The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Cleaning Out the Inbox and Heading for Hampton by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday September 2, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Cleaning Out the Inbox and Heading for Hampton

NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday September 2, 2010


As per our typical off-week Q & A (or does “atypical” fit better when discussing off weeks?), let’s roll out the miscellaneous, non-time specific questions accrued since mid-July — with a couple Montreal queries thrown in for the Nordiques. Twelve weeks left in the season, then it’s the holidays. Does that seem weird to you, or is it just me?

Here’s your link to my world, folks. You know the dance. Lead.

Everyone says NASCAR won’t add another road race to the schedule. Fine, we get it. But if ISC owned the Montreal circuit, would there magically appear a race north of the border? And what’s your thoughts on what a Cup race would be like in Montreal? I’m all for it. Thanks Matt.
— Kelley McNally

A: You’re darn right there’d be a race in Montreal if ISC owned the circuit. I think Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villenueve is so cool because of its taxing nature to both man and machine. As our own Tom Bowles pointed out yesterday, the attrition rate was high because the course is so brutal on the cars, and that’s just not something we see very often.

Watching Max Papis and Boris Said after the event, it was apparent that the length and strain, both physical and mental, to the drivers was punishing, too.

I’d be all for a Cup race in Montreal, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. It’s a shame how politics and decisions based on a company’s bottom line can cloud the judgment of those calling the shots.

This weekend’s Nationwide race in Montreal was a classic, but don’t expect the road course on the Cup schedule anytime soon.

I hope you can answer this, Matt. We’ve talked about it down the street over a few (too many) beers. Is Jeff Gordon the current leader of consecutive starts? The other two we assume are with him are Burton and Bobby Labonte. How close are they to Ricky Rudd, and do you think any of them will hang around long enough to pass him? You’ve got an open invite to join us for those beers if you’re ever in Cincy.
— Trying to win a bet in Columbia Township, Ohio

A: I can’t admit to being up in the Cincinnati area often, but if I ever am I’m good for a couple tall boys.

You’re correct on Jeff Gordon being the active leader with 605 straight starts. Bobby Labonte is just behind him with 604, followed by Jeff Burton at 508.

Gordon sits 183 starts behind Ricky Rudd’s 788. Making the safe assumption that Gordon starts the last 12 events in 2010, that’ll put him at 617, 171 back from the Rooster. If Gordon sticks around for another five years (as he’s stated he’ll likely do), it’d give him 797 straight, and yet another record.

Matt, this may be a silly question, but can you define a cookie-cutter track? Specs? What does and doesn’t define one? Some are obvious, but the line gets fuzzy. Are Charlotte and Atlanta cookie cutters, or is it “you know it when you see it?” Thanks.
— C. Powell

A: cookie • cutter • track [kook-ee-kuht-er-trak] n. A group of North American racetracks, typically contained to the NASCAR circuit, whose length does not measure less than 1.5 miles nor exceed 2 miles. Banking ranges from 14-24 degrees. < See: Atlanta, Auto Club, Charlotte, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Homestead-Miami, Kansas, Las Vegas, Michigan, Texas >

Matt, as an old school fan I’m mourning the loss of Atlanta’s second date. I’ve been to many Atlanta races in the Spring and Fall, and can’t say I was ever disappointed. Although I was really cold a few times! My question is about a fantasy pick for the Atlanta race. This year, I’ve joined my first fantasy league, and this old-timer has found another way to stay interested in the races! Our standings are tight, and I’m second. Any words of wisdom would be welcome, especially a sleeper or two. Enjoy your work and the site which I read daily. Thanks!
— Jim Cross, Orange Park, Fla.

A: Thanks for the kind words Jim, and trust me when I tell you that we appreciate your loyalty to the site. First off, allow me to recommend reading today’s Fantasy Insider by Mike Ravesi here on the site. If you’re not getting some fantasy tips there on a weekly basis, I’d advise you start. He’ll crunch the numbers and dissect the field for the upcoming event in more detail.

I guess if I have to start a fantasy discussion about Atlanta, all roads lead straight to the Blue Deuce: Kurt Busch. He’s won two of the last three, so the Miller Lite boys have obviously found something that works. A couple other favorites in my opinion are Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson. Yeah, I know Johnson and the Lowe’s guys haven’t found the results lately, but he’s fast and they’re due. He’s also got three wins and averages a series-best 8.2-place finish at AMS.

As for Edwards, he’s a three-time winner as well, and has a ridiculous eight top 10s in 12 career Cup starts. The one thing to know is that Carl is feast or famine in Hampton. His eight top 10s are all runs of seventh or better; his four others: 40th, 42nd, 37th, and 39th. Carl’s got a win coming, though, and I really like him this week.

Some sleepers: Do Kasey Kahne and Juan Pablo Montoya qualify? Both should be strong. Digging deeper, I’d look at Bill Elliott for a top 20 and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. possibly sneaking in a top 10. The three MWR boys are worth a look, as well.

With Atlanta in mind, this week’s video link takes us back to a magical time and possibly the most notable race of NASCAR’s modern era, the 1992 Hooters 500. Bill Elliott vs. Alan Kulwicki. Richard Petty’s final race. Jeff Gordon’s first. This link is unique in that it’s the closed circuit feed, so you can hear Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons, Ned Jarrett and Jerry Punch crunching the points during the final commercial break.

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Kevin in SoCal
09/02/2010 01:35 PM

Does Homestead-Miama really qualify as a cookie-cutter? I define it as a d-shaped oval while H-M is a true oval. Yes its a 1.5 miler and yes it was build during the late 90’s expansion, so that’s probably what qualifies it as “cookie-cutter.”

09/02/2010 04:05 PM

Richard Petty crash at Daytona

09/02/2010 06:57 PM

Cookie-cutter track = 1.5 mile, moderately-banked tri-oval — especially those noted for producing drawn-out, uncompetitive, follow-the-leader parades.

Fontana and Michigan are not cookie-cutters. They are, if possible, even duller due to their increased size.

Homestead may be the only one of the cookie-cutters that actually belongs on the Nascar schedule since its progressive banking usually produces much better racing than the others.


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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