The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Busch's Return, Logano's Resurgence, and Michigan's Repave by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday June 14, 2012

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What will Kurt Busch’s attitude this weekend mean for his future?

Based upon James Finch’s comments following Kurt Busch’s suspension, it looked like strike three for the driver who has already screwed up opportunities from two of the sport’s top organizations. Whatever happened in the supposed “come to Jesus” meeting that Finch and Busch had this weekend, though, must have been enough for Finch because Busch is back behind the wheel of that No. 51.

Busch has already had more second chances than anyone in the history of ever, it seems, and in none of those times has he actually proved that he learned something. For a few weeks he’s the perfectly well behaved corporate driver the standard team owner loves, and then an under-performing car or an ill-timed question from the media sends him into a downward spiral that he’s never able to dig himself out of.

Busch could very well come back a “changed man” and show everyone that he’s fully capable of keeping a cool head when things go wrong. But he’s going to have to hold onto it to convince the fans, sponsors, and more importantly, Finch, that it’s actually for real this time.

Though Joey Logano broke through at Pocono this past weekend, the clouds overhanging his murky future at Joe Gibbs Racing have yet to dissipate.

Where does Joey Logano go from here?

Sure Logano’s win was impressive, but he’s always been solid at Pocono. While the win certainly helped his bid to keep his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing, I don’t think one victory sandwiched between mediocre finishes is going to convince his team and sponsors he’s still worth the investment.

To date, Logano has only five top-10 finishes in 14 races. Not exactly JGR material, and I doubt that if he continues with the results he’s been getting (five finishes outside the top 20) that the rumors about him being gone at the end of the year will silence.

Look to see how Logano finishes this weekend. Maybe that magic little word called “momentum” will play into Logano’s hands at the perfect moment.

Will the excessive speeds in Michigan be a positive or a negative?

I can’t help but imagine IndyCar drivers seeing the speeds at Michigan and the driver’s reactions to them, shaking their heads, and saying, “Rookie.” In a Thursday test session, speeds topped out at 201 mph on the new surface, and prompted quite a reaction from drivers, fans, and media.

I mean, holy crap, NASCAR stock cars going fast?! What a concept!

OK OK OK, I know it’s faster than what we normally see at a track like Michigan, and honestly I hear more about slowing the cars down to improve the quality of racing. Obviously that’s not going to happen since NASCAR said they aren’t going to put a restrictor plate in these cars or slow them down in any way, but I’m extremely curious to know how these breakneck speeds—at least by NASCAR standards—will impact the racing. I’ve always thought faster was better, so I’m looking forward to the race and finally forming an official opinion!

Can the No. 88 team move past their fuel mileage issues and get back to Victory Lane?

To those wondering when I’ll actually stop talking about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s winless streak, that will happen when he finally wins. I don’t believe this team can come so close to this many victories without finally making it happen, even with their apparent gun shyness with fuel mileage races.

What I don’t think Steve Letarte and Earnhardt seem to realize is that gambling and falling short isn’t necessarily a negative … because eventually those gambles are going to pay off, as opposed to playing it safe and settling with a top 10 finish. Those types of finishes will get you inside the Chase, but they won’t bring victories or championships. Have you ever heard the saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”? Same concept.

Well … kind of. Either way, this team really needs to shake off their past failures and move on.

Connect with Summer!

Contact Summer Bedgood

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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06/15/2012 10:27 AM

All I can say is I don’t believe you or any other member of the media will ever stop talking about Jr’s winless streak. That issue seems to have found a home in each of you, and even though NASCAR fans are sick to death of it, you’ll keep harping on it. And until you’ve driven a racecar in the cup series or been a crew chief, your opinion of what or how they conduct their business isn’t worth spit.

06/15/2012 12:24 PM

Sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree. Dale Sr. must be rolling over in his grave. Jr. just does not have it. If he is going to drive like Ricky Bobbie, He should start driving under that name.

06/15/2012 12:57 PM

Not to pick on you specifically, but when Junior gets that next win, you’ll start harping on his momentum and what track is most likely to bring a second win.

The media has three stories, Danica, Junior and Busch. When you don’t have an idea for the day’s column, then those three are your default topics. We’re tired of it and wish that it would stop.

But I doubt it will. Coming up with a new story is difficult. The net makes it easy to see how there’s usually one big every week and everybody is all over it. At least there’s some merit to describing Junior’s great season. Stay away from Princess Sparkle and learn to love Kurt for giving you something to write about.

Rob Bolling
06/15/2012 01:05 PM

Absolutely, positively spot on Summer. Making the chase, doing well in it, or even winning it without a race win this year would be on of the worst things ever to happen Jr’s career.

One race win paired with a missed chase would be a better outcome.

It is time to risk the chase every week for that single win. Not risky unplanned desperation but rather when the choice arises to go conservative or bold, always choose bold.

Oh, and Andy90, don’t forget the media does grace us with a weekly tiny sprinkling of how Dinger’s ride with Penske is racing’s biggest disappointment.

Tired of the same old stories myself, but then again, what else has happened this year other than the tryst in turn 1 at Martinsville?