The Frontstretch: No Bull: Did Kevin Harvick Say What Everyone Was Thinking? by Nick Bromberg -- Tuesday November 2, 2010

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No Bull: Did Kevin Harvick Say What Everyone Was Thinking?

Nick Bromberg · Tuesday November 2, 2010

 

Did Kevin Harvick utter what every NASCAR fan is thinking after Sunday’s race at Talladega?

“No offense to (Jimmie Johnson), but somebody else needs to win,” Harvick said.

Johnson, who was sitting next to Harvick, replied: “Says who?”

Says everybody who’s not a fan of the No. 48 team.

“Everybody but them wants somebody else to win,” Harvick said. “I like Jimmie as good as anybody. But for the sake of the sport, one of the two of us needs to make something happen, I can promise you that.”

Kevin Harvick wouldn’t be the only one spraying the champagne should he win the 2010 Sprint Cup.

Harvick laughed while he said it, but the point was made. There’s no need to detail Jimmie Johnson’s accomplishments over the last four years, because that’s beating a dead horse that’s developed a callous from getting hit so often.

Does NASCAR need a new champion? No offense to Jimmie Johnson, but that’s what may need to happen. Don’t get me wrong here; Johnson and Chad Knaus are on a remarkable streak, one that will be rightfully recognized in the future as possibly the most dominant stretch in motorsports history. Hell, it’s sacrilege to many, but it’s getting to be a matter of when, not if, when it comes to Johnson breaking Richard Petty’s and Dale Earnhardt’s record for Sprint Cup titles.

We love dynasties in other sports, as long as they’re not our favorite team’s rival. Maybe that hurts Johnson’s cause, as he’s everyone’s favorite driver’s rival, because the Yankee-like reverence doesn’t seem to extend past the garages unless you’re a fan of the No. 48 team.

Don’t go blaming Johnson solely for NASCAR’s struggles. Yeah, yeah, TV ratings are down and so is attendance, but again, that’s another Barbaro that’s been beaten too much. Let the bruise heal.

However, this may finally be the year that a challenger rises to the occasion over the final races of the Chase and, at the very least, mounts a serious challenge to Johnson.

If you’re a NASCAR fan and not going to watch the next three races, there’s no hope for you. Harvick’s within striking distance and Hamlin’s a win or two positions away from passing Johnson. If Johnson starts next to Sam Hornish, Jr. again this year, watch out; Hamlin or Harvick could be leading when we leave Texas.

If you’re so inclined, think of this playoff as your reward for the last four years of Jimmie dominance. The race to the title in 2004 set up a false sense of competitiveness when it came to future Chases, which also makes the last four years of Johnson-ville seem boring. And if you think that NASCAR needs to make tweaks to the Chase, this year is the perfect argument against that.

Hamlin and Harvick have great shots to dethrone the four-time champion. They’re far from guarantees, but this scenario hasn’t happened over the last four years. Embrace it.

Sure, Johnson may win a fifth straight title, and we’ll all look back on it with reverence later on. But there’s a chance that it could not happen. When was the last time that there was uncertainty with three races to go?

Of course, Harvick or Hamlin winning won’t be a miracle cure for NASCAR. Nothing much will change if Lord Vader is dethroned, and I doubt that the phones will light up at the Daytona ticket office if Happy is hoisting the trophy after Homestead. But at the very least, it will limit the complaints about the sport, right?

Oh, who am I kidding. People will find something else to complain about.

Contact Nick Bromberg

Tuesday on the Frontstretch:
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5 Points to Ponder: EGR Keeps The Bowtie, The Not-So-Wild Card, and the Yellow Line Club
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in NASCAR: Talladega-Texas Edition
It’s Not All About the Big 3: Five Men Who Have Three Races To Prove Themselves
Talking NASCAR TV: Botched Ending By ESPN At Talladega?

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Jacob
11/02/2010 02:47 AM
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Two things:

1.) Richard Petty’s championship record is a shared record.

2.) I am a NASCAR fan, I am not a fan of na$car. Jimmie’s dominance is a dominance that is forced upon us, and not realistic. As long as there is a chase to be watched, I don’t give a damn who wins, I won’t be watching. And there are millions of fans out there that won’t be watching with me.

