The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Cup Series Needs A 400-Meter Freestyle Relay Of Its Own by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday August 14, 2008

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Fanning the Flames: Cup Series Needs A 400-Meter Freestyle Relay Of Its Own

NASCAR Fan Q&A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday August 14, 2008


I reached my Olympic zenith in 1984. The Los Angeles Summer Games to a nine-year old kid, such as I was, were magical. The United States had boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow and I was still too young to recall the ’80 Winter Games in Lake Placid with its Miracle on Ice, so 1984 was my first conscience realization of what the Olympics were.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of boycotts, unaware of what stanozolol was and why a sprinter would take it, oblivious to boxing judges on the take, still unencumbered by a group of idiot thugs who would take a night stick of some sort to a figure skater’s leg and totally in the dark about Chinese tactics like stealing away three-year old children from their families to force them into a childhood of what I can only imagine is rigorous and heartless training. In short, I wasn’t jaded.

No, in 1984 I was swept up in the sights, sounds, color and pageantry of the opening ceremonies, punch-drunk in love with Mary Lou Retton and mesmerized by the speed of Carl Lewis (this well before he made an ass of himself by botching our National Anthem many years later). However, the innocence of youth was lost by the time the next Olympic Games rolled around and, let’s be honest, as a 13-year old I had much more mischievous activities with which to occupy my time. Honestly I haven’t fully revisited the Olympics since.

But I find myself totally enraptured by this summer’s Games. No, NASCAR has not taken a back seat, but it is riding shotgun. And the best race I’ve seen since May occurred on Saturday evening — or Sunday morning I guess, depending on where you are and whether what you’re watching it taped-delayed or not. That Men’s 400-meter freestyle relay was freakin’ bad. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but the spike in blood pressure in the final 50 meters as Jason Lezak came back from certain defeat to beat Alain Bernard and his band of smack-talking, no-walking-the-walk, sissified Frenchies was the most entertainment I’d gotten out of a race — Truck races excluded — since Busch v. Junior at Richmond.

Yeah, I know it sounds silly (believe me, for a guy who knows nothing about competitive swimming, it seems silly for me to even be typing this) but we could use a well-timed finish like that on the Cup circuit about now. The July Daytona race ended under caution, Chicago was, well, Chicago, Indy was a disaster, Pocono was looooooooong and Watkins Glen, while interesting, just didn’t have any true dramatic flare. Here’s to hoping Bristol, Richmond and the first Chase event in Loudon, races that comprise three of the next five, give us something to jump off the couch about because October — with Talladega, Lowe’s, Martinsville and Atlanta — seems a long way off.

OK, back to the task at hand. You know the drill: Here’s where you can reach me. Don’t be bashful.

Q: Joey Logano is going to make his first Sprint Cup start at Richmond. First, how do you think he’ll do against the big boys and second, do you see him running the last 10 races in Stewart’s car or in a fourth Gibbs car?
— Josh Bradshaw

The greatest thing since sliced bread will make his debut in the Cup Series at Richmond. Will it be his coronation or proof he’s not quite ready for prime time?

A: The Second Coming is upon us, Josh, and Logano’s Richmond start should be interesting for a couple of reasons: First and foremost he’ll be making the much-ballyhooed debut when as many as eight drivers will be vying for six Chase spots. His first priority will be to just keep his nose clean and not upset any of the contenders.

Secondly, he’ll be sponsored by Gatorade, and if JGR doesn’t resurrect the old DiGard Gatorade paint scheme circa 1981, I’ll be highly peeved.

As for Logano finishing the year out on the Cup circuit, we’ll see soon enough. If Stewart makes the Chase, which is looking more and more likely every week, you certainly won’t see him in the 20 car. However, if Tony falls from seventh to 13th in the standings in four short weeks it’s conceivable he makes a jump to Haas CNC and just gets it over with and Logano gets fitted for the 20. Ryan Newman — sponsor-willing — would be wise to do the same to get that No. 66 in the Top 35 before season’s end.

Q: Hi Matt! My question is about Martin Truex, Jr. If DEI’s intention is to make Martin their driver for the future like they have said, why was this only a one-year deal? He’ll just be in the rumor mill again next summer and he does not seem comfortable there. He seemed edgy with the media this summer and his results suffered.
— Jacob Schmitt

A: Dale Earnhardt, Inc. had Truex signed to a two-year Cup deal with an option for 2009, so DEI in essence picked up the option for the additional season (after Truex agreed to the terms). I can’t answer what went on behind closed doors, Jake, but I can opine that if things aren’t better at DEI this time next year, Truex and his long-time sponsor would look awfully appealing to any number of suitors.

By the way, I doubt it’s just coincidence that DEI named Bobby Hutchens its new VP of Competition. I was told some key changes had to be made to keep our favorite Jersey boy (sorry, Boss) at DEI. Expect more to follow.

