The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Miscellaneous Questions As The Season Hits Its Stretch Run by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday October 23, 2008

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Fanning the Flames: Miscellaneous Questions As The Season Hits Its Stretch Run

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday October 23, 2008


This week, we’ll clean out the Fanning the Flames inbox. Just so you all know how it works, and so you don’t get impatient with me, I often reserve inquiries that are not time specific and scatter them around here and there. Well, since this was a slower than usual week from the Flameheads, I thought I’d knock a few out.

Here’s the link that was sparsely used last week by you folks. Only four to go now, so don’t peter out on me just yet. And Mark in the Old Dom, I’m working on yours, don’t fret.

Q: Hi Matt. Do poles won due to a rainout in qualifying count as an actual pole won in a driver’s stats? There is no more Bud Shootout set by poles, so I don’t know if it matters. But for the sake of records, what’s the ruling? Thank you.
— Bette Widnor

A: Thanks for the question and the patience, Bette. The answer is no, poles awarded due to qualifying being canceled and the field being set by owner points are not credited to a driver’s career stats, nor did it qualify someone for the Bud Shootout under the old format.

This season has been about the wackiest for that scenario than any I can ever remember. Jimmie Johnson has won five poles, but has started first nine times in all due to rain on Friday. I wonder how much quality time Jimmie and Chandra have logged watching Jim Cantore in the motorhome this year?

Q: My chance to be heard! Now this is just my opinion, but Jimmie Johnson will not be caught in the Chase. They prove time and time again that they are the best team, top to bottom, in Sprint Cup. Carl [Edwards], Jeff [Burton] and Greg [Biffle] have given it a great shot, but none have the firepower to knock Jimmie off the top.

By the way, sorry about your luck, Kyle!
— Linda B.

A: The world now knows, Linda. Thanks for going out on a limb with that bold proclamation.

Q: This is random, but we noticed it and wondered: A few races back, at Dover or Kansas, Carl Edwards threw his water bottle out the window after a yellow flag pit stop. Is that done a lot? And seeing as NASCAR will throw a caution whether anything is actually on the track or not, isn’t that considered a safety hazard? We’d never seen this before. Thanks!
— Beth and Bob Taylor

Jimmie Johnson has led the field to the green flag nine times in 2008, but is only credited with five poles.

A: I seem to remember that, too; it was an in-car camera shot, right? The water bottle-out-the-window toss happens from time to time, and it’s not really a big deal. A track attendant will pick it up or, if it’s a self-cleaning race track, the bottle will simply land out of harm’s way.

Roll bar padding at race speed is a different story, however (and I’ll refrain from a Robby Gordon crack, as I got blasted for one a month ago).

Q: Fantasy advice from you, Matt. Of the Chasers, which drivers would you go with for Atlanta? I already have Kyle Busch as my “keeper” Chase pick, so I get three more. I’m assuming you’ll say Jimmie and Carl. Who’s your No. 3? Thanks!
— Doug Williams

A: You’d assume correctly on the first two. It’s just hard to bet against Jimmie Johnson regardless of track these days (although he swept Atlanta in 2007) and Carl Edwards makes his money on the intermediates. For the third pick, I’d go out on a limb somewhat and take Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He’s finished seventh or better in 10 of his last 14 AMS starts — 13 of those being in a DEI Chevy. And if that’s not enough to sway you, his lone start in Hendrick equipment netted a third-place showing back in March. He’s a demon on the track in equipment to match, now.

Check out the Frontstretch’s Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans column on Thursday, where Mike Neff and Bryan Davis Keith will undoubtedly expound on the topic.

Q: Matt, beyond the splitter and wing of the CoT and the all the Styrofoam, can you tell me what the differences are from a dimensional standpoint from the old car?
— Tim C.

A: Sure. The roll cage was shifted three inches rearward, the driver’s seat has been moved over four inches toward the center of the car, and the body itself is two inches taller and four inches wider than the spoilered cars.

All in the name of parity, right? Oh wait, I meant safety.

OK, short ‘n’ sweet this week so before I go, a question of my own: If Martinsville and Atlanta — two distinctly Southern racetracks with oodles of history and heritage — are so beloved by the traditional, old guard crowd, why did they never sell out even before the economic downturn?

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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10/23/2008 10:24 AM

If you can’t stand the heat From us Robby Gordon fans. You can always make a Jimmy Spencer crack. You should be able to stand the guff from that one. Oh wait a minute, As House would say, “you did just make a Robby Gordon Crack, didn’t you. You sly devil you.

10/23/2008 10:57 PM

Matt, what is gained by publicly insulting your own readers?

Resorting to sarcasm against your own fans should have been a huge, blinking, red light as soon as you wrote it.

Then again, there is so much third grade writing on this site I wasn’t even surprised when I read it, just disgusted.

Matt T.
10/24/2008 12:59 AM

Well Leo if you’re commenting on my column as well as on the “third grade writing” on this site, I’m assuming you’ve visited enough to make that informed judgement. In which case, you’ve have learned that I treat me readers — as do all of our columnists — with respect and do our best to answer all their questions or comments in a professional manner. So if you wanna bust my chops for having a little fun with one response, feel free, but realize that we all have a little fun with the guys & gals from time to time and the ones that have more than a third grade sense of humor understand that.

C’mon man, it’s been a long season…

10/24/2008 02:58 PM

Matt, your response is worse than the original, no?

First you say how every writer treats their fans with respect, then you say the exact opposite about this one particular case, then you proceed to do the opposite to me too. So you’ve said you treat everyone with respect but in fact you’ve done just the opposite twice in one column.

Don’t get me wrong, I called the writing third-grade, you called my sense of humor third-grade, all is fair. But you’re right in at least one way: My friends told me to read this site about eight weeks ago because I was complaining about So I promised them I would read until the end of the season. Problem is, I can read past’s obvious bias, but I cannot get over how unprofessional the writing and commentary are here. There is a reason journalists and literary types go to school for years and is a prime example of it.

And so as not to complain without offering a suggestion, go read a couple Bill Simmons mailbags on He clearly understands how to jab his fans without being unprofessional about it or making them want to leave.

So you can take it or leave it, obviously, and clearly has lots of readers for a site of its size so the formula is working, but I highly doubt this formula will ever gain the prestige of being called “journalism” as opposed to amateur, opinion blogging.


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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