The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: When Life Deals You Lemons, Sign A Multi-Year Deal With Rick Hendrick by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday April 15, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: When Life Deals You Lemons, Sign A Multi-Year Deal With Rick Hendrick

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday April 15, 2010


Lots to get to today, so I’ll give you the link where you can reach me and we’ll get to it. I think you know where we’re headed this week …

This domino wasn’t supposed to fall this early! I guess the Silly Season is only going to get sillier this year more than ever. My question involves why Jack Roush didn’t lock Kasey up in the No. 6 for 2011. With the state of RPM and the underperformance of the No. 6, that seems like the one logical choice. What say you, Matt?
— Lee Sporcic

A: Kahne wanted out of the Ford camp is my take. Sure, he would’ve been a great candidate for that seat, and I’d be shocked if UPS and Roush didn’t discuss such a move — possibly with Kasey — but Kahne could write his own ticket, and that ticket was a one-way ride out of Fordville. And hey, if the choice is yours, what better place to go than the most dominant motorsports team in all of America (or the world)?

While a possible ride in the No. 6 for Jack Roush seemed logical, Kasey Kahne elected to leave the Ford camp and sign with Hendrick Motorsports.

I’m guess[ing] Stewart-Haas Racing is the obvious spot for Kahne next year, right? Or is something going on that will surprise us? Also, is Bud signed with Kahne or tied to RPM? Thanks!
— 9 Fan Soon to be a 5 Guy

A: Stewart-Haas Racing isn’t lending a full race-day pit crew to the No. 71 TRG Motorsports team just because Bobby Labonte is such a swell guy. Yeah, I’d be floored if Kasey didn’t end up at SHR next year and then on the varsity squad in 2012.

As for Budweiser, it’s my understanding that its contract with Richard Petty Motorsports is up at the end of this season as well, but I’m not sold that the King of Beers will follow Kahne. Not that Anheuser-Busch wants out of the Kasey Kahne business … my fear is it wants out of the NASCAR business.

We’ll see how that hunch plays out, but remember, Budweiser’s owner doesn’t live in St. Louis anymore. The headquarters are in Brussels, where they race crap like Renaults.

Matt, what is the latest on the length of Kasey Kahne’s new contract with Hendrick? Anything to tell or is this under wraps?
— Amy Wright, Evansville, Ind.

A: Saw my first “big” concert in Evansville, Amy. Poison and Tesla, 1988. Roberts Stadium. Yeah it’s corny now, but I was the shizz in my eighth grade class.

To your question, it’s a five-year deal that links Kahne and Hendrick in 2015. Seems that’s the length of choice for Hendrick nowadays; Dale Jr.‘s contract is a similar length (2008-12) and JJ just inked himself a – you guessed it – five-year extension that runs through 2015.

And now, for the prognosticator of the bunch …

My prediction is Kahne with Bud to SHR in 2011, and then to the No. 5 in 2012 when Martin goes to a partial schedule with someone (who???) and Junior stays put in the No. 88! By 2012, SHR will need a full-time driver for the third car Kahne was in in 2011, so SHR (and Hendrick) brings in the biggest free agent. Don’t know who that would be, because Harvick will be under contract somewhere by then. This one move sets a whole lot of gears in motion.

And where does Danica fit? Well, if she proves herself worthy she’ll be at SHR. My thinking is she won’t stick in Cup. Hendrick will bring her up for select races, but she will be back in Indy full-time by 2013. Yes? No?
— Mitch Lathen, Columbia, S.C.

A: Well, a large chunk of that is what we already know, but thanks for the input. In a teleconference on Wednesday, Rick Hendrick stated that Martin would step away from full-time competition (again) after the 2011 season, opening the door for Kahne in the No. 5. He indicated that JR Motorsports had no Cup aspirations in the near future, but much of that is Danica-dependent. He also said that neither he nor team principles have “talked to anyone in detail” yet concerning Kahne’s destination in 2011.

I think the “in detail” part is interesting. You know, I talked to Tom Bowles about Fanning the Flames earlier this week, but we didn’t talk “in detail.” Still, he knew it would be done and on what day it would be submitted.

But if you want to play connect the dots with what may/could happen, Mitch, the best way to start is by studying a list of free agents whose contracts expire following 2011. I’m not going to speculate who’s heading where, because I don’t want Joe Sparkplug reading this and telling his boys at the bar tonight that, “I heard …” and take it for fact.

The truth is, no one writing a column that is published for a worldwide audience knows how this will ultimately play out … not yet, anyway. That’s why I’m here and the guy who has the best view — Hendrick — is where he is. However, I’ll play along for a bit by compiling the aforementioned list for your perusal. Have a look at some of the names that will be on the market heading into 2012:

Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, and Brian Vickers. Now, discuss amongst yourselves.

Now, to revisit Phoenix and its 60 laps that used-to-not-be …

What’s the big deal with an extra 60 laps at Phoenix? I thought real NASCAR fans would want more racing, not less! Same with Pocono. If they ran at Pocono for 18 hours, I would probably watch the whole thing.

I’ve read on message boards on the Frontstretch and on other sites where people are upset with added length. What?!?!!? Where did we get the notion that less is always more? As a fan, I want more laps, not less!
— Nathan Howard, Memphis, Tenn.

A: Well, Nate is certainly in the minority of those I’ve talked to, but hey, to each his own. And your point is duly noted, bud.

I think what fans tire of is having to devote four hours to watching a freight train to get to an exciting finish. Were those four hours packed with two-wide and three-wide action, you probably wouldn’t see the complaints. Instead, a large sentiment of those reading and watching figure that a three-hour investment is more their speed these days.

And with that, we’re done. Thanks for sticking around till the end — and for those that did, you get this little gem.

