The Frontstretch: No Bull: Random Thoughts On Whiners, Plates, And Winners Entering 2011 by Nick Bromberg -- Tuesday February 15, 2011

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I’m not a physics major, nor an engineer. The last science class I took was in high school, and that had everything to do with the human body and nothing to do with gravity or mass.

Therefore, I’ll admit that I’m not the most qualified person in the world to talk about drafting at Daytona. But I like to think that I have some common sense. So I’m going to ask this question: Would Sunday’s Daytona 500 be safer with a bigger restrictor plate or no restrictor plate altogether?

Yes, high speeds are dangerous, but Michael Waltrip and Kyle Busch went over 206 miles an hour with restrictor plates Saturday night. That was thanks to the ridiculous closing rates that the wakes of these cars create under the current package.

So if the cars can accelerate faster and pull away from each other (i.e. – no plates), the closing rate is mitigated somewhat, right? It’s just a question, and I certainly don’t have any answers. However, I do understand that we will never know what a restrictor plate-less race will be like in the Sprint Cup Series anytime soon.

Some other random notes from Speedweeks…

— Sorry, you’re insane if you thought that the racing was bad in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. Dangerous? Sure, especially because of those aforementioned closing rates and the fact that the second car in a two-car draft really can’t see anything else except a spoiler and a bumper.

The two-car drafts that ruled the roost on Saturday night may have been somewhat startling – but were they as bad as some fans and reporters are making them out to be?

But dangerous certainly doesn’t mean bad or unexciting, as the Shootout produced great passes and new strategy. Sure, it’s completely different than what we’ve come to expect from restrictor plate races — don’t we all love 30-car packs and the potential for a big crash? — but change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Which leads to this point…

— Is there a more vocal segment of a fan base in sports — outside of the loud minority of Nebraska football fans — than the unsilent minority of NASCAR whiners? Good grief, you people will never be happy and you’re ruining the experience for those that just want to enjoy the sport with minimal complaints.

Sure, it’s impossible and incredibly naive to not have a complaint every now and then, but whether it’s the two-car drafts, the car, the racing, the television coverage… it goes on and on. Take a deep breath and relax, if only for the month of February. You can resume your griping when Johnson takes the point lead after winning at Bristol in March.

— And speaking of complaining and J.J., is a sixth straight title going to be another blow for NASCAR among the unsilent minority? I don’t say that as an indictment of Johnson, but rather of the competition, which has failed to close the deal when presented with opportunities to dethrone J.J., Knaus and Co.

But at the same time, I have a feeling that if the new “king” is Kyle Busch, people are still going to complain. Who would you rather have win the 2011 championship if it was down to Kyle and J.J.?

(And maybe Amber Heard was NASCAR’s reach out to new demographics. After all, that’s a rather untapped potential fan base)

— Bobby Gerhart’s streak is impressive — as Bryan Keith mentioned Sunday, he just won his seventh career ARCA race at Daytona, his fifth in the last seven years — but there’s one that will trump it should the number continue to climb on Saturday. If Tony Stewart wins the Nationwide race at Daytona, it will be his fourth straight February Daytona win and sixth in seven years. Plus, those six wins will have come with three different car owners. Stewart has won three with Kevin Harvick, Inc., one with Joe Gibbs Racing and one with Hendrick Motorsports… not bad for a guy who will have made only 50 Nationwide starts in those seven years come Saturday.

— How competitive is Danica Patrick going to be this year? It says here that she’s going to have to have multiple — and that means more than two — top-10 finishes if she’s going to want to legitimately entertain thoughts of moving to the Sprint Cup Series on even a part-time basis in 2012.

Yes, a handful of Nationwide top-10s shouldn’t make someone a contender for a Cup ride, but she needs something to point to. And besides, Stewart had seven top-10s in 36 Nationwide starts before he moved to the Cup Series full-time. Before you start typing in the comment box below, I am not saying that Patrick is the next Stewart… just that you never know.

— How many wins will it take a driver outside of the top-10 in points to make the Chase? If history in the seven years of the Chase is any indication, the answer is “not many.”

