Frontstretch Staff · Tuesday January 3, 2006
Dear guys ‘n’ gals,
It’s that time again! A new year brings with it a chance to start with a clean slate, not only in life but in the NASCAR realm as the 2006 season is now but a month or so away.
But before we open the book on 2006, it’s time to write the final chapters in the 2005 NASCAR season that was. Join us over the next seven days as our Frontstretch Staff gives their take on some of the best and worst moments of the year, as well as the biggest challenges facing the sport as we head into a new season. And here’s the best part: we’ve left space underneath for you to add your own opinions! As always, we’d love to hear your own take on what should be remembered about NASCAR in 2005.
Today’s second question in our seven-part series tackles the lowest of lows…the moment we all don’t want to remember, but won’t soon forget. What was the worst moment in this year’s Nextel Cup season, and why? Our staff had many different approaches, but all seemed to rest on one final conclusion…well, almost all of us.
What was the Toughest Nextel Cup Moment of 2005?
Nikki Krone, FS Editor: Is there really any question…the Fall
race at Charlotte was not only the worst Nextel Cup moment of 2005, by far, but possibly the worst in the last several years. We knew it was going to be bad by watching testing at the track, but I don’t think anyone seriously predicted how incrediblly awful the race would actually be.
Tom Bowles, FS Assistant Editor/ Bowles-Eye View Columnist: Several things, unfortunately, enter my mind, but the dozens of blown tires at the Fall race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway wins out. The fact NASCAR neglected to call the race when it was evident tires would blow every 20-25 laps under green, putting drivers’ lives at risk at 200 mph speeds, was pretty appalling and embarassing for the sport.
Kim DeHaven, FS Assistant Editor: The races at Charlotte, errr, Lowe’s Motor Speedway were the worst moments. The caution-filled (22 in all) demolition derby this spring (more commonly known as the Coca-Cola 600) was a huge disappointment. Then, the track owners/promoters, Goodyear, and NASCAR had almost five months to collectively come up with a solution to fix the problem of a track that’s gotten way too fast…yet, no one stepped up to the plate, which led to another crashfest of wrecked race cars in October.
Jeff Meyer, FS Voices Columnist: The utter farce that was the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s. The longest green flag run was 46 laps in a 600-mile race! Also, as a close runner-up, the entire fiasco of way too many Goodyear tires failing at every race the entire year!
Toni Heffelfinger, FS Second Fiddle Columnist: This Fall at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was a pretty unprecedented low. That was a train wreck of a race if I ever saw one. Debates raged about who was really to blame, but the bigger shame is that no one put their foot down and demanded some sort of workable solution when the problems began to come to light three weeks in advance of the race. Ignoring the problem didn’t work, and NASCAR, Goodyear, and the track all came away with egg on their faces.
Amy Henderson, FS That’s History Columnist: The levigating fiasco at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The spring race was bad enough…that alone should have made the powers that be say "enough fooling with the track," but alas, they made a bad situation worse – and dangerous. What I remember after watching that Fall race was crash after crash, wondering simply who was next and would he be OK. I had to go back and look up who won later that night, because the outcome of the race was so overshadowed by the track problems I honestly could not remember who won. Winning should be a memorable moment for a team, but this win – the fifth in six races at the track for Jimmie Johnson and his team – was simply a footnote on the biggest mess of the year.
Becca Gladden, FS If I Ruled the World Columnist: Defending Cup champion Kurt Busch’s arrest on a reckless driving charge in Arizona was the worst moment for me. It’s surprising that someone as intelligent as Busch would try the old, “Don’t you know who I am?” line with the cops when everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Busch’s court date, originally scheduled for December 22nd, is now pending in January.
Mike Neff, FS Columnist: The worst moment of the season for me was Kurt Busch being dismissed from his Roush ride. I thought that was a terribly petty and unprofessional way to handle that whole situation, and I thought Jack Roush was a bigger man than that. The fact that they chose an unfortunate incident with the police as an opportunity to punish him for leaving their organization early was simply classless and caused me to lose quite a bit of the respect that I had for them.
So, how did this one turn out? Was the fiasco at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Fall really as bad as we say, or did Becca and Mike get it right with the Kurt Busch issue bringing NASCAR national media attention for all the wrong reasons? Let us know.
Join us tomorrow for Part III of our Year in Review series as the Staff tries to figure out who was the biggest surprise driver in the 2005 Nextel Cup season. I’ll give you a clue: none of us could do a backflip in his honor, no matter how hard we try!
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