The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Yahoo's Boo Boo, Chase Musings, And No, It Ain't Got A Hemi! by Matt Taliaferro -- Wednesday September 12, 2007

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Fanning the Flames: Yahoo's Boo Boo, Chase Musings, And No, It Ain't Got A Hemi!

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Wednesday September 12, 2007

 

I hit the desk at Athlon Sports today at 7:30 to begin my daily routine: Top off the coffee, flip on the The Morning Show on 104.5 The Zone, fire up the computer and head to Yahoo.com to check my e-mail and get the day's headlines.

It was there that I saw the headline — I'm talking about the headline (just above the assumed much more important Condoleezza Rice/Iraq listing and next to the fluff piece about a couple who had made their home in a motel for the last 22 years) — that read, "Engine Sabotaged?"

Of course, because you are reading a NASCAR-related site and we here all know of the conspiracy theories flying over a certain lame duck driver's under-the-hood-shortcomings, you can guess who this bit of Yahoo sensationalism was centered on.

Thing is, I have no problem with NASCAR being front and center on Yahoo's homepage — to the contrary, I think it's great. My problem was with the accompanying blurb, “Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s stepmother derailing his car wouldn't be surprising”, writes a NASCAR columnist. Oh boy. Here we go…

Ironically, when I read AP writer Jenna Fryer's well-written column summing up Earnhardt's rough go of things, she never once mentioned any "evil-stepmother" or "sabotage" theories. The informative piece went so far as to debunk any spiteful, I'll-teach-you-a-thing-or-two assumptions. A good read for the casual fan; nothing earth-shatteringly new for the die-hards.

So now I understand why Junior told the media and fans alike to back off on all the Teresa-bashing.

“I hate to see somebody be crucified on the internet like Teresa has,” Earnhardt told an assembled group of reporters at Bristol. “She’s got a daughter that goes to school that’s got friends and she has to put up with that stuff. It’s just hardcore, man.”

“People have been really, really rude and really way over the line on some of the things that have been said. I know Teresa doesn’t know half of it because she won’t read it and she won’t put up with it. If anybody in their right mind knew that was going on they wouldn’t be around it and deal with it.”

“But it still gets back to Taylor. Nobody deserves that. It ain’t fair.”

Seems Yahoo didn't get the memo.

It's headlines like these that ruin reputations, further divide families and basically hurt people.

All in the name of what? Readership? Hits?

Jenna Fryer is a respected journalist that can land reads without the "help" of tabloid-esque headlines and misleading hooks. Further, no one needs to glorify an Earnhardt, Jr.-related headline. Dude's so popular, you only have to print "Junior" and everyone in America knows of whom you speak. The cat is in the Elvis and Cher one-name-only stratosphere.

Look, I know how these things work: An AP writer submits a column and the editors run with the headlines from there. Let me be clear in stating that I do not believe the headline and subsequent blurb were Ms. Fryer's brainchild. My hope is that, in the future, reputable sites will treat NASCAR-related stories and their writers with respect, not as gossip-column fodder.

I guess next time, if I ever return to Yahoo's homepage, I'll opt for the, "Karate Kid Fights Off Intruder with Chainsaw" article and catch Ms. Fryer at USAToday. Ahh, who am I kidding…I’ll just link to her from Jayski.

OK, let’s get it on. I'm feeling frisky today, so these should be fun. As always, I'm interested to hear what you have to say. It's your submissions, after all, that keep this column up and running. I can be reached at matt.taliaferro@frontstretch.com.

Q: Matt, my question concerns how points are awarded for the Chase playoff. I understand that awarding more points for a win is good for the competition-side of the sport. I wonder why NASCAR does not award even more bonus points to race winners? Do they want just want to keep the field bunched up as much as possible? And why not award the extra points for a win during the regular season, that way the seeding process will have taken care of itself. — Patrick Snow

A: Fair questions, all. Believe me, Patrick, we all have questions as to why this confounded system is set up the way it is. It's said to be the product of a revelation that hit Brian France on his way to breakfast one morning. Seems what they say is true: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You should always get you're A.M. nourishment before making important decisions.

Anyway, I don't know why they do not award more bonus points for a win, but they should. Either that or award a bonus to the driver leading after race No. 26. It's only fair. It appears that your theory on keeping the drivers close, making for a more exciting playoff stretch is most likely the reason drivers are given 10 points per win as opposed to 50. I mean, what's the point of bunching the field back up if Jimmie Johnson has a 200-point advantage over fourth place at the onset?

As for when they award points (in-season vs. playoff bonus) I can only speculate that in NASCAR's never-ending desire to be more like the stick-and-ball sports, they figure this is the perfect way to institute a seeding format, which is a more accepted means of post-season ranking.

