The Frontstretch: Thinkin' Out Loud: Off Week Review by Mike Neff -- Monday July 22, 2013

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Thinkin' Out Loud: Off Week Review

Mike Neff · Monday July 22, 2013


Key Moment – James Finch finally made good on the threats and sold his race team. While an official announcement has not been made, it appears that Harry Scott is the new owner in conjunction with Brandt.

In a Nutshell – The NASCAR Cup series took a week off and the teams took the time to regenerate their batteries. The Nationwide series ran a race with only one Cup driver in the field, and he won. The Trucks loaded up and headed towards Eldora.

Dramatic Moment – Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch took turns insinuating that they were less than rocket scientists, although in reality, Newman is an engineer so he is pretty close.

What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler

Travis Pastrana planned on taking Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. base jumping but apparently Jack Roush put the kibosh on it at the last minute. While that makes sense on some levels, knowing that Roush still frequently pilots the team plane that they fly on doesn’t seem a whole lot less risky.

NASCAR has suspended the use of aerial camera systems that are suspended over the track at races until they can be further evaluated. Funny they didn’t do this while TNT had the rights. The folks at ESPN have to be less than thrilled thanks to the system they use, especially at Indianapolis. Look for them to have the camera mounted in some way to not go over the track so that is doesn’t violate the spirit of the rule. Fortunately they made this call to help make the fans and competitors safe, even though they can’t come up with an alternative to restrictor plates to keep the cars on the ground and out of the catch fence.

After all of the hype, rumor, talk and false rumors, the entry list for Eldora was released. A mere 36 trucks are on the list. The massive influx of dirt track ringers hardly materialized. While the event is going to be interesting, it is hardly going to be the debacle that some naysayers were predicting with the entire field of the feature being made up of drivers who don’t normally run in the series. In the end, the one thing that will hopefully come out of it will be a switch by NASCAR to heat races for setting the fields of events instead of pure qualifying, giving the lesser funded teams some possible television time.

Tyler Walker plead not guilty to leading police on a high speed car chase. This was a week or so after he lost his damn mind during a sprint car race and threatened to kill just about everyone at the track. Whether he is guilty or not, here’s hoping that he gets some help to deal with whatever his demons are before they result in something truly terrible happening to him.

Fox Sports 1 is reportedly jacking up their price to companies who want to carry the channel from 23 cents per subscriber to 80 cents. Apparently they’re either trying to come up with a way to have better programming than Pinks, Pinks All Out, Pimp my Ride, Unique Whips, Pass Time and any other myriad of drivel that no one in their right mind would pay 23 cents to watch, let alone 80. That said, here’s hoping that MAVTV is able to gain a foothold and start carrying the Trucks and other NASCAR programming to an audience that will appreciate it.

Pat Tryson is out at BK racing. He’d been the crew chief for David Reutimann this season. He’s been sitting on Cup series boxes for the last 17 years helping drivers like Mark Martin, Geoff Bodine, Johnny Benson, Ricky Rudd, and Kurt Busch. He’s crew chiefed eight wins in 504 career races. At this point Tryson is unquestionably a journeyman crew chief. He’s also, without a doubt, a man that can help point an organization in the right direction when they’re trying to get off of the ground. Don’t look for him to be on the unemployment line too long. (Not like you can do that for long in NC these days anyway)

The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune

Matt Kenseth is tied for the most wins in the series at this point in the season. He’s been qualifying better than ever and has been leading laps most everywhere that the series has run. Unfortunately, he also is tied for the most DNFs in the top 10 with Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne. Were it not for the mechanical failures at Daytona and Dover, along with the 12 points he lost for the push rod being underweight, he would be at the top of the heap with Johnson.

Jeff Gordon is a four-time champion who is reinvigorated toward chasing the elusive fifth championship. Unfortunately for him, the birds of fine fortune have been frowning on his quite a bit this season. Four crashes and a suspension failure have put him 11th in points with no wins. This year is lining up to be another mad dash to the Wild Card for Gordon if he wants to have another shot at a title.

