The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Parrott Popped, Hinchcliffe Dropped, And Aero Push Stopped by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday October 24, 2013

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As we inch ever closer to Halloween and the championship race for all three of NASCAR’s series, the calendar is still set squarely on October. For some, October brings thoughts of ghouls, goblins, hot chocolate, and the colors of fall. For many others, it brings to light an issue that almost all of us have been touched by in some way — Breast Cancer.

I’m sure that if you’ve never had it yourself, you know someone who has. You’ve seen how it can impact someone’s life and you know how damaging it can be.

If you’re a NASCAR fan, you also know how much the industry cares about it. You would be hard-pressed to not find at least one pink car on the track in any Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Camping World Truck Series race during any event during the month of October, let alone some sort of charitable donation or recognition of those who have been impacted by the disease. Just look at Kyle Busch, his wife Samantha, and Kyle Busch Motorsports in Charlotte for a striking, tearful, lump-in-your-throat example of that.

This weekend in Martinsville will be no different. Just yesterday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Greg Biffle would be running pink paint schemes this weekend in Martinsville to benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I’m not a big fan of pink myself, but I do think it is nice of the community to rally around together for this one cause.

No smart aleck comments on this one. It’s a great cause with good intentions behind it. I’m glad to see this continue in NASCAR every year.

Now, on to your questions:

“Why is it that, every week a crew member is getting nailed for drugs??? I would KILL to have their jobs and I sure as hell wouldn’t be screwing it up with drugs!!” Robert

I’m with you, Robert. I sigh every time I get a message in my inbox that says, “_____ Has Been Suspended for Violating NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy.”

I don’t have the desire to be a crew member simply because I know I would never shape up to what I would need to be one. I’m not a car person, and I don’t understand even the basic physics of it. I know the basic names of certain car parts, but I couldn’t identify or put them together, let alone know how to adjust them to make the car competitive.

“Todd, if they call you to the trailer for a drug test…just run.”

However, I know there are a lot of people reading this column who would love to be in that position and believe they have what it takes to do so. At the very least, they believe they could learn. So when they hear that other crew members are doing drugs when they know it jeopardizes their job, it infuriates them.

The only area of caution I would offer is one of judgment. Todd Parrott is the rare exception where we actually hear somewhat of a story on what happened. Most crew members have a name, and that’s it. We don’t know if they keep their jobs, what the drug was, if it’s a real problem or an isolated incident. Sometimes, crap happens and we make split-second decisions that change our lives. I’m not saying that makes it any better, but don’t assume things just from a press release.

As for Parrott, he’ll be entering NASCAR’s Road To Recovery Program after explaining to Eli Gold, on MRN’s radio show Tuesday “he made a mistake.” The 49-year-old, who has won a Cup Series championship as head wrench with Dale Jarrett expects to be reinstated and hopefully back in the sport for the 2014 Daytona 500.

“I have seen several news outlets talking about some changes that could be coming to the sport next year, especially when it comes to the actual cars and the aerodynamics. Is this meant to make the racing better or is it more about the actual rules?” Madison

Actually, it’s about both. NASCAR has done both wind tunnel and on-track tests to work on improving the aerodynamics of the cars in order to, putting it simply, race better. I’m sure it’s not news to you that track position is king, and very rarely are cars able to make up position from back in the field regardless of newer tires. Pit road has become more important because that’s one of the few places where it is possible to make up several positions at once.

In terms of rules changes, they are talking about eliminating the minimum height rule and making the spoiler larger. Those represent areas that a crew member might be more apt to describe, but essentially the way I understand it is that it’s one way to help teams with ballooning costs.

However, anything NASCAR does is with the goal of enhancing the final product. Rest assured, they know that the racing is unacceptable at certain tracks. There has been some good competition this year, but it’s frustrating to watch the first few laps of a restart and feel like that’s the race at certain intermediates.

NASCAR knows what they are doing, contrary to what some may think and they will fix the problem. If they are able to figure this out before Daytona next year, 2014 will be a great season.

“I saw that is leaving Hinchcliffe in IndyCar but is sticking with Danica in NASCAR!!! What gives??? Hinchcliffe has more wins in this one season than she had in her entire career!!” Tucker

Oh, Tucker, you know business doesn’t work that way. Obviously, Hinchcliffe is a great driver in IndyCar and has an equally great personality. I’m not an avid IndyCar enthusiast, but I always enjoy seeing Hinchcliffe on television.

Shuttin’ Hinchtown Down: Despite winning three races this season for, Danica Patrick and Roscoe, IL have won the battle for sponsorship dollars.

With that said, Patrick is marketable, recognizable, and profitable. Those are things that Hinchcliffe and, to a higher extent, IndyCar is not. I’m sure Hinchcliffe has his share of fans, but IndyCar has struggled in the ratings and attendance department for a long time. They make NASCAR’s issues look tiny, and CEO Blake Irving basically said as much when the announcement was made.

Here’s the bottom line: when you say the name “Danica Patrick” to any random person you meet, they will know who she is. If you say “James Hinchcliffe,” they’ll just look at you funny. It’s a shame, considering that he’s a great personality and a good driver, but IndyCar doesn’t have the same reach and Hinchcliffe, despite his success, just isn’t as recognizable. It all comes down to dollars and sense, and there isn’t the same profit in open-wheel racing as there used to be.

There is a silver lining to this story, though. At Fontana, Andretti Autosport announced tech company United Fiber and Data will now step up to sponsor Hinchcliffe. That’ll keep the driver in the same ride and in position to challenge for wins and a championship in 2014.

