s a wonder ESPN wasn’t breathlessly reporting that EGR (and the “E” is silent in that acronym) was the first organization to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, the Brickyard, and a NASCAR road race in the same season.

Worth Noting

  • Montoya’s win was his second Cup triumph in 131 Cup starts. Montoya (born in Columbia) and Earl Ross (Canada) remain the only two non-U.S. citizens to win Cup races in NASCAR’s top division. Mario Andretti was a naturalized U.S. citizen before his Cup win at Daytona in 1967.
  • The top-10 finishers at the Glen drove five Chevys, two Fords, two Toyotas, and a lone Dodge.
  • Kurt Busch (second) returned to the top-5 finisher ranks after a four-race absence.
  • Marcos Ambrose’s third-place finish matches his best Cup result since running second at Watkins Glen last year.
  • A.J. Allmendinger’s fourth-place finish was the second-best of his Cup career. Allmendinger finished third in last year’s Daytona 500. (No, I’m serious; look it up.)
  • Carl Edwards (fifth) has strung together top-10 finishes in the last five Cup races.
  • Tony Stewart (seventh) has top-10 finishes in the last four races, but has led just two laps in those four events. Kudos to Stewart for shaving, though; he looked a lot less like the Billy Goats Gruff’s nemesis Sunday.
  • Jeff Burton (ninth) has five consecutive top-10 finishes after this weekend. And Autumn is closing in… working and practicing…
  • Jeff Gordon (tenth) has top-10 finishes in seven of the last eight Cup races. Slim, too short, could use a few pounds…
  • Ryan Newman (twelfth) hasn’t managed a top-5 finish since his win at Phoenix eons and eons ago. Ought there in the fields where the woods get heavy, stuck behind the wheel of his 39 Chevy…
  • Mark Martin (nineteenth) has just one top-10 finish in the last nine Cup races. Working on mysteries without any clues…
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (26th) hasn’t managed a top-20 finish in the last four races. Ain’t it funny how the night moves, when you just don’t have no more to lose…
  • Since winning back-to-back races at Sonoma and Loudon, Jimmie Johnson (28th) hasn’t managed a top-5 finish.
  • Denny Hamlin’s 37th-place finish was his worst of the 2010 Cup season and his first DNF since Talladega last fall. Maybe it’s time to crack him in the other knee with a tire iron?

What’s the Points?

Kevin Harvick continues to lead the standings. He’s now 185 points (nearly a full race’s worth) ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon. Behind them, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch had great points days at the Glen. Burton advanced two spots to third, while Busch trampolined up three spots to fourth. Jimmie Johnson fell to fifth, 328 behind Harvick but still holding four championship rings.

Denny Hamlin took it on the chin points-wise at the Glen. He fell three spots to sixth, while teammate Kyle Busch fell to seventh. Like the Beatles once wrote, “Boy, you’re going to carry that weight a long time…” Tony Stewart held on to eighth, while Carl Edwards moved up a spot to ninth over Matt Kenseth. Did anyone else even notice Kenseth was there at the Glen this weekend?

Greg Biffle held steady in eleventh, while in their back and forth battle, Mark Martin moved back into the top 12 Sunday over Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s now thirteenth, ten points behind Martin and that final cutoff spot, with Newman and McMurray also closing to within 100 points of the playoffs.

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 the Glen two cans. It’s nice seeing new faces up front from time to time… it’s just not much fun to watch them stink up the show.

Next Up – Michigan! This again? Weren’t we just there?

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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slander q. libel
08/09/2010 05:19 AM

…would you prefer another race at Darlington and a return to Rockingham, or the status quo with Fontana and the other boring cookie-cutter tracks having race dates?


08/09/2010 05:20 AM

Great column as usual Matt. I like road course racing though, Montoya and Ambrose had some good battles yesterday, and road courses demand some driver skill, unlike plate tracks. (Cue Michael Waltrip line.)

Is ISC really picking a fight with you? Man, talk about a battle of wits with one side unarmed.

I’ve heard (but I don’t know if it’s true) that Hendrick gave Junior some of Mark Martin’s best engineers. If that’s true, they need to switch back, because Junior’s got nothing anymore.

Bill B
08/09/2010 08:02 AM

I’d rather have a couple of road courses thrown in than more 1.5 races. Of course I’d trade one of them for a race at Rockingham or a 2nd race at Darlington but you and I both know that’s not what would happen. The race would go to another 1.5 mile track (probably Vegas). So if that’s my choice, keep the road course.

