The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Pocono's Tedium Turns Tumultuous, And Junior's Dream Team by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday June 10, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Pocono's Tedium Turns Tumultuous, And Junior's Dream Team

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday June 10, 2010


The boys gave us plenty to discuss this week, so let’s get to it. Here’s your link, so give me a shout when you can with questions, comments, and opinions on what’s going on in the sport.

Here’s the big one you missed! [In reference to the daily Frontstretch Newsletter’s “Numbers Game” on Monday.] Number of times we didn’t get to see either “live” or a replay of Denny Hamlin taking the so-called NASCAR yellow flag! ONE!!!!

— Stan Welsh, Jensen Beach, FL

A: “Sucks!” he cried. Duly noted, Stan. I didn’t think the coverage was that bad (considering they were trying to make chicken salad …), but I, like many others in the Twitter universe, would’ve preferred Phil Parsons not lob Kevin Harvick an alley-oop post-race.

Otherwise, it seems viewers are going to complain regardless of which network is televising. I just roll with it, man, although I’ll admit I’d liked to have seen exactly where Denny Hamlin was when that caution flag flew. Luckily, Hamlin answered that question for me in the post-race press conference moments later…

“I was, I mean, a hundred yards maybe from the start/finish line when the caution did come out,” he recalled. Hamlin then threw this little gem out there that hasn’t gotten much run on NASCAR’s sanitized sites:

“I think that they have the yellow flag in their hand instead of the white,” he said. “They’re just waiting on something. There’s no way they switch flags that quick. I think they had it, were ready to go with the yellow.”

“For the show purpose, it was good. But it was a legitimate caution. I was just looking around, all around that racetrack, for any debris. I was going to call BS if they had a debris caution right there. I was glad that that didn’t happen. It was a legitimate reason… unfortunately for my teammate.”

No one knows what’s to become of Jr. at Hendrick, but everyone is starting to believe it is not the right fit for him. I’m going to ask this to you this way: Where do you think Jr. would fit in best if you could assign him a team (JR Motorsports included)?
— James Mulberry

A: That’s an excellent way of asking a question that, as you state, no one truly knows the answer to, and I’d say RCR, no doubt. He doesn’t have to drive the No. 3, but he’ll feel more at home in the rough-around-the-edges environment Childress offers.

My second pick would be Michael Waltrip Racing. OK, that sounds strange on the surface, but his ol’ buddies Mikey and Marty are over there, and the pressure wouldn’t be nearly as great. Yeah, I know there’s that little hood ornament issue, but … perfect world and all.

I think what he needs is 1. Comfort. 2. Familiarity. RCR would be a comfortable fit, and MWR would provide a familiar environment.

The last thing he needs, in my opinion, is to worry about Cup ownership and tearing up his own equipment. Gosh, that boy is carrying enough on his shoulders as it is.

All that said, I still don’t see him just up and making a clean split with HMS. The financial side of the issue simply won’t allow it.

All this comment about Delana Harvick’s firesuit sounds like kindergarten. Grow up, Logano. I think Delana is the only wife of a driver who is also an owner, and what she chooses to wear is her business. How many other wives’ names appear as owners and yet never attend the races?
— Sharon

Though not always in her trademark firesuit, Joey Logano’s comments on the matter have made Delana Harvick as big a story as her points-leading husband.

A: Sorry Sharon, but when he uttered the now-infamous “firesuit comment,” it didn’t strike me as an insult to DeLana, but a shot across Kevin’s bow. You know, a “you’re whipped, dude”–type blast us guys are always looking to unload. And for the Harvicks’ part, they’re taking it exactly the way I’d expect them to: By having a whole mess of T-shirts printed up that they’re selling at for $15.

By now, I’m fairly certain you guys have heard about this, but the shirt reads “I Wear the Firesuit in this Family.” Proceeds go to the Kevin Harvick Foundation, and I’m thinking about getting one for my girl Rach, although she doesn’t really wear the firesuit in our crib. (And she probably won’t be reading this, so I’m in the clear.)

There are other wives that have some sort of ownership stake in various teams, and the majority of them are seen fairly often, if not weekly. The teams’ official listed owner is usually not attributed to family members anymore, but there are a couple women still on the entry list each week – Teresa Earnhardt being the most notable. I believe Andrea Nemechek may be a listed owner, as well as some low-budget Truck Series programs that list wives, mothers, or fathers for tax purposes and the like.

Denny’s knee sure isn’t bothering him now. Do you think the only places left that it will hurt him is on the road courses? He is not a premier road racer as it is, and I think that could derail his title hopes. He will at least take a hit in the regular season standings. Luckily for Denny, Jimmie isn’t a great road racer either.
—Bob Gottlieb

A: I never thought Hamlin’s surgery would hinder him that much from the get-go, so I’m not surprised he’s running as strong as he is. In scanning through his road stats, I’ve found he’s stronger than you might think, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a win at Infineon or Watkins Glen, bum knee and all.

A quick look at his road racing results:

Infineon Raceway: 2006: 12th; 2007: 10th; 2008: 27th; 2009: 5th
Watkins Glen: 2006: 10th; 2007: 2nd; 2008: 8th; 2009: 10th

That’s a career average of 10.5, and if you throw out the 27th-place stinker, it’s 8.1. Not bad, huh? In fact, it’s downright solid.