Stephen HOOD
11/02/2010 07:45 AM
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Except in certain sections of rural Virginia, I think a Hamlin championship would be even less popular than a Johnson 5th. Fan response to Hamlin is miniscule at most track whereas Johnson has his haters but he also has acquired some fans. On the other hand, a Harvick championship would be good for the sport. Harvick’s popularity seems to hover just below the second tier trio of Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards (Earnhardt Jr. still out fans everyone else by 2-1).

Stephen HOOD
11/02/2010 07:45 AM
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Except in certain sections of rural Virginia, I think a Hamlin championship would be even less popular than a Johnson 5th. Fan response to Hamlin is miniscule at most track whereas Johnson has his haters but he also has acquired some fans. On the other hand, a Harvick championship would be good for the sport. Harvick’s popularity seems to hover just below the second tier trio of Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards (Earnhardt Jr. still out fans everyone else by 2-1).

Chuck Ellison
11/02/2010 08:36 AM
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We ARE making a statement…. With our tv remotes!!! 3 of Johnsons “championships” are the result of this joke we call “the chase” …. Scrap it and the ratings would stabilize and eventually start climbing again.

DdrossyD
11/02/2010 08:58 AM
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There is always a little uncertainty every season of the “Chase” – this year is no different.
The format blows, and sorry dude, we need to keep complaining about it or nothing will be done about it. THE CHASE BLOWS…I’ve lost interest, and so have countless others…NASCAR no more. Lose the chase or continue to lose your fans.

Shoeman
11/02/2010 09:43 AM
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We don’t need the CHASE!

Carl D.
11/02/2010 09:44 AM
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I too would hate to see Knaus win another title this year, but if he earns it, he deserves it.

Jacob
11/02/2010 10:13 AM
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Carl D:

I understand what you are saying, but will Chad Knaus have earned the championship? If not for the chase, Kevin Harvick would be somewhere’s around 300 points ahead, and clearing the spot in his trophy case for a respected and meaningful championship.
But that is only when you measure a champion by a year’s worth of excellence, and not by na$car’s hand picked events. I know you are not a fan of the chase, but if JJ wins the 5th straight, it will be the third time if 5 years that he gets given a championship that rightly belongs to someone else.

Buzz
11/02/2010 10:19 AM
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Seriously? I’m supposed to be excited that a juvenile with the emotional quotient of a 10 year old, driving yet another Chevy, has a chance to win the championship? Or, be stoked that TOYOTA has a chance to knock Jimmie off the throne? Good grief. Where have all the real NASCAR fans gone?

This season is yet another disaster, full of NASCAR’s raging bias for the bowtie and for the people that gave Brian France the Lexus that he wrecked while driving under the influence.

Carl D.
11/02/2010 11:05 AM
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Jacob…

I agree with you 100% about the Chase not recognizing the accomplishments of the entire season. The legitimacy of the championships earned under the chase format is at best questionable. I guess my point is that, with three races remaining, Harvick, Hamlin, and Knaus all have reasonably close shot at the trophy, so the guy who does the best over the last three races deserves the championship, tainted as it is.

r.d. adcock
11/02/2010 11:29 AM
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tv ratings down because of dumb a** mart reid and rusty wallace. get mike joy and dumb and dumber back

D. A. Devine
11/02/2010 12:03 PM
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Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus combined talents are above most mortals. I have never been a big Jimmie Johnson fan but came to respect him when I saw him genuinely have fun racing at Eldora. Either Kevin or Denny would be excellent champions. The final three races will be exciting.

Lefty
11/02/2010 01:08 PM
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The majority of us are bored with seeing Jim and Chads tactical moves ending with the win the end, there’s no pushing, no close moves nothing!! Just the same old blah,blah,blah. It’s just painful to watch. Most of the fan’s in the stands are halfway out the door before they cross the finish line. And they have one won 4 cups in a row.