I got the “with autumn closing in” part of the Seger reference, but the rest of lyrics don’t fit at all. Hope you had fun at least because it didn’t make much sense from out here.

08/09/2010 08:33 AM

Is there a bigger tool in Nascar’s world than Mike Helton?

Simply, no.

And no credibility whatsoever.

Of course that is not Nascar’s strongsuit anyway.

Little E is a complete mess. It is time to blow it up and start over (again).

I am really struggling as to whether I want to pay the $116 to go to the Atlanta race…..

Oh, and we all down here have known for years that we would eventually lose the spring race – we just looked at the stands…

08/09/2010 08:41 AM

Watched the tail end of Qualifing on Sat. and saw I believe Ron Fellows in an UNSPONSERED car warm up and WHOLE qualifing lap and then when P.J. Jones qualified in a SPONSERED car saw only him exiting turn 7 to start/finish line on qualifing lap. How are these teams to get new sponsers when ESPN gives more TV time to unsponsered cars?

08/09/2010 09:04 AM

I have a few other candidates for your “most TV time without on-track success”. Kenny Wallace who irritates me to death, or Jimmy Spencer who ought to stick that damn cigar where the sun don’t shine.

08/09/2010 09:36 AM

“I’ve heard (but I don’t know if it’s true) that Hendrick gave Junior some of Mark Martin’s best engineers. If that’s true, they need to switch back, because Junior’s got nothing anymore.”

Did I miss something? When did Jr EVER have anything? You have to have something before you can lose it.

08/09/2010 09:42 AM

It seems the right people are reading your column but then react in the typical manner: threaten the messenger and then pretend they are ostriches and bury their heads in the track.

On a different note I found a picture of the greatest finish in racing, the Richie-Geoff finish at Martinsville when Richie powered down the front stretch to the checkers against the fence.

Richie won.

Henry M
08/09/2010 09:48 AM

Roger Penske rarely makes an error, but he did so at Fontana, in spades. He took the design of Michigan (where they invented booring races) and made it flatter. What was he thinking?

08/09/2010 10:00 AM

“Has anyone contacted the folks at Keebler to see if they might be interested in sponsoring the Cookie Cutter 500?”

A Classic

Laidback Racing
08/09/2010 10:10 AM

While I expected Atlanta to lose the first date it still sucks. Wilkesboro, Rockingham and one from Darlington took out 5 GREAT races now we can add a sixth. The only thing wrong with the above mentioned races was THE WEATHER SUCKED!!!! Frigid cold with howling wind, snow, sleet or freezing rain, those were your choices for those race dates. I REALLY miss the Rock

Don Mei
08/09/2010 10:44 AM

OK Matt, you dont like road racing: we get it. Now knock off the whining like a 12 year old schoolgirl and get on with it. A lot of us out there LIKE road racing and wish there were a few more on the schedule. Sure as hell beats another boring parade on a 1.5 oval. Yesterday’s battle beteween JPM and Ambrose was the best racing I’ve seen all year in NASCAR. I actually watched the whole race instead of the first ten and the last ten laps.

08/09/2010 10:53 AM

A race at Kentucky and one more at Kansas. Cookie cutter 500 indeed. If nas$car is really interested in bringing fans back to the sport they’d bring Rockingham back and give Darlington it’s second race back.But that would mean actually listening to it’s long gone long time fans. I gave this race two beers. The paving of a couple of areas only served to make this race a complete borefest. And now we’re on to Michigan. Wow!! good writing here. I’m glad there are still some writers that are not shills.

08/09/2010 10:56 AM

After hearing DW, I think there will be a drastic reduction in his on-air time.

08/09/2010 11:24 AM

If DW is saying it then NASCAR has already decided to do it. DW is just setting things up so NASCAR seems like they are reacting to the fans when in reality they already have a dumber idea they are going to try.

The Waltrips are the mouth of NASCAR. Anything negative they say has some ulterior motive for NASCAR’s benefit.

08/09/2010 11:25 AM

we all knew atlanta would lose it’s spring race for years. butts haven’t been in seats, and weather in march is either rainy or cold. a few years ago we had snow the first weekend of march. sure it was just 3” but that was enough to shut the state down for 4 days. eversince the torndao hit and they rebuilt, the track hasn’t been the same. too many pricey seats, jr struggles too much and people out of work here. ga’s unemployment is in the top 5 of the country. they did fix the traffic issue years ago, but for us folks who use back roads to go back and forth to the track, making me get into the traffic on 19/41 was the last straw, especially when i ended up sitting on that road for 1.5 hrs to get into the track, when i had already been on the grounds 1.5 hrs earlier and they made me enter the track the “new” way.

