The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Bristol-1 Race Recap by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday March 18, 2013

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Bristol-1 Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 18, 2013


The Key Moment – Brad Keselowski, the race leader, never got up to speed on the final restart, allowing Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch to pass him before the first corner. While Keselowski and Busch battled over second, Kahne drove off to a win.

Kasey Kahne crossed one off the NASCAR bucket list Sunday with his first Sprint Cup win at one of the sport’s legendary tracks: Bristol.

In a Nutshell – New car, new track, same old Bristol racing.

Dramatic Moment – There’s many to choose from, including that final restart, but my nod goes to the incident where Jeff Gordon blew a tire while leading and took out second-place contender Matt Kenseth. It’s rare these days you see the entire complexion of the race change in the blink of an eye. (Or during commercial break, in this case… sigh.)

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

OK, a pretty good race. So was it the new Gen-6 car or the new Bristol track surface that returned some action to Thunder Valley? I’m going to guess that the track configuration deserves more of the credit considering both Saturday’s Nationwide race and Sunday’s Cup event were barn-burners, armed with two completely different sorts of cars on the track. Am I going to get fined 25 grand for saying that?

It was hard not to notice vast swathes of empty seats in the grandstands at a track that once sold out 55 consecutive Cup races. My guess, though is that Sunday did more to sell tickets for Bristol’s August night race than all the clever commercials and promotions Bruton Smith can dream up. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and Sunday’s race was just about spot on. Now if he could just get the local hospitality (hostility?) industry to offer hotel rooms for under 400 bucks a night, we might see the stands full again sometime soon.

When, exactly did the old restart rules go out the window? Before my time as a writer, as long as I’ve been a fan (and we’re talking almost five decades here) I’ve understood that the leader decides the pace of the restart. If the second-place driver is first to the line, they have two choices: either surrender the position or get black-flagged. (Ask Carl Edwards.) If the new rule is that once the second-place driver restarts inside the restart “box,” the race is on, I’m fine with that. It’d make for more exciting racing, but I hate to hand NASCAR officials another “judgment call” because they don’t have the best record of consistency in such matters. In other forms of auto racing, if the restart is questionable track officials will wave it off, line everyone back up and try it again. And I’m not talking little dirt track hobby stock races, either. I’ve seen it happen at the Indy 500.

It would appear that after a week of public furor, in the wake of Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine all parties would like to sweep this unsightly mess under the carpet. Hamlin’s penalty for his post-Phoenix comments that the Gen Six (sux?) car was a work in progress were clearly evident to anyone who’d managed to stay awake for the entire 500-kilometer event. Fans didn’t need Hamlin to tell them that the new car needed some tweaking; after all, there was almost zero side-by-side racing they’ve all so desperately wanted. It seems even some folks in the NASCAR hierarchy are admitting now, way off the record, Hamlin’s fine was an overreaction and an unnecessary distraction that cast more light on the issue than his actual comments warranted. Additionally, almost all sources say that the person behind the fine was Brian France. Color me surprised… but here’s the weird part. When’s the last time France was actually around at the conclusion of a race to listen to what anyone had to say?

Denny Hamlin stood alone amongst his peers in earning a $25,000 fine for Gen-6 criticism. But did many of them intentionally leave him alone, twisting in the wind once it happened?

A couple things really bothered me about Hamlin’s fine and its resolution. Firstly, it didn’t seem like enough contemporaries in the garage area rallied to his support. Rather, most ducked like scared little rabbits into their warren to avoid the topic. Anyone else remember the movie The Stepford Wives? Secondly, Hamlin now says he’s on the “same page” as Brian France on the issue. Note to Mr. Hamlin: If you’re on the same page as Brian France, not only are you reading the wrong book, you’re in the wrong library. Hamlin did hint that one of the reasons he was so enraged by the fine is he feels other drivers have had more controversial comments and not been penalized. He feels after his eight years in the sport, along with his notable accomplishments during that period he should have earned the same respect from NASCAR given to the sport’s other top stars. He hinted broadly that it seemed the Hendrick Motorsports drivers can get away with almost anything, on or off the track. It’s interesting to note that when Kyle Busch won the first Gen-5 (aka Car of Tomorrow) race, he proclaimed in Victory Lane the car “sucked.” He was not fined for the remark, and – coincidentally – he was driving for HMS in that era.