Believe me, you do not want to miss this one … except for the clip at the 3:07 mark.

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Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
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04/15/2010 01:10 AM

I want to know whats going on with Tom B. (the heck with Hendrickcar). I saw his Twitter Bio blurb and his mention that a big career move may be in store. Then we have Matt’s latest story—-are the two related?

Things were sure weird around here last night.

04/15/2010 01:35 AM

I posted on the wrong story—-go figure LOL. But anyhoo, while i’m here whats up with Matt? One day he is riding off into the sunset and the next day he makes a U-turn?

04/15/2010 07:27 AM

Matt has completely lost his passion and fails to keep his finger on the pulse of NASCAR nation.

For months he has “reflected” on what he feels is a dieing sport, inept of excitment and a perpetual bore. But I’ve got news for you – negativity breeds negativity, and if you watch races with excitment and an open-mind you’ll find the sport is thriving with drama, passion, and depth of electricity.

Too bad a media driven flock of “old-school” fans spend more time talking about how the sport used to be rather than where its going. They harp on how NASCAR race’s are boring, yet they still watch. How the new drivers are “sissy’s” compared to the roughnecks of old (yet there is no way to prove such an allegation). And they seem to watch NASCAR purely for the purpose of having something to hate and complain about. To them NASCAR is already dead – and to feed such negativity on a regular basis must be a horrible life.

As for accuracy of what his readers want, look at what his story is today: A fictitional treatise on the “state of the truck series”. WHO CARES!?!? The story is Kahne to Hendrick and the almost nuclear fall-out this domino train will induce.

But, that’s what happens when you’re stuck in the past. Over the decade, NASCAR has evolved and to be a successful commentator on the sport – you must evolve too. You have to stay current in your craft to stay successful.

When Matt does ride off into the sunset – things will still go on.

Matt T. --
04/15/2010 09:20 AM

You guys realize that this isn’t Matt McLaughlin’s column, right? I’ll take the reads-by-confusion, and as much as I like my man McMatt, I’m not the guy that has “reflected on what he feels is a dieing sport, inept of excitment and a perpetual bore.”

[sic] [sic] [sic]

04/15/2010 09:39 AM

I think we should just bring Dale Sr back from the dead and everything will be back the way it should be.

We froze his body right?

04/15/2010 10:25 AM

It must just be me, but I can not understand all the love for Kasey Kahne.

04/15/2010 12:04 PM

WC has a point.

Kasey Kahne enjoyed immediate success his first year after inheriting Bill Elliot’s ride but then fell quickly to the sophomore slump.

Since 2005 his average points finish is 17th with 2 chase appearances (out of 5)

Matt T. --
04/15/2010 01:07 PM

The prevailing line of thought is that Kahne, given the right equipment, he’s an automatic title-contender. Let’s not discount the “sponsor’s dream” thing, either.

04/15/2010 01:23 PM

DansMom , the next time Brian France walks by your office there at NASCAR PR headquarters , ask him if he really believes NASCAR is thriving with drama , passion , …. geeez , i can’t go on with the rest of that nonsense , i’m laughing too hard to type .
You might also ask him if the lower ticket sales , lower tv ratings , and huge overall decrease in fan interest might be a sign that things aren’t going as well as he and you would like us to believe .

04/15/2010 02:48 PM

WOW! I wish I could work for NASCAR Marketing. Imagine that, get paid to watch and write about the great things happening in NASCAR. Sre does beat the heck out of NOT getting paid to COMPLAIN about it.

Let me see, here are some ideas for folks who prefer to look on the bright side.

Rivalries: Gordon v. Kenseth

Redemption: Resurgance of RCR and Dale Jr.

Feel Goods: Jamie Mac at Daytona, Denny Hamlin at Martinsville

DRAMA: Martinsville Finish, Late Race strategies at Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix

The record number of lead changes, pariaty of winner… I could go one for days!!!

04/15/2010 03:23 PM

Like Jr would be? or Hamlin was going to be this year. Just don’t see it happening. He is not the wheel man of Rowdy, Smoke, Harvick or many others in the garage. Some of these drivers can get more out of the car then it has while others just settle.

04/15/2010 03:37 PM

So what happens to Blab after SHR/Kahne takes the #71? Just change numbers and start over with his Champ provisional in quals or is TRG going to pack it in? Will anyone want to absorb the other RPM cars/drivers?

WC, Bud is probably leaving and they are trying to hype him up. I think he is more girl-ish than Danica.

Why does the super positive Dansmom choose to hang out with the super negative FS crowd?

Sorry Matt T, I didn’t mean to bring Matt L Mania to your column.

04/15/2010 05:18 PM

Things just haven’t been the same since Sr died.

Ok, new idea: Dig up some of his DNA (I’m sure some nutty fans have locks of his hair or pairs of used underwear) and clone him. It’s foolproof!

04/15/2010 05:38 PM

FS is hiring 5 more people. The plot thickens….

04/15/2010 09:47 PM

Pardon me while I state the obvious. I know there’s action on the track, MRN tells me so, but those of us unable to attend a race don’t get to see it. Address the Godawful TV coverage and ratings and opinions will surely go up. NA$CAR needs to pull a tear off so they can see more clearly.

04/16/2010 08:47 AM

I would not mind seeing Bill Elliott in the #9 Ford with Coors on the hood again.

04/16/2010 09:30 AM

Dansmom… do you think FS would hire you?

Matt T. --
04/16/2010 09:52 AM

She’s already on the payroll — that’s the only reason she keeps posting!

04/16/2010 11:06 AM

Dansmom… that’s awesome! I guess being a lady of the night isnt as lucritive as it once was.

04/16/2010 06:27 PM

The ball is rolling after Kahne’s perfectly (or intentionally) timed kick in the crotch—-Liverpool is for sale.


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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