The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: Here Beside the Rising Tide... by Matt McLaughlin -- Thursday September 16, 2010

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MPM2Nite: Here Beside the Rising Tide...

Matt McLaughlin · Thursday September 16, 2010


Here Beside the Rising Tide…

Come hear Uncle John’s Band by the riverside,
Got some things to talk about,
Here beside the rising tide…

-The Dead

I’m not sure how many writers we have now at Frontstretch. I know we’ve got writers like Disney’s got Dalmatians, and maybe more. What you on the other side of that CRT don’t see is the weekly Sunday night scramble. Everyone is supposed to post their story ideas for the coming week, first come first serve. Of course, as one of the older dogs in the pack, I’m typically still banging out my Race Recap while everyone else grabs the good or easy story ideas. After finishing and submitting my recap, I tend to enjoy a long overdue libation and nap. And as one of the more seasoned (elderly) members of this Dog and Pony show I get to do the weekly twofer, as in I’m expected to bang something out for Thursday as well – when the only story idea left is the economic impact of raising paper towel costs on hot dog vendors at the track.

It gets ugly out there sometimes. There have been challenges to pistol duels, insults hurled about one another’s mothers, chainsaw battles in our newly-constructed Thunderdome, and such egregious behavior amongst colleagues that I am constantly forced to dip to new lows, exceeding even my past efforts to get my way. If forced to, I will claim that I “called” an idea a month ago. Imagine 50 kids “calling shotgun” for the ride to the Piggly Wiggly all trying to muscle their way into the front seat.

Given the recent lack of noteworthy events in the sport, the infighting has gotten particularly brutish. Naturally, this week everyone wanted to jump on the slam dunk story of the week, the Chase. I am gratified that most of my colleagues consider it the same unholy insipid insanity that I do, leaving the senior editor begging some one of us to come up with a column saying something nice about the whole boondoggle concept. Sorry, Thomas, you are shopping at the wrong five and dime. That topic will remain up for grabs. Thus, this evening I am left with two unalterable facts. A) The Chase topics are locked up. B) It’s supposed to be perfect riding weather every afternoon this week.

It’s time to get this done.

So, staring at a blank CRT chewing a pencil, I am forced to consider what to write about if I can’t do a Hate the Chase piece… to add to my already thick resume on the same topic. But remember, gentle readers, I was the first to hate the Chase, after Jimmy Spencer inadvertently leaked the concept on the final episode of RaceDay that season, an episode watched by hundreds if not tens of stalwarts. You can claim you hate the idea more than me, but I hated it first. I’d say I owed Mr. Spencer a few brews for being such a blabbermouth, but he looks like he could put away a considerable sum of suds and I am a man of modest means – so I’ll just offer to be the designated driver to get him home for free (If he promises not to bite me.) You ever seen Spencer’s teeth? They look like he ate rocks growing up.

So, what am I going to write about? Everything else. Trust me, there’s not much else going on. This won’t take long. (Which is what an ex-girlfriend claims is the most romantic thing I ever said to her…)

DuPont — one of the sponsors synonymous with Jeff Gordon and NASCAR — could be gone as primary sponsor of the No. 24 in 2011.

Let’s start with the troubling fact that Rick Hendrick is still shopping for a primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team. The relationship between Gordon and DuPont spans his entire career, from the kid with the cheesy mustache competing at Atlanta in 1992 for the first time through four titles. But apparently, the price of admission is too high for DuPont now. There were prolonged negotiations with Wal-Mart to take over as title sponsor, but they fell apart. Apparently, the price tag was too high, and that creepy yellow smiley face couldn’t roll them back despite the fact Wal-Mart has banked billions on their associates’ underpaid wages, child labor in Red China, and the wholesale sacking of small-town, family-owned businesses in the twenty-mile fallout zone that is a new Wal-Mart store. Hendrick now says DuPont might be back in play, though presumably at a much lower price tag than originally requested.