It also rather bothered me that Hamlin said the matter wasn’t worth pursuing because the amount in dispute was “only” $25,000 dollars. Driver No. 11 needs to recall his fine is more than some of his fans clear, post-taxes in a year. If $25,000 is nothing, I could use it anyway, Denny.

Listen, I am Irish. And old. I’ve been celebrating St. Patty’s Day since it meant sneaking a Schlitz out of my dad’s case in the garage. I can say with authority Saint Patrick’s Day was not named after Danica, despite the FOX TV network’s attempt to canonize her as the Patron Saint of Failing TV Ratings. The only thing Saint Patty and Danica have in common is they both wear green a lot.

Rain fell in Bristol Sunday morning and threatened all day. So where was NASCAR’s new “suck truck” that Brian France is so proud of? Still sitting at Daytona. Apparently, they haven’t figured out a way to transport that vehicle from track to track yet. Or maybe it’s still being fitted with its “glass dashboard.”

Penske Racing’s defection to Ford is fortuitous for the Blue Oval Boys. With Brad Keselowski posting four top-5 finishes, in four races they’ve pretty much been carrying their flag this year.

Saturday was a cold, rainy and at times even snowy day with slate gray clouds seemingly at treetop level here in South Central PA. I think Admiral Byrd would have refused an expedition to my mailbox. To pass the time on such days, I routinely root through my collection of old car magazines, particularly Car and Driver, and re-read road tests from an era when Hemi Cudas, Daytonas (both of the 365 and Charger form) Cobra Jets and LS6 powered Chevelles roamed the earth, fighting for street supremacy. Why bring this up? It seems while NASCAR is facing several more lawsuits, from fans injured in Daytona’s Nationwide race their defense seems to be “nobody could have seen this coming.” Really? Legendary auto writer Brock Yates wrote, back in the day, “Racing experts are in almost total agreement that fans in the lower seats at Daytona are in great danger, both from a car bounding into the stands and from flying debris. They must be better protected from both hazards.” That, my friends was written in the May 1968 issue of Car and Driver in a recount of a race that ran in February that same year. (Page 91 if you have access to a copy.)

OK, I give up. What was a guy dressed as a banana doing backstage at drivers intros?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Tony Stewart’s rolling his eyes at a bad-luck start to 2013. It’s one that’s left all three of his Stewart-Haas Racing teams outside the top 20 in owner points.

Last week’s winner, Matt Kenseth was challenging Jeff Gordon for the top spot and probably would have had him within a lap. That’s when Gordon blew a tire and collected the No. 20 car, causing his second trip to the garage in four races (35th). It’s a cruel sport, this NASCAR; you’re in the penthouse one week and the outhouse the next.

The race was only nine laps down when Tony Stewart lost a tire and tore his car to shreds. Where there’s Smoke, there’s suffering as of late; 31st is his third finish outside the top 10 in four races.

Jeff Burton suffered an unusual problem when his foot got stuck between the throttle pedal and the firewall as he attempted to lift for a wreck. He wound up 32nd.

Joey Logano was running second when he and Denny Hamlin had a little dispute over who should have the spot. The ill will then spilled over after the race in a brief but heated conversation in the garage area. That’s the second time (add in: Daytona 500) these former teammates have now tangled in 2013. Do we have the makings of a rivalry here?

Hamlin clearly had one of the fastest cars at Bristol, but lost the handle late (23rd). For the final seven laps, he crawled around using the wall like a bank on a pool table trying to keep the No. 11 in the pocket.

Jimmie Johnson, a picture of consistency this year to date, finally felt the fickle finger of fate when he blew a tire and slammed the wall. He ran 22nd.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Kasey Kahne had his car all sorts of sideways several times in his charge to the front. You also have to think he was getting pretty nervous there, at the end having seen two of his teammates lose tires and clobber the wall.

