The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Another "Official Explanation," The Scoop on Bogus Rumors, And A Visit From Hee-Haw's Roy Clark by Matt Taliaferro -- Wednesday November 7, 2007

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Thanks for the fresh batch of questions this week, race fans! The inquiries continue to trickle in – go ahead, insert 1989 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year joke here – but seriously, folks, we need a flood of questions and opinions to keep your one and only interactive column running.

I know the season is becoming laboriously long, but we're almost through this, so hang with me and play ball for a few more weeks. Your door to a wild and wonderful new universe is accessible by clicking on this little red link: matt.taliaferro@frontstretch.com. Enjoy the show out in the desert!

Q: Matt, what became of the “water in the fuel” issue that derailed more than a few team's chances at Atlanta? It was such big news for a few days and then it was gone … like it never happened. I never heard what the verdict was or the cause of the problem. Thanks! — Gerry Daugherty

A: You're right, Gerry; it was all the rage for a solid 48 hours, only to die a quick and painless death. Funny, because it cost at least three teams a shot at a win on the final restart … and possibly a few others who had issues throughout the day.

For an official explanation, though, I give you NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp:

“A failure did occur in a piece of portable dispensing equipment that is sometimes used to supplement the permanent pumps on busy race days,” Tharp told reporters at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend. “This failure allowed a small amount of water to be dispensed. Portable equipment has been used for many years without a problem and, in fact, this equipment functioned properly during the Craftsman Truck race at Atlanta, right before the Nextel Cup race.”

There you go. It wasn't Sunoco's fuel supply after all; the portable containers, as Tharp stated, have been used for years to get fuel to teams quicker on busy race weekends. So much for conspiracy theories … seems this mess was a fluke, after all.

Q: I disagree with you wholeheartedly concerning Roger Penske giving Kurt Busch's owner points to Sam Hornish, Jr. [as discussed in last week's Fanning the Flames]. Loophole or not, Kurt Busch and his team earned those points and, Past Champion's Provisional or not, belong to the No. 2 team.

The fact that Hornish could steal a spot [in the first five races of 2008] from Dale Jarrett makes me sick. The guy hasn't earned it, I don't care how many races or championships he has won in IndyCar. — Roger Kelleher

A: Fair enough, Roger. When asked last week, I responded that, "If there is a loophole, you'd best jump through it if you expect to keep up with the competition." And I stand by that. If I'm Roger Penske and I'm dead set on getting Hornish into the show, I'm all for transferring Busch's owner points to Hornish's start-up team. Heck, NASCAR gave you its blessing; so why not take advantage of the system?

Problem is, that system is flawed and antiquated. This issue boils back down to the Top 35 rule, which had its time and place – but not anymore. You know what really baffles me? I have not heard one person — one person! — who agrees with NASCAR's qualifying procedure which is based, more or less, on the Top 35 designation. At what point does common sense replace stubbornness? But that is another question for another day.

By the way, I've been told that the Penske story was leaked so early that Kurt Busch heard of the possibility through the media. Bet he took that real well…

Q: Hey, Matt! What's the scoop on drivers changing teams? We read on internet reports and hear on SPEED or ESPN that Driver X is in talks with Team Y or that Driver X is being courted by Team Z. Very rarely do these scenarios ever play out. Actually, a driver (Dale Jr. is a good example) ends up with a team that came out of nowhere. How does such talk start and make its way to fans as fact when, in reality, the rumor was never true? — Glen Norris

A: It's the ‘Scott Boras Method' played out to perfection, Glen. Leading teams to believe your client is in demand pushes the appeal of said client higher. So a driver or his agent leaks the word that Driver X is being courted by Team Y to possibly open doors to discussions with other owners. That gives the appearance that Driver X is more in demand than he actually is … which drives up interest.

Names like Mayfield, Stremme and Yeley were bantered about for high-profile gigs with RCR, JGR, GEM, and the like; look where they’ve ended up, and connect the dots accordingly.

Q: My wife and I will be attending our first Cup race in two weeks at Homestead. I have a scanner I will be bringing, but I'm not sure how to get the frequencies for each team. Namely, we want Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s frequencies, but if you know where to get a list of all the drivers, we'd love that information, too. Thank you. — Roy and Jillian Clark

A: Roy Clark? The Roy Clark?! I saw you at the Opry five years ago; the red, white and blue guitar rocks in its simplicity. Let those blessed fingers do the walking to these frequencies, Mr. Clark:

Johnson: 451.9875
Gordon: 467.0625
Kenseth: 458.4750
Earnhardt: 464.9500

Not enough? You can get an entire list here or stop by any of the Racing Electronics haulers at the track, getting a printout of each teams' channel.

"…then you met another and…pppfffttt! You was gone!"

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Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
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The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
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wes
11/07/2007 11:58 PM
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Water-gate never happened per not our fault nascar-liers.Ask brian france it was only soda pop .Sunoco street gas is garbage my gas milage went down 5 mile per – gal. using this crap. And that why tv rating are down and are going to continue to go in the crapper.Look who is running this circus.!!!

Sal
11/08/2007 04:24 AM
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I keep hearing Nascar saying that the COT is going to save teams money…in the long run. Then, I hear owners like Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick saying that the COT is even more expensive to maintain because of the stringent templates. They have said they have to completely re-skin a car if there is the slightest bit of damage after a race, then haul the thing to Nascar to get it re-certified. Is this thing ever going to be more than a boondoggle for Nascar to become a ‘manufacturer’? I notice that NO ONE is referring to those ‘cars’ as a Chevy, Dodge, Ford, or Toyota.

Mike
11/08/2007 06:56 AM
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The portable dispensing equipment that the ever eloquent Tharp mentions is a separate storage tank for the race fuel that is used as an auxillary fueling station . It is operated by Sunoco and by Sunoco employees . So the many gallons of water ( NASCAR says small amount , the racers say as much as 10 gallons or more total ) came directly from Sunoco to the racers . Period . And cost some teams a lot of money and points .

PJ
11/08/2007 08:25 AM
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Just to add to the Sunoco disaster , the race fuel is handled by sunoco employees only . So the water was from unclean trucks hauling it to the track ( sunocos responsibility ) or an auxilary tank that wasn’t kept clean ( again the sole responsibility of sunoco) by the sunoco employees . One question i have is how many races or qualifying sessions have been affected by poor quality sunoco fuel ? The post by Wes is right on , who would want to use sunoco street gas if they can’t even produce a quality product for their most important customers ?

Bill
11/08/2007 10:55 AM
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>>It’s the ‘Scott Boras Method’ played out to perfection, Glen. Leading teams to believe your client is in demand pushes the appeal of said client higher. So a driver or his agent leaks the word that Driver X is being courted by Team Y to possibly open doors to discussions with other owners. That gives the appearance that Driver X is more in demand than he actually is … which drives up interest.<<

LOL. Good explanation. But how did that work out for Kyle Busch?

In the immortal words of the Bud commercial “Not so good.”

The one exception Bora-wannabes might heed is that when the hottest free agent in racing history is on the market and your owner has publicly stated that he’s standing by you and there’s “no room at the inn,” it MIGHT be a real bad time to be shopping you around.

 

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Contact Matt Taliaferro

Recent articles from Matt Taliaferro:

Fanning the Flames: Of Daytona, Danica, Dale, and Duels
2009 Season Review: Tony Stewart
2009 Season Review: Ryan Newman
Fanning the Flames: Closing the Inbox on the 2009 Season
Fanning the Flames: The Crew Chief Carousel and Other Assorted Oddities