08/09/2010 11:50 AM

ESPN did a great job on their advertising, especially during qualifying Saturday, I am all fired up for football now. I bet Helton loved seeing all those ads and prods for football.

Point #2, I just hate to see Denny with a tear in his eye. Poor guy.

08/09/2010 12:23 PM

Hey matt, i thought these guys are supposed to be the best drivers in the world. Road courses bring out the best in nascar drivers. They should add road america where they could really race and eleminate sonoma which is a bad parking lot.

Kevin in SoCal
08/09/2010 12:46 PM

Matt said: “Kevin Harvick continues to lead the standings. He’s now 185 points (nearly a full race’s worth) ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon.”

Yes, because being 185 points ahead is SOOOOO much more exciting than having 12 drivers separated by 50 points with 10 races to go.

And you all got half your wish, Fontana is going to lose a date. As I’ve always said, I’m fine with Fontana having one date because thats all they’ve ever asked for. Having Fontana with one date to give two to Kansas is much better than losing one of Martinsville’s dates. Every track up to the Cup level’s standards deserves at least one date on the schedule, even if its as boring as you think Fontana is.

And I’ve always thought Matt’s comments about cookie cutter tracks seem hollow, since he doesnt like the other unique tracks on the schedule such as Pocono and the road courses. He only likes Darlington.

08/09/2010 12:53 PM

‘tis true. i often find myself watching the whole of a road course race as opposed to the monotonous middle part of races at better tracks or any of most of the 1.5s. but it’s still via the dvr. i believe i’d actually pay real money to view a REAL race on tv without intelligence insulting ads.

08/09/2010 01:06 PM

I would even go one step further as to say that Matt doesnt even like racing at all anymore. When is the last time he posted a column where he said something positive? One of these days the powers-that-be at FS will realize that his column is depressing and sucks. Maybe then they will let someone else do the weekly race recap.

08/09/2010 01:08 PM

I agree with Mike about Jaws and his “bashing”.

The Waltrips need to go away !

08/09/2010 01:16 PM

The great Jerry Garcia passed away 15 years ago today, and I’d like to deadicate one of his tunes, “He’s Gone”, to Rockingham, North Wilkessboro, Atlanta, Darlington and all the other tracks that have lost or will lose a date due to antiquated facilities and/or poor fan support:

“Like a steam locomotive,
Rolling down the track,
He’s Gone, Gone
And Nothin’s gonna bring him back.”

08/09/2010 01:35 PM

The only road course I liked in NASCAR was Riverside. And that was because they drove it like a moonshine run. The track is gone. Stock cars are gone. The real drivers are gone. So, yeah, I’d rather see Sonoma and The Glen dumped for North Wilkesboro and Rockingham. Then give Auto Club’s race date BACK to Darlington.

As for road courses, if NASCAR wants a “change of pace”, then go back to racing tracks less than 1.5 miles.

08/09/2010 02:16 PM

I like road races. I used to go to the road races twice a year at Riverside Ca back in the 1970’s and really enjoyed it. I’d much rather see a road race than sit through one of the mind numbingly boring 1.5 mile cookie cutter races.

I say bring back a race at The Rock and at North Wilkesboro. Kansas, Chicago, Texas, Las Vegas and New Hampshire are the most boring races of the year for me.

08/09/2010 02:30 PM

I agree about those Waltrip brothers. I cannot even stand to listen to them anymore. But what really gets me about them is the arrogance they both have. If someone is not very good at something but are humble, I can take that. But these two guys are the worst broadcasters on TV but they are both so cocky and arrogant as if they were really good, go figure?? Plus SPEED must think we like them as they keep putting them on TV more. What a way to ruin our enjoyment of a great sport.

08/09/2010 02:50 PM

When we race at the same course twice in one year, we should run it backwards the second time.

08/09/2010 02:57 PM

Have to agree with Randy.

“but it’s also people like me that used to buy race tickets and dutifully watch every race every Sunday afternoon… but don’t anymore.”

I guess that’s why Matt only writes about how great the racing USED to be. If you no longer diligently watch on Sundays, what qualifies you to diligently write a negative article on Mondays?