Top two winners among non-Chase qualifiers:

2004: Greg Biffle 2, Rusty Wallace 1, Joe Nemechek 1
2005: Jeff Gordon 4, Kyle Busch 2
2006: Stewart 5, Biffle 2
2007: Biffle, Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya 1
2008: Kasey Kahne 2, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman 1
2009: Kyle Busch 4, Matt Kenseth 2
2010: McMurray 3, Newman, Reutimann, Montoya 1
Note: statistics include wins in entire season

‘Till next week…

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Tuesday on the Frontstretch:
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In NASCAR: Budweiser Shootout Edition
What Happens After Daytona Is Much More Important For Junior
5 Points To Ponder: Where Have All The Cars Gone?, Hamlin Slowing?, More
Talking NASCAR TV: FOX Unveils New Look, But Old Issues Must Be Solved For ’11
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Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
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Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots
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PBFred
02/15/2011 05:40 AM
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Considering NASCAR is changing rules on the fly this week, I don’t think it’s too late to push for this change…

Do away with the Yellow Line rule for the last 1/4 lap.

This would basically mean that from about the end of turn 4 to the start/finish line, any thing goes. The guys can obviously drive below the line safely when not in the turns. And once they pass the start/finish line, they’ll slow down.

History has shown that the Yellow Line “safety” rule is actually more dangerous on the last lap than not having it. (Granted, for the rest of the race I would say that is a true safety feature.) Plus, it would eliminate any possible controversies.

I really dislike Hamlin, but IMO, I thought he should have won the Shootout… even with the current Yellow Line Rules.

I think NASCAR believes these type of controversies adds excitement and adds fans. It definitely does the opposite for me. I’ve never been less excited about the season starting since I started watching NASCAR 25+ years ago.

Jacob
02/15/2011 07:37 AM
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Yaeh, Nick, you are wrong. The fans that are complaining are the UNSILENT MAJORITY.
See, a majority, by definition, is “one more than half”. The more than half empty grandstands. The TV rating down more than 50% from their peaks in the late 1990s, and the overwhelming majority of disgruntled commenters at websites like this one all point to the MAJORITY of fans as being displeased with the current state of the sport.

Although here’s a prediction for you:
randy “need one more?”, “volcanonacho”, “dansmom”, JACOB goldman will be here telling you just exactly how right you are. That alone should make you print a retraction of this column.

Bill B
02/15/2011 09:36 AM
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I was wondering the same thing as Jacob. I’ve heard that polls indicate the majority of fans don’t like the chase and some other aspects of Brian’s NASCAR. I can’t prove it’s the majority but I bet you can’t prove it’s the minority.
Also, if it was the majority does that still make it “whining” or are we then talking about presuring the powers that be to fix something that is broken.
As Armand Tamzarian once said… “up your’s children!”.

Sherri T
02/15/2011 10:31 AM
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I also disagree about the minority comment. I agree with my fellow commenters in that many more than 50% of fans want the chase gone. I think with the chase gone, you would be back to a minority of whiners, but until that day, the majority of fans are fed up with the chase format.

Carl D.
02/15/2011 10:34 AM
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Nick…

I belive it was a member of the loud Mizzou majority that once said “The beatings will continue until morale improves”.

Steve
02/15/2011 11:58 AM
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Looks like the majority of posters also don’t like the way things are going on in Nascar. But of course we always have a columnist set us straight and try to tell us what we should like or not like about Nascar. And no, I still don’t like Jimmie Johnson as much as you columnists try to tell me otherwise.

John
02/15/2011 11:59 AM
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Even with all the tinkering NA$CAR did over the off season to try to generate fan interest, the ratings for the Bud shoot out were down from last year.

EZ
02/15/2011 12:28 PM
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Go back to school dude you need quite a bit of learning there,about everything you touched upon.

EZ
02/15/2011 12:33 PM
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Oh and P S
What the hell did frontstretch give goldman a job??????

wcfan
02/15/2011 01:32 PM
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I would have to say Dale Sr’s 12 wins in the Gatorade 125’s with 10 straight.

Bill B
02/15/2011 01:56 PM
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Don’t forget to spit.

J.J.
02/15/2011 09:54 PM
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NASCAR keeps messing with the points, but as long as there is a Chase, it’ll be a points racing season and no one driven by winning.

Here’s a prediction: as long as Knaus is in charge at Hendrick the big winner will always be Jimmy Johnson and I bet come the end of the season we’ll all be moaning, “He did it again. Number 6.”

And even though I’m not a fan of Knaus, I’d like to see J.J. run off a run of 10 straight championships.

EZ
02/16/2011 12:52 PM
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RG – Only you could confuse the words minority and majority. Better check out Webster’s for a clue.
Then again I doubt that it would help.
The article is so full of misinformation,it reads like a na$car press release.