The Frontstretch: Thinkin' Out Loud: Fontana's Wild NASCAR Race Recap by Mike Neff -- Monday March 25, 2013

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Thinkin' Out Loud: Fontana's Wild NASCAR Race Recap

Mike Neff · Monday March 25, 2013


Key Moment – Kyle Busch stayed out when most of the other lead lap cars came to the pits during two crucial caution flags. His two biggest rivals all day chose to stop. Denny Hamlin came in and took tires with 24 to go; Joey Logano got fresh skins with 29 laps left. Those moves, while costing them track position early allowed them to get past Busch and set up the day’s crazy ending.

In a Nutshell – Logano. Hamlin. Fireworks… at Fontana? Hard to believe but NASCAR’s much-maligned track put together a miracle ending. You can say the same for Kyle Busch – he was the car to beat, until pit road strategy left him a sitting duck. On older tires, Logano and Hamlin blew by for the lead, fighting it out amongst themselves until they started trading paint in Turn 3 on the final lap. Busch took the high line, then snuck by on the outside before the two bounced off the wall to finally score a win for Joe Gibbs Racing at Fontana.

Dramatic Moment – Coming to the white flag, Hamlin and Logano made contact on the front straight. Hamlin had a nose in front as they exited Turn 2. Logano side drafted on the back straight, pinching his rival close to the wall to have the lead entering Turn 3. The two were side-by-side, then touched which slowed them enough to allow Busch to pass them on the high side. But that’s when it all fell apart – for both of them. Logano hit the wall and saved it while Hamlin slid to the inside of the track and made violent, head-on contact with the inside wall that does not have a SAFER barrier. As of Monday morning, Hamlin was still hospitalized, kept for observation while Logano remained uninjured. “Now we’re even,” he said on the radio before reemphasizing the point with a “That’s what he gets” to reporters while Hamlin was being loaded into an ambulance. Ouch.

What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler

Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were the topic of discussion all week. As the NASCAR Gods would have it, they end up battling for the win and end up wrecked as the checkered flag flew. (Logano is credited with a third-place finish while Hamlin ended up 25th thanks to not completing the final lap.) On Lap 6, Logano laid the groundwork for the finish of the race. Coming to the start/finish line, Hamlin was making a move on Busch. Logano took the air off of Hamlin’s spoiler, then possibly made contact while sweeping to the bottom of the track to take the lead from his former JGR teammates. It was clear from that point on that Logano was determined to do whatever it took to win, regardless of etiquette and he almost pulled it off.

BEDGOOD: What To Take Away From Sunday’s Wreck

Among the many drivers that Logano ticked off Sunday was Tony Stewart. After the race, Logano was parked on pit road. Stewart came over and grabbed Logano by the front of his driver suit with his right hand and unloaded a left at his head. The teams separated them at that point in time but Stewart wasn’t done voicing his displeasure with the upstart driver. After the altercation, Steve Byrnes interviewed Stewart as the three-time champion was heading back to his garage. Byrnes asked what he was mad about. “What the hell do you think I was mad about?” Stewart snapped back. “Dumb little son of a b*tch runs us clear down to the infield. He wants to b*tch about everybody else when he’s the one who drives like a little prick. I’m gonna bust his ass.” Smoke kept going, hours later, claiming Logano was a “rich kid who never worked a day in his life.” Note to self: don’t block “temper temper” on a final restart, in the future when he’s third, desperate for a win and said actions take his car – already struggling in 2013 – well outside the top 20.

But while Stewart cools down a little bit, this Monday he might want to think back to Talladega last fall, when he threw a block in turn three that took out about 20 race cars. When you’re going for a win and there is a restart, you have to do what you have to do. You can debate the Logano/Hamlin incident, who was right and who was wrong… but on this one, Smoke is blowing Smoke up, well, you know…

NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver is having a most unexpected run to the front of the point standings. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran below average at the beginning of the race, then clawed his way to third before a pit road miscue dropped him to the back half of the field. He settled in around 13th for a long run, slipped back to the 20s, but used the two final cautions to his advantage. Putting on new tires on with 11 to go, he fought his way to fourth and ended up second when the dust settled on the final lap. It’s clear the driver has full confidence in crew chief Steve Letarte to make the right adjustments, at the right times for the No. 88 to fight its way back to the front. Remember the days when Earnhardt would run well, during the first green-flag run only to fade every 100 laps? Not anymore.

