The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Talking All-Stars, 600s And Lawn Mowers by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday May 21, 2009

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Fanning the Flames: Talking All-Stars, 600s And Lawn Mowers

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday May 21, 2009


Totally unrelated to anything NASCAR (or racing in general), but if you’re in the market for a lawn mower, go with the Murray. My fiancé and I were victims of a flash flood a week ago and the lawn mower was submerged — completely submerged — for a good two hours.

Five days later, after emptying it of all fluids, changing a plug and replacing an air filter… that mother fired right up! Now, I don’t know if that’s something that’s expected of all small engine push mowers; but that 22’ Murray showed game.

Just thought you’d all like to know. After all, this column is about questions and answers, right? So if you’re questioning what type of mower to get… you’ve got my answer.

But … without any further unprompted advice from yours truly, let’s get to this week’s questions. As always, here’s your link to reach me. I’ll get you in next week.

Hi Matt. So the natural question this week would be how many guys have won the All-Star Race and the Coke 600 in the same year? Just trying to keep you on your toes! Thanks!
— Ann Florence

A: Good lookin’ out, Ann. Six drivers have pulled the double, and no one has done so more than once. Six times in the 24-year history of the All-Star/600 double clocks in at just about a quarter of the time, so look for 2011 to be the target date for number seven.

As for who’s done it, we’ll work our way backward, starting with Kasey Kahne’s “Fan’s Vote Special” last season. Before that, Jimmie Johnson was just starting to flex his LMS muscle in ’03 when he and Chad won both.

Going back into the ‘90s, we find Jeff Gordon in 1997 on the strength of the T-Rex car in The Winston, which wasn’t allowed back the following weekend. No matter; he won the 600 in a “regular” car anyway. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. also pulled the double four years earlier in 1993, coming back from a lap down in the first day/night running of the 600. And in the final daytime running of The Winston, Davey Allison took both wins in 1991 — just one year prior to his “One Hot Night” spin & win.

Finally, we have to go back deep into the ‘80s when ol’ DW won the inaugural running of The Winston with an engine we’re all sure was just a tad big the day before dropping a new powerplant in his Junior Johnson-owned Budweiser Chevy and taking the 600.

My question is how in the hell was Kyle Busch’s passing to the outside on [Matt] Kenseth on the restart in the All-Star Race allowed? Isn’t it illegal to pass to the outside on a restart? Does the All-Star Race have its own rules on that, or was this yet another case of NASCAR making it up as they go along?
— Doug Davis, Florida

A: I think “subjective” is the word you’re looking for there, Dougie. But the answer is yes, you can pass to the right on a restart. However, NASCAR mandated that because of the double-wide restarts in use during the event, drivers had to maintain their position until they reached the start/finish line. Only then could they make a move either way.

Hornaday … er, Busch, went high on the opening green of the final segment (Lap 90), but did not complete the pass thanks to a wicked block thrown by Kenseth. Busch realized his error while talking to his crew chief, Steve Addington, during the caution period a couple laps of later.

Without the aid of the Lucky Dog, Ryan Newman had no chance of contending in last weekend’s All-Star race.

Ryan Newman was sunk [in the All-Star Race] without the Lucky Dog. I like the rule in an All-Star format because it keeps more cars in the running. I don’t like it so much for real races. What is your opinion, and do you think the rule would be better served just being used in exhibition races like Charlotte and the Daytona Duels?
— Perry, Bridgewater, VA

A: Honestly, it took the traditionalist in me to get used to the Lucky Dog rule. However, just as the three-point line revolutionized the college basketball landscape (I mean, can you imagine the sport without it now?), the Lucky Dog rule is a good inclusion, safety-wise, for the sport. It also gives the fans more of a show, and let’s be honest, that’s half the turnip cart in this or any sport.

Again, many traditionalists continue to bemoan the fact a car can get its lap back on the sole virtue of being the first car not on the lead lap, and I get that. But the Sprint Cup Series is not your local Saturday night short-track feature. There are certain rules that need application in the big leagues for a variety of reasons, and I believe this is one.

