The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Final Race Round Up And Stats Galore by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday November 14, 2013

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NASCAR Mailbox: Final Race Round Up And Stats Galore

Summer Bedgood · Thursday November 14, 2013


One to go. White flag. Then … Sayonara.

I don’t know for sure who is going to win the Sprint Cup Championship on Sunday. While I’m willing to bet that Jimmie Johnson is going to win this championship on, I can’t say that with 100% confidence. I would have said with the same amount of confidence that Matt Kenseth would have been a contender in Phoenix, and we all saw how that panned out.

With that said, it is always somewhat bittersweet whenever Homestead rolls around. Though I don’t have the privilege or the workload of making it of the racetrack each week as some do, this gig here at The Frontstretch keeps me busy each week. So it will be nice to have a break, particularly as the holidays are approaching.

On the other hand, I love my job here and I love racing. Though I try and maintain a level of objectivity and cover the sport from a professional point of view, the fan side in me gets entirely too defensive when I hear a mainstream sports broadcaster speaking about NASCAR in a negative way. When I’m shopping in the grocery store and I see a NASCAR logo on a box of crackers, I’ll pick it up and look at it to see what it’s about. If I see someone walking around with a racing logo on their T-shirt—whether it’s NASCAR, IndyCar, or a local driver—I feel a special connection with them. If you’re a diehard NASCAR fan, you know what I’m talking about.

Some of you make a habit of coming to the comments section of these columns and brag about how little attention you pay to NASCAR anymore. For any number of reasons, you claim that it just doesn’t hold your attention the way it used to.

I don’t believe you. While you may not spend every waking hour of your weekend watching every practice and qualifying session, and every lap of every race that is on TV—heck, I don’t even do that every single week, and I work for a motorsports website—you still love it. You wouldn’t visit Frontstretch every day or read our newsletter without a continued interest in racing. You wouldn’t know just as much about what was going on in the sport as we do if you weren’t paying attention. Seriously, when you sit there and say “When Michael Waltrip said (whatever it is) during the broadcast, that’s EXACTLY why I don’t watch NASCAR anymore”, it kind of gives away the little white lie that you don’t watch.

You may not like everything about the sport and you might still be nostalgic about the old days. You probably miss Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Terry Labonte, and any number of drivers we don’t see on the track any more. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch one day once the sun has set on their careers.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t still in the deep crevices of my cold heart still enjoy racing. Even if my career goes elsewhere and I don’t work in racing anymore, or if I just simply lose interest from a life way too dedicated to one thing, I still believe you will never be able to completely remove the love of racing from my being. I believe the same for those of you who complain way more than I thought was humanly possible.

So as Homestead comes to a close and another NASCAR season has come and gone, you might tell yourself this is your last race. But something about you and your love of racing will bring you right back to our website and right back to your television sets when February brings the green flag of yet another season.

Even though Jimmie Johnson will probably win that one too.

Now onto your questions:

Several times while watching the NASCAR Trucks I have heard the announcers state that Kyle Busch is one of 23 drivers that have won races in all three NASCAR divisions. The only other ones that I can think of are Kevin Harvick, and possibly Ron Hornaday. 23 just sounds like an awful high number to me. Who are the other drivers that have won in all three divisions?” Ken

Surprisingly enough, there are 23 drives who have won races in all three series, and Kevin Harvick is in fact one of them. Here is a list of all 23 drivers and their wins in each series: -Ken Schrader (4 NSCS, 2 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Terry Labonte (22 NSCS, 11 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Mark Martin (40 NSCS, 49 NNS, 7 NCWTS) -Bobby Hamilton, Sr. (4 NSCS, 1 NNS, 10 NCWTS) -Kevin Harvick (23 NSCS, 40 NNS, 14 NCWTS) -Greg Biffle (19 NSCS, 20 NNS, 16 NCWTS) -Jimmy Spencer (2 NSCS, 12 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Jamie McMurray (7 NSCS, 8 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Tony Stewart (48 NSCS, 11 NNS, 2 NCWTS) -Steve Park (2 NSCS, 3 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Carl Edwards (21 NSCS, 38 NNS, 6 NCWTS) -Bobby Labonte (21 NSCS, 10 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Kasey Kahne (16 NSCS, 7 NNS, 4 NCWTS) -Kyle Busch (28 NSCS, 63 NNS, 34 NCWTS) -Ricky Craven (2 NSCS, 4 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Kurt Busch (24 NSCS, 5 NNS, 4 NCWTS) -Johnny Benson, Jr. (1 NSCS, 3 NNS, 14 NCWTS) -Clint Bowyer (8 NSCS, 8 NNS, 3 NCWTS) -Ryan Newman (17 NSCS, 7 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -David Reutimann (2 NSCS, 1 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Elliott Sadler (3 NSCS, 9 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Michael Waltrip (4 NSCS, 11 NNS, 1 NCWTS) -Denny Hamlin (22 NSCS, 11 NNS, 2 NCWTS)