It’s the same situation for Tony Stewart, as he’s still looking for more sponsorship money for next season this late in the game. Old Spice is leaving the team at the end of the year. Rumors are Stewart is in play for the Mobil 1 sponsorship, leaving the Penske organization after Roger signed as primary sponsor for Kurt Busch next year. Still, nothing is set in ink. If Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, with six combined titles, are still chumming the waters for sponsorship dollars despite the constant love-fest of camera time and mentions the networks give them, what chances do the smaller teams that routinely finish in the high teens and twenties have at getting financial backing in this economy?

It would seem that Stewart should have no trouble getting sponsorship dollars. He is one of the few and proud NASCAR drivers still out there that is decidedly overweight, a demographic well represented in NASCAR fandom. I’m not being cruel. As a nation, we are overweight. But sometimes in the grandstands, you see folks and just want to gasp (usually because you are trying to occupy the seat between them, leaving you only three inches to sit and gasping is the only way you can breathe). I see some of these folks and think to myself, who told you lycra bicycle shorts and going topless with D cup boobs that saggy was a good idea?… and that’s just the guys. Any purveyor of fattening food without an ounce of nutritional value ought to be clamoring to get aboard the Tony Stewart bandwagon to join the Mothership of Junk Calories, Burger King.

Moving on, NASCAR officials say they are in serious discussions to revamp the Nationwide Series, so it is less of a turkey shoot for the Cup drivers and teams. They promise they will come up with the new rules soon (have we heard this song and dance before?). Of course, when announced, the new rules are likely to be unwieldy, ineffective, and ultimately futile; it’s just NASCAR’s way in the Brian France era, which I like to call the Age of Unenlightenment and Capricious Greed.

Here’s what we know already. Nationwide teams next year will have to deal with the horrific costs of that series’ “Car of Tomorrow.” Race purses will be cut by 20 percent across the board. That’s not a good combination. The Nationwide teams best able to make up that financial shortfall are the Cup teams and their satellite organizations like JR Motorsports. The full-time Nationwide independents? They’re prepared for yet another kick to the teeth with Brian France’s steel-tipped boots. Some folks are already seeing the writing on the wall: Todd Braun, who runs the largest “AAA” team on the circuit, has apparently put his up for sale.

But promoters are screaming they don’t want to see NASCAR exclude the full-time Cup competitors like Edwards, Busch, and Keselowski from the mix. Nor do they want to see draws that have Earnhardt, Fat Tony, McMurray, Biffle, Harvick and the rest of the occasional Nationwide competitors out of the series. Those names put some fannies in the seats in an era of already dwindling attendance that, at some tracks, makes it look like fans on hand wandered in by accident.

Here’s my take.

Matt’s proposed Nationwide Series changes would take Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch from title contenders to driver development coaches of sorts – their sponsors helping bring new drivers along while they only participate in a limited schedule.

The Cup drivers can keep competing in the Nationwide Series. But for every start they make, their team must provide another competitive entry for an up-and-coming driver with no more than two Cup starts. That second team must share sponsorship dollars with the Cup driver using the same sponsor. Cup drivers currently in the top 20 in Cup points would receive no prize money in the Nationwide Series, either, for themselves or their team owners. That money would trickle down to the best-finishing, full-time Nationwide teams. Cup drivers in the top 20 in Cup points would also receive no points for their finishes, eliminating them from title competition in the “AAA” series.

Cup drivers in the top 20 in that series’ points would have a separate qualifying round and would start at the rear of the field, with any driver choosing to skip qualifying starting the race in the pits and being held one lap before being able to join the race. Any Cup driver who was judged to have purposely wrecked a full-time Nationwide entry to make a pass would be held personally responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing the damage he caused. Such damage claims could be disputed before series officials, but the driver disputing the incident would be ineligible for Nationwide competition until such a hearing was held.

Finally, I’d like to see the Nationwide Series re-emphasize the short tracks, possibly adding a few dirt track races as well. Let’s face it; the races aren’t going to draw a big crowd, anyway. As it is, twenty thousand folks at North Wilkesboro or Eldora are going to look better than the same size crowd at Fontana or any of the other McSuperspeedways cluttering the schedule.

