The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Fan Q&A: Finding NASCAR Drivers Old and New by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday October 18, 2012

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Frontstretch Fan Q&A: Finding NASCAR Drivers Old and New

Summer Bedgood · Thursday October 18, 2012

 

For the first time since 1979, we watched a NASCAR Cup Series race without an Earnhardt in it. The world never stopped turning, the sky never started falling, and it was not the end of the world as we knew it. Though Earnhardt certainly wasn’t “feeling fine”, he made the right decision by sitting out. The ensuing panic that happened as soon after the announcement was made, was tantamount to another crash in the stock market. It was ridiculous.

Yet even after that, there were reports of likely reduced attendance and campers leaving the area, and post-race attendance reports had the numbers the lowest they had been in years. Somehow, the show did go on and no one really noticed he was gone other than his fans.

I don’t want to sound insensitive, though. I’d imagine that this was a tough race for those very loyal Junior fans, and I do genuinely hope Earnhardt comes back with a clean bill of health. But I couldn’t help but chuckle at the panic. I don’t mean the fans who were concerned with his health and were panicking because they heard “concussion” in association with their favorite driver. I’m talking about some media members, bloggers, and other fans whose first inclination was, “Oh my GOSH! Junior won’t be in the race?! NASCAR is DOOMED! DOOMED, I tell you!”

Perhaps I’m being a tad dramatic, but you see where I’m coming from. I wish Earnhardt and his fans well, but I’m confident the sport will survive with or without an Earnhardt in every race.

Now, onto the questions.

Q: “I am curious what ever happened to Larry Pearson, David Pearson’s son who use to race?”

- Dennis

This seems like ancient history now, but Larry Pearson was actually injured in the short-lived NASCAR Legends race at Bristol a couple of years ago. He suffered a compound fracture on his left ankle, a fractured pelvis, and a fractured right hand. He was eventually released but had a lengthy recovery process because of all of the injuries and medical issues that those injuries caused. In essence, he had to relearn basic everyday functions like how to walk.

Now he has a driving school open in South Carolina where he teaches teenagers how to drive. He still has health problems, but overall is doing well.

Q: “Why is Ricky Stenhouse being a complete non-factor in his four Cup starts to date? This is not the sign of a future successful Cup driver.”

- Matt

Let’s take a look at the first four starts of some of the sports current and most successful drivers.
Jimmie Johnson’s first four career Sprint Cup Series finishes were 39th, 25th, 29th, and 15th.
Tony Stewart’s first four: 28th, 12th, 36th, 11th.
Matt Kenseth’s first four: 6th, 14th, 37th, 4th.

Jeff Gordon is an exception; two of his first four finishes were in the top-10.

Just as a reminder, Stenhouse’s first four starts are 11th, 20th, 12th, and 35th. Personally, I’m impressed with those finishes regardless of the other statistics just because of how competitive the series is. Honestly, though, there is such a huge gap between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series that I wouldn’t be surprised if Stenhouse did struggle in the Cup Series next season. A perfect example is Joey Logano. He’s practically unbeatable in the Nationwide Series yet, in what practically amounts to the exact same equipment, is rarely even competitive in the Cup Series.

I doubt Stenhouse will ever have the kind of statistics of Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, or Kenseth but when you say that his current finishes are not a “sign” of a future successful Cup driver … well, history says you’re wrong.

Q: Are you in support of a truck race at Eldora?

- Aaron

I’m in favor of a dirt race anywhere … but it’s not going to happen. The Eldora rumor is nothing more than that: a rumor. I know ARCA has a dirt race on the schedule, but honestly these cars just weren’t built to run on dirt, let alone trucks. I’m sure if it were a priority on NASCAR’s list, they would find a way to make it feasible and I know there are a ton of drivers in all three series who would love to see it happen.

Could there be trucks other than this monstrosity of a Tide Ride racing at Eldora for 2013? Smoke seems to think it will work, and NASCAR just may oblige him…

I think the planning and rearranging that would have to happen to put the Truck Series on a dirt track would be too complicated for NASCAR to want to spend the time on.

Again, I’d love to see it happen, but I’m very skeptical that it will.

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Mike In NH
10/18/2012 12:07 PM
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It’s interesting to note that the ratings were flat, and up versus last week. So Junior not being in the race didn’t seem to have a negative impact, and this is the first race that’s been flat and not down for the last few weeks.