The one thing they and a lot of the other guys forget is this is a show, we came to see the show and there needs to be some showmanship. We can all agree the 48 bunch just doesn’t put a good show on . Yes, they are good. Just they stink up the show

J.J.
11/02/2010 01:12 PM
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I dunno, people ike to blame the Chase format for ruining fan interest in Nascar races, but I’m not so sure that is the real reason. Nor is Jimmy Johnson and the 48 team’s dominance of it [the chase].

I think that the real reason fans are losing interest might be because: 1. The cars all look the same, just a label on them to make them appear different. And Nascar has/and is addressing this issue. 2. In a world where the average person has the attention span of a gnat and there are sooooo many other things to watch, people may lose interest in watching endless commercials interrupted by a few scenes of a car race. 2B. The fan base itself has lost its roots and foundation… people still mock (who haven’t lived there) the South and all it seemingly represents, so when Nascar tried to break into areas where the so-called sophisticated people live the target market just isn’t following the sport. And, finally, 3. The economy. People flat out can’t afford to take a family of say four to multiple races, buy all the stuff, and food, etc at the race tracks. When you’re trying to figure out how to pay the light bill going to a race becomes a rare event.

Add to all of that that the races take hours and hours and hours to watch it takes a dedicated fan to keep watching. Add to that the endless hours of coverage on Speed, ESPN, etc which starts the second the last race finishes and the saturation point has become to thick to wade through. And add to that the personality challenged personalities and Nascar’s intent to make something boring into something even more boring it’s really tough to get new viewers and fans.

It’s not Jimmy Johnson’s dominance of the sport (after all Dale Sr as the dominant guy in his era and nobody cried about that he was ruining the sport), is the fact that Nascar has vanillized the sport that the little guy can’t even compete on a even playing field—Nascar and its plan to have 5 or 6 owners is a very, very bad idea, as is guaranteeing the top 35 spots. Maybe the Chase drivers can have a guaranteed spot—a reward for the previous year—but everybody else? Race in, that’s what people want to see: racers racing…

So, the short answer to does someone other than the 48 car need to win the Cup? No.

BUT

It sure would be interesting if someone else did.

Kevin in NY
11/02/2010 02:46 PM
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Johnson and Chad Knaus are on a remarkable streak, one that will be rightfully recognized in the future as possibly the most dominant stretch in motorsports history.

No offense to Jimmie and Chad, but I think Michael Schumacher 2000-2004 might have something to say about motorsports dominance…

jeff
11/02/2010 02:52 PM
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wake up people, it not the chase,cars or Jimmie it Dale Jr. like a previous post said he out fans everyone else 2-1, get him back to winning again and the fans will be back, less the economic stricken fans.

Jacob
11/02/2010 03:07 PM
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Carl D:

I knew what you meant, and I wasn’t picking you apart for saying it. I have great respect for the things you say, even if I don’t always agree with them.
I just can’t buy into the idea that a close championship is more exciting simply because it’s close. That is a great logic to support resetting the points at different times within the chase itself, that way it could always be assured to keep the battle tight. And, that, appears to be brian’s logic supporting the elimination style chase format for next season.

tom1194
11/02/2010 03:21 PM
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Writers keep painting over the problem hoping the “dumb” fans won’t realize they are saying the same thing over and over. If they want to keep their credentials, they won’t talk about the chase, the top 35 rule, impound races and Brian France, remove those and lets go racin!

Steve
11/02/2010 03:33 PM
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This season is one of the closest title battles since the Chase was created and people still aren’t watching at the track or on tv. What does that tell you about the way the sport is right now.

Brian F needs to get it through his head that the champion could win the title by 1 point and people will still hate the Chase.

joebob
11/02/2010 04:38 PM
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All I have to say to you complainers and crybabies is that if you don’t like NASCAR, just don’t watch it. It is a free country and I hope some of you got out to vote today as well. The 48 team has earned each of their championships and as much as I like David Pearson, he had a lot less competition than in today’s NASCAR. Like someone else said today, if you can’t get excited about this years championship, there is no hope for you.

