The Frontstretch: Did You Notice? The Busch Brothers Playing Nice? Newman Making College History? And More... by Thomas Bowles -- Wednesday February 20, 2008

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Here’s an image you won’t see often — both Kurt and Kyle Busch pushing their teammates to the finish line.

Did You Notice … That on the final lap of the Daytona 500, you had both Kyle and Kurt Busch giving up on their own chance to win the Great American Race, instead choosing to stay in line behind their teammates while attempting to push them to the win. That selfless act was followed by an emotional, humble Kurt Busch in Victory Circle, where he celebrated with winner Ryan Newman while bursting with gratitude for the opportunities he's gotten over at Penske Racing.

Compassionate? Soft-spoken? Wait a minute … who are these guys, and what have they done with the real Busch brothers? I was ready to report on a full-fledged kidnapping before leaving the track; but then Kyle Busch started spouting off about cars laying back on the restart, and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Did You Notice … Two notable cars that didn't change engines for Hendrick — Kenny Wallace and Joe Nemechek - both wound up with mechanical problems on Sunday, and for Wallace, it was specifically the engine that let go. So, it looks like there were notable problems under the hood after all for those powerplants; and not only that, but whatever engines got put in there for Hendrick clearly didn't have the stamina of their Toyota counterparts. Even Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the darling of Speedweeks didn't lead a lap until pit strategy came into play over those last 100 miles; in all, Hendrick cars led just 18 laps, unable to keep up when it counted. Whether or not it was because of the backup motors, we'll never quite know; but it'll be interesting to see the straightaway speed of Hendrick vs Toyota once we get to California this weekend.

Did You Notice … That for an organization that's looking to reconnect with its "core" base of fans, their pre-race concert fiasco - aside from country favorites Brooks ‘N' Dunn - consisted of Chubby Checker, Michael McDonald, and … Kool and the Gang. I mean … Kool And The Gang? You know who listens to them? My 82-year-old grandmother got front row seats for their concert a few years back. I'm not saying they're bad; I'm just saying Johnny "Core" NASCAR Fan doesn't listen to Kool and The Gang. Trust me.

Did You Notice … One of the more underreported facts of this Daytona 500, that Ryan Newman may actually be the first driver to win the race who owns a college degree. It's a reminder that no matter how much you try and put the brakes on change, some inevitable adjustments always occur …

Did You Notice … That mere days after missing the Daytona 500, Jacques Villeneuve has gone from a full-time Cup driver to a part-time ARCA deal, at best. Sources have told me it's going to be awhile, if ever, before Villeneuve is back behind the wheel of the No. 27; so now, the question becomes how long Bill Davis is willing to run that second car without a sponsor. Not only that, but can fan favorite veterans Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson finally have a shot to resurrect their Cup career? Probably not; but you never know…

Did You Notice … That speaking of former fan favorites, the once-vaunted Yates Racing stable looked like a bunch of also rans at a track they once dominated. Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland, we hardly knew ye … and ye wonders how long you’ll survive with a bad economy and no primary sponsors for the full season. Considering the team’s heyday with Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd, this whole thing is really quite sad …

Did You Notice … That Matt Kenseth said Tuesday he has not had a chance to talk to David Ragan about their wreck coming off of turn four that cost both a chance at the win. I'm not blaming either one for that; the reason I'm mentioning it is that over at Hendrick, that problem would have been resolved by now. There's been so much talk in the past about how the teamwork at Hendrick may have made the difference in their fight against Roush Fenway; so why, after two years of being beaten, is the RFR brass picking up in 2008 with that same refusal to develop that attitude amongst all five teams?

Did You Notice? … That heading towards California, there's a little snag in NASCAR's much-hyped Truck and Nationwide Series doubleheader? The Nationwide entry list currently stands at 43 entries, and several of those are expected to park it after a lap; even worse, the Truck Series is at 35 - one short of a full field of 36 - and that's with their two backup start and parkers.

As February heads into March, the health of these series will become a major news story, as long as the economy continues to sag.

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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 Thomas Bowles and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/20/2008 09:56 AM

The disaster that was the pre-race show can be traced to to the same source as all the other foolish mistakes by NASCAR . The people in charge are marketing rejects from beer and cigarette companies . If they were any good at marketing , they would still be at their former jobs instead of displaying their complete lack of knowledge of the NASCAR audience . Not that the performers aren’t nice people and good performers , they were just inappropriate choices for the race entertainment .
I wouldn’t be so sure about a disagreement between two Hendrick drivers being resolved quickly . Gordon and Johnson have the most gigantic egos in all of racing , and i have a feeling that the team concept at Hendrick is probably not as rosey as the constant hype from the Hendrick PR people would have us believe . And now we have JR soaking up all of the attention , not to mention Rick himself elbowing his way into every story and photo-op . The other two won’t put up with that for long . At least Mears stays out of the spotlight and just concentrates on racing .

02/20/2008 10:58 AM

the busch brothers giving up a chance to win to help a team mate????? get REAL their cars were not good enough to win!!!!! or they would have taken out whoever was in front of them.

02/20/2008 11:33 AM

Did you watch the race? Can’t tell, Shrubs and his car dominated the race.

joe huck
02/20/2008 12:41 PM

jr motorsports was caught cheating at the first race.what else are theylearning at hendricks???

02/20/2008 01:07 PM

“…..but then Kyle Busch started spouting off about cars laying back on the restart, and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief.”
LOL, hehehe, rotflmao!

02/20/2008 01:59 PM

Did I miss something with Villenueve? Why would the team dump him?

02/20/2008 02:18 PM

I get tired of saying it, a you guys get tired of hearing it….but the problem with the truck series and soon coming to nationwise & sprint is TOYOTA. They have ruined every series they have been in…Fri. night was a case in point, 1-4 all jap cars, and in what used to be my favorite series. They will ruin it for sure!!

Lunar Tunes
02/20/2008 03:36 PM

Yeah Mr. Bowles! What the “not Ren” guy said.

The REAL core fan actually bought 45s, albums and 8 track tapes.

(An ‘album’ is flat vinyl disc, a little larger than a dinner plate, is usually black, and is played on what was called a ‘turntable’. Unlike todays cds, it actually had to turned over to play the songs on the other side!)

Margo L
02/20/2008 04:55 PM

How would Toyota entering any form of racing “ kill it “ ? Because they run near the front and win ? Chevrolet has done that since 1955 and they haven’t managed to kill NASCAR yet . The same goes for Ford and Mopar . And if Toyotas are the better race car , then they deserve to win and the other manufacturers will just have to try harder, or align themselves with better teams . GM and Ford are big enough companies to handle Toyota . Lets see if they can .

02/20/2008 05:30 PM


How in the world do you figure that Toyota has “ruined” the Truck Series. That is the best racing around right now! A whole heck of a lot better than the Cup Series!

You need to realize something: World War II was over 60 years ago and we beat the Japanese. We are not fighting that war again.

Please just crawl back under your rock and leave us alone.


Contact Tom Bowles

Recent articles from Tom Bowles:

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