Pole winner Kyle Busch had his struggles, at times Sunday but fought back from penalties and handling problems to score a second-place result.

Kyle Busch looked to be going for a weekend sweep, winning both practice sessions, the Cup pole and Saturday’s N.W. race. He, in fact, dominated early on Sunday but once again drew a pit road speeding penalty and was sent to the back of the pack. Considering that obstacle, second was a nice recovery.

After a disastrous 2012 Cup season and a slow start to this one Jamie McMurray was finally enjoying a good run in third when he spun out. Slowly but surely, McMurray rallied back to a credible 10th-place finish, his best so far in 2013. These days, such results at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing are rarer than graduating virgins at Penn State.

Kurt Busch had a top-10 run going when he ducked into the pits under green with a flat tire. He fell off the lead lap, but bounced back, charging to fourth in a rarity for his underfunded Furniture Row Racing team.

We’ll finish up with two drivers who are consistently strong in Thunder Valley as of late. In his first Cup start, in 2013 Brian Vickers managed a credible eighth-place finish, on the lead lap in the No. 55 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also drove well, moving up from a 32nd-place starting spot to sixth.

Worth Noting

  • All three previous Cup race winners to date this season wrecked at Bristol.
  • The win was only Kahne’s second on a short track. His first career Cup win occurred at Richmond in 2005.
  • Kurt Busch (fourth) drove to his best finish since he was third last year at Sonoma. These two races represent the only two top-5 finishes he’s earned since his self-inflicted departure from Penske Racing.
  • The top-10 finishers at Bristol drove six Holdens, three Toyotas and a Ford.
  • Keselowski has top-5 finishes in all four of this season’s Cup points races. Earnhardt has top-10 results in all four.
  • Johnson failed to lead a lap in a points event for the first time this season.
  • Clint Bowyer’s fifth-place finish was his best of the year.
  • In one of those statistical quirks, Greg Biffle’s average starting position and finish in 2013 are both 12.8. (He was 11th Sunday).
  • McMurray’s 10th-place performance was his best since he finished seventh in this event last year.

What’s the Points?

Reigning champ Keselowski is back atop the point standings. Previous leader Johnson fell two spots to third, with Earnhardt sandwiched between them. Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle round out the top 5.

It’s still way too early to fixate on the championship, but it is notable that every driver from ninth on back has already spotted more than a full race’s worth of points to Keselowski. Already, there’s a bit of a chasm keeping those drivers on the right side of the Chase.

Among those who need to turn their seasons around, four races in we find Kenseth (13th), Kevin Harvick (17th), Gordon (21st) and Stewart (24th).

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 four icy cold bottles of Corona (dyed green, of course) with an oversize shot of Gentleman Jack as a chaser. The closing laps couldn’t rival Saturday’s race, but there was intense, side-by-side competition throughout the field all day.

Next Up – The series heads off west (for the third time this season) to compete in the annual snoozefest at Fontana. On a brighter note, fans still battling the ill effects of last weekend’s lost hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time ought to get back on schedule with a long afternoon nap. Here’s a surprise: good seats are still available for Sunday. And trust me, they will be… right up until the wrecking balls consign them to a landfill so a new mall can be built on the former site of this failed track. Turns out, even in the best of times at Fontana there’s no such thing as a good seat for a bad race.

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03/18/2013 07:09 AM

Great way to start Monday morning with your column! It was a pretty decent race, by far the best of the season so far.

03/18/2013 07:38 AM

Brain Farce just makes me sick!! He is just plain stupid, and how can anyone respect ANY of the drivers as they expound the “company line”….I sure hope to live to see the death of nascrap!!

03/18/2013 07:41 AM

i haven’t seen any updates, are the two fans from the daytona mess still in the hospital? i think early part of last week they were still hospitalized.

03/18/2013 08:39 AM

It’s not only the local motels that are hurting the fans. Taxes will be going up again, gas is going up, the economy is NOT growing and jobs are still hard to find.