What I find interesting about that list is a name that is missing from it, which is Brad Keselowski. He has yet to win a race in the Camping World Truck Series despite that he owns a team in that series and has a total of 59 starts. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, our two championship contenders in Sprint Cup this yera, are also missing from this list.

Kevin Harvick is one of 23 drivers who has wins in all three major NASCAR Series; will a move to Stewart-Haas Racing propel him to a Sprint Cup Championship?

So is this list perhaps a “jack of all trades, master of none” group of drivers? Because it might appear that you don’t necessarily need success in either of the two lower series to be one of the best in the Sprint Cup Series. Though I know the Camping World Truck Series is fairly new in comparison to NNS and NSCS, which means that the drivers from 10 to 20 years didn’t have as much of an opportunity to win in all three, even the most dominant drivers in the Sprint Cup Series only have wins in one or two of NASCAR’s three series.

”If Trevor Bayne has multiple sclerosis, how is it that he can continue racing? I thought people who had MS had to be in a wheelchair. I have a cousin who has it and she struggles mightily with it and has had to relearn perfectly normal things because of it.” Jenny

I’ll be honest, when I heard the news I wondered the same thing. I’ve seen the commercials for multiple sclerosis about people having to learn how to drive with their hands because of the disease, so I couldn’t quite figure out what Bayne had that gave him virtually no symptoms.

After doing some research on it and hearing Bayne talk about it, I’ve since learned that no two cases of MS are ever the same. Some people, like your cousin, have to relearn their entire lifestyle because of their symptoms and others might not even know that they have it. It’s incredibly difficult to diagnose, which is why it took Bayne two years and multiple tests at the Mayo Clinic to finally have a successful diagnosis.

I’m not sure how long you have been a fan, but you might remember in 2011 that Bayne missed several races because of what at the time was thought to be Lyme disease from a bug bite. He had double vision and fatigue in June of 2011 and was taken out of the car because of it. Though Bayne doesn’t know with 100% certainty that it wasn’t Lyme disease, the symptoms could very well have been a result of MS.

Bayne has also said he hasn’t had symptoms since then, which is why NASCAR and the doctors have allowed him to continue racing. I’m sure this will be a case-by-case basis as Bayne experiences or doesn’t experience any symptoms, but for now he is okay to drive.

“Why are we constantly fed this BS that something exciting will happen when we know damn good and well it won’t? Jimmie Johnson is going to win the championship and YOU KNOW IT!” Dianne

Well I don’t know why you’re yelling at me since I completely agree with you, but I’ll admit I wouldn’t bet my year’s salary on Jimmie Johnson winning the championship this weekend. Would you? Would you bet your house on the fact that Johnson will win this weekend?

I bet you won’t for the same reason that I wouldn’t: there are so many variables and things out of the driver’s control that can happen on any given weekend. Sometimes, the team just sucks. As I said at the beginning of this column, look at Kenseth last weekend in Phoenix and tell me that things can happen unexpectedly. There wasn’t a person heading into the Phoenix race that thought that the No. 20 team would crash and burn and wouldn’t even contend for a top 10 finish, let alone a victory. Instead, they finished 23rd and seemingly imploded under the pressure.