08/09/2010 03:10 PM

Attention everyone, I am an OFFICIAL ISC representative. I am not a casual fan who made up this username to pose as an official member of ISC because obviously – that would be very difficult to achieve.

I stand by my… er, someone’s claim that Matt’s article on Thursday was way out of line! “People like you” ARE a huge problem with the perception on NASCAR. But, in spite of you, we still have our successes. (After all, we’ve keep “those kinds” out of or sport for years!)

Speaking as the OFFICIAL ISC representative on this board, I would like to thank for allowing me to comment on Matt’s articles which directly impact my day to day operations at work. This forum of Nascar Nation propaganda sways the tide of the future of our sport.

If it weren’t for Matt’s “blood on our hands article” there would be no COT.

If his hatred of the points system for not awarding more points to winner didn’t appear weekly in the early 2000’s. There’d be no chase.

In fact, every decision us officials at ISC make is directly related to a comment that make so eloquently inked to paper.

“Them There” know what I’m talking about!

Carl D.
08/09/2010 04:23 PM

I don’t mind the road course races, but I’m glad there’s only two on the schedule and none in the chase. I’ll take Watkins Glen over ACS or Michigan any day. As for Darlington, I love the track and it’s my home track here in SC, but the simple fact is they couldn’t fill the stands for two races even when the economy was decent. The writing was on the wall a few years before it ever lost the Labor Day race.

08/09/2010 05:57 PM

Don’t start thinkin’ Pocono will listen. The Mattioli family has been in bed with NA$CAR about as long as Bruton has been around.
A more disturbing image is DW in a short skirt with those large ones he seems to have grown. Wonder what his fine will be, or better yet, will this cause us to finally be rid of him?
I know you don’t like road courses, but I contend Sunday’s race is proof that a road course is needed in this worthless Chase. It could prove to be a great equalizer. Put one about mid Chase and see how it could jumble up the standings.
Again, I know you don’t like road courses but, sad to say, that was some of the best racing we’ve seen this year. Montoya and Ambrose put on a clinic, as well as others showed racing through the field With the changes the Glen has made, are you listening Pocono?, it was a very fast, very safe race.

Bad Wolf
08/09/2010 06:12 PM

“I would even go one step further as to say that Matt doesnt even like racing at all anymore. When is the last time he posted a column where he said something positive? One of these days the powers-that-be at FS will realize that his column is depressing and sucks. Maybe then they will let someone else do the weekly race recap.”

No, the Powers that Be at FS will get a visit from Nascar High Command and be made an offer they can’t refuse. Then the “New Owners” will fire Matt, not pay him for articles already published, then bring in Peter Pee to ruin the site and kiss Nascars arse with new material written by Randy “Nascar Crusader” Goldman.

Richard in N.C.
08/09/2010 06:33 PM

In regard to the attendance at the Glen, were you there? You should at least make it clear what the basis is for your assertion.

08/09/2010 06:47 PM

Sounds like a plan to me!

08/09/2010 07:41 PM


(And isn’t Randy Goldman the name of the gay prostitute in the Canadian TV series “Trailer Park Boys” which might be the funniest show ever?)

There’s a little problem with one of the other talented writers here on FS taking over the Recap article. You see I developed the format. Other websites have copied it time to time, but I originally developed it because my then boss Mike Calinoff at Stock Car City felt my race analysis pieces were too long. I carried the format along with me from SCC to Speedworld, Racing One and SpeedFX (three names for one formerly proud website which is now “gone, baby, gone.” I bought it to the RacingStalkers site, then bought it here. The format isn’t going to win me any prizes, but it works and it will follow me when I move on from here if I choose to keep doing it. Hell, I even copywrited it when the post-race reviews over at FX got too uncomfortably close to what I did for them.

When I take time off, which I do more frequently Tom often asigns another writer to take over this column with my blessing. To a man (and lady) they have all commented to me that writing this piece, even with the format pre-determined is a lot tougher than it appears reading the same column. Yeah, it can be a pain in the ass to write, but I have fun with it, and to me it’s all about fun. When it stops being fun I quit.

Now, given the nature of the Internet (information wants to be free) here’s my challenge to you. Next week after Michigan sit down and write your own race recap using my formula. (I give you my blessing and I’m calling you out to do so.) Post it in the comments section below my column. Let’s see what folks think of the job you do, what they like about it and what they don’t like. Those who can do, those who can’t criticize.

