The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Distractions and Additions by Summer Bedgood -- Friday July 27, 2012

Go to site navigation Go to article

Four Burning Questions: Distractions and Additions

Summer Bedgood · Friday July 27, 2012


What happens at Penske Racing from here on out?

The suspension of AJ Allmendinger due to a failed drug test has been a gigantic distraction for the race team. You can argue with me all day, but you cannot convince me that two negative tests and the waiting around in between the two hasn’t at least provided some uneasiness in the Penske camp.

Sam Hornish Jr. will compete in at least the next two races, though Penske has yet to announce what will happen after that. While Allmendinger has agreed to go through NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program, that process is at least five months in the making and Allmendinger’s contract with Penske was up at the end of the year.

I’ve expressed concern that this ongoing drama in the Penske camp might trickle down to likely Chase contender and fellow Penske driver Brad Keselowski. At least one reader, though, told me that I was reading too much into things.

Really? I don’t think so. If that were the case, then every driver, crew chief, owner, and literally anyone else in a multi-car team in NASCAR wouldn’t emphasize how important communication, teamwork, and camaraderie were in the workplace. I’m not saying Keselowski’s engine will fail every other race, but I have a hard time believing the productivity in the shop doesn’t falter when a huge obstacle like this takes place.

Will the extra race at the Brickyard make a difference in grand scheme of things?

I’m going to be up front: I hate the Brickyard 400. Sure the track itself has an amazing history behind it, but the racing itself is sub-par at best. If it were anywhere else but Indianapolis, everyone would be screaming for it to be removed from the schedule.

As a matter of fact, I’ve seen much of that this past week. A huge part of it, I believe, was the removal of Lucas Oil Raceway, formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park, from the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series schedule. Now that the Nationwide Series has a date at the Brickyard too, the sting of losing a rare short track is starting to sink in.

The addition of the Nationwide Series seems to have been an attempt to add to the pageantry of the weekend, along with the Grand-Am race. A busy weekend like that works at a place like Daytona, a track that historically and consistently puts on fantastic racing. But Indianapolis? It might as well be another Midwestern mile-and-a-half cookie cutter.

The addition of the race does seem to have made a difference in terms of perception from the fans, but not in the way the track and NASCAR originally intended.

Will Danica Patrick have a better chance to win the Nationwide race this weekend with her prior experience at IMS?

Is there a realistic chance Danica Patrick will actually win this weekend?

Sure. If you believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy, I guess anything is possible!

Again, Indianapolis is not Daytona. It is not “anyone’s race” or a “crapshoot.” It is a track where track position and clean air are at a premium, and passing is kept to a minimum. Even with her experience there in IndyCar, it will seem like a whole new track in a stock car.

Don’t get me wrong. I think she has done a good job in the Nationwide Series for her limited experience in stock car racing. But that doesn’t mean she’s anywhere close to Victory Lane caliber, regardless of whether she’s been there before.

Can Indianapolis produce a first-time winner?

Back to the Cup Series, the Brickyard 400 isn’t known to be easy on rookies. Many Brickyard 400 winners either were or went on to be champions the year(s) they went to Victory Lane. You know the names Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart. All champions. All Indy winners.

Yet last year, a fuel mileage race put a name in Victory Lane that was only familiar to diehard NASCAR fans and consumers who shop at his father’s store: Paul Menard. Menard is the only driver who can say he won his first career race at Indianapolis, but could he have set a trend?

HAH! You’re joking, right?! … RIGHT??

Without another fuel mileage race (which I’m in favor of, but that’s beside the point) we’ll see talent, not strategy, in Victory Lane. In fact, history shows that the driver in Victory Lane on Sunday could very well go on to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion with eight winners of the race going on to win the championship later that season.

Though, you have to admit a fuel mileage race would really add that extra spice to a typically dull race.

Connect with Summer!

Contact Summer Bedgood

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

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…


©2000 - 2008 Summer Bedgood and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Steve K
07/27/2012 03:20 AM

A first time winner for the Brickyard? The reason it will not happen is there are so few drivers (whose teams actually try) that haven’t won a race. Hornish? Almirola? There just isn’t anyone out there to do it.

07/27/2012 04:06 AM

The only way to make that race interesting would be to use the road course and make it a road race. Easy enough to do, but that would require imagination and Brian’s Nascar doesn’t have any.

07/27/2012 07:25 AM

“I think she has done a good job in the Nationwide Series for her limited experience in stock car racing.” Given the quality of her equipment, she’s not done much but most in the politically correct NASCAR media aren’t going to admit that. It would be blasphemy. Compare her results with that of her rookie teammate. That’s the driver of the team that’s done a good job.

07/27/2012 07:46 AM

First, Danica. I don’t think you can compare her to the majority of other drivers…unless you take one and slap them in an open wheel car for a season…see how they fare. Most up and coming drivers have a stock car resume…so it makes sense they would have a leg up in Nationwide…if they’re not doing better…something’s wrong. As far as drug tests and NASCAR…I’m on the fence. I totally agree cars at 200 mph and drugs don’t mix..but with all the $$$ NASCAR has I feel they don’t go far enough in their testing before branding a driver a druggie and ruining his career. There was alittle too much back patting and smiling when NASCAR announced AJ is entering their “Road to Recovery”…almost the cat who ate the canary! Indy…well once the race starts..all the history is just that..history…and unless the race announcers keep harping on Indys past…all we’re left with is a fairly boring race.

07/27/2012 07:57 AM

Whoops! Forgot one of the. “ burning questions”…the Penske camp. Brad seems to have decided he has all the answers…well it would be funny if his “don’t even take a Flintstones vitamin” spouting self got tagged with a positive drug test! Let’s see him kick and scream outta that nightmare! As far as o man…wonder has he always carried that knife he put in AJ’s back..or he picked it up at Costco when he heard AJ failed his drug test? Penske seems truly dazed..Shell..well let’s face it if it wasn’t for their bright yellow car who would have noticed their cars been on the track this season. To sum it up..they’ll do just fine the rest of the season! Ha!

Carl D.
07/27/2012 12:39 PM

And my pick for the Brickyard 400 is… Brad Keselowski. But, then again, I’m biased.

07/27/2012 01:12 PM

well danica might get another fuel mileage win… if she finishes.

Penske has never really been a consistent power house team. as much as i like bk and would love to see him take the title, i don’t think that’s within the realm of possibility.

indy?? meh.

07/27/2012 10:49 PM

Summer…You’re not following the company line! Every other media member is falling over themselves to impress the fact that this is the 2nd most prestigious event after the Daytona 500. We can’t have you messing up our carefully crafted marketing plan. See me in the NASCAR trailer before the race starts. We have ways of making you conform.

Steve K
07/28/2012 10:43 PM

The Penske “distraction” really hindered their Nationwide program at Indy.