The Frontstretch: Did You Notice : Money In NASCAR Makes A Difference, Stewart's Unique Hairdo, And Oddsmakers Don't Know What They're Doing? by Thomas Bowles -- Tuesday March 4, 2008

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Did You Notice? … How insane Las Vegas security was this weekend? All I can tell you is that both the garage area and pit road were policed like any citizen within 50 feet of anyone important was about to incite a terrorist attack; it didn't matter whether you were a fan or had a hard card in your hand. I don't know what it is about Sin City, but it always seems to bring out the worst in both security and parking volunteers at the track. Vegas is also known for one of the worst traffic nightmares on the circuit, and this year was no exception, in part because of how the Speedway chose to route traffic out of the event. SAFER barriers aren't the only things that need to be added to this facility - some improved escape routes, competent temporary employees, and a few more lanes of highway around this track would be nice, too.

Did You Notice? … That the two most memorable mistakes that led to wrecks on the weekend were from two of the circuit's most respected drivers - Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. With 40 years of experience between them, it's a casual reminder that even the most talented men in our sport are never perfect, no matter how much we put them on that pedestal. Also, how ironic is it that the sport's Eeyore (Martin) doesn't even get to enjoy his first NASCAR win in two and a half years because he spun out his friend — and his teammate? It's a horrible situation I'd never wish on anyone; but for Martin and his career, it just seems so apropos.

Jeff Gordon got the worst of things after his contact with Matt Kenseth on Sunday. That's only fair since he was the one who set the wreck in motion.

Did You Notice? … Along those same lines, that Martin was congratulated by team co-owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in Nationwide Series Victory Lane, mere hours after he'd taken it upon himself to personally thank Rick Hendrick over the radio for hiring him to drive the No. 5 car. For a man who's spent his whole career identified with Roush, making that personal connection public was a little weird for me to adjust to - as was the fact he drives for both the team The Intimidator's son owns, as well as the team and stepmother his son rejected. Let's face it : right now, Martin doesn't care what or who he drives for, as long as it's fast and has four wheels.

Did You Notice? … How silly Vegas oddsmakers (and bettors) can be in creating their odds for the race? While you have to give credit to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for his surprising second place finish Sunday, before the event, he was listed as 2-1 under "odds to win the race." 2-1!!! Are you serious??? Here are Junior's last four Vegas finishes before Sunday : 35th, 42nd, 27th, 11th. Don't get me wrong; by no means am I discounting Junior's capabilities with Hendrick. But if you're even more than a casual fan and you're trying to tell me Junior would have been labeled a favorite at Las Vegas of all places, I would have laughed. It just goes to show you how the stick ‘n' ball bookies tilt heavily towards the major names - leaving the door open for some major losses on their part if a lesser-known but talented driver like Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, or even Clint Bowyer ever takes the checkered flag.

Did You Notice? … How much everyone and their mother is complaining about bump stops recently? Jeff Hammond had a great point this weekend; if everyone doesn't like them, and they're upsetting the handling of the car, why do we they need to be on the car in the first place? Isn't it an easy thing to eliminate from the CoT design? It'll be interesting to see if NASCAR comes around on this problem in a few weeks.

Did You Notice? … That Nationwide teams that got the same penalty Carl Edwards will receive for Sunday's post-race inspection failure (oil tank cover problem) actually won their appeals with the NSCRC this week. That's right; the No. 77, No. 1, and No. 64 teams all got reduced sentences, with Rusty Wallace Inc.'s No. 64 program getting their penalties eliminated altogether. I mention this point because it's not often you see the appeals board universally deadpan a ruling like this, making it all the more likely Carl Edwards will receive a very minor penalty for his inspection infraction … and making the supporters in the "Rally For Robby" campaign even more livid about the hefty sanctions handed down to their man Gordon in Daytona.

Did You Notice? … That in the midst of Brian Vickers having some choice words following a mid-race spin at Vegas Sunday, he may have let out the F-bomb on national television? It was too soft to definitively pin him on it (ala Kyle Petty's snafu at Infineon last year) … but based on sources who were listening to the scanner on the track, he softly slipped out a little foul language that made it across the airwaves. Whoops!