So there certainly won’t be a title-derailment regardless of his results, and as I said, a win wouldn’t surprise me. Like Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kyle’s brother Kurt, when you’re running as well as they are across the board, a win could be a reality every week.

Tom Logano: Let the boy stand up for himself. A few weeks away from the track would be best for you now.
— Sincerely, Race fans everywhere

A: Hey, a couple million race fans can’t be wrong. For good measure, here’s what everyone’s favorite owner/driver had to say about Tom on his Tony Stewart Live Sirius Satellite Radio show:

“I’m going to be perfectly honest,” Stewart said. “I’ve kind of had enough of Tom Logano getting into the middle of stuff. Joey is a great, great kid and I still to this day believe that Joey was the best idea that we had to have somebody replace me [in] the Home Depot car. But I think his dad gets in the way a little bit too much.

“At this level you’ve got to let these guys handle it on their own, and I don’t think his dad — he doesn’t need to be in the middle of it. Unless he starts driving a racecar, he needs to stay out of it. Nobody else’s fathers get in the middle of it.”

Sounds about right to me.

Thanks for sticking around until the end. As a reward, you get a Joey Logano-inspired video clip of the week.

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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06/10/2010 08:23 AM

Hey Denny,
The flag man doesn’t controll the cautions, the NASCAR booth does. There’s NO WAY the flag man can see debris or a wreck on the other side of a 2.5 mile track.

Cautions are “flown” when NASCAR hits a button and lights all around the track (and should be in the cars too) light up. The person who hits that button doesn’t have a flag in his hand.

The flag-man is ceremonious at best. Why else do celebrities and NASCAR has beens wave the green flag to start a race?

Restarts: The Driver in the lead controlls the restart.

Cautions: The man in the booth.

White Flag: Crews tell the drives how many laps are left. I doubt they look for a small white flag while raceing nose-to-tail for the win at 190 MPH.

Checkered Flag: Not even needed – THE MOST ceremonial flag even invented. (besides the stars and bars of course)

Side Note: If the cautions WERE controlled by waving a flag – the quicker the better for saftey’s sake, I say. Not that it would matter, cars would litterally have to “race back to the line” to see the caution flag.

Where does Denny come up with this stuff????

06/10/2010 09:28 AM

Of course there is an even better option for Dale Jr. Continue being a successful club owner , start up other business interests and walk away from NASCAR entirely .
Delana Harvick has every reason to wear a team fire suit . Unlike those goofy pit reporters who all wear fire suits . Whats that all about ?

06/10/2010 11:07 AM

Michael – the firesuits are a safety precaution for the reporters. TNT is one of the few who mandate it. Fox doesn’t. Lots of flammable stuff in the pit area. Dr. Punch years ago was instrumental in saving a reporter who was involved in a fire-related incident on pit road.

Delana can wear whatever she wants. I think the Joey’s comment was meant to insult Kevin. Of course, its hard to beat a wisea$$ at his own game and the Harvicks are winning the war with their t-shirts. I think it’s pretty funny myself – even if I do think that Harvick wrecked him on purpose.

Oh and Tom Logano — go home for a while or sit in the stands. Joey’s in the big leagues now, he needs to figure it out for himself, not have his daddy trying to be overly involved at this level.

06/10/2010 06:29 PM

I don’t understand why everybody gets on Jr for having outside businesses. Other drivers do but you never hear bitching about them. He doesn’t hang out at Whiskey River just cause he owns the place. You hire people you trust to run it for you. I’d like to see him go to RCR but I understand about the financials being all tangled up with Hendrick. Never thought it was a good move but you know what they say about hindsight!

As for Joey and Kevin-don’t think Harvick dumped him on purpose and think the way they’re handling it is a bit more mature than daddy coming and helping out. Tony said it best. Was glad to see Joey sticking up for himself finally though.

Keeping it REAL
06/10/2010 10:20 PM

I think I’m in love with Dansmom (gee, I hope he/she isn’t really a guy …. )

Keeping it REAL
06/10/2010 10:24 PM

Call it what you want, but she does “Keep it Real” which is why I post here too. Too many fans drink the coolaid and are total sheep. At least she speaks her mind and I happen to agree with her quite often.

Keeping it REAL
06/10/2010 10:31 PM

tn865linda – BINGO. You nailed it. NOTHING wrong with Jr having outside businesses. I’m not sure if there is any driver that doesn’t, certainly all the established guys have MANY outside companies but you just don’t hear about them. I own 2 businesses myself. Get over it people. You can own a business and not be there every day and often not really even be very involved at all.

As a quasi-fan of Jr’s, I also did not think HMS was the place for him. Too much pressure for a guy that has had too much his whole life. Gonna be tough to break away though.

Agreed on Harvick-Logano. Both sides need to grow up, and Tom needs to stop being a daddy at the track. How many other fathers have we seen step in? That’s right, NONE. Step aside, Tom.


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Fanning the Flames: Of Daytona, Danica, Dale, and Duels
2009 Season Review: Tony Stewart
2009 Season Review: Ryan Newman
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