The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Montoya's Tach, Elliott's Oil, And The Revenge Of The Pony Cars by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday July 30, 2009

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Fanning the Flames: Montoya's Tach, Elliott's Oil, And The Revenge Of The Pony Cars

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday July 30, 2009


With apologies to my colleagues here on the Frontstretch, the column everyone should be reading this week (actually, every week) is by Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky at It shines light on many of the reasons it’s easy to speed on pit road, what role RPMs, gears, and the transmission play, and why simply installing a speedometer wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem.

It appears I’m more the Tip Guy than the Answer Guy this week. With that, we’ll get on to the topics. Remember, I can be reached here for all your racing needs — even if you just want to chat around the 200-lap mark at Pocono on Sunday.

And speaking of speeding on pit road, that’s where we start, as MontoyaMan is in for a second consecutive week …

I wrote you too soon. I can’t believe Juan got tagged for speeding with a five second lead!! I don’t think there was any conspiracy to it (I’m not a sore loser — I’ll be classy like Juan was), but damn, did that hurt! Looking for a rebound at Pocono!
— MontoyaMan

A: Smarts, huh? Agreed on the conspiratorial angle. In fact, the only cries of black helicopters and such have been pre-emptive strikes from the media shooting down theories I’d honestly not even heard mentioned by the fans (gotta write about something, I guess).

And it’s not just the print media, either. Every two-bit talking head was shooting down invisible and unmade cries of “race fixing” they assumed would rise from the fan base following JPM’s heavy right foot. If you watched any NASCAR programming on Monday, you know what and who I’m talking about. However, I talk to fans every day; office buddies, close friends, Tweeters, emails from you guys, and not once were allegations made against NASCAR. The folks I talked to — the fans on the street — once again proved more intelligent than the media or the networks give them credit for.

As per our discussion last week, MM, Juan didn’t do himself any favors with the first-to-11th tumble. In fact, he gave away 50 points in the process. He’d be seventh in the standings sans the speeding violation right now, just seven points out of sixth. Instead, he continues to scratch and claw, sporting a 100-point buffer between he and 13th-place David Reutimann.

Pocono and Michigan need to be very kind to him. Sorry, but I’m still not sold.

Even I have to admit the Mustang Nationwide CoT looks pretty slick. If NA$CAR feels it must go spec across the board, it could be worse than the pony cars. Are the chassis remaining the same for the cars… just with new bodies? And are we still looking for Camaros, Challengers, and whatever the hell passes for a pony car from Toyota?
— Ken Eaton

A: The Mustang does look pretty damn sharp, as jayski revealed to us all a couple days ago. Although, as a Photoshop guy I can tell you that photo is doctored up big time, so we’ll see what the final version looks like. But hey, at least Ford learned from NASCAR’s CoT faux pas, when these pics (scroll to the bottom four) hit the net and racing fans from South Boston to Sonoma first realized how far NASCAR intended to further distance this sport from its roots.

As for the chassis of the Nationwide CoT, it will be pretty close to the Cup cars – they’re even going to a 110” wheelbase. And while Ford is in the approval process for the Mustang, I hear that Chevy is balking at the Camaro. Evidently, the same folks that ran GM into the ground are still calling the shots, because I’m hearing they continue to push for their Impala model instead. It’s like I’ve said before: An Impala is the car my Grandma drives to the grocery. It’s not racy, and it’s certainly not a hot rod … so the question begs, “Why market it to race fans?” Something to do with cross-sections, demographics, and bottom lines, I suppose.

In contrast, the new Camaros are B-A-D bad (that coming from a Mustang guy) and would certainly appeal to the racing set — not to mention help the Nationwide Series establish that “identity” that we all like to harp on about. And as for Dodge and Toyota, the Challenger would be the choice (if Dodge carries on with its Nationwide program at all) of the former, while that testament to Japanese ’60s-era muscle car innovation, the classic Camry, would be the pick for the latter.

A bad O-Ring on the pace laps sent Elliott Sadler to the garage at Indy before he could even get up to full speed. Not exactly the type of afternoon that’ll leave you smiling …

Matt, I haven’t been able to find out what happened to my boy Elliott at Indy. One lap with the new engine and it’s back to the garage? Can you fill me in, please? The media doesn’t report on the 19. It’s not the 48, 88, or 24.
— Jeremy (aka, ESad’s Man)

A: Jeremy, I was informed by a member of the No. 19 team that a bad O-ring was the cause of the oil leak, which started on the pace laps. Since they were running a brand-spanking new Dodge R6P8 engine (their first with the new piece), they didn’t want to take a chance blowing the thing sky high, so they pulled it into the garage to diagnose the problem.

The good news? By coming back out to finish, Sadler extended his streak of races without a DNF to 43 — if that really means anything anymore.