But, thanks to Bruton Smith for listening to fans and spending the money, the race was much better.

Also, remember, not long after Kyle Busch said the COT sucked, he lost his Hendrick ride.

03/18/2013 09:30 AM

Good to hear from you, Matt. By far the best race of the season. Good action. Now it’s back to the west coast (didn’t they just race there?) for just the opposite kind of race. Boring. I attended a race there 11 years ago and it’s just as boring in person. We need a few more short tracks. Have a good day.

03/18/2013 09:57 AM

Great column, as always.
My wife surprised me with tickets to Bristol in August. She was horrified when she received the tickets that have a face value of $114.00, because she was charged $278.00 per ticket. Of course calling the seller was to no avail.

I just want everyone out there to be aware, if you go to Bristol’s website and want to purchase tickets, the same will happen, as the tickets have been sold to Ticketmaster, who sold them to a couple other sellers and they are scalping them at obscene prices.
Your best bet is to call the track and talk to a real person.
If this helps one person from getting burnt by Ticketmaster and their merry band of thieves; I’ll feel I’ve made a difference.

Bill B
03/18/2013 09:59 AM

I won’t speak to the attendance issue because there are so many factors that come into play, but more short tracks might go a long way to increasing television ratings.

03/18/2013 10:57 AM

al – did your wife buy them from a ticket broker besides tickemaster? i know brokers increase the pric as well. ticketmaster is highway robbery, you can buy multiple tickets but then nail you for fees for each ticket in the group.

hopefully when you attend the august race you won’t have to stay overnight to avoid the hospitality price gouging as well.

03/18/2013 10:59 AM

good to see another column from you, Matt. I watched thru the early part of the race and it was interesting to watch. Short tracks are always lots more fun to watch than the dreaded mile and a half overload. I was going out with friends – when I left Gordon was in the lead – heard on the radio the report that he blew the tire & was out. Ugh! Funny how I’ve read that Goodyear was blaming the teams (surprise) but some of them (including Gordon) probably pushed the tires too far in distance but what was the excuse for Stewart’s blowing up with only 9 laps in?

Hope maybe the weather will be better this weekend than it was this past one – I can do yard work rather than watch the borefest at Fontana.

Ouch, Al_, that is quite a markup on tickets! Yeah we stopped buying concert tickets from Ticketmaster. All of the markup made us rethink it.

LOL, yeah, Brainless must have watched a video of the post-race since I doubt he was there to hear it in person. I can’t imagine he was at the track – unless it was the dog or horses running.

Michael in SoCal
03/18/2013 11:32 AM

I want to know who the (as of me typing this) three race ‘fans’ who voted the race yesterday as one can or no cans of brew? Who are you and why are you bothering to read and click on this website?

Now if it was next weekend, I’d probably agree whole-heartedly. But not at Bristol.

And Bill B is right on – more short tracks would do wonders for revitalizing Nascar. Start with Fontana! To channel President Reagan: Mr. France – Tear down that track!

Carl D.
03/18/2013 11:58 AM

I saw plenty of empty seats in the stands for the cup race yesterday but that was nothing compared to the whole empty sections of grandstands for the Nationwide race Saturday. This has to be embarrassing for the track that used to be hardest ticket to get in motorsports.

JP… I think what did Kyle Busch in at HMS was leaving the track after he wrecked out of a race and was nowhere to be found after the crew fixed the car. They ended up putting Junior in the car since he had wrecked as well. The next season Kyle was gone and Junior was the new driver.

03/18/2013 12:25 PM

I thought the race was quite fun to watch, especially on mute. The 5-way battle in the top 5 for the last 100 laps or so was quite exciting.

Funny, I remember someone mentioning that “Danica blowing her R/F tire at Phoenix is because she sucks and can’t manage her tires.”

I guess Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are bad drivers too.

03/18/2013 12:41 PM

I’m guessing that if people are going to spend the money it takes to go to Bristol they would rather spend it on the “night race”. That said, maybe Bruton should consider asking NASCAR to switch dates with Texas in April.

