The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Numbers Show 2009 Season Most Competitive Of Chase Era by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday August 20, 2009

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Fanning the Flames: Numbers Show 2009 Season Most Competitive Of Chase Era

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday August 20, 2009


A quick observation that somehow waded into my head amidst the congestion and cloudiness of a mid-August head cold:

For as much as we, as fans and media, like to complain about the slanted nature of the sport circa 2009, notice that with Red Bull Racing’s win at Michigan, we’ve now had four first-time team winners this season. There’s been Phoenix Racing at Talladega, Michael Waltrip Racing at Charlotte, Stewart-Haas Racing at Pocono, the newly-minted Richard Petty Motorsports at Infineon and, of course, Red Bull’s win at Michigan.

Flukes? Plate wins? Fuel-mileage victories? Rain-shortened triumphs? Hey, call ‘em what you will … a win’s a win.

And the way I see it, all we need is for Juan Pablo Montoya to finally break through for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Marcos Ambrose to ring one for JTG-Daugherty and we’ve covered all the new-to-the-sport bases. And honestly, those wins aren’t out of the question.

Along the same lines with the fluke wins, you can call some of these teams satellite operations, JV squads, conglomerates, affiliates … whatever. The point is that although the key power brokers may continue to build wealth, we have 13 different winners under nine, yes nine, separate banners (so much for the Big Four). That’s not too shabby. And figuring that Montoya, Ambrose, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, and Clint Bowyer could all conceivably snag one on any given weekend, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we witness 19 winners spread amongst 11 teams.

Compared to the other years in the Chase Era, we’ve already seen more separate organizations win already. Eight different organizations won at least one race in 2004 and ’05. That number was seven in 2006 and ’07. It dwindled to six last year. We’ve bested those with 13 races still left in the season.

So while the money might be tight, the competition is looking tighter. Sometimes it’s best to be thankful with what we’ve got, not what we think we’re missing.

And by the way, how does one get a head cold in mid-August? Your guess is as good as mine, but everyone at work tells me it has to do with air quality. Great. This can’t be gone fast enough.

Questions? Comments? Opinions? Recipes? Share them in this column next week using this little red link.

Matt, I read that Vickers’ win was the first for the car No. 83 since Lake Speed in 1988. My question is, who else has won in that number? Anyone back in the day? I don’t remember many driving that car number, and I’ve been watching since the late ‘70s. Thanks. — Myron, Brandenton, Fla.

A: As for wins, that’s it, Myron. Lake Speed won his first and only Cup race in the ’88 Southern 500 driving the Wynn’s-sponsored Oldsmobile (self-owned, too). And then there’s Brian Vickers’ nail-biter last weekend.

Brian Vickers’ win last weekend at Michigan is just the second for the number 83. Lake Speed got the first in the 1988 Southern 500.

In all honesty, the 83 is not a number steeped in tradition. Red Byron drove it for in the final four races of his career back in 1951; Tim Flock made a start at Daytona in it with no luck; LeeRoy Yarbrough drove it for Worth McMillion (who made numerous starts in it himself — and no, I don’t know the story behind the name) in the ’62 Southern 500; Joe Weatherly gave it a one-race go, as did Bobby Isaac; then Johnny Rutherford and Ramo Stott were in it for a few runs that you may remember in the mid- to late-‘70s; lastly, Ron Hornaday drove it in FitzBradshaw’s one and only Cup start, at Phoenix in 2002.

There’s some names there, but the No. 43 it ain’t.

Clear up for us why Carl Edwards was penalized a spot under yellow at Michigan when he faked toward pit road but came back into line on the track. He did not cross the commitment cone and did not fail to meet a minimum speed. What was that? — Ann Florence

A: “Thaaaat’s pretty weak there.”

That was Edwards’ thought via in-car audio, and I agreed. However, according to Dr. Jerry Punch, that was a rule instituted earlier this year stating that if you fake toward pit road, you must blend back in to your original position or risk losing it.

It had everyone in the booth and most of us watching scratching our heads — and is a classic case of the sanctioning body over-policing a practice that has gone on forever. I’m going to keep my eye out for those as the season goes on, because that came out of left field for everyone, Carl Edwards included.

I really wish she [Lisa Mayfield] wouldn’t keep putting herself in these situations. It isn’t helping her case at all. I for one applauded her for standing up to JM, but she needs to stay in the background as much as possible. Thank You.
— Tina

A: From everything I’ve seen, read, and heard, Lisa Mayfield has more issues than Jeremy. Showing up drunk or high or whatever at his place and getting arrested certainly doesn’t do anything to sway my line of thought, either. In fact, it accelerates her (already quick) descent down the credibility scale. Nice character witness, NASCAR.

Ah, the Mayfields: Doing everything in their power to bolster the long-held and oft-unfounded view of “racing types” everywhere.

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08/20/2009 07:54 AM

C’mon now! I am shocked that you write about “new winners” and you couple this with the comment “the competition is looking tighter”?


“running for points”, is NOT “tighter competition”!

WINS no longer really matter at this stage of the game, particularly if your say 6th thru 14th in the drivers standings!


If your running 12th in a race, getting 12th place points, and that keeps you in the top 12 in points! That my friend, is EXACTLY what your going to do!

WINS be damned! Who cares who “wins”, I want my points!

So it matters not if a young gun suddenly “WINS” a race, or two!

It is only because many of the drivers are caught up in the stupid “make the chase thing”!

That my friend, does not translate into “tight competition”!


And as for the Carl Edwards thing, hey, Carl dropped out of line to fake his move, other cars passed him on the track while he was slowing, and he thinks he should be given his previous position back?

If he want’s to try and be “tricky”, let him pay the price!

08/20/2009 09:06 AM

Lake Speed won the Transouth 500, not Southern 500 in 1988.

P on U
08/20/2009 11:44 AM

The cars suck there is no real on-track racing. I’m sure we will see more of this Saturday night during the cup race as it already looks that if you are protecting that hi-line at Bristol then it is going to be very difficult for people to pass you.

In my opinion the best racing in any of these series is in the Truck series when the cup ‘talent’ doesn’t show up and wreak the show. I can’t understand why Cup drivers are able to compete full time on these levels. They have more money, I mean ‘talent’, etc.

Ask yourself this. Do major league Baseball players, football, or basket ball players routinely go and play in say college league sports on the weekend, stop them, and then talk about how awesome they are. No, you don’t. Because that is lame and so are Kyle and Carl for doing a full season in a lesser series and taking money and titles away from people and teams that need it way more!

Talent my Azz!


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Contact Matt Taliaferro

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