The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Chasing Kahne, Talladega Talk, And A Return To Richmond by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday April 29, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Chasing Kahne, Talladega Talk, And A Return To Richmond

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday April 29, 2010


Those of you who are regular readers of this column have heard me mention my wife, Rachel, over the last few months. We’ve been married since Martinsville in the Fall and are still in that stage where we’re learning the nuances of one another’s interests, often inquiring to clarify this or explain that. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, she’s a dancer (no, not that kind … she’s a modern dancer and instructor). Anyway, she happened to be in the room during the pre-race show last weekend in Talladega and heard the boys in the booth use the term “dancing partners” a few times.

Of course, us NASCAR guys ‘n’ gals don’t think twice about slang like this … it’s just part of the lexicon. However, after the third usage she looks at me — as sincere as could be and with a touch of naivete — and says, “Why do they keep talking about dancing during your race?”

The second she finished, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and go into an explanation of “drafting” that she could understand, but one that would have made Diandra Leslie-Pelecky cringe. It also struck me as funny that it’s “my” race, not a “NASCAR race” or “the Talladega race.”

I laughed aloud again, 20 minutes later, when she gave me a “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” look as DW belted out a trio of Boogitys.

Hey, it’s DW; whatd’ya gonna do?

OK, on to your emails. As always, here’s your link to me. If anyone would like to pass along a copy of NASCAR for Dummies while you’re at it, I would appreciate it.

Whose great idea was it to have these GWS (Green White Starts) at the end of each race? It is nothing more than a number of cars being destroyed and drivers being deprived of winning after being up front for 90 percent of the entire day. Not only that, but the race is extended for more laps and overtime for the spectators who are now getting bored.

Let’s go back to REAL RACING !!!!!! I think if a poll were taken, there would be a majority of fans who will agree.
— Lorraine

Kevin Harvick survived Sunday’s three green-white-checkered finishes, but the carnage left many wondering if one is enough.

A: I can’t speak for the majority of fans, but I know for a fact there are many that see the multiple green-white-checkered finishes as contrived excitement. I would tend to agree, too.

I understand NASCAR’s decision to go to this format. The sanctioning body’s line of thinking is that with multiple restarts at the end, the “drama factor” will spike and entice viewership, which, in turn, increases ratings and therefore ad rates. It also seems to be a move that proves they’re serious about this “Boys, have at it” proclamation, which was meant to bring back the old die-hard fans they’d lost after nearly a decade of attempting to go white collar.

The problem lies in the fact that, in its effort to get back to a more rough ‘n’ tumble atmosphere, NASCAR once again overreached, the same as when it tried to sanitize the sport and ended up neutering it instead. True fans of stock car racing don’t need the gimmicks, and that’s where multiple GWCs turn them off. It’s manufactured excitement. It’s manipulation. It’s arranged.

And make no mistake, the drivers don’t enjoy circumstances such as these, either — particularly at Talladega and Daytona (and another dirty little secret: they don’t like double-file restarts). A restart at the end of a race was always a free-for-all, but with multiple GWCs and double-file restarts, it’s now a game of roulette … and at Talladega, it’s more of the Russian variety than the Vegas.

As for what I think, one GWC is enough. Let ’em give those in attendance a single, true attempt at a green-flag finish … but three? That negates the legitimacy of the previous 499 miles. And in many ways, the sport as a whole.

I’m sure some of our readers will be so kind as to let us know what they think below.

Moving on, our Bud Boy is in for the third week in a row:

Ha! Looks like Bud might follow my boy after all! Kasey is too much of a sponsor’s dream to not attract the powerhouse sponsors. He’s a pretty darn good driver, too. Any scoop on the Bud and Hendrick talks that were reported at Talladega?
— 9 Fan Soon to be a 5 Guy

A: By my count, Budweiser is one of only 11 primary sponsors that don’t split time with another company on the hood of one of these hot rods. That alone makes it a more valuable commodity than anything this side of hair regrowth formula within the No. 48 team. Therefore, every owner with an opening (and some without) are going to talk to them. And Bud, being the last 5’10” blonde without a prom date, is going to let every eligible suitor in the school wine ‘n’ dine ‘em.

In short, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Budweiser follow Kahne — I’d say Kasey’s hood is the leader in the clubhouse — but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it ended up somewhere else, either. And let me stress: That’s my personal opinion, not a factual nugget.

Harvick comes across as petty when he makes comments like he did in Victory Lane about Shell leaving. It’s business, Happy; you of all drivers should know! What good does slamming your sponsor do even if they’re leaving? Doesn’t that make finding another one even harder?

I’m normally not a Harvick hater, but I thought he was out of line this time.
— James, Corbin, Ky.

A: You refer to his “Our sponsor’s leaving and the best part is they can leave while we’re winning” quip from Harvick Sunday. I didn’t think it was that austere, considering the source. You could also read into it another way, as in, with our sponsor out the door, this win will help us land another.

Harvick always seems to have a biting comment in the chamber when need be and that, in my opinion, wasn’t one of the classics. The “I’ve got a Common Sense degree” shot at the media a couple days prior is the one that sticks in my craw for the time being. But hey, that’s just Kevin.

And finally, it’s good to know someone enjoys the video links each week. It seems I’m taking requests now.

