The Frontstretch: Scanner Static : Veteran Drivers, Half-Mile Racetracks and... New Cars? by Matt Taliaferro -- Wednesday March 28, 2007

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Scanner Static : Veteran Drivers, Half-Mile Racetracks and... New Cars?

Scanner Static : NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Wednesday March 28, 2007

 

I arrived early at the office this past Monday morning, flipped on my Mac, fired up Safari, and immediately went straight to The Frontstretch where, like clockwork, I found everything to be in perfect order. Tom, Becca, McLaughlin, Lovecchio, Toni and our newest ink slinger, Tony Lumbis, had all posted their weekly columns with no apparent problems. Meanwhile, at athlonsports.com the hits were still, well, hitting; over at Jayski, a new batch of misspellings awaited to jump off the screen at me. Surprisingly, then, everything was as it had been. The racing world, from a bytes and bits standpoint anyway, just kept rolling along as if no monumental changes had happened the day before.

So…what was the hangup about this Car of Tomorrow thing again?

Honestly, I found more online reporting, commentary, and all-around NASCAR activity on the web than I can ever remember. And while opinions ranged from shrugs to obloquy, I account the majority of the writing to a new and unique event more so than a new popularity swing for the sport of NASCAR.

What’s my take on the subject? I continue to have apprehension concerning the CoT, but admit I find myself enthralled at how the cars will react to an even tighter Martinsville Speedway. Which teams will have learned the most from 500 laps of in-race experience? Is Gibbs' CoT development really that far ahead of the rest?

At Bristol, the drivers did not have to concern themselves with a curb at the bottom of the track. Think the one at Martinsville will yank a few splitters off? How about the tight-quarters racing? Again, those splitters will likely trigger a rash of flat tires. And how about those brakes? Some drivers reported pushing down on that pedal at BMS than ever before last Sunday…and I think we all know what Martinsville will do to brake rotors.

So, for better or for worse, it's now on to Martinsville, where we'll give the CoT its second spin. I just hope that when I turn my Mac on this Monday morning, Tom, Becca, Jayski and the gang will all still be there, disaster averted.

Onto this week’s questions. Got some insight, complaining, opinions or comments of your own? Give me a shout and you, too, can be a part of the bytes and bits world of racing. Remember, my email address is matt.taliaferro@frontstretch.com.

Q: I've always had a place for Petty Enterprises, and have also been a Bobby Labonte fan since he drove the Slim Jim Oldsmobile. With the Car of Tomorrow and Bobby's track record at Martinsville, it's not out of the question he finally gives The King a win this week. What do you think, Matt? — Marty K

A: I think you put Labonte in a Childress Chevy or a Roush Ford, and suddenly, we're all saying the names Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton in the same sentence each week.

We all have a soft spot for Petty Enterprises, MartDawg, but the equipment is still not on the level of (insert powerhouse team here). A quick glance at the point standings shows him 14th — yes, I know we're only five weeks into the season — but he has yet to nail a Top 10.

Even with the mediocre start to the season, does Bobby have a shot at Martinsville? Well, the Car of Tomorrow should suit his driving style; he finished third in the Fall race last season, and he does have a win at the track back in 2002. However, I'm not sold on Petty Enterprises being as up to speed with the new car as the big boy organizations. Bristol is always a crapshoot, but I'd look at the 22nd he recorded there and figure this first trip to Martinsville will net roughly the same results. The Fall event should prove much kinder to the No. 43 team.

Q: I think Joe Nemechek got screwed this offseason. Bobby Ginn saw greener pastures with Mark Martin and wanted a safety net for Regan Smith. To yank Nemechek out of the car HE put in the Top 35 in owner points last season is a CRIME! Now, he misses Bristol and blows any shot he may have had to make the Chase. How rotten is that??? — Lucky13

A: Well, I don't know if rotten is the word; painful, maybe. You see, at the present time Bobby Ginn is establishing a legitimate organization to rival the likes of RCR, HMS, Gibbs, and Roush, and as the old saying goes, you can't make an omelet without breaking an egg (or something like that). Anyway, while Bristol does severely damage Nemechek's chances at making the Chase, Ginn's vision for the company should trump any short-term failures for the program.

Look on the bright side: despite the DNQ, Nemechek is still within the Top 35 in this year’s owner points, locking him into the field for Martinsville this Sunday. Knowing Joe, he’s got both the consistency and driving talent needed to stay there. Give this team — and more importantly, this organization — a year to develop, and I think you'll see that the changes made during the offseason were done in the best interests of all involved.

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