The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Explaining NASCAR's Scoring, Contemplating NASCAR's Diversity, And Revealing Free Agents by Matt Taliaferro -- Wednesday June 20, 2007

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Questions, questions, questions…there were so many this week that Matt didn’t even have time to write a short intro! Let’s get right to it…

Q: Matt, does NASCAR make known where in the track the scoring loops are placed? After the Daytona 500 and the Pocono 500 and the ways they could have ended (should have?) but did not, I thought it may be beneficial for people to know where the cars were ‘marked' in case of yellows during a green-white-checker or a rain-induced red flag that ends an event. — BlueDeuce

A: In the last few years, NASCAR has installed multi-loop feeds at all tracks. There may be 20 or more of these "loops," which are actually small boxes set up around the track that register each car's transponder. The location of these loops are not made known to the public or to the teams.

By the way, the live leaderboard you see on using PitCommand or Raceview and the crawl you see on the race broadcast is not derived from the multi-loop feeds. Rather, they get their info from a single loop at the start/finish line.

Q: With Dale Earnhardt, Jr. joining Hendrick Motorsports, it looks like Kyle Busch will be the hottest free agent on the market. Who do you think will make a play for the 22-year-old who was the NEXTEL Cup Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the Busch Series Rookie of the Year in 2004? And what other potential free agents could be changing teams at the end of the season? — Rush Rocket

A: Everyone but Roush Fenway, where "there's no room at the inn" as Rick Hendrick once put it. With everyone from Yates to Gibbs to Childress to Penske interested in expansion, you can bet they'll be on Busch like Jason Lee on the hood of a Chevy.

The team I'd like to see step up is Ginn Racing. What that operation needs worse than anything (beside its own engine shop) is a legitimate young talent who has already proven he can win on the Cup level. Factor in Mark Martin's guiding hand and you've got a match made in Homestead.

As for other potential movement, I've heard whispers of discontent at BDR, EMS, MWR, and Roush. Nothing confirmed, so that's all I'll mention for the time being. Also, Sterling Marlin will most likely cut back to a partial schedule, and it's safe to assume Ricky Rudd will reevaluate his future once again.

Q: Being a Ken Schrader guy, I was disappointed to see that he would share a ride with Jon Wood this year. It seems like he dodged that bullet…but then they put Bill Elliott in the car. Don't get me wrong, I like Elliott and would rather see him in the car than some unproven kid who is marketable. I also understand that Past Champ Provisionals played a big part in it.

My question: Will Ken ever get back in the 21? If not, have we seen the last of him in a Cup car? — DirtTracker

A: Anything is possible, but the No. 21 is 195 points out of the Top 35 and Elliott still has five PCPs left. If he uses the remainder of his free passes and it's irrelevant who qualifies the car, we could see Schrader back. However, I believe the handwriting may be on the wall.

Q: What are the odds that NASCAR sees an import from another racing league — maybe Formula One hotshot Lewis Hamilton or IRL hot body Danica Patrick? Either Hamilton or Patrick would help with NASCAR's desire for diversity, and both would likely be popular with sponsors.

Ex-F1 driver and NASCAR trailblazer Juan Pablo Montoya has had marginal success on the racetrack — currently 23rd in points and 19th in money — but seems to be moving in the right direction. Is there any way IRL and F1 racing could soon rival the Truck and Busch Series as the "farm system" for the big league of NASCAR? — Nathan R.

A: Seems to me open wheel racing is already the main pipeline of talent. Formula One is obviously a series that rivals Nextel Cup in worldwide popularity, so I don't see too many more Juan Pablo Montoya's heading over from across the pond. IRL and Champ Car are undoubtedly seeing a defection of talent to stocks, though. And with the continued transition of the Busch Series from feeder circuit to moneymaker for Cup owners, as well as the Truck Series' role as a 401(k) plan, the open wheel talent will continue to migrate.

As for Hamilton and Patrick, I see neither jumping ship anytime soon. Patrick's "interest" last season was nothing more than a negotiating ploy for a new IRL contract and the media's lust for a juicy story. While I can't speak on Hamilton, I still believe the best D for D candidates at the present time are Aric Almirola, Chase Austin, Marc Davis and/or Jesus Hernandez.

Great questions this week, folks. Keep ‘em coming… I like the challenge! Send those questions, complaints, gripes and comments to

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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06/21/2007 11:42 AM

well, f1 is the top shelf in motorsports in earnings and in prestige. jpm, aka juan pablo montoya turned down $14 mil from mclaren-mercedes to do what, run deep in the pack in cup for less money? considering he “gave” up his seat for lewis hamilton and mclaren-mercedes has “now” gotten their program together without (so far) any reliability issues like in the past few seasons when he was there, he must be smackin’ himself upside the head. look for him to be back in f1 in three years.

diversity is only going to come from people “dedicated” to honing in on their talent and hopefully their “winning” talent will be shown to others that have a keen interest in fostered it for the greater good of gain. that’s why lewis hamilton, tiger woods, james “bubba” stewart are doing as well as they are. their talents outshines the color of their skin. danica patrick is good, but until she gets that first win and begin to dominate like the aforementioned three athletes, she’s going to be considered a “a pretty nice girl that can drive real fast”.

but as we all seen and heard. being pretty and nice don’t win races.

06/21/2007 01:14 PM

Question for Matt T.
Toyota wins all truck races; Nascar says can’t use engine anymore. Chevy wins all cup races; Nascar oks new & better engine. Can you explain this?

06/22/2007 08:11 PM

Diversity, that is funny. They want black drivers and black teams. Look in your lower tiered teams, where are the blacks? Look at the local dirt track, where are the blacks? They simply are not into racing. So why all the fuss about not having a diversified driving pool when the interest is apparently not there?


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Fanning the Flames: Of Daytona, Danica, Dale, and Duels
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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