For a driver who never won a Cup race on anything but a plate track, Michael Waltrip sure loves to talk about how a driver should race another driver trying to win a race. It might be in Mikey’s best interest to leave the non-plate etiquette about that stuff to the guys who’ve actually done it in their careers.

So what made this race so much different than all the others at Fontana? Simple: the track is well aged and the bumps are making the racing as good as it gets. Goodyear also brought a tire to the track that wore out. In the end, tires made a difference but not a huge one. It was the perfect balance that resulted in a great race.

The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune

Denny Hamlin looked to be in position to score the first win for JGR at Fontana during the white-flag lap. By the time the race ended, he was on the ground next to his crumpled race car being loaded onto a backboard. (Why was there no SAFER Barrier on the inside wall?) A 25th-place result doesn’t tell the story of a car that ran top 3 for the majority of Sunday’s event.

Mark Martin’s track bar broke loose from the rear end of his car. The result was a spin through traffic and an end to the race on a hook. It doesn’t matter much to Martin, who isn’t running a full season anyway, but it has to be a disappointment for his fans who are hoping to see one more win for the old fart.

The runner-up jinx is still trying to dig its claws into Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s day started hitting the wall, slipping in oil and spent the rest of the day simply trying to sneak home with a respectable top 15. It wouldn’t happen; his engine gave up the ghost on lap 184 and dropped him to a 35th-place finish. Bowyer is now 14th in points, 62 out of the lead and shows no signs of the 2012 spark that had him up front, week in and week out.

Marcos Ambrose was snake bitten twice by left rear tire blowouts. The second of those tore the back bumper cover off his car, demolishing the quarterpanel and producing the biggest “wreck” of the day outside Logano/Hamlin. He ended the race running, but was 18 laps off the pace (ironically, his best finish so far in 2013 is 18th). You think Ambrose has Qantas on speed dial yet, ready to book his flight back to Tasmania for good?

Crazy things happen on race cars all of the time, but having the gear shift break off of the transmission is one you hear about once every couple of years. For Juan Pablo Montoya, Sunday was his day, forcing the car to limp home 31 laps down in 38th. Then again, considering it’s been 26 races since a top-10 finish, we’re to the point where “it’s always something…”

Timmy Hill did his best to alter the outcome of the race, albeit not intentionally. Hill lost an oil fitting on lap 30 that resulted in nearly a dozen cars making some kind of contact with the outside wall and five of them having to come to pit lane for repairs. Among the ones who were hurt the most: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Bowyer, and even Brad Keselowski. NASCAR might want to look into having random oil downs when races aren’t turning out as exciting as they would like them to.

After Paulie Harraka’s Nationwide race came to an end in a ball of flames, how can we not have him in a category with Hindenburg in the name? Harraka has been less than stupendous in his racing career since gaining national attention battling with Joey Logano in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Harraka, a Duke graduate has run four Nationwide and 11 Camping World Truck Series races since without as much as a sniff of a top 10.

The “Seven Come For Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune

For Kyle Busch, he is usually in the Hindenburg category far more, but this weekend it certainly fell into his lap. Logano and Hamlin taking each other out allowed Busch, who led the most laps in the race, the opportunity to squeeze by on the top side to grab his 25th Cup Series win of his career.

Thanks to the vagaries of the caution flag rules of NASCAR, Joey Logano bounced off of the wall and kept digging. Even though he crossed the line sixth, the caution was flying so the sanctioning body reverts to the last scoring loop and uses video evidence to set the finishing order. When the caution came out, Logano was in third and, since he was still moving at caution speed throughout, that allowed him to keep the spot.