Now on to the TV program Kyle Busch: All Access.

I intended to watch this show, detailing Kyle Busch’s every move between finishing second at Richmond and starting at New Hampshire. To a degree, I had a perverse curiosity to see if he actually set kittens on fire, stole change from a blind man’s cup, or polished his cloven hooves before bed. I wanted to see if he could got booed at the drive thru window whilst ordering a burger for lunch. I was going to write a review of the show, and thought I’d have a good deal of fun lampooning young Master Busch. I dutifully set my DV-R to record Episode One. What I got was some tennis tournament apparently in rain delay. I’m still trying to figure out why those two guys playing were grunting and groaning like something out of a gay porn flick lobbing the ball back and forth.

I should note I hate tennis. I grew up in the sort of yuppie neighborhood where my mom wanted me to learn to play tennis and golf because the other kids played tennis and golf. I raced dirt bikes instead. While they worked on their forehands, I worked on my Cobra Jet. I started smoking weed entirely too early because I grew up in a neighborhood where the parents of a girl you were taking out on a first date wanted to know what your “handicap” was, which has something to do with golf. I’d usually respond my handicap was being left-handed. My revenge is sweet; all the kids I grew up with who played golf and tennis now have bad knees and torn rotator cuffs. And they told me motocross was dangerous?

But anyway, ESPN’s great experiment with the live Busch show, much touted and hyped, went up in smoke when the first episode aired at 1 A.M. Tuesday morning. If you’re one of the two people who saw it, I’d love to know what you thought of the show. NASCAR fans are used to being disrespected with the NFL, college football, and even a horse race taking precedence over races, but tennis? I don’t think ESPN loves us anymore.

One final ironic note. In declaring NASCAR’s intent to promote the Nationwide Series as a stepping stone to Cup, Mike Helton mentioned specifically Justin Allgaier as one of the personable new breed of drivers of the sort the Nationwide Series should help bring along. Only it appears “Little Gator” (gag… but the waitress is cute) may just be out a ride in the Nationwide Series next year despite some success. His sponsor Verizon is frustrated by their inability to do at-track promotions and the like because “Sprint/Nextel” is NASCAR’s corporate sponsor for the Cup Series. So in this instance (as in so many others before) NASCAR’s choosing to sign a corporate deal to line their own pockets is costing one of the few Nationwide teams with a high-profile sponsor and a promising young driver a chance to grow – in the nurturing new environment, of course, NASCAR says it wants the Nationwide Series to be.

Just remember the official slogan of the organization: NASCAR uber all! Remarkably, NASCAR’s network sponsors are not prohibited from airing ads for cell phone and insurance companies by the sport’s “exclusivity” deals.

So there it is. 2,000 words with nary a mention of the damned Chase. It can be done, but it’s getting lonely out here on this high wire. There’s this long open stretch of 282 west of Glenmoore where this time of year, with the sun to your back aboard a Harley you cast a shadow seventy foot long ahead of you. If the sun is just right, you can even make out the reflection of circle of chrome on your engineer boots as you take her up through the gears hitting 85 before gearing down for the stop sign at 82. I’m thinking lately this might just be the last Chase I don’t write about.

Well those drifter days are past me now,
I’ve got so much more to think about,
Deadlines and commitments,
What to leave in and what to leave out,
Against the wind, still running against the wind…

Bob Seger


Thursday on the Frontstretch:
Making A Mockery Of How The Chase Makes A Mockery Of Racing
Fanning The Flames: Richmond Reaction, Fantasy Talk, And A Junior Fan’s Last Stand
Driven To The Past: Thinking Outside ‘The Box…’
Fantasy Insider: Two Former Champs A Trendy Pick To Start Strong At NHMS

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

09/16/2010 06:15 AM

BREAKING NEWS!?!?! Matt hates the chase!!!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS! Does he also hate the writer’s block that forced him to write such awful dribble this week?