Q: Matt, I’m a Todd Bodine fan from New York. I read that his truck was found too high after the race at Nashville but have not heard if any penalties were or will be handed down. Have you heard anything? Thanks.
— Upstate Mel

A: Mel, NASCAR typically announces any pending penalties on Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week, so you’re not out of the loop. As such, it assessed Bodine’s Germain Racing team 25-point championship driver and owner point penalties on Wednesday while his crew chief, Mike Hillman, Jr., got popped in the wallet for 25 Gs.

NASCAR cited the team for breaking everyone’s favorite rule —12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing). Additionally, it nailed them for truck, truck parts, components and/or equipment used in the event that did not conform to NASCAR rules (that would be 12-4-Q) and the totally underrated 20B-12.8.1E, which states that after competition, the maximum right side bed panel height exceeded the specified 39.5 inches. Now that’s entertaining reading, right there.

Back to the Chinese Olympics real quick, I gotta Panda joke before I get out. BEAR with me …

A panda walks into a bar, sits down and orders a sandwich. He eats the sandwich, pulls out a gun and shoots the waiter dead. As the panda stands up to go, the bartender shouts, “Hey! Where are you going? You just shot my waiter and you didn’t pay for your sandwich!”

The panda yells back at the bartender, “Hey man, I’m a Panda! Look it up!” The bartender opens his dictionary and sees the following definition for Panda: “A tree dwelling marsupial of Asian origin, characterized by distinct black and white coloring. Eats shoots and leaves.”

Yeah, I know … sorry.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
ATHLON SPORTSBOWLES: Is Kevin Harvick A Hall Of Famer?
Racing to the Point: I’ve Got the Green-White-Checkered Blues
Beyond The Cockpit: Ron Capps Could Have NASCAR Stars Trying… Drag Racing?
IndyCar Driver Profile: Sebastien Bourdais
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Darlington – Off Week Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Moving NASCAR Coverage Onto the Web
Voices From The Cheap Seats: NOTeworthy News


©2000 - 2008 Matt Taliaferro and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

08/14/2008 06:30 AM

Nascar thought they were creating their own version of the 400 meter relay with their obnoxious ‘crapshoot for the champeenship’. What they never understood is that including drivers more than 500 points from first place (currently places 6-12) and ‘resetting’ the points to invent a close points race, just isn’t the same. You don’t invent excitement, it has to happen on it’s own. You know, like in the truck series right now. Look for Nascar to give the truck their own ‘chase’ so they don’t keep outshining the premiere series for REAL excitement.

Jeff G
08/14/2008 07:58 AM

I agree about Truex. I think it probably came down to DEI “forcing” the issue. No one signs for only one year anymore.

08/14/2008 09:07 AM

Quote: “International Speedway Corporation announced plans to ask NASCAR”!!! (to add a date to, etc.)


Once again, the fans are being duped! Last time I checked, NA$CAR & ISC have the very same address on INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY BLVD. and the CEO of each has the same names!


They make it sound like there are two very separate and distinct organizations in play here!

08/14/2008 11:51 AM

nice joke! :)

bored with Douglas' conspiracy theories
08/14/2008 02:25 PM

that was a great article, probably because i was sharing the feeling of a coronary the other night! seeing the Frenchies get bum-smacked was simply awesome. i have to say, i’m guessing speed is coming back to NASCAR this weekend … i’m predicting a first-time winnner. no, don’t laugh, but David Ragan will be standing on his window sill pumping his fists in victory! this is the best time of the year for drama (though some of it contrived) in NASCAR!

08/14/2008 05:53 PM

My scenario:

Was out doing some errands this morning, a nice sunny day, warm, crystal clear, and thinking of MIS and this weekend. I got goosebumps thinking about a pack of “stock cars”, at speed, nose to tail, side by side, dicing for positions and also the lead of the race! I get all emotional when I think about how ‘it used to be”!!

Then reality of the present day rears it’s ugly head! And then I get MAD! MAD as a hornet!


The CoT!

The “CHASE”!!

What a downer to think that any race run these days is fictional!

Gone are the days of racing to win! Mediocrity is the name of the game, and poor handling “race cars” are the norm!

We, the fans deserve a better product than what is being shoved down our throats by our Beloved Brian & Company of kiss-a**es!

Where I would already have in hand my tickets to Michigan (and Talladega & Daytona & Phoenix & Watkins Glen) my hands are empty because of the poor product NA$CAR supplies!

Not worth a plug nickel these days compared to what the sport “used to be”!

I simply won’t buy it!

So, my momentary adrenalin rush will pass, I will fully then comprehend the weekend at MIS at what it once was, maybe to never be again!

All in the hands of Brian!

Ah, “the life of Brian”!!

CONSPIRACY”??? There is no conspiracy, none that I ever mentioned!

STUPIDITY”?? Oh yes! starting with the entire NA$CAR organization for sure!

Lets not confuse the two!


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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