The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: The Mayor Moves On, Subsidizing A Series, And Pit Ping-Pong by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday October 10, 2013

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Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are a media match made in heaven. Both are outspoken, not hesitating to speak their mind. Both are incredibly talented drivers that have success across all three of NASCAR’s national series. Both of them are championship caliber drivers.

And they absolutely hate each other.

The Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway was yet another boxing ring for these two when Busch made contact with Keselowski’s left-rear bumper, ruining what was likely to be a top-3 finish for him. As Keselowski exited his car, he sprinted from the track to pit road just to send a message to Busch’s pit crew. (Since, for some reason, he felt like he should take out his frustration on the people who had absolutely nothing to do with it??)

Then, on Sunday, Keselowski asked NASCAR if intentionally wrecking a driver contributed to their “100 percent” rule and what fell within those boundaries. Apparently, letting a day pass and giving yourself some time to think about an incident only makes Keselowski angrier about what happened.

Look, I know these guys are competitive no matter what series they race in and that these two obviously don’t have personalities that allow them to even tolerate each other, let alone be civil with one another. However, that doesn’t mean Busch needs to act like it’s Keselowski’s job to get out of the way when he has a good car. On the flip side, Keselowski doesn’t need to blow it up any more than it should have been. It was an isolated, racing incident and it won’t be the last time these two clash.

But, hey, at least it gives us some talking points headed into next weekend. It’s not like we have a championship battle going on in either series right now, right? … Guys?

Now, on to your questions:

“I love that Jeff Burton will be in the Sprint Cup Series next year, but will he still be competitive? I can’t think of any great rides that are out there where he could be a Chase-caliber driver again.” Lee

I can think of a couple that might work out well. If Martin Truex, Jr. leaves Michael Waltrip Racing and Burton takes over in the No. 56, that’s obviously a Chase-caliber ride. If Burton goes to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car, he could be competitive there, too.

It’s hard to speculate, though. This week, Burton said he has something worked out, but he just can’t announce it yet. Though it is a Sprint Cup Series ride, we don’t know if it’s full-time, we don’t know about sponsors … we don’t know anything other than that! Heck, Burton could run a part-time schedule with one team and spend some time as a TV analyst the rest of the year.

Jeff Burton’s tenure in the No. 31 at RCR is winding down. Is the right move to still be a full-time Cup driver, or pull back to a limited schedule like friend and former teammate Mark Martin?

In other words, “Chase-caliber” may not even be on Burton’s mind any more than it has been on Mark Martin’s mind the past few years. He wants to win races again, sure, but perhaps the focus is no longer on a championship; at least, not for the time being. I expect that Burton wants to do something more akin to the path that his friend Martin has taken, although I don’t have any more to base that off of than you do. Burton would be an asset to any team he went to, and he would be a great addition to the TV booth on any network, which means his options are wide open.

So if you’re a Burton fan, I wouldn’t worry about not seeing him next year. He obviously feels secure in his future and will be around, in some form for a while in this sport.

”I saw that Chip Ganassi Racing got paid by NASCAR to keep racing in Grand-Am. Does that stuff go on in this series, too?” Dave

You were seeing that from the lawsuit that Brian France’s now ex-wife Megan filed against him, and technically it was Bill France, Jr. that gave the team money to continue racing. Brian France stopped those annual payments after his father died, so they aren’t getting that support any more.

NASCAR paid Chip Ganassi Racing to remain in Grand-Am? Hmm. So how’s that different than any other track or racing series paying appearance money to a driver or team? Or the NBA subsidizing the WNBA

I’m sure all kinds of crap goes on behind the scenes in NASCAR, but I would imagine anything major like that would have come to light in this divorce case, too. It’s hard to imagine that some sort of money gets passed under the table in NASCAR, on a daily basis, and I don’t think it’s fair to speculate to what extent those kind of things go on. Again, I think if something happened regularly, it would have come out to some extent during this lawsuit.

I won’t tell you that the sanctioning body is perfectly clean and nothing that would be in the “gray area” or morality goes on behind the scenes. But I will tell you that I was relieved that nothing specifically scandalous about the Sprint Cup Series was revealed in this particular case. Let’s hope it stays that way.

“I noticed that Joey Logano hit a pit crew member on his way out of his pit stall at Kansas, but wasn’t penalized for it. Yet if he had run over his air hose or the jack stand he would have been penalized!!! Are NASCAR’s priorities really that messed up???” Sal

I think any pit crew member would tell you that eventually, you are going to get hit and you just have to get back up and try again. In fact, I think Dave Littau, the front tire carrier, would probably tell you that he didn’t want the team to be penalized for him getting hit because that would have ruined their chances of winning. Accidents happen in this sport, and the pit crews are in the most danger of anyone besides the drivers. They know that, accept it, and want to win races just as badly as the man or woman in the cockpit. The last thing they want to do is contribute to a loss just because the driver took off too quickly and they couldn’t get out of the way in time.

I’m not saying that the rule makes sense. But if the pit crews don’t think that the rule needs to change, I’m certainly not going to pound the table and demand change. The drivers don’t want to hit their pit crews and the pit crews don’t want to get hurt, and neither wants to be punished for it if and when it happens. If there is no protest coming from that part of the garage, then I am fine with the current rules package.

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Bill B
10/10/2013 10:02 AM
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“I love that Jeff Burton will be in the Sprint Cup Series next year, but will he still be competitive?”

LOL,,, some would argue that he hasn’t been competitive in years. But at least being in RCR equipment gives us the illusion that he’s competitive.

RamblinWreck
10/10/2013 10:57 AM
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There’s a chance Burton could be in the TV booth? That could be great… he’d bring a great blend of knowledge and professionalism. Now my hopes are up for that!

Michael in SoCal
10/10/2013 11:11 AM
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If Nascar is all about safety, as they claim, then hitting a pit crew member HAS to be a penalty. If running over an air hose is worthy of a penalty, hitting a human being is worthy of a penalty.

kb
10/10/2013 01:51 PM
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Nascar is a mess as it is, why not add some more penalties. (sarcasm). This stuff happens and crew members know the risks. The drivers vision is pretty boxed in and limited, its about split second timing with everyone. What’s next for our own safety wearing helmets when we walk? Their is a risk in everything and you can’t regulate everything, even in the name of safety!

Carl D.
10/10/2013 02:11 PM
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With only two networks covering the races next year, is there really room for another ex-driver in the booth? Don’t get me wrong; I’d take Jeff Burton over either Waltrip (Please!) or Rusty Wallace. I still like Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett, and there’s only so much room in the booth and down on the track.

Janice
10/10/2013 10:20 PM
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I am happy that Burton has found a ride for next year. I hope that he will have the same rejuvenation as when he went to RCR. He has provided many exciting drives and is a touchstone to that time when a car could race his way thru the pack. Plus I want to see one more time Kim holding her breath and mentally driving those last couple of corners with him.

phil h
10/11/2013 01:41 AM
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Jeff Burton has had Chase caliber rides for years!It’s over Jeff.

His next ride, as well as Mark Martins’ should be in the rocker on the front porch.

MaxCO2
10/12/2013 09:07 PM
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NASCAR paid Chip Ganassi Racing to remain in Grand-Am? Hmm. So how’s that different than any other track or racing series paying appearance money to a driver or team?”

Since France also guaranteed winnings of $400,000 to Ganassi, I’d call that a BIG damn unethical difference that had nothing to do with “appearance” money.