I didn’t particularly like seeing Dale Jarrett sitting broadside on the frontstretch at New Hampshire back in 2003 as the field raced all but over him to the caution. It’s a different game they play in the big leagues, one that demands slightly different rules.

So to give you the short answer after the long one, Perry, I’m for the Lucky Dog staying in play all the time.

A kind of fantasy question for you. The Coca-Cola 600 is known for having rookie winners. How many drivers have gotten their first win in the 600, and is there one in the field this year you would take in a fantasy league? Thanks.
— Jeff Bates

A: The 600 has a rep among us new-schoolers as being a coronation of sorts for first-time winners. And when I say new-schoolers, I’m referring to those of us that do not date back into the early ‘60s. See, Before Jeff Gordon notched his first career win in the 1994 Coke 600, it had been 33 years since a driver recorded his first career victory in the Memorial Day Weekend classic.

The first to do so was none other than David Pearson in 1961. Gordon came next, followed by Bobby Labonte a year later. Matt Kenseth grabbed his first win in the race in 2000, and then it was Casey Mears in ’07. So while the list may be an illustrious one — four of the five have won at least one Cup title — we tend to focus on the present when alluding to the race being one that has a rookie flare.

That said, if I had to draft one into service for the fantasy squad this week, I’d go with David Reutimann. He’s looked pretty racy on the mile-and-a-halfers.

That’s all for me this week. Enjoy the big day of racing on Saturday.

Contact Matt Taliaferro

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05/21/2009 11:01 AM

Totally agree with you on the Lucky Dog rule – it’s a great safety improvement for the sport, and it keeps a couple extra cars potentially in contention.

05/21/2009 05:20 PM

Nothing wrong with the lucky dog rule, actually something in NA$CRAP that works!

How strange is that?

Oh, and totally unrelated to racing, (unless your driving to one anyway), I have just completed some 6,000+ miles of driving, from Michigan to Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and now in the pan-handle of Florida!


I have NEVER, simply NEVER seen as many flashing blue lights as I have on this trip!


It appears that the threats of states using traffic tickets to supplement their state budgets is 100% correct!

I literally could not drive five (5) miles without seeing either flashing blue lights, or seeing a multitude of radar guns pointing out of windows.

Colorado was the worst, driving in the mountains, very, very light traffic at this time of year, actually almost NO TRAFFIC, but at the bottom of virtually EVERY Mountain Grade sat not one, but two or three State Troopers all with radar guns sticking out the window!

All waiting on the tourist taking their foot off the brake for a split instant and going 5MPH over the limit!

(please note yours truly was never stopped, but it is disconcerting to be on a vacation and be scared to death that at the instant you exceed the speed limit your going to get pulled over)!

The moral of the story is, if you don’t want to help these states stay solvent, watch your speed always!

Guess in the long run, with all the bailout monies being given away, the states have to rely on their own devices for income!

Welcome to America folks!

Just more fleecing of the natives!


Jack the Rack
05/22/2009 12:49 AM

Hey Dougie, after getting blown by on the freeway by a bike I later found out was doing 150 mph and nearly getting broadsided once a week by people running red lights … I am 100% in favor of traffic police. Is it really THAT hard to drive the speed limit!?!? NO, it is not. And if you are going 1 mph over – you are breaking the LAW and certainly do deserve a ticket, period. It’s like being pregnant – there is no such thing as “almost”. You either are or aren’t, and if you exceed the posted limit, you should get a ticket and stop whining and bitching and learn to obey the law. That said, I LOVE speed, but I keep it on the track or on private property. Deal with it, this country has laws, dude, and it is WAY safer as a result. Loose a family member to a speeder and let’s see what you think about those “bastard” cops giving speeding tickets…. Thankfully I haven’t lost a family member or even a friend to an auto accident, but I can imagine it, and every time I buckle my two little ones in I am praying there are lots of cops out there holding the lawless to the law. Some things are FAR more important than getting away with speeding!!

Oh, and as for the state budgets, if people wouldn’t speed they couldn’t be contributing to shortfalls. STOP SPEEDING .. and guess what??? You won’t have to pay a speeding ticket! Holy crap, that actually works!! Imagine that!!!


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Contact Matt Taliaferro

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