Did You Notice? … That the more I think about A.J. Allmendinger's release, he really wasn't in as bad a shape as you might think? The team is currently 119 points out of a Top 35 qualifying spot; but since Allmendinger was the first car "out" in each race he failed to make, the team had accumulated 93 owner points. That still puts them ahead of the No. 10 car driven by Patrick Carpentier - and that team made a race this season. But unfortunately for A.J., what's done is done …

Did You Notice? … That of the twelve full-time teams currently outside the Top 35 in 2008 owner points (not 2007), seven are going to Atlanta unsponsored; or, at the very least, they have questionable situations surrounding their team's finances for the full season. With that many programs in position to have to qualify in speed starting at Martinsville, I have a hard time believing all of them will survive the full season. Who's on that list? Names like Franchitti, Gordon, Carpentier, Smith … we're not talking chump change here. Who's ready for field fillers in 2009???

Did You Notice? … The pre-race interaction with Stewart and Carrot Top? If only someone could merge those two hairdos together …

Wondering what the technical explanation is for why Carl Edwards failed post-race inspection? If you still don’t get it, it’s because you didn’t get the Frontstretch Newsletter in your inbox this morning. So, stop procrastinating and sign up by clicking here to ensure your oil cover stays on tight — and remember, the Newsletter is FREE!

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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!

03/05/2008 08:25 AM

RE: oil tank tops!

If I understand things correctly, the tank cover in the RWI car actually had ALL BOLTS SECURELY FASTENED! (it was almost funny to read the appeals board explanation of this)! Does NA$CAR simply take an inspectors notes and suspend crew chiefs for six (6) month’s? WOW!! Wonder if that inspector still has his job?

In the Carl Edwards case, my understanding is all the bolts WERE NOT ON THE COVER! Thus the cover was loose!

So, if that is the case, then maybe the penalties, assuming there will be any, might be different that the RWI penalties!

But isn’t it VERY STRANGE, (but again we are dealing with NA$CAR here), that NA$CAR took Carl Edwards car back to the lab so they could see if it made a competitive advantage!

Shouldn’t NA$CAR have done their homework BEFORE ANY penalties were given on any car??

MMMM, NA$CAR!! We need logical answers please!

Yeh, lots of luck on that one!

Margo L
03/05/2008 09:08 AM

Brian Vickers let nothing escape onto national tv. The networks are responsible for airing things they aren’t supposed to . What the drivers say on the radio is absolutely none of the fans or medias business . We only know about the supposed violation of our tender little ears because of people eavesdropping on a conversation . Bad language was used ? Tough .

03/05/2008 12:39 PM

If you dont’ want to hear bad language, go watch the Disney Channel

03/05/2008 01:12 PM

Give me a break! Since the broadcast was eavesdropping on the team radio, Vickers didn’t let anything “slip”. If you don’t want to hear real language don’t listen in. Next time you go flying sideways out of control across oncoming traffic let’s see how delicate your language will be.

Managing Editor
03/05/2008 01:19 PM

Hey guys,

Great comments as always … but in this case, I just want to clarify something : I was NOT giving an opinion on whether Vickers’ language was appropriate, just pointing it out and letting you be the judge. I get the interpretation that you guys think I’m reprimanding him … that’s not my intent.

I agree that the network must bear the risk and responsibility for airing those radio conversations. But as for it being a big deal … think back to Earnhardt swearing back in 2004. If more people had caught it, it would have been a bigger issue… regardless of whether he ended up getting fined. That’s a given.

03/05/2008 04:28 PM

Las Vegas odds makers are certainly not silly. It is the betters that are silly. There are people that will bet on Jr. if he were riding a horse. They are simply trying to balance the book. They don’t bet to win, they win when the amount bet on the loser equals the amount bet on the winner.

03/05/2008 06:28 PM

Maybe security was doing its job. There was that Ricen scare a few days earlier.

03/05/2008 09:12 PM

Believe me , Daytona has a much worse security force . Obnoxious , officious , overbearing , uninformed , unhelpfull ,and proud of it .

03/06/2008 01:37 PM

I’m hearing (Sirius Radio) that there are photos of the oil cover in place but posistioned at a 45 degree upward angle and that two window clips were released and there was the possibilty that would allow the drivers side rear window to “open”. Anyone else hearing anything like this, or knows the location of the photo’s?

03/08/2008 08:52 PM

AJ wasn’t released. Mike Skinner is REALLY just helping out the team AND AJ.


Contact Tom Bowles

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