Jeff Gordon was running worse than any of the Hendrick Motorsports cars before he made a late-race pit stop for Alan Gustafson and the gang to make a major adjustment. Just like the Earnhardt changes, the No. 24 came to life, although not to the extent of Earnhardt’s car. He still scored an 11th place finish, which was a major accomplishment considering how poorly they’d run all day. Right behind him, with similar snail-like speed issues was Jimmie Johnson in 12th, just the fifth time in his career he’d finished outside the top 10 at Fontana.

Being the defending champ has its privileges. Brad Keselowski’s car went south as the race was coming to an end. According to the announcers, he was warned to pick up the pace or be black-flagged. There was no other mention of the No. 2 over the final five laps; considering the action that was going on at the front of the field that was understandable. But despite reports he was well below minimum speed, the Blue Deuce was able to finish the race and scored as the next to last car on the lead lap in 23rd.

Kurt Busch was right in the mix when the green flag flew with 11 to go. He ended up slipping back to fifth place in the final running order, but it was still an impressive run for the de facto fourth RCR car.

Worth Noting

  • Joe Gibbs Racing had never won at Fontana/Auto Club Raceway before Sunday in the Cup Series. For the team that just upped its record of consecutive wins at a track to nine, at Fontana in the Nationwide Series, it is amazing that Kyle Busch’s win on Sunday was their first.
  • Much was made of Brad Keselowski having four consecutive top-5 finishes to start the season after his championship. The last person to do that was Dale Earnhardt, who did it for the first five races of 1995 after winning the 1994 title. Makes you wonder if Ironhead was looking down and made sure that Brad didn’t tie that record just yet.
  • 25 wins in the Cup series is a pretty impressive number. The win on Sunday put Kyle Busch in that category, which ties him for 24th on the all-time Cup Series win list. He’s tied with Matt Kenseth among active drivers and is now one ahead of his brother Kurt. Busch has won at least one race in every season that he has competed in the Cup series since going full-time in 2005.
  • The win at Fontana broke a 31-race winless streak for Kyle Busch. This is Busch’s ninth weekend sweep, having taken the win in Saturday’s Nationwide race as well. But perhaps the more surprising stat is it’s the first time in ten races where Busch made it out on top after leading the most laps during a Cup event.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second, which gave him his fifth top 10 finish in the first five races of 2013. He is the only driver on the circuit who has ended up in the top 10 in all five races this season.
  • Kurt Busch finished fifth, which gives him back-to-back top 5 finishes in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet. This is the first time since that team started in 2005 that they have scored back-to-back top-5 results. This is the second time they’ve had two top 5s during a season and gives them a total of five top-5 finishes in their history.

There were 17 lead changes during the race on Sunday. The unofficial tally of on-track passes for the lead during green flag conditions was five.

In the top 10 on Sunday by manufacturer were:

Toyota – 2
Chevrolet – 5
Ford – 3

  • In another of those twists that you just can’t make up, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin are ninth and tenth in points. As a result, when they roll into Martinsville in two weeks, they’ll be parked next to each other in the garage. To say the garage stalls at Martinsville are small is an understatement. The two drivers are going to have no choice but to see each other repeatedly all weekend. Whether they’ll speak is yet to be seen.

What’s the Points?

Thanks Keselowski’s mechanical issues at the end of the race, Earnhardt assumes the point lead by 12 over the 2012 champ. Jimmie Johnson’s run on Sunday was less than stellar, but slots into third in the point standings, 16 points behind his Hendrick teammate. Carl Edwards, who very quietly finished fourth on Sunday and has pushed his season total to three top-5 finishes is sitting in fourth, 35 points behind Earnhardt. Tied with Edwards is his Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle. Biffle finished sixth on Sunday for his second top-10 finish of the season.