When was the last positive thing I wrote about NASCAR? I dunno. Do you want to count the 104 article history series I did on our sport hoping I could get newer fans to respect the traditions and history of the sport I love as much as I do. I’m sure you read every installment. After all you’re not a big mouthed newbie (or a Canadian hooker) I am sure.

08/09/2010 08:18 PM

“Yes, because being 185 points ahead is SOOOOO much more exciting than having 12 drivers separated by 50 points with 10 races to go.”

Because there has never been an amazing comeback in the last 10 races, right? Nope, never has a driver come back from, say 278 points down with 6 races to go to win a championship.

Never happened. Ever. The old days were full of boring points races that were always decided with 3 races to go, while the chase has provided us with great points battles won by many different drivers.

Yay chase!

08/09/2010 08:21 PM

I couldn’t find out Randy’s last name on Trailer Park Boys but I agree it is one of the funniest TV shows ever. I also think Brain France ru(i)ns Nascar as well as Mr. Lahey runs the Sunnyvale Trailer Park! Good writing as always Matt!

08/09/2010 08:36 PM

Thank you Matt for replying to Randy.

I have followed you for close to 15 years at all the sites you named above and it seems that 75% of the fans who reply to your columns are positive with the few who disagree not listening TO THEIR OWN ADVICE of not reading if THEY DO NOT LIKE the content.

I wish Speed would show some older races in their “Nascar Classics” then a couple years old. There are very few instant “Classics”. If Speed would show some of the older races (10+ years) it would show the newer fans some of what us “older fans” are talking about while at the same time reminding us “older fans” that not every race was Great or a classic and yes there were some stinkers.

Margarrita Chicken
08/09/2010 09:28 PM

Sounds like after next week we will have a new author for Monday recaps. Do you think Randy Goldman will get a secret fine from FS for criticizing Matt.

thomas dalfonzo
08/09/2010 09:30 PM

Here’s how I think the schedule should be shuffled: Why not let Atlanta keep its March spring race (run it under the lights, too.) That way, you give Kentucky the Mother’s Day weekend race, and that would move Darlington and the Southern 500 to Labor Day weekend, where they rightfully belong.

Also, I think NASCAR should form a new racing series devoted exclusively to road courses. A NASCAR road course racing circuit would be a perfect racing series. It would be fantastic for drivers like Boris Said, Robby Gordon, Scott Pruett, Marcos Ambrose, etc.

08/09/2010 10:01 PM

Another good article Matt.Nascar says they listened to the people when they brought the let the boys go attitude. Now to me if they were listening they would still be racing at the rock,north wilksboro and darlington on labor day.If they wouldve taken the money they spent on building cali speedway and upgraded the old tracks then give them better dates maybe they wouldve filled the stands there.Nascar was built on the short track and thats what brought the fans in. Granted Bruton Smith is just as much to blame.What did north wilksboro seat 45 thousand. To me it would be a hell of lot better to sell out 45 thousand and have the stands full than to only sell not even half the seats at cali.Whats nascar gonna do when they realize that cali with only one date still can only fill half the seats

08/09/2010 11:46 PM

Keep the road courses and add Montreal to the schedule.

08/10/2010 08:24 AM

Wow, Matt sure is thin skinned this week. I like his observation that “Those who can do, those who can’t criticize.”

So Matt, what is it that you can’t do so that you criticize NASCAR every week? Get some credentials so that you can actually go to a race instead of watching on the tube?

Go Randy! Pressure’s on pal, but we’ll be reading next week.

08/10/2010 09:55 AM

I have been a Nascar fan for a bit over 11 years now. I am considered a relatively new fan by many standards. But thanks to different racing forums I have joined, I have been educated to Nascar before Jeff Gordon, when Dale Earnhardt was just starting to win Championships and before. These people are dedicated race enthusiasts and passed on a love of the history of the sport for me. I saw the Championship decided before the Chase and now after. I am not a fan. While the race to the Championship may have been decided, pre-Chase, months before November, race enthusiasts tend to pick favorite drivers and/or manufacturers they support, and watch each race individually to see how their driver(s) do. It made each race important because your driver was there trying to win. The Chase focuses only on those drivers in the Chase, and we lose 31 other drivers. Even if the Championship was already decided, I still enjoyed seeing how my driver would do each and every remaining race. It provided a reason for me to attend short track races around my area, and introduced me to people around the country who remain good friends via the racing and internet.

