NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday October 7, 2010
Have ya heard the one about a window, a Kleenex and a TV producer?
What’s that, boss? Too soon?
OK, how about the one where a guy in a yellow suit drives into this joint in New Hampshire, orders a bowl of Cheerios and says, “Hey, have you seen my rear end? The guys at the shop have been massagin’ on it for a month.”
Huh, boss? No good either?
Sorry folks, the blue humor isn’t flying today. Check back with me after Homestead.
In the meantime, send your questions to me using our trusty little link, and I’ll get you in next week. Now on to your emails …
I started watching in 2003 and I still really like it and follow it weekly. I hear fans say how different the cars are since the good old days. I’ve been to four races sine ’03 and wonder how the cars SOUND different at the track today compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
— Phil Dake, Naperville, Ill.
A: The engines have a more high-pitched scream than they used to. It once was a throaty, low growl. Head out to your local short track and listen to the street stocks. That’s pretty close, but not quite as loud. Good question, by the way.
Enough with the Busch bashing! Kyle ran up on Reutimann and the in-car audio told the story. Reutimann got out of the gas in the middle of the turn and Kyle was so close he couldn’t let up in time. It’s hard racing. That’s all. Kyle is supposed to be on his tail and looking for a way around. I like Reutimann, but that was more his fault than Kyle’s. Sometimes I think fans just bash on Kyle because he is an easy target.
I don’t have a problem with Reutimann getting his revenge, either. He felt he was wronged again, and sometimes you have to make a stand. This isn’t five-year-olds go kart racing. Let the boys have at it!
A: From my point of view, it’s hard to argue with anything you said. I think this incident pre-dates Kansas (think Bristol and Busch calling out Reutimann’s driving talent). His imitation of a pinball over the last month — being knocked around by everyone from Ryan Newman to Kevin Harvick to Kyle Busch — forced Reutimann to take a stand. And honestly, if you’re going to make a statement, using a Chaser as the target will get everyone’s attention.
And more so than any Chaser vs. non-Chaser issue, I was just glad NASCAR let it lie.
I have a question pertaining to the performance of Hendrick Motorsports’ car No. 88. What is the (No.) 88 team doing to the car each week that is creating so many problems for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. each and every weekend that the 24-48-5 do not have? Where does the REAL problem lay?
— Lorraine Fabian
A: Boy, if that isn’t the million dollar question. Let’s eliminate a few things. Primo cars/chassis: Check. Reliable engines: Check. Unlimited resources: Check. Tier-A teammates to share info with: Check. That covers most of your at-shop, unloading and practice session variables.
We’ll skip qualifying, because no one has ever confused Junior for Ryan Newman on Friday, even when he was racking up 18 wins.
I guess that leaves race day. And quite honestly, I don’t know that anyone has identified the true root of the issue or “Rich” Hendrick would have fixed it, but I can tell you what I see. I see a driver and crew chief that most weekends have a decent (not great) car somewhere between the quarter and halfway mark. I then see a racetrack that transitions from day to night or cool to hot and a team that doesn’t anticipate the change, not making proper adjustments to stay one step ahead of the game. I see a car that looked somewhat racy at one point out in left field by the three-quarter mark of the event. I hear a crew chief and driver that do not seem to be speaking the same language, and I sense frustration and a loss of confidence.
It’s tricky competing on the Cup circuit with the last name Earnhardt — and crew chiefing for him. There’s pressure and expectations and a legion of people — fans and non-fans alike — that are watching and judging. This may sound simplistic, but I swear if I were Hendrick I’d throw the coffers at Tony Eury, Sr. and tell him to straighten this mess out. And if I were Junior, at some point I’d have to admit to myself that the decision to join the white-collared, buttoned-up world of Hendrick Motorsports wasn’t the right one.
Hey Matt. I enjoy listening to you, Tom and Braden on the podcast. I thought you hit it on the money last week when you said if NASCAR wanted to gain the fans’ trust and be viewed as a credible body they would open the doors to their inspection process. Agreed, Matt! I think fans want to believe NASCAR and their rulings because no one wants to think a percentage of their fav sport is being manipulated!
Be open with us, NASCAR! Tell us the facts. Don’t be sidestepping the questions, and it will go a long way toward gaining the fans’ trust. Thanks for the time, Matt!
— Samantha K.
A: Thanks for tuning in to the podcast, Samantha. We certainly have a lot of fun producing it. Yeah, I stated that a more open-door policy would go a long way toward lending a credibility that many observers feel is lacking. I wouldn’t expect cameras rolling while every inch of a car at the R&D Center was being inspected because NASCAR doesn’t want to divulge specific teams’ info, but a well-written or detailed explanation is in order.
I can’t tell you how many times over the last three weeks friends have asked what, exactly, was so illegal about Clint Bowyer’s car at New Hamsphire. “How could sixty-one thousandths of an inch be worth a penalty of that magnitude?” they wonder. It’s often hard to explain, besides to say, “Well, that’s NASCAR …” Some expert, right?
Of course, the irony of it all is that Bowyer’s car probably was illegal, and NASCAR probably called a spade a spade. It probably got it right, going by precedent. Trouble is, fans presume the wizard is really behind the curtain over in the corner, pulling levers and turning knobs, operating without transparency and ruling with an iron fist.
A little clarity on NASCAR’s part would earn a lot of much-needed fan trust. Throw in a dash of understanding by both sides, and we’re be getting somewhere.
Thanks for sticking around to the end, folks. I miss Loren Wallace. Or was it Lauren? Or Warren? Whatever. Gone but not forgotten.
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