Kyle Busch’s win pushed him from 10th to sixth in the points and leaves him 36 out of the top spot. Kasey Kahne is seventh, while Paul Menard is eighth; he was eighth at Fontana to score his third top 10 of the season. Menard is also the last driver who can mathematically leave Martinsville with the points lead. As mentioned before, Joey Logano is ninth in points and will be parked next to Denny Hamlin who rounds out the top 10.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – It is early in the season, and we have to have a little wiggle room, but this race was as close to an instant classic as we’ve seen in a while. The only thing holding it back from that lofty status is the fact that there were only five on-track passes for the lead. If there had been a little more action at the front of the pack during the first ¾ of the race, like there was over the last 30 laps, this would have been a sure fire six pack. Still, we have to give this one five ice cold cans of Guinness Draft or Budweisers, whichever you’d like to have.

Next Up – The Cup series is off for Easter and then heads to the shortest, oldest track on the circuit, Martinsville Speedway. Considering there’s a half-dozen drivers pissed off at each other, expect the retaliation meter – and the excitement that comes with it – to be pegged at an all-time high.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … A Return To Richmond, Post-Spingate And Quick Hits
NASCAR Mailbox: A ‘Normal’ Saturday And A Valuable Lesson
Beyond the Cockpit: Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher
Open Wheel Wednesday: Controversial Moves, Long Beach Crowds, and Being a Fuddy Duddy
The Frontstretch Five: Pleasant Surprises of 2014 So Far
IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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Sherri T
03/25/2013 04:21 AM

I agree! Surprisingly good racing for Fontana!

Those last thirty laps were something. Never thought I’d see racing that good at Fontana of all places!

Carl D.
03/25/2013 07:40 AM

Gonna be a lot of talk about whether Logano should have come up into Hamlin or not. I’m no fan of either driver, but hard, aggresive driving on the last lap with a win up for grabs is justification enough for me. I believe Joey intentionally made contact with Denny, but I don’t think he meant to wreck him. Even so, Joey’s comment that Denny “Got what he deserved” as they were loading Hamlin into the ambulance had a nasty tone.

Tony Stewart is the hands-down winner of the hypocrite of the decade award. Hey Tony… Logano didn’t force you down to the infield; you tried to pass on the apron and he blocked you. You remember blocking, right? If not, go watch the Talledega race from last October. Jerk.

Controversy, wild tempers, and torn up cars all around Kyle Busch and he’s not involved? A wild, crazy race at Fontana? We have entered the twilight zone, my friends.

03/25/2013 08:38 AM

Wow, did the Gen-6 car just save Fontana? Of course the cautions helped too.

03/25/2013 09:07 AM

Well, I thought it was typical Fontana until the last 20-25 laps. And, wouldn’t you just know that it would be an ISC track that would skimp on the safety equipment? And why would you have an asphalt ramp up to the wall? Maybe NASCAR better fix the track but that would mean spending money…..

03/25/2013 09:13 AM

5 beers with a tequila chaser for the last 30 or so laps, 2.5 for the rest.
i’ll agree with Carl D. but i’ll give Lagano the benefit of the doubt as he probably didn’t know Denny’s fate. and i’ll have to add a double shame you to tony stewart. i think those comments and actions are going to loose you some fans and some cash to the france foundation. time for an anger management refresher?

03/25/2013 09:15 AM

Oh, well, so much for that “Tony’s grown and matured SO much after fielding his own team”. BOLSHEVIK! What an arrogant, self-centered egotistical creep. It is now time to resurrect the old fan club: “Fans Against Tony Stewart”, or “FATS”.

Bill B
03/25/2013 09:21 AM

Wow, hell hath frozen over… a compelling race at Fontana. Who’d have thunk it?

Tony needs to decide which side of the fence he’s on with respect to blocking issue and then live it. Personally, I didn’t see anything blatantly out of line with the end of the race except for Stewart going over and bitching at Logano for something he himself does all the time.

I’ll give it 4 beers just because the bar is set so low for the Fontana race based on past experiences.