Matt’s articles have become must reading for me after the races. I do not agree with everything he writes, (I do enjoy road courses, tremendously), but I respect what he writes as I agree with more than I disagree, and occasional disagreement is good for the soul. He makes me smile, virtually every week.

As someone for years who attended the MIS race twice a year, (I am a Michigan resident), but now am down to just the early summer race, I will be watching to dissect and write on the race following Matt’s directions. MIS quite often is a boring race to watch on tv, but is anything but at the track. Unfortunately, fuel mileage is too often a big part of the win there, and then it loses something.

There is much wrong with Nascar now, and most of it won’t be changed because the almight tv dollar drives all of the decisions of BF now, but I will keep watching and keep reading.

Keep writing Matt, as there are those who love it, and your replies in the comments column have finally induced me to write also…

08/10/2010 11:00 AM

Hahahaha. Sure thing Matt. Take the week off… oh wait, not like you have been really working the past 22 races anyway.

Kevin in SoCal
08/10/2010 02:22 PM

ElectricPeterTorq wrote: “Because there has never been an amazing comeback in the last 10 races, right? Nope, never has a driver come back from, say 278 points down with 6 races to go to win a championship.”

Once, in 1992, in 60 years has a driver come back from 278 points down to win. And you use that as an example of how great the old points system is? Try again. 99% of the time it was a runaway and the Champ was already decided before November.
The Chase worked exactly as it was supposed to work the first two years, with Busch winning 8 points and Stewart winning by 35 points. Then Johnson and Knaus figured out the system and used it to their advantage. Dont blame the Chase. Blame the #48 for being better than everyone else, and blame everyone else for not being as good as the #48. As I said last week, if Dale Jr had won 4 championships in a row, I fully believe that the majority would now suddenly love the Chase and praise it, especially his lunatic fans.

08/10/2010 03:34 PM

So then, is it fair to say that the Chase is a failure, because last year, Jimmie Johnson won by 141 points, while Matt Kenseth, the whole reason for the Chase, only won his championship by 90some points?

Also, close points going down to the final race… 1979-1985, 1988-1990, 1992-1993, 1995-1997, and 2002. 2003 was only a 90 point win… much less than last year’s chase. Even Tony Stewart’s 2002 cup win was by a lesser margin than the Chase of the last three years.

So, what did the Chase fix?

Kevin in SoCal
08/10/2010 04:30 PM

2003 was ONLY a 90 point win because Kenseth already locked up the Championship the previous week, and Homestead was worth nothing but a win. Remember, he killed the engine early and finished 43rd, losing a ton of the points he was leading by.

Bad Wolf
08/10/2010 05:50 PM

“2003 was ONLY a 90 point win because Kenseth already locked up the Championship the previous week, and Homestead was worth nothing but a win. Remember, he killed the engine early and finished 43rd, losing a ton of the points he was leading by.”

I wish every race was worth nothing but a win, with the points championship talked about only during the last few races of the year like in the days of old. Imagine the outcry if the NFL went to a points system where the Championhip was decided by accumilated points and the Cowboys won the superbowl 4 years in a row not by winning games but by outscoring the other teams during the season. “We lost the game, but had a hell of a good points day. We keep this up and we will be Champions again this year.”

08/10/2010 06:45 PM

I went thru the 13 articles on the front page of Frontstretch. Some are positive (PR BS), some are negative (truth). No RandyGoldman comments on any of them, except Matt’s. You would think if he wants positive, he would be posting on the positive threads. If he is so anti-negative, you would think he would be bashing all the negative threads, not just Matt’s.

Why doesn’t RandyGoldman practice what he preaches?

08/10/2010 07:26 PM

OK, Randy it’s on. It is SO on. Of course I reserve the right to comment on your post and show you and your opinions the same respect you show mine. Of course I’m of the sort that completed eighth grade so I’ll be using a switchblade rather than a broadaxe, but I’m salivating at the chance to see your efforts.

My guess is you either throw in the towel and can’t get the job done, or you use your famous pseudonames to praise your efforts. Dan’s Mom continues her valiant effort to remain dead, right?

08/10/2010 07:43 PM

LOL You da man, Matt !!

08/11/2010 08:16 AM

I’ll try to keep the words to a maximum of two syllables, so I dont lose ya.

08/12/2010 01:13 PM

You are right Kid Lighning, the old Atlanta was a lot better.
Especially that bump off of four, man you had to be a driver back in those days.