Connect with Summer!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


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10/24/2013 11:09 AM

so nascar is now officially a popularity contest. yay! I’m glad to see that people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for rides on talent can get these opportunities to prove themselves in this sport because they are popular. thank heaven for this brave new nascar world. I’m also glad nascar is focused exposing and expunging all the dangerous drug addicts and the politically incorrect because they are really dragging the organization down. i’m sure viewership and attendance will recover now. whew! it’s ok people. false alarm. nascar is doing just fine! nothing to see here.

10/24/2013 12:32 PM

babydufus: I’m pretty sure that’s not NASCAR making that decision, it’s her sponsor… And sponsors have been sticking behind under-performing drivers for decades, not just her. How long has Target been with JPM?

I’m sure Godaddy recognizes that A – most importantly, she sells stuff and is a great ambassador for their brand, and B – it’s her rookie season in the most competitive racing series on the world, and as a rookie she’s had a decent rookie-esque season, driving for a team that as a whole has been running like crap, other than occasionally Ryan Newman.

People need to cut the poor girl some slack. The TV coverage shoving her down our throats is not her fault. She’s just showing up and racing. I’ll call her a “bust” after 3-4 seasons without any improvement, not ONE ROOKIE SEASON.

10/24/2013 12:32 PM

People I have over heard and talked to do know Danica. They all say the basically same thing. Isn’t she that girl in Nascar who can’t drive?

10/24/2013 01:33 PM

Gee Mike, I would be willing to bet you would crap in your pants if she took you for a few laps around Talladega. Why is it the fans who bitch the most about the ability or inability of a specific driver have never raced anything faster than a Big Wheel?

10/24/2013 01:37 PM

Yep, Mike, that’s the girl.

10/24/2013 01:53 PM

Oh the big mystery of marketing. Can anybody give actual hard data, (other that say T-shirt) sales, that Sparkle Pony is making anybody any money? The overwhelming majority of people feel racing has taken a bigger hit in the credability department for the mere fact that this no talent is even allowed to race in the top show. We are sick to death of hearing about her, her and Ricky, blah blah blah. Sad it is not about talent!

10/24/2013 02:51 PM

Right on mike ,Don M you are full of it !!

10/24/2013 03:39 PM

Fuzzy, you would wet your pants!

10/24/2013 03:44 PM

TR had it right a long time ago. Whose full of it Fuzzy? Maybe you critics should read this:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

10/24/2013 04:24 PM

Danica is the Kardashian of the sports world. She will be front and center as long as she attracts attention. Her popularity is not because of her driving talent. In today’s pop culture world, popularity is what is important. If talent mattered, Hollywood and Congress would be a very lonely place.

10/24/2013 04:28 PM

Hinchwho? Indycarwhat? Aren’t they on some channel way up in the nether regions of cable?

10/24/2013 06:24 PM

No Don I have raced. Not Talladega but I have raced something more then a Big Wheel. How about you? Obviously you are like the mindless few who actually think Princess Sparkle Pony can actually race. Bet you have a Danica poster above your bed.

10/24/2013 06:39 PM

hmmm. i don’t remember mentioning danica in my comment. i suppose i could have though as she is the antithesis of my point. what i was insinuating is that a big problem in nascar is that the whole culture is not longer focused on generating good competition but other things like something more akin to american idol where popularity levels, perception and demographic can and often does override the actual talent level of the “competitors.” if such a word is even accurate in this case. like i said… nothing to see here….

10/24/2013 08:14 PM

babydufus.why don’t you just get off your high horse and quit whining. If you’re so unhappy with Nascar, and think it’s just a popularity sport, stop watching it and find another sport to entertain you that you don’t have to complain about!

10/24/2013 11:30 PM

BabyD. I appreciate your comments they are right on the money, keep it up. People today want everything to be love and kisses, if you complain about the current state of your beloved sport, according to them, tough go watch another sport. With that mentality, how can anything ever change?

10/25/2013 07:48 AM

Funny how Summer says it’s a problem with Hinch being in IndyCars. B.S. Seems to me that Danica’s mug was all over the place while she was losing in the IRL, yet they continued to put her name out there. So that IRL premise is quite misleading.

Danican’t has “made her name” entirely through promotion, not driving, and if they had done all that promoting with Hinchcliffe (plus he’s won races) he’d be fairly well know beyond the racing fans, at least up there with Helio and Dario.

10/25/2013 11:52 AM

Somehow I doubt it Mike, and here is why. First I road raced motorcycles all over the country from 1964 until about 1984. Then in the late eighties, I started vintage racing an old Corvette I own and in 2011 replaced it with a 1971 240Z race car that I actively run in VRG and SVRA events in the eastern part of the US. The reason I don’t believe you is simply that in all my years of racing, I have never met a fellow racer willing to disparage another competitor. Never have and probably never will. People who have been wheel to wheel on racetracks appreciate what it takes to get out there and do it rather than sitting back and criticizing. Im 71 now and still at it, and you will never in a thousand years convince me you have any racing experience.

10/25/2013 12:03 PM

One more thing Mike; I don’t have anyones poster over my bed. Ironically I’m not a particular fan of any driver, I just like racing. Over the years Ive met a number of them and enjoyed the contact and conversation. Quite frankly I don’t think Danica’s that good, but shes probably as good as half a dozen other guys out there riding around and catching a paycheck, so it seems to me you are dumping on her because she is a woman. As the father of two grown successful, professional women daughters and five granddaughters, that kind of pisses me off.