03/25/2013 10:00 AM

at least hamlin will have an off week. hope his back isn’t too messed up. sure looked like a hard hit.

i’m not a fan of either hamlin or logano, but hamlin gave logano space, over 200 mph is no place to get back.

tony blocked at dega last year and caused a massive wreck. guess it’s the selective memory thing kicking in with tony.

i thought kyle bush’s comment was funny, they all forgot about me.

this was not typical california race. i was kind of surprised. however i don’t like seeing the helicopter starting up, regardless of who the driver is.

maybe off week will cool tempers down.

03/25/2013 10:03 AM

That was good hard racing at the end. I really don’t think Logano intended to wreck Hamlin for the win, but he definitely intended a good door-to-door bang. He just screwed it up.

I’m not a Logano fan, but I’m glad to see him at least finally realizing his career was going nowhere, and he’s trying to do something about it. It’s lit a fire under him.

Michael in SoCal
03/25/2013 10:37 AM

I know I’m one of those who beat down on the racing at Fontana a lot, but the last 40 laps of yesterday’s race was danged good racing. Cautions helped the cars from getting too spread out, and the restarts were pretty spectacular to see.

I didn’t see the first 3/4 of the race, but what I did see was worth the price of admission for all who were there I’d say.

Ed n Georgia
03/25/2013 10:51 AM

Tony, obviously, feels that it’s ok for him to block, but not anyone else.

Don’t like Hamlin at all but hope He’s OK.

Logano isn’t making many friends, but that may be a good thing.

Wayne V
03/25/2013 11:25 AM

Excellent column, first one I read on Monday morning.These are just my observations and opinions!

First, Tony Stuart. I lost respect for him after this tirade. Berating Logano for doing what every other driver, including himself, would do in that case. Yes he does speak out, but he’s usually not on point with his comments. I watched the replay many times and Logano didn’t do anything wrong.Also, shame on any track without safer barriers wherever cars could hit a wall hard! It also appeared to me as if Denny was in the gas as he was spinning causing him to hit the wall so hard. The rear tires looked to be putting down the power as he was spinning which seemed to make his hit much harder.Not sure why he would do that? Maybe frustration. I should ask DW as he always knows what the drivers are thinking.

Another opinion. Is it just me or does it appear as FOX/SPEED is trying to drive longtime fans like myself away with who they put on TV. Think about it! The Waltrip brothers, I think their problems with their TV work is self explanatory. Too many negatives to get into here. Kenny Wallace, I’m tired of his goofball act. Larry Mac, nice guy, but not really a very good TV person and sometimes that screechy voice and his grammar grind on me. Then Jeff Hammond, his poor on air delivery and overuse of “right now” and “hey” make him hard to listen to.

Has anyone noticed how well Brad K. deals with the media. I saw two interviews, one with Erin Andrews and the other was the last NASCAR video press conference at California. Both were excellent as he showed he could answer questions with ease and have a good relationship with the press. What a spokesman for the sport, NASCAR should be thrilled. Tony Stuart, take notice!!

Just talking
03/25/2013 11:31 AM

Fair is fair – and that was a good race and fun to watch. Lots going on through much of the race with guys moving up then back then up. Last few laps were great.

Will give Logano benefit of the doubt on his remark. He really needs to earn some respect and push the door open like Kes did. Maybe this is the year. Going for the win all bets off.

Stewart needs to stop. Enough. He lost all credibility at Dega. Just stop now.

Fontana – who would have thought!

03/25/2013 11:51 AM

No surprise with Waltrip bashing Logano. The man is nothing but a walking advertisment for Toyota. He knows where his bread is buttered. I agree also that he knows very little about last lap fighting for the win. Overall a pretty darn good race at California.

03/25/2013 11:52 AM

“The Stewart” needs a good ass whoopin’. Everybody who races him is an idiot, but he’s justified in wrecking the field at Talledega( I was there), and wrecking people under caution (Bowyer and Carl Edwards a few years ago), and running people into the grass at 200MPH (Kenseth at Talladega a few years ago). He’s been told he’s so good so many times that he just believes he can do no wrong. Reminds me of another driver who always claimed he was “just racin” when he “rattled someones cage”.