On Hamiln, I’m getting sick of his act. I was on his side with the find last week, but after what he did to Logano, I’m glad he got nailed. For a guy whose most notable accomplishment was choking the championship 2010, he preaches like he was Dale Sr. I just remember when he said a few years ago Brad K. was going to be a washout.

03/18/2013 01:00 PM

Carl D., if you remember, during Kyle’s last year at Hendrick he was always having “issues” in the pits. Loose lug nuts, etc. He even starting saying he was afraid to come in to pit because of those mysterious “issues”. THAT’S why he was pissed and left the car.

Hendrick knew Jr. was going to move over to his company ahead of time. People talk.

Kevin in SoCal
03/18/2013 01:05 PM

Matt, the banana was part of the Bristol driver intros. The drivers get to choose their own music. I’m having a brain fade who, but that driver chose the Harlem Shake. It involves people in various goofy costumes dancing hilariously. Look it up on YouTube if you dont understand.
And piss-off for your comments about Fontana. :) The series heads out West so early in the season because we usually have sunshine while all the other tracks are still fighting snow, rain, and other assorted cold weather maladies.

03/18/2013 01:12 PM

Kevin in SoCal, it was JJ Yeley who did the Harlem Shake.

Kevin in SoCal
03/18/2013 01:12 PM

Oh, and about the track dryer, do you really think ISC is going to loan their super-duper track dryer to an SMI track?

03/18/2013 01:41 PM

I was lucky enough to be in Phx and Vegas for the races. I love racing and would go to every event if I didn’t have responsibilities. However, I would like to see the season shortened. If I’m going to spend the money to go to a race weekend I want the weather nice and warm for the weekend. Not have a day here or there that is mid-60s. Nationwide race in Phx was a nice day though it could’ve been warmer. Sunday was cold. Nationwide race in Vegas was another cold day. Sunday was awesome because the sun was actually out. I preferred the Phx spring race when it actually was in the spring (April) and not the winter. Maybe there would be full crowds and better racing if it wasn’t 36 weeks a year. Just my opinion.

Bill B
03/18/2013 02:01 PM

Before I make this controversial statement I will concede that I don’t like going to events in cold weather. I’ve only been to a handful of NFL games that take place after mid-October. However, I must ask, are we NASCAR fans wimps compared to NFL fans? NFL games sell out in Dec and Jan, in snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Why is it so difficult for NASCAR fans to dress for the weather and deal with it. (Of course rain is another story, apples and organges there).
Just saying…..

Carl D.
03/18/2013 02:01 PM

JP… I guess i forgot the specific details of Kyle’s last year at HMS. Thanks for the refresher.

Bad Wolf
03/18/2013 02:03 PM

It was good racing at Bristol yesterday, but I don’t expect to see the stands full come August. When they reconfigured the track they threw away a following that took decades to build up, and it will take a decade of racing like yesterday to get back to full stands and sell outs. When it was the hardest ticket in Nascar the fans would put up with an occasional dud of a race, knowing that the next one would be an instant classic. Bristol needs to prove once again that the majority of races will be top shelf before the fans come back en mass.

The “Bristol of Old” is gone forever, but the race yesterday was about as good as one can expect in todays Nascar.

Carl D.
03/18/2013 02:16 PM

Bill B. … Back in the 80’s I spent a weekend in the infield at Rockingham in either late Feb. or early March. It was freezing cold. There were 55-gallon drums in the infield and anything that would burn was going in those barrels. It looked like a city of homeless people standing around those burn barrels all night long because it was too cold to sleep. Maybe Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers fans could have handled it better than me; more power to them. I wouldn’t do it again.

03/18/2013 02:27 PM

Upstate24fan; I’m with you on Hamster. I was 100% behind him on that stupid fine issue, even though I never cared for the little whiner, but watching what he did to Logano just withdrew my support. Logano passes him and pulls up in front (maybe a bit early) causing Hamster to lift. OK, that’s racing. But then does that justify going after him and wrecking him on purpose? Hamster, just like his Gibbs teammate PeeWee Herman, is total slime. I am so glad that Gibbs had the wherewithal to sign a quality driver (and HUMAN BEING) like Kenseth in order to get back some respect.