Q: It's disturbing to me that the Petty's are rumored to be joining the Gillett-Evernham team. This is the last great NASCAR institution that is on the verge of decay. While other teams have come and gone, Petty Enterprises has continued despite the chaos that has surrounded them. Is this something that realistically could happen? What's next, Petty to Toyota? — Jared Hanham

A: One reason Petty Enterprises has continued its run in the sport is its ability to change with the times and, like it or not, this is the way the sport is headed. Strike that…this is where the sport is at. If the Petty's do not adapt they will run the risk of being the next Tri-Star Motorsports.

Fear not, Jared; if and when Petty aligns with GEM, it is believed they would keep the "Petty Enterpises" moniker and continue, through all outward appearances anyway, as is. P.E. already lease engines from Evernham, so the added money, marketing and resources would simply be the natural evolution for the two companies in an ever-changing NASCAR landscape.

Oh, and if Petty goes to Toyota, I’m outta here.

And finally this little gem from someone who — I'm guessing — is taking a poll:

Q: Just curious. What kind of car do you drive? — HemiHead

A: You'll be disappointed to learn it ain’t a Mopar. ‘01 Mustang. She's my baby and she needs new tires. Donations welcome.

No we're not the jet set,
We're the old Chevrolet set,
But ain’t we got love?

For some reason that Tammy & George diddy kept playing in my head while writing the opening piece to this column. Thought I'd share.

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Michael
09/13/2007 07:48 AM
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I would have to disagree with your labeling of Jenna Fryer as a repected journalist.Respected by a small group of writers who only cover one segment of a many faceted sport called auto racing which is only one small segment of the sports world in general.Get over yourselves.She is one of the majority of motorsports writers who simply “ loves the sound of their own voice “ in print. Many of her stories on NASCAR have been nothing more than fluff.
Regarding the Earnhardt saga, many of the conspiracy ideas come from fans who are bitterly disapointed in how the DEI situation ended. That’s understandable. But as we all know, there are always at least two usually very interesting and often carefully hidden sides of every story. Teresa may have done some underhanded things. Kelley and Dale Jr. might have done some equally underhanded things. We as fans will probably never know the whole story.

JR
09/13/2007 09:16 AM
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I agree that the so called article about the engine sabotage was more tabloid than anything else. I knew it before I even clicked on the link and almost feel embarrassed to say I did. I’ve noticed more and more coverage over the last few weeks by Yahoo on the front page and in general find most of it to be much ado about nothing. To me, it cheapens the sport. Grew up in the days when Foyt, Unser, Rutherford, Jackie Stewart, and Donahue were the Gods and you didn’t have to create news. Been following NASCAR for about 25 years but my heart left hasn’t been in it since Dale died.

On the other hand, this year has had more “big” stories than any year I can think of so from that standpoint it has been exciting but the racing mostly stinks. They even managed to ruin Bristol. Everybody complains about no excitement leading up to the Chase or leading up to the Chase but nobody seems to mention that were it not for the Chase, we would all be sleeping through watching Gordon coast to the end with an insurmountable lead that perhaps only one driver could overcome. Now, we got 12 guys that have a shot. It would be great to see an unexpected champ. The chase is great but I think anybody with a win should get in. Give the guy with the most wins a 50 point bonus. You’ll start seeing more rubbing then and like they say, “rubbin’ is racin’”.

Tim
09/13/2007 10:51 AM
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Sorry JR. I’d rather have a deserving champion than “excitement” and whoever gets lucky in 10 whole races winning the championship.

I’m sure they will be “tweaking” the Chase again. I have a novel idea – how about he keep a points tally all season long and whoever performs the best throughout the whole season wins the championship?

chris
09/13/2007 11:12 AM
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I thought the same thing and was surprised when I saw the article was JF’s. So I read it and realized Yahoo sucks when compared to say Google.
I never figured it was Teresa doctoring the engines, she doesn’t know how and can you ask a mechanic to make an engine blow at around 400miles?
I always figured it was Dale Jr. who intentionally blew the motors to get even. He has more control over the rpm’s than Teresa does. Plus he was the one with something to prove. “I’ll race my arse off, get up front, prove to DEI they screwed up and blow this sucker.”

JR
09/13/2007 11:21 AM
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If we are going to get rid of the Chase, then let’s get rid of the SuperBowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup, The Final Four and just declare a winner based on the regular season. Was Jimmy V’s Wolfpack not a deserving champion and do more for Bball than if Gtown would have won as every body expected. I ain’t a big fan of the Chase but it beats watching Gordon clinch with 3 races to spare.

Tim
09/13/2007 01:14 PM
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JR, you can’t really compare NASCAR’s “playoff” to stick and ball sports playoffs. You don’t see the non-contenders all out there on the field with the championship contenders in stick and ball sports do you?

kyle
09/14/2007 09:41 AM
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everyone needs to drop the whole sensationalized “sabotage” crapola. i’ve been tired of hearing it since a coworker was spouting that out about 2 months ago. do you think he needs any more press? aren’t there 42+ other racers that deserve a fair shake? can’t there be something else more news-WORTHY in NASCAR?! get off his back. how about Carl doing a sweep of 2 series? what about anything other than Dale Jr at this point? i’m a huge supporter of Jr, but enough is enough already!

 

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