03/25/2013 11:55 AM

I could see how this race was going to finish. I knew Kyle would be there to reap the rewards after Joey and Denny crashed. Hope that Denny will be O.K. The Question is WHO will Joey piss off next?

03/25/2013 11:58 AM

Hey, Tony: Why don’t you go pick on someone your own diameter?

Kevin in SoCal
03/25/2013 12:26 PM

I’m happy to see a good race at Fontana, and to see the fans here admit it. :) Anyone who boycotted this race should go searching online and watch the replays to see what they missed.
The beginning was shaping up to be another snoozer, but the end made up for it.
I heard lots of talk about repaving the track because its the original surface. I dont know if that was just the media talking, or if they’re getting info from ISC. If so, the best thing ISC could do is NOT repave the bottom lane. That would eliminate a groove of racing and get the cars closer together and fighting for real estate, which the fans all seem to love.

03/25/2013 12:27 PM

Agreeing with Wayne about FOX. But yesterday, Micheal Waltip proved what a complete moron he is. His fluffing off of Bass Pro shops the way he did when he “interviewed” Jamie McMurray was insulting and demeaning to Bass Pro shops. If I was BPS, I would have paid Brian France a visit this morning demanding a full on-air apology from Micheal at the next race, and demanding the immediate removal of him from any NASCAR broadcast. And if France is still too hung over to understand, BPS should remove themselves as the official sporting goods supplier of NASCAR, and demand back every penny they were most likely forced to pay for the privilege of being an official something of Brian’s farce of a circus.

Also, did anyone notice the Coke commercial with Stewart, Newman, Logano, Hamlin, Biffle, the bimbo? Aside from Hamlin and Logano sitting in the same van, it was a Dodge, not a Chev! Does the Felon (the true owner of SHR) own a Chrysler dealership?

03/25/2013 12:38 PM

It doesn’t get much better than that (minus Denny getting hurt-there needs to be SAFER barriers on all walls, especially big tracks). That ending was as close to a repeat of Daytona 1979 as I have ever seen.

Smoke is a total hypocrite, as mentioned above see last fall at Talladega. I thought this Tony had gone away, but he still like to complain and then do that exact same thing.

03/25/2013 12:38 PM

Excellent column, Matt. I never expect much from the racing at this track so was happily surprised by the good racing at the end. The rest of the race was really typical Fontana – big gap between the cars, not much to see. Your comment about oiling down the track made me laugh because I thought the same thing – NASCAR waited a long time to call that caution and I was thinking they were back to manufacturing excitement.

Logano’s comments were in poor taste at the very least. He doesn’t have to like Hamlin but “he got what he deserved” when they are loading a guy in an ambulance is a stupid thing to say. I didn’t think Logano wrecked Hamlin on purpose at least by what I could tell on TV. Hope that Hamlin is OK – never like seeing someone get hurt. NASCAR and ISC should be getting a lot more heat for the fact that there was no SAFER barrier in place. This track has very high speed, everyone knows it and ISC doesn’t spend the $ on safety. Big surprise – lip service by NASCAR, bad news for the competitors who are driving the cars.

And then we have Tony, running his mouth, when everyone has seen him do the same brainless thing. Tony has a short temper and a selective memory of times when he has blocked and the result of those moves.

I do think Logano needs to grow up otherwise he is going to find someone (and it may be Tony), who decides to mop the floor with him.

Martinsville may be very interesting.

Moe Foe
03/25/2013 12:44 PM

a couple of points to address here:

Screw Tony. I hope Joey doesn’t listen to his s*it, ‘cause he was doing the right thing in claiming the inside, block or not. He was in front and it was Fatboy’s job get around him. Tony was mad ‘cause the move made him lift and lose momentum.