Can we get another 300 word essay on how much you love to “summer” at the Shore in New Jersey? Perhaps you can put “pencil to paper” on that one again.

You may be the “first” to hate the chase… Well, I’m far from the first to despise your columns.

2000 words without mentioning the Chase? Try 2000 words BARELY mentioning NASCAR!!!! COME ON!!! Could we once get 2000 words without mentioning your homoerotic passion for harley’s, leather, and the open road????

Matt McLaughling is to the Media, as the Chase is to NASCAR….

Matt McLaughlin is the Danica Patrick of

Matt McLaughlin writes as well as Dale Junior drives.

Michael Waltrip is to ownership as Matt McLaughlin is to penmenship.

Creativity as to laps run by Joe Nemecheck this year….

Could go on for days, but I’m getting dangerously close to writing about NASCAR which is prohibited around Matt.

09/16/2010 06:31 AM

Well Matt, I am watch “Riding Shotgun with Kyle Busch” and I find it very entertaining. It is not so much about racing, it is more about his personal life with his fiancee Sam Sarcinella. It seems to me that maybe she was the driving force behind this idea. She is funny, cheerful, and completely devoted to Kyle. She does a lot of “pro bono” work for him at KBM. I think the point of the series is to show that Kyle can be a regular person outside of the track and if he gets sponser dollars for his truck teams along the way – well so much the better. Having said all that, I don’t know if it is a show that a man would enjoy watching.

Brians Mom
09/16/2010 06:42 AM

BREAKING NEWS!?!?! Randy hates Matt!!!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS! Does Randy also hate that he feels the need to read something he hates each week, then comment on it like it really will make a difference?

Can we get another 300 word reply on how much you hate to “read” Matt at Frontstrech. Perhaps you can put “pencil to paper” on that one again.

You may be the “first” to hate Matt and his writing… Well, I’m far from the first to despise and laugh at your replies.

Randy Goldmom is to the replies to Matts articles, as the Chase is to NASCAR….

Randy Goldmom is the Danica Patrick of replies at

Randy Goldmom writes as well as Dale Junior drives.

Michael Waltrip is to ownership as Randy Goldmom is to penmenship.

Creativity as to laps run by Joe Nemecheck this year….

Could go on for days, but I’m getting dangerously close to calling out NASCAR which is prohibited around Randy.

09/16/2010 08:17 AM

I’ll read a writer who writes 50 columns a year bashing the Chase over a or ESPN writer who puts out the company line about how wonderful it is just once. Matt’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than Joe Menzer or Terry Blount.

And Randy, aren’t you the one that’s always saying Danica’s the most wonderful thing that ever happened to NASCAR? Why are you comparing Matt to her?

09/16/2010 08:36 AM

Keep up the good work Matt…

Bill B
09/16/2010 08:43 AM

Young Biff: “Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here.”
Old Biff: “It’s LEAVE you idiot. Make like a tree and LEAVE. You sound stupid when you say it wrong.”

Randy Goldman:“Does he also hate the writer’s block that forced him to write such awful dribble this week?”
Bill B: “It’s DRIVEL. You sound stupid when you say it wrong.”

You must realize Randy you are in the minority. Why do you keep flagellating yourself each week by reading Matt’s column? Maybe you and Dan’sMom should get together and breed a new NASCAR fanbase that likes everything the idiots in Daytoan do. Then we fans that hate the chase will be the minority and you yes men can rule the internet.

In closing let me just say THE CHASE SUCKS.

09/16/2010 08:47 AM

Your point is clear, and well stated. There is nothing to talk about related to the chase. I saw a portion of nascar now last night, JJ was being interviewed, and honestly I can’t remember a thing that he said. It was just that interesting! I think Harvick puked in his mouth as he was asked a question related to how he feels about “winning” the first 26 races of the season, and now to be “seeded” third or fourth (hell I don’t even know, or care). Anyway, the point is, without the female host of the show, there is nothing to capture my interest.

09/16/2010 09:22 AM

Drop the chase,It’s not good for NASCAR.Harley on the open road,H—- YEAH!!

