NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday October 14, 2010
Before we begin this week, congratulations to 2011 Hall of Famers David Pearson (no-brainer), Lee Petty (almost no-brainer), Bobby Allison (shouldn’t he have gone in with Cale & DW?), Ned Jarrett (semi-surprise) and Bud Moore (big surprise). All are worthy, and all were shoe-ins … I just didn’t expect this class to look the way it did.
Next year? Cale, DW, Dale Inman, Raymond Parks, and Herb Thomas, with T. Wayne Robertson looking to unseat one of these five.
OK gang, time to turn towards a Hall of Fame batch of questions from you. Here’s your link, boys and girls. Let’s get to it.
In reference to your article on the ratings being down in Fontana: Having lived there, going to the track many, many times and now with the future looking so bleak (just one Cup date starting in 2011), you will not have the public purchasing any tickets for the seating. And with the same drivers in the Chase each year, it’s becoming boring.
— Lorraine Fabian
A: I think Lorraine is covering two points in the same email, and I’ll attack one issue: The place will probably sell the same number of total tickets for only one race. Half full in the Spring and half full in the Fall; take the fall date away, and maybe it’s almost full in the Spring. We’ll see.
I always thought Auto Club Speedway was criticized too harshly. Yeah, I know the racing hasn’t been Bristol-esque, but it’s not been as gut-wrenchingly heinous as some make it out to be. I think when the joint was given Darlington’s Labor Day date, it lost a public relations battle it couldn’t win … and probably didn’t ask for.
From that day forward, what was then known as California Speedway embodied everything that the old school die-hards hated about new school NASCAR. Cookie cutter. West Coast. Network. Johnny-come-lately. Bottom-line driven.
That place never stood a chance. Of course, not many tracks can support two dates, either, but ACS was the poster child for an era of failure.
Brad Daugherty said that Greg Biffle was a top three talent in the pre-race show. Yes, he has NNS and Truck championships, qualifies for the Chase more often than not… but three of the four Roush drivers usually do. I’ve never thought of him as one of the top three in the Cup Series, but I’ve also never thought Brad Daugherty was a Cup Series announcing talent, either. Was he overstating, as announcers do, or do you think the Biff is one of the three most talented drivers in the series?
— Kim James
A: Daugherty also anointed Johnson the champion in the pre-race show last weekend, only to claim that Stewart — “without question” — could win his third title on NASCAR Now two nights ago, so take that for what it’s worth.
I think Biffle is immensely talented. In fact, I believed he’d have a Cup title by now. That said, I can’t call him one of the three best out there. Close, but not top three.
Will NASCAR fine Bowyer like they did Hamlin for b*tching about the debris caution? By my count, he is on record three different times calling them out for it. I’m not for silencing drivers, but I’m not for NASCAR picking and choosing who to fine for the same offenses, either. Thanks Matt. Always enjoy the column.
A: The fines handed down to Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman were done behind closed doors, so we may never know. Wait, who am I kidding; of course we’d find out. No one can keep a secret in this garage area!
I don’t know if Daytona will nail Bowyer for another 25 or 50 Gs, but I figure NASCAR’s already busted him three times: the tolerance penalty, the two pit road speeding violations at Dover, and the debris caution in SoCal — plus, his car has been taken back to the R&D Center twice the last three weeks. When asked about that ugly post-race in Fontana, he simply said, “That’s a good question. No comment.”
You think someone’s maybe had enough?
ESPN’s coverage of California was better than it has been all year, I think. I still prefer TNT, then FOX, but it is amazing what firing one Peeping Tom does for a broadcast!
— Chad, Bluefield, Va.
A: Good one, Chad. You know, I’ve found that if it’s FOX’s portion of the season, everyone complains and says they can’t wait for ESPN to take over. Then, when ESPN brings its coverage along, the comments shift to wanting FOX or TNT back. It’s like clockwork; you can’t make everyone happy, as I’m sure Phil Allaway will tell you.
RFR engines. Wow! Matt, what happened, and are they working overtime this week to get it fixed? Kenseth was already done, but Carl and Biffle went down the drain in one week. I’m shocked this happened to a team that is not known for reliability problems.
— John Bishop
A: I guarantee they’re working overtime, and I doubt we’ll ever find out exactly what happened to all three. The worrisome part is the three problems were unrelated: Edwards had a distributor issue, while Biffle’s went all at once (low-end) and Kenseth’s sputtered out (top-end).
These failures aren’t all that uncommon at Auto Club Speedway, though. I had a crew chief tell me before the season that, “… it’s probably the hardest track on engines, hands down, and Michigan is the only track that’s even close. The difference is probably the California heat.”
Hey Matt, did NASCAR measure Carl’s car after he got pushed to the garage area when his car died? Coulda been out of tolerance, you know.
— Clint, Emporia, Kan.
A: You all are just full of wit this week, aren’t ya.
Thanks for making it to the end, folks. In honor of Ned Jarrett’s inclusion in the 2011 Hall of Fame class, I found this little jewel. There’s so much here … it’s in “Hi-Fi” (whatever that meant at the time), one guy’s name is Blackie Wangerin, and Ned defines the term “squirrelly” — like a damn pro — to a nation of onlookers not familiar with cars running 190. Classic.
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