Joey and denny weren’t trying to wreck each other, they were just bein’ hard-headed and not giving an inch to each other. Remember, it was denny’s bumper that put Joey into the wall. Joey needs to be a little nasty in his dealings with those guys, especially denny and Kyle. They think he’s just a pawn to push outta the way and Joey needs to convince them otherwise. It looks like Tony has got Email.

03/25/2013 12:45 PM

I agree with Wayne’s comments, too. I forgot to mention, I missed all of the Mikey comments since I watch Fox with the sound muted. Not into the Waltrip Network. I use the radio feed from my computer to follow the race.

I stopped watching Raceday several years ago. Simply not interested in Kenny Wallace’s opinions either since he’s another NASCAR mouthpiece. Never stop by any of those stages when we go to the races either.

03/25/2013 01:13 PM

I can’t believe I am writing a comment to defend Tony Stewart, but…

You can’t compare restricter plate racing to other tracks. Logano was within his rights to block, but Stewart actually did have position and had to lift to avoid spinning Logano and triggering a melee at front of the field.

Any of the folks calling Tony a hypocrite, please provide an example of him crossing two lanes of the track to get ~1 inch in front of someone on a track without a plate. Further, I challenge you to find footage of any drivers from the following cars doing it on a non restrictor track: 2, 48, 78, 20, 24 or 47.

Good luck, you won’t find it happening.

JDwag Jim
03/25/2013 02:23 PM

Spot on Matt. I’ll admit doing a lot of channel flipping between the NCAA tournament and the race in the early stages, but I thought this was easily the best race of the year to date.
Huey, Louie and Dewey all need to grow up, but I am less forgiving of Stewart because I hold a champion to a higher standard. Is it really any wonder the man is in his early 40s and still unmarried? In his mind, it Tony Stewart’s world and everyone else is just living it. Love his generosity, he has a lot of brilliant things to say, but damn, if he just doesn’t mash on the verbal gas too much. Frankly, I wish someone would beat his gargantuan azz just once to shut him up. Where’s Hornaday or the Onion when you need them?

Carl D.
03/25/2013 02:33 PM

drgonzo…. I’ll be open-minded and consider your point of view, but please tell me why you can’t compare restrictor plate racing to racing on other tracks when it comes to blocking on a restart. Thanks.

JD in NC
03/25/2013 02:44 PM

drgonzo, I’ll agree that it was a different situation, but contrary to the point you are trying to make. Tony’s blocking at Talladega was much worse than Joey’s at Fontana. Joey was blocking on a restart as the cars were coming up to speed. Tony was blocking at Talladega when the cars were already at full speed resulting in a much worse situation and subsequent wreck. Plus Logano was entirely in front of Stewart blocking him. At dega, Tony came down across the nose of Mikey’s car which was already inside his quarter panel.
At dega Tony, said “It’s my fault, blocking to stay where I was at.” How quickly he forgets!

awww shucks
03/25/2013 03:14 PM

first off, i hope denny is okay. not a fan of his but don’t want to see someone hurt. in my opinion i thought ( and may be wrong) that once joey got ahead of denny that denny turned left, causing joey to hit the wall and denny to go left towards the infield. i may be wrong but again, just opinion.
second, what does tony expect joey to do. he was just schooled last week by a veteran that demands respect (hamlin, large hint of sarcasm) and has watched tony block people over the years. i remember at daytona in the spring race when tony shoved kenseth off into the grass, still don’t know how matt didn’t crash in that race. (maybe itwas the july race) or tony at talledega robbing Regan smith of a win.
Third – great finish to a so so race. glad i watched it

Bill B
03/25/2013 03:20 PM

“, but Stewart actually did have position and had to lift to avoid spinning Logano and triggering a melee at front of the field.”

And that’s where Tony made his mistake. Every time someone tries to block another driver (especially at the end of a race), don’t lift, just let physics take it’s course.
If drivers had a zero tollerance policy for blocking it would soon be a thing of the past.