Joe from Pittsburgh
11/02/2010 04:55 PM
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Well,Joebob,I’d say that a LOT of people have taken your advice-including me. I get all I need to know about NASCRAP and its current sad state from reading about it. That’ll pay the bills for the frontstretch,but tnot NASCRAP. Go back to what we had at least in the 90’s and you’ll get people back.

29racefan
11/02/2010 06:57 PM
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Well joebob – looks like a lot of people have already taken your advice. The Chase is a joke. The contrived storylines told by announcers who think they are the story, blah, blah, blah. NASCAR knows why people have turned away and choose to leave their collective heads in the sand. If we are crybabies and whiners because we hate to see a sport we love so decimated by shortsighted decision making OH WELL!! So be it.

Matt
11/02/2010 10:21 PM
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Well a few opinion points to make here on why and what:

*There is no “Cinderella” and the evil stepmother anymore.

*The days of Sr and Rusty, or Waltrip battles et al are gone.

*Sr won Daytona after eternity trying – tell me you didn’t cry then?

*Even the days after Sr was killed, when Havick won in the “3”, Waltrip and Jr (the savior of all Nascar, passed down to him willingly??) dominated restrictor plates

*Also, Kurt B and Spencer battles are gone! Remember the black eye?? And the skinny kid on the track smacking his rear at Spencer to go to the back?

*Kurt has been pleasantly repackaged to a more marketable image! I even like him now and that is all wrong.

*Jr got fined for swearing on national TV and this did not fit the “hollywood” image Nascar found itself in at the time.

*Nascar went from the A list to the C list in just a few “hollywood” moments, without even know what hit them.

*As much as I really dislike Kyle B, I more strongly dislike the fact that he is not the best “bad guy” out there!

The best thing for Nascar now (in my opinion), would be for Harvick to win and the chase to go away.

And bring back the real drama, the real personalities and the real racing!

If the newly packaged “stars” of Nascar are willing or up for it?? Or if Nascar is willing to let it play out!

Spencer
11/03/2010 12:20 PM
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Matt makes some very good points. NASCAR has just gotten boring and predictable. “Boys Have At It” has somewhat helped, IMO, but when it got hairy with Carl And Keselowski drivers got skairt and backed off.

NASCAR is very much to blame for the failure of their “Chase” because there’s just no real hype or excitement. Eddie Gossage is gonna use a monkey to sell programs at TMS this weekend. (My eyes rolled so hard when I read that I thought they’d fall out of my head.) NASCAR suits like to brag “Wow, look at these stats”. (yawn) or “We’ve got playoff like other sports!” (yawn) The Joebobs of the sport might get all woody over that, but the base that does isn’t getting the job done in supporting this sport. Like it or not NASCAR needs the casual fan, but that casual fan has reality show induced ADHD and simply “go fast and turn left” has them taking JoeBobs advice in droves. NASCAR is lost and drifting.

Look at the press releases the week before the races, those of us with access to nascarmedia.com, what do we have to work with? A new paint scheme, the signing of some unknown driver, another boring NASCAR initiative. (yawn)Sound bites recorded weeks ago in NY during media week. Honestly, why bother? Drivers say the same danged things every year. “Tell us what the key is to winning Talladega?” People who follow the sport know the answers already! Predictable and politically correct and passion-less drivers that lack personality are a huge yawn. Okay, so the top 3 in the Chase is the tightest ever. How bout some trash talkin? What Harvick said was a start, but didn’t go nearly far enough! If NASCAR and the drivers themselves can’t give us some passion, you can’t expect the media to create it and overhype it. (Because then NASCAR and the drivers would criticize the media, ignorant to the fact that all three parties are in this together. Without driving fan interest the sport suffers, sponsorship dollars dwindle and ad spending contracts.)

There was a scene in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire a couple weeks ago where Nucky’s new girlfriend Margaret was responding to Lucy who was saying, basically, that she was the better lover and Nucky would be back to her soon. Margaret told the story of how a man came to her Irish village with a trained bear every year and drew fascinated crowds. Year after year he came but the bear did the same tricks. By the third year hardly anyone came out because the thrill was gone.

NASCAR is like Lucy. Been there. Done that. Time for a thrilling new roll in the hay.