03/18/2013 02:29 PM

He just can’t help himself folks. The broadcast is fairly Danica light and yet Matt still has to take a shot at her in his column. Face it Matt, people are interested in how she does. As long as people are interested, she is going to get her face time, no matter how much you bitch about it.

Instead of complaining about Danica every week how bout talking about guys like Nemechek who has not started and parked all year, the #51 team that is currently 8th in owners points or Kurt Busch who finished 4th? Nope, rather hate on Danica.

03/18/2013 02:35 PM

bill – i remember going to spring atlanta race right around march 10th(it use to be 3 weeks after the daytona 500) and freezing in the grandstands. you’d dress in layers and tote quilts and blankets to help keep warm. i still have my “race track coat”, which is a down filled coat with hood and deep pockets. remmber being at richmond once in the snow. going early in season is like going in blistering heat of the summer. that’s one reason they moved the “summer” dega race to later in the year cause of the evil heat and humidity.

and always, regardless of what forecast is, pack a poncho! nothing worse than rain at the race track. never know what is going to drip down from the stands when standing underneath for cover in downpour!

Just Talking
03/18/2013 03:02 PM

Way sick of Hamlin too.

He was so much better than Keselowski – how did that work out? He better watch out that Logano doesn’t go by him.

Couldn’t agree more about Kenseth.

Fun race to watch – can’t remember last time I said that.

More short tracks!!

03/18/2013 03:25 PM

Bill, I’ve sat through cold rainy races at Martinsville and whoever’s dumb idea it was to make Charlotte a night race in late OCT should have his head examined. I don’t know that NFL fans are heartier than NASCAR fans. I always come equipped with cold weather AND rain gear (got caught without it at Richmond one year in May – I almost died of hypothermia). After that, never went to a race without it.

However, since in effect NASCAR made the season different by instituting the chase over teh last 10 races, why not change the season and do one race at each track? That would shorten the season and make more of a supply/demand for races. Of course, NASCAR still would have to make the cars be able to pass at the mile and a halfers or they will still be duds.

I like the Pee Wee Herman comparison. LOL I hadn’t thought of it, but I like it. I figure the Busch brothers and Hamlin were all raised by the same family of wolves and no one ever taught them manners or sportsmanship. There is a difference between racing hard and being a jackass.

03/18/2013 05:54 PM

This weekend is your chance to send a message to nascar. Boycott Fontana…do not watch the race. Let the ratings speak.

03/18/2013 05:58 PM

I think the reason that more drivers didn’t run to Denny’s aid is because they all think he is a bit too egocentric. His comments about Hendrick drivers after his decision to not appeal and Joey Logano after Bristol only confirm as much. Hamlin needs to be more self-aware and less self-absorbed. Just think what would have happened if he would have taken a shot in the press at Big E or Bobby Allison or the like back in the day. He wouldn’t have made to lap 50 before he would have been in the garage with his own radiator issues. Hamlin needs to grow up.

Tom Dalfonzo
03/18/2013 08:25 PM

Why are we still even racing at Fontana? NASCAR needs to realize Irwindale’s potential and award it a Cup race, to kick Fontana off of the NASCAR slate. Irwindale deserves a Cup race, along with a Nationwide race and a Truck Series race, because it is a slam bam short track that fans will LOVE for sure. It is a travesty that Irwindale is essentially bankrupt while Fontana is still up and running. It should be the other way around.