09/16/2010 09:28 AM

maybe its just me but I found Randy’s comments far more entertaining then the article itself. Well done sir.

Bruce Florman
09/16/2010 09:47 AM

What’s a CRT? ;-)

09/16/2010 09:55 AM

Mmmmm… danica patrick. When is she coming back?

09/16/2010 09:56 AM

Brians mom… way to get creative. I like it (insert sarcasm here).

09/16/2010 10:22 AM

Brians Mom

Veddy nice! I liked it. Third time thru I noticed Goldmom. Maybe Randy is a nickname and he is just randy and frustrated.

Matt, I’ve read your columns for a lot of years and you do get a reaction. Good stuff!

I think Cup drivers in NNS should get half points and half prize money and put the money back into the race pool to be divided equally by the regulars.

Kevin from PA
09/16/2010 10:23 AM

“I’m thinking lately this might just be the last Chase I don’t write about.”

Last year I bid a fond goodbye to Matt as I thought 2010 would be his last year. I didn’t think he would survive one more year of Brian, COT, the Chase, etc. Looks like I might have been one year off.

In a weird way, Matt made an excellent point in this article – What is there to talk about in NASCAR?

The Chase to the Chase wasn’t exciting. I doubt the Chase itself will be exciting (could be wrong but I am taking history on my side). Several of the races this year weren’t exciting. Most of the drivers aren’t exciting. So what exactly is there to write about?

Brian bashing is boring now as it is obvious that BF is laughing all the way to the bank. Chase bashing is pointless as BF won’t admit it was a mistake. Even once upon a time stating that the Chase was a mistake would have created 5 days of comments. Now all you have to do is show a graph of pre and post Chase TV ratings and fan support. Then – well, case closed.

Can’t talk about rivalries or new drivers as there really aren’t any.

Actually I feel sorry for all of the NASCAR scribes. I stopped listening to NASCAR radio on Sirius last year as the hosts were reduced to telling inside jokes by Wednesday as there really wasn’t much left to be said.

Matt was kind enough to respond to my comment last year with “Hope Springs Eternal”. True enough – but I sometimes think we are witnessing the Fall of NASCAR.

Look around – the leaves are brown.

09/16/2010 10:30 AM

So who is organizing the farewell party for matt? If anyone needs me to take the lead on this, I dont mind one bit!

Carl D.
09/16/2010 10:36 AM

What makes the Justin Allgaier story even worse is the fact that he leads all the non-cup drivers in the NNS. Instead of talking about how he would be leading the NNS standings if not for the Cup drivers, were talking about whether or not he’ll have a ride next year. Sad.

Bruce… a CRT is what some folks still call a computer monitor… it’s what RandyGoldman writes on with those big fat crayons he stole from kindergarten class.

Michael in SoCal
09/16/2010 11:55 AM

The Kyle Busch show is a pretty good watch. He’s funny and a lot more personable than you’d expect based on his racetrack behavior.

As for your Nationwide Series ideas regarding the Cup Series drivers, I think you have some pretty strong ideas. The Nationwide Series needs Cup drivers to keep it popular, fine. But we need to limit how many races Cup guys can drive in, and figure out a way so that the series regulars compete against themselves for the driver’s championship. Hopefully Nascar will figure out a good compromise on this one. But after seeing them implement a brand new racecar in the same year they cut race winnings by 20%, I’m not holding my breath.

09/16/2010 12:13 PM

Yay, a writer who hates the chase, too! I also think this statement completely embodies the way NASCAR works these days: “Brian France era which I like to call the Age of Unenlightenment and Capricious Greed”. Perfect, I love it.

Haven’t been watching the Kyle and Sam show. From what I’ve read, its been mostly T&A from Kyle’s girlfriend. Nice work if you can get it. And no, I’m not jealous – just not sure what it has to do with racing.

09/16/2010 12:31 PM

I’ll bet she does do a lot of “pro boner” work for him.Nice cans too

09/16/2010 12:42 PM

Matt, once again proving he can’t write his way out of a paper bag—what DRIVEL.