Denny Hamlin broke his back at Fontana after starting on the pole. Little did he know, whether he wanted to admit it or not, his season was over with. Hamlin is trying to soldier on and get his team lined up for a good run in 2014 but, for now he’s trying to wrangle a win or two and very well could be pushing his luck too hard. Let’s hope it doesn’t result in a greater injury.

The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune

It is hard to say the five-time champ is receiving fine fortune but, barring some restart slipups, he could easily be dominating the win column this season. He is still tied for most wins and unquestionably the guy to beat for the title in 2013.

Clint Bowyer was the runner-up in 2012. Unlike the previous handful of years, he has overcome the runner-up jinx and is right in the middle of the hunt for the 2013 title. While he hasn’t won a race yet this year, he’s third in top 5s and tied for second in top 10s. With a little bit of luck he’ll have a real shot at coming home second again this season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was benched for a while early in his Nationwide career because he couldn’t get his cars to the end of the race. His first year in Cup has been a polar opposite. While he hasn’t sent the world on fire, is 21st in points and hasn’t scored a single top 10, he has been running at the end of all 19 races this season.

Worth Noting

Through the first 19 races of the season:

Most Wins (4) – Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth
Most top 5s (9) – Kyle Busch
Most top 10s (13) – Jimmie Johnson
Most laps lead (1,037) – Kyle Busch
Most laps completed (5,540) – Jimmie Johnson
Most poles (3) – Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin
Most DNFs when running all 19 races (7) – Travis Kvapil
Most lead lap finishes (17) – Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick

Wins by manufacturer

Chevrolet – 8
Toyota – 8
Ford – 3

Least money won by a driver competing in all 19 races ($1,780,783) – Josh Wise
Fewest laps completed by a driver competing in all 19 races (4,316) – Travis Kvapil
Drivers leading at least one lap this season – 40
Drivers winning a race this season – 11
Drivers with a top 5 this season – 26
Drivers with a top 10 this season – 34
Total drivers who have competed in the Cup series this year – 64

What’s the Points

Position Name Bonus Points Total Points

1 Jimmie Johnson 27 696
2 Clint Bowyer 2 640
3 Carl Edwards 11 623
4 Kevin Harvick 11 622
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4 578
6 Matt Kenseth 30 576
7 Kyle Busch 21 576
8 Greg Biffle 6 545
9 Brad Keselowski 10 529
10 Kasey Kahne 10 523

Overall Rating(On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – One race beyond the halfway point the Cup racing season has seen some fantastic races, some snoozers, and some surprises. There are some things that make us mad, disappoint us and shock us, but in the end it is still stock car racing and we still love it. When we pull into Indianapolis next weekend, we know the racing won’t be very good but it will still be an amazing event and the history of the track will be enhanced again after the checkered flag flies. As a result, we’ll open six cold beers as we start 17 consecutive weeks leading to the end of the season.

Next Up

The Cup series rolls into Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Look for it at 1:00 on ESPN and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.

Don’t forget, the Trucks will be on dirt at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH Wednesday evening. Heat races start at 7:00 PM with the 150 lap feature rolling off at 9:35.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

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


©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

07/22/2013 01:14 PM

lol at the ryan kyle remark.

being a dirt track veteran, i’m holding my breath hoping for a good race with the full understanding that this could be a pretty lousy race. but i LOVE the idea a heat races.

one last thing, did you open those six beers to help get you through the rest of the season?

better keep ‘em coming. i have a feeling you’re going to need a lot more than six.

07/22/2013 03:20 PM

is stewart not having his ‘prelude to a dream’ race this year? use to be in june. just realized didn’t see too much hype about it.

Mike Neff
07/22/2013 06:32 PM

@janice – No, the Dream was held June 8th. The Speedway announced last Fall that the Prelude would not be held this year. Whether that was in anticipation of the Truck race or simply because, as they stated, the logistics of getting all of the cars out of the infield from the Prelude and in for the Dream, as well as the extra work teams had to do to prep the extra cars, was just too much to accomplish.

Whatever the case, the Dream is still one of the biggest dirt late model races of the year and Scott Bloomquist, who you’ll see in the race on Wednesday night driving Kyle Busch’s Truck, won it this year for the sixth time in his career.

07/23/2013 04:14 PM

Cannot WAIT for Trucks at Eldora! I have a feeling Bloomquist is running away with this one.


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