And BTW, blocking is blocking. In my opinion it is worse to block at an RP track because the probability of mass carnage is higher. Tony lost his chance to take the high road where blocking is concerned when he wiped out half the field at Talladega. You can try to draw distinctions between the two situations all you want, but blocking is still blocking.

03/25/2013 03:26 PM

Whether you agree with it or not, switching lanes back and forth to block is a normal tactic in restrictor plate races, particularly with the prior gen car. As long as you cleared the car you were blocking no one wrecked even if they hit you.

When you did it unsuccessfully (i.e. not clearing the car you were trying to block) it resulted in a disaster. Two examples at Talledega are last falls Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards vs Brad K.

Therefore the difference between the two situations is that a restrictor plate track the driver you are blocking did not have to lift to avoid a wreck (assuming you cleared them), they just stayed behind you (note that this does not seem to be the case with the new car based on Daytona).

What really irritated me more than anything with Logano was in his interview he said we was having to peddle his car so we wouldn’t pass Ky Busch before the start finish line and that is why Tony had a run on him and therefore he was in a no win situation. If this is true (that he was peddling vs spinning his tires) it would seem that he doesn’t understand the restart rules, since you can pass the leader before the start/finish as long as you didn’t jump the start to do so (See Matt K vs Brad K Bristol 2012).

03/25/2013 04:18 PM

Please understand people that Joey made the “He gets what he gets” comment before he realized Denny was hurt.

Why is no one talking about the concrete elephant in the room and criticizing Nascar for not having soft walls on the inside walls? Is it because Nascar owns this track. Bruton Smith took some heat a while back for the very same thing. Yet everyone seems to be silent about this.

Long time Smoke fan hear because of the candor he shows, like he did yesterday. His interview with Byrnes was classic Tony. However, I have to disagree with him. Everyone else brought up the Talladega issue and they are spot on. Blaming someone for blocking when you do it yourself is short sighted expecially battling for the win. I don’t blame Joey for that at all.

I’m actually glad to see Logano fighting back. He has taken alot from Hamlin, Busch, Kes in the past and I think he is finally showing some fire. A little job insecurity helps with that too.

Personally, I think Logano and Hamlin are both at fault for what happened. Logano was very physical coming to the line, but Denny made absolutely sure he was not going to win the race. Unfortunately Denny took the worst of it. Mikey siding with Hamlin (shocker!) was a complete joke. Him and his brother have zero credibility.

03/25/2013 04:53 PM

Hands down, the best race I’ve ever seen at Fontana. And I’ve attended one race there. What a finish. I just hope nas$car doesn’t screw it up by re-paving it any time soon. nas$car needs to make sure the SAFER walls cover the entire track, inside and out. If there is a wall without one installed, a driver will eventually find it, sometimes with bad consequences like yesterday. I really hope Denny is okay and will be able race at Martinsville, And bravo for Logano, wreck not withstanding. He has been berated for not sticking up for himself as other drivers have run all over him. For whatever reason, he’s a different driver this year. Simply put, Stewart is one hypocritical a$$bite. His blocking took half the field out at Talladega last year. And Wayne V, you’re spot on in regards to Fox’s broadcasting of races. One Waltrip is bad enough, but if anything, Michael is 10 times worse then Darrel. It does feel at times that Fox does everything they can to drive fans away. Their mid race report had me literally yelling at the TV. In closing, a good (and needed) win for Kyle. By ya’ll.

awww shucks
03/26/2013 09:01 AM

does anyone remember when elliot hit the inside wall at pocono? didn’t the fans and media want to take away their races until they had safer barriers around ALL walls? and then not have bruton do the same to his tracks?


Contact Mike Neff

Recent articles from Mike Neff:

Thinkin' Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Special Winter Sprint Car Series set for January debut at Cocopah Speedway
Beyond the Cockpit with Ben Rhodes
Kroger 250 postponed until Sunday afternoon
Denny Hamlin out of the car for the race at Auto Club Speedway

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