09/16/2010 12:43 PM

Excellent replies Briansmom & BillB

09/16/2010 01:01 PM

I have been a Seger fan since 72 when my older brother started allowing me go into his room and listen to his 8-tracks and albums in exchange for washing and waxing his hopped up 61 Chevy.

Seger’s “Roll me Away” always starts playing in my head when reading your bike rants.

09/16/2010 01:12 PM

I like the idea of starting Cup drivers in the pits (if only to see them race out of there like an F1 start), but unfortunately they get to catch right up as soon as a few ‘debris’ cautions are thrown. They should’ve just shut down the NW series and let the drivers/teams absorb into Cup & Trucks – it’s dying a slow death anyway, and maybe there’d be less S&Ps in the remaining 2 series.

09/16/2010 01:50 PM

I am still waiting for Danica to save the Nationwide Series. Ha Ha.

09/16/2010 02:30 PM

Always a fun read even if I don’t agree with you. Interesting that people who claim to hate your columns can’t stop reading them. Your columns mirror the disillusionment alot of us feel toward NASCAR in recent years. This is a tough time to be a diehard racing fan.

Brians Mom
09/16/2010 03:23 PM

Excellent replies Briansmom & BillB”

I learned years ago that if you use their words and change them some it shows the idiocy of the original.

Goldman, Dans Mom, Volcano Nacho, M. Chicken, Teach and the rest, please be more dilligent with timing when you post under all your ASSumed names, you just look foolish when the time stamps are so close and it is so obvious.

09/16/2010 04:06 PM

I havent read one of matt’s columns in months. I know what each one says w/o reading it. I’m only here for the idiotic comments made by fans of a sport they hate.

Kevin in SoCal
09/16/2010 04:20 PM

Matt said: “ leaving the senior editor begging someone of us to come up with a column saying something nice about the whole boondoggle concept.

I’d tackle that project, but no one would read it, and I couldnt handle the criticism. =)

I still dont understand how watching one driver run away with a race by 2+ seconds is boring, but watching one driver run away with the points by 200+ is exciting and better than the Chase.

Brians Mom
09/16/2010 05:19 PM

“I still dont understand how watching one driver run away with a race by 2+ seconds is boring, but watching one driver run away with the points by 200+ is exciting and better than the Chase.”

Because it’s real and not manipulated.

no spin
09/16/2010 05:58 PM

awful dribble yes but it was a bunch better than most of BS printed and called columns

09/16/2010 06:11 PM

I also enjoyed the episode of “Riding Shotgun with Kyle Busch” that I saw, though I agree with Robin that it may have been more female-oriented with Sam constantly the focus of attention, planning their wedding, talking up Kyle’s foundation, and generally acting as if the show was about her. Which is OK in a strange way. Also got to see Kyle hanging out with Matt Crafton at his home and on Lake Norman. I assumed Kyle must have SOME friends, but based on what the sportswritiers say, I didn’t expect any of them to be competitors of his.

Also, I was not disappointed when my DVR also captured Rafa on Monday instead of Kyle. That man is certainly some awesome eye candy! And Matt, it WAS the finals of the U.S. Open that bumped a racing fluff piece. Not an insult to NASCAR fans, more to the tennis fans who couldn’t watch it as advertised on CBS or even ESPN 1.

Second note to Matt: Kyle did not set any kittens on fire. He was seen carrying one of his dogs onto his plane, so doggie wouldn’t have to climb the stairs. Will be saving baby seals next episode!

Margarita Chicken
09/17/2010 06:09 PM

Brian’s Mom, i’m sorry to tell you that i am not affiliated with dans mom, nor randy, or nacho. I do not have the penmanship or creativity as them. I just happen to agree with most of their statements. Matt has really gone down hill over the past few years. Maybe Matt should focus all his attention to one article a week.

09/21/2010 09:56 PM

dansmom how many different names do you use on here and again if you hate what Matt is writing quit reading it Another good article Matt