Loved your Dale / Darrell reference to Richmond last week. With Richmond week on us, could I suggest your video link be of that race ending? It never gets old! Ah, the good old days!
— Jacqueline Timmel, Missouri

A: If you’re new to the sport or just don’t date back to 1986, please devote the next eight minutes of your life to watching this clip. You’ll be a better NASCAR fan for it. And if you’re old school and have seen this highlight 700 times already, I won’t have to coax you to do so again.

Thanks for your time once again, folks. Enjoy a good ol’ fashioned short track Saturday night this week.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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04/29/2010 11:43 AM

Bud was a long time sponsor for Hendrick in the past so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see them back there again . But as i’ve said before , Bud could also take the millions it will spend yearly on the Hendrick team ( who don’t really need the sponsor money anyway ) and split it up to give to 2 , or 3 , or more smaller struggling teams . 3 times the exposure for the same money . And it would help keep the smaller teams in the sport .

04/29/2010 01:51 PM

Instead of eliminating the GWC’s why not combine the three attempts into 1. Run 1 extra 10 lap segment – if the caution flies, that’s it, race is done.

This way you give the drivers a chance to win the race, not the restart and NASCAR gives the fans a chance to see the race end under green.

Not knowing how many GWC’s you’ll see is a bit contrived. Knowing that they’ll get a shot at 10 more laps is clear cut.

We just have to come up with a name…G,G,G,G,G,G,G,G,G,W,C?

04/29/2010 03:31 PM

I agree that multiple GWCs are contrived and it gives the people who say NASCAR is like the WWE more ammo. As far as I am concerned there should be no GWC attempts. The race should not go one lap more than the advertised distance. If you want the race to go further just to try to manufacture an exciting outcome then you need to stop watching motorsports. Fans should not expect every to have a close, exciting finish.

04/29/2010 03:55 PM

The most exciting race I ever saw was the 2003 Daytona 500! That race didn’t need a GWC, in fact it was rainin so boogity boogity hard they called the race early!

Geez-man just THINKin about that race makes me wanna dance with Digger!

04/29/2010 04:04 PM

That clip epitomizes everything I don’t like about “old school” NASCAR. Look at the coverage: For 10 laps all they showed were the top two cars. What about the other 41 cars on the track? I guess their sponsors didn’t pay enough money.

And they didn’t even catch the beggining of the wreck – they cut away to a spot of the fans???? Might as well have gone to commericial.

Then, the announcers are so tunnel visioned they don’t even know who’s going to win the race after the top two wreck, and they don’t even show the finish – they just show replays of the wreck, and the injured cars rolling around the track!!?!?!?

Wow… NASCAR TV sure has come a long way… or has it?

Matt T. --
04/29/2010 04:34 PM

I wasn’t highlighting the coverage, but the racing itself — and one of the more memorable moments of the era. I’ll leave commenting on the television coverage to Phil .. there’s certainly some shortcomings there.

04/29/2010 06:51 PM

There might have been a few shortcomings in the broadcasts in the old days , but nothing compares to the mindless , feckless , hapless , useless , needless , senseless , parody of sports television that fox feeds us every week .

04/30/2010 01:15 PM

I agree with VaBlueGrass. Maybe the best solution is a single GWC of 5-10 laps. A 2-lap shootout isn’t good racing; it’s all about who gets the best restart. Let them race for a few laps and settle it that way. It’s very similar to how a 10-race dash to the championship isn’t a good way to determine a champion.

04/30/2010 10:19 PM

Dan’s Mom should take a moment and watch the whole race. Number one they were not only down to the last ten laps or so but you had two guys at the front that were beating and banging to win the race. Remember that this is when purses were much smaller and NASCAR wasn’t as well known as it is now so these guys were racing for the pure love of racing. Had Dansmom actually watched the whole race she/he would have also observed that the guys in the booth also spent alot of time focusing on other cars as well as the race as a whole and actually adding useful commentary. This is unlike today where the guys in the booth are puppets spouting off the NASCAR party line or more concerned with their own self interests. While one such as Dansmom could be critical of the camera work they would also have to take into account that we are after all looking at a film clip nearly 25 years ago. I’m sure if they had 10 cameras there we’d all be surpised but the bottom line if one was to look at the clip with an open mind and truely compare the racing and commentary side by side they would find that perhaps NASCAR racing has lost a bit of its edge by becoming the corporate giant it is now. In 86’ how many multicar teams did you have? How much did the sponsor play into what happens on the track? Did you hear Dale say anything about his sponsor when a mic was stuck in his face? How about Kyle? Not like he went through the canned speech we all hear now when they are in the winners circle. Heck, Dave Marcis was wearing his wing-tips. No fancy sunglasses, digger, graphics all over the place. Oh, and lest we forget as much as one, such as Dansmom, may point out that cameras focused only on the first two cars, (forgeting the obvious fact that these guys were fighting, and I mean fighting, for a win), what we do get to see in 2010 is the same few guys all during the race no matter what position they are in. If one of them is leading by 15 car lengths we still get to watch them all by themselves lap after lap. Oh, we could go on to about the fact that most of the races now all take place on the same old cookie-cutter tracks. Not like in 86’ when they raced on a variety of tracks, many short tracks at the time. Yeah..what we have now is way more exciting..ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.


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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