A lot of people are happy to see Kyle [Busch] hit on hard times. I’m in the minority, being a Kyle fan. I think they’ll get it turned around and make the Chase, but it brings up the question of whether drivers with a race win should get in the Chase automatically or if race wins should be worth more points to insure a driver with three or four wins that doesn’t have the points gets in the Chase. Multiple wins proves to me a team is deserving.
— Jason Grey, California

A: Valid points. My take: The top-10 drivers in the point standings get what is in essence an at-large bid. Further, any full-time driver that isn’t in the top 10 but has scored a win gets an automatic bid. No set number… get in on merit.

Talk about crazy late-race strategies that would come into play under that system… Rodney Childers would be one in demand crew chief all of a sudden. That qualification system also helps teams in need of sponsorship dollars. Say a team and/or driver like the No. 43 and Reed Sorenson or the No. 26 and Jamie McMurray “strategize” their way into Victory Lane — you don’t think that would help on all fronts for both the team and the driver?

Seems a healthy way to go about things to me.

To finish off, here’s a Twitter update from last week: Juan Pablo is up from 11,520 to 14,563 followers. Yours truly is hot on his heels… up from 24 to 26. Don’t worry, I’m sandbagging.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … A Return To Richmond, Post-Spingate And Quick Hits
NASCAR Mailbox: A ‘Normal’ Saturday And A Valuable Lesson
Beyond the Cockpit: Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher
Open Wheel Wednesday: Controversial Moves, Long Beach Crowds, and Being a Fuddy Duddy
The Frontstretch Five: Pleasant Surprises of 2014 So Far
IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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Bill B
07/30/2009 09:47 AM

Let’s say 2 wins and you make the chase. I don’t think winning a fuel milage or rain shortened race should be qualification for the chase. I hate the chase to begin with but allowing drivers who fall ass backwards into a win makes even less sense.

07/30/2009 11:46 AM

If you win a race, you are in the chase.Period. If there are not 12 different winners, then fill it in with the top in the points till you do have 12. If you end up with 26 different winners, that would be fantastic.

07/30/2009 12:20 PM

Matt, Normally you are so right on about stuff this the last time in the column is ludicrious.
So driver is 30th in points but has a win due to strategy or luck (Missed 20 car wreck) is deserving to be in the Chase (stupid system but not the point). send some of whatever your drinking as it must be some good stuff. All this emphasis on winning being the only thing is getting ridiculous. Being consistently good is the better barometer of a champion. The NFL system has it’s flaws with the playoffs but at lleast you have to win enough to make it. I thought when the wildcard expanded it was too much charity. This is even worse. The team needs to have more focus on the overall. Same thing in the NFL more emphasis on the players that really matter versus the supposed “best”. Imagine if for one play at each game the linemen on offense just did nothing aat the snap. How great would Manning, Brady, Namath, Unitas have been? Same with the shop guys, pit crew, at track garage crew, etc. take the last pit stop off and the driver is nothing. Look back at Gordon’s champ seasons not only did he win too much but he was also in the mix (top 10) a lot as well. Same thing with Kenseth back in 2003, yes 1 win but did he not set a record (Modern) for top 5’s or top 10’s that year. Seems deserving to me.
Winning is not everything in racing. Important yes but should not the end all criteria.

07/30/2009 12:53 PM

Anyone watching Na$crap Victory Lane on Speed TV sunday after the Brickyard race, would have heard 3-time “Farce for the Chumpionship” winning Jimmie Johnson say it would be A LOT HARDER to win a CHAMPIONSHIP in the 36 race schedule, than it is for the “FARCE.” I don’t dislike JJ, but his 3 in a row DO-OVERFARCE “ titles DO NOT COMPARE with Cale’s 3 in a row season long CHAMPIONSHIPS.

Kevin in SoCal
07/30/2009 04:11 PM

I wouldnt mind seeing the Chase be the top ten in points, plus spots 11 and 12 are for people who won the most races but arent in the top ten. Also, to qualify for spots 11 and 12, you must race all 26 races, that way a road course ringer or a lucky stiff like Brad K. do not get a free ride into the Chase.
Second, I think its more difficult to win the Cup in the Chase format than in the old style 36-race season. For one, with the old style, you can build up a huge lead in the first few races and then coast the rest of the way, as Matt Kenseth did in 2003 and as Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards did in the Nationwide (Busch) series in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

07/30/2009 09:23 PM

If Government Motors really wanted to return to the market, they would push forward with the Camaro. Talk about reviving the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” theory. I, for one, would drool every Saturday for anything close to the old hotrod wars. But allowing Mustang to be the only car that looks close to production is like allowing Toyota in NA$CAR.


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