Barring anything terminally disastrous at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, Jimmie Johnson just needs to make it to his car and race by himself for 400 miles to clinch a sixth Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Now, I will tell you that you are probably right. Johnson probably will finish at the tail end of the top 10—somewhere around eighth place—maybe lead one or two laps under a green flag pit cycle, but otherwise will not contend for the race win. They’ll ride around, do exactly what they need to, and win the championship. I would imagine that you are not going too far out on a limb by expecting that to happen.

But, like I said, I wouldn’t lay down a ton of money with the expectation for that to happen. What if Johnson has to go to the garage like he did last year? What if something similar to the Logano incident at the beginning of the race in Phoenix translates to Homestead, but this time Johnson can’t hold the wheel straight? What if the caution comes out while they’re on pit road and they get caught a lap down?

Are those things likely to happen? Well, no, not any more than at any other racetrack, but I guarantee you those things are keeping Johnson, Chad Knaus, and Rick Hendrick up at night. The No. 48 team will control the things they can control, but it’s the thing they can’t that might lose them this championship.

I promise you that I’m not feeding you a bunch of bunk. I will side with you in that the “well ANYTHING could happen” line has been shoved down our throats a few too many times in the past few days than is altogether necessary. But that team is just as worried about those variables as anyone else, and that’s why I think you should tune in anyway.

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11/14/2013 08:37 AM

I bet there are a LOT of folks like myself who hang on to Nascar because of the love of how it USED to be. Boy, do I miss the Winston Cup years.

I can count on one hand the number of races I’ve watched this year. These days I keep up with it via websites like this one. At the end of the weekend I’ll check to see who won and who finished where.

My love of racing keeps me from divorcing the Brian France crapalooza altogether.

(Oh, and I seriously doubt that YOU will miss Kyle Busch…LOL )

Carl D.
11/14/2013 09:49 AM

Like I said in the comments section the other day, being a Nascar fan is in my DNA. My Dad took me to watch Richard Petty race at the old Columbia Speedway when I was just a tyke and I think I’ve probably been hooked ever since. I put 1:24 models together of Bobby Isaac’s Dodge and Richard Petty’s Superbird. I loved Cale Yarborough because he was a local hero and hated Darrell Waltrip simply because he was the enemy. I spent more weekends in the infield at Darlington and Charlotte than I can ever remember. I pulled for Alan Kulwicki back when he drove the Zerex Ford and everyone thought I was nuts, bragged like hell when he won the title in 1992, and cried tears when he died less than a year later. Being a Nascar fan is definitely part of who I am and I’ve been one for a long time. What that gives me is perspective. No, I’ll never quit being a fan, but I detest Brian France for what he has done to the sport I hold so dear. His day of reckoning can’t come soon enough to suit me.

11/14/2013 01:26 PM

I have been a fan a long time, I still like (not love) the sport despite Brian France. It is not as fun as it used to be and is boring, so because of that and many other obvious reasons, I don’t dedicate race days to the race anymore. The fans who complain are the ones who care about the long term health of the sport and just want things to get better. Its a good thing.

11/14/2013 02:45 PM

As long as brain farce is in charge the hits against Nascar will continue (Due to an endless supply of ego & arrogance) …Im hanging on as long as I can but it seems to get a little harder every year & yes greatly miss Earnhardt & Petty & Allisons…you know drivers that actually had worked on race cars & raced them to pay the rent..Todays proffessional drivers are far more pretty boys who all pretty much were “spoon fed” to quote one of the spoon fed ones (yes his dad worked for a living but Harvick didn’t)..Imagine that Jeffy is now the old guard..I recall when Cale was. Things got better since then & then took a Nose Dive since the braniac got involved..I have often wondered about all those saying their done with Nascar…But their still reading this stuff (cause their commenting) & I’m guessing their watching more than they’ll admit..That said the sport must stop taking all these hits through poor decisions

11/14/2013 02:53 PM

I can’t buy comparing what happened to Kenseth last weekend to what could happen to Johnson this weekend. Things like what happened to the 20 team just don’t happen to Johnson,Knaus, and the 48 team. They don’t let things like that happen because they’re head and shoulders above everyone. Even though I was hoping for the best for the 20 team I knew they wouldn’t stand up to the test. That’s why I didn’t even watch the race and probably won’t watch this weekend.