03/19/2013 12:40 AM

The discussion of attending races in the cold has triggered one of my rare late night reflections on racing “the way it used to be”. (In my defense I only got home from work two hours ago.)
Back in the day Richmond was one of the first races on the schedule and it was still damned cold in Henrico County in late winter. This was in my pre-writing era but I never missed a race at Richmond because it gave me and my then brother-in-law Ken a chance to visit my beloved youngest sister Kat who lived 20 minutes from the track a weekend to reconnect. One of her neighbors worked at the Richmond ticket office and she always arranged great seats for us. Problem was most of the time it was miserably cold the day of the race and in that era most of the seats were aluminum bleachers or concrete, each of which was horrific to sit on in cold weather.
I finally came up with my multi-layered survival system to be able to enjoy rather than endure the race. The first layer was a brilliant red Harley Davidson union thermal suit, one piece from shoulders to ankles. Down below a fleece lined pair of jeans protected butt cheeks from numbness. On my hand I wore a pair of freezer gloves donated to me in copious quanties by a friend who worked in meat packing plant on Packer Ave. in the city. They were very warm but light enough you could still pull the poptop on a beer without having to yank one off. But the most important element of the outfit was the “poofy coat.”
For younger fans, this less than stylish garments were usually constructed of some sort of weird vinyl and stuffed with goose down feathers. Pleated rolls around the coat made you look like the Michelin man but dang were they warm. (not to mention safe. In that pre-air bag era I imagine a good poofy coat probably would have served the same purpose in a wreck.) Huge cavernous pockets on the side contained plenty of room for your smokes, lighter, souveniers wallett and perhaps a litter of ferretts while serving as a quick place to stash your brew while in the porta-potty.
In that day I had at least 20 poofy coats. (and if you’re over 50 you most likely had one too in your teens or 20s. I was running an auto parts store and at Christmas many suppliers would hand me a package with a brand new poofy coat with thier logo on it. That led to a dilemma. At a parts house you sold a lot of batteries during the winter. The battery cores that customers returned for thier 5 bucks (now up to 13 bucks)were the natural enemy of poofy coats. Let just a few drops of battery acid drip on a poofy coat and an hour later you were trailing feathers like a goose hit by an ICBM. On to the next poofy coat.
Poofy coats served me well over the years in applications other than racing. The Spring Carlisle Swap meet is held during the fickle weather of central PA spring. Lured by warm afternoons and temperate evenings you’d forget when you got to the fairgrounds at 4 AM to beat the traffic it was often in the low 20s and a denim jacket and T-shirt weren’t going to cut it till it warmed up in the afternoon. Fortunately along with auto parts there were always vendors at Carlile selling poofy coats for 10 to 15 bucks, usually seconds, or left over promotional items with some leftover weird logos on them. I recall one frigid morning desperately purchasing a hunter green poofy coat from a vendor who had a mountain of them. The logo was for some power plant in Oregon and it was only days later I’d realized whoever did the patches had mispelled “Oregon” or “Orgon.” No wonder the guy had a thousand reject poofy coats so cheap. During afternoons at the show the poofy coat served as the world’s most comfortable pillow as you laid down to take a nap in the grass. Those same poofy coats were my primary gear snowmobiling until a fellow from Vermont introduced me to the mustard yellow Carhartts that are now my winter choice. But a Carhartt makes a crappy pillow. Bring back the poofy coats and let’s return Richmond to the third or fourth race of the season. Surely some manufacturer can still churn out poofy coats for fans who want to see a good race despite the weather.

Bad Wolf
03/19/2013 01:42 AM

The Puffy Coat.

03/19/2013 11:04 AM

Unfortunately for me now, the Spring Carlisle Swap meet is always held on the SAME WEEKEND as Richmond! Since we have season tickets for both Richmond races, I can now only get to Carlisle in the Fall (sniff, sniff).

03/19/2013 12:11 PM

I was at Bristol this weekend and there is no question that weather is a factor in attendance of the spring race, just as it was in Atlanta.

It rained all night both Friday and Saturday night, and we were very lucky that both days the weather moderated.

I can tell you that Sunday’s race was only about 50-55% full.

Right after we left the track Sunday the clouds rolled in and it got windy and cold.

This race needs to be moved at least two weekends later; March weather is much too volatile in the south.

03/19/2013 02:48 PM

More short tracks & Less fontana (Dull Dull Dull)