The Frontstretch: Did You Notice? ... McGrew Not The Answer For Earnhardt ... Yet, Midseason Trends, And Mystery Cautions Revealed by Thomas Bowles -- Wednesday July 15, 2009

Go to site navigation Go to article

Did You Notice? … Two quickie midseason stats that tell us who’s on top and who’s fallen apart so far in 2009? They might not be the first ones you look at when you wake up in the morning … but sometimes, it’s the small things that tell the tale as to some of the trends shaping this season to date.

Let’s first look at the wins by manufacturer through 19 races:
Chevrolet: 10
Toyota: 5
Dodge: 2
Ford: 2

That tells you despite the cutbacks — some of which were announced today — it’s still GM’s world and everyone else just lives in it. Winning last year’s manufacturer title in a squeaker, it should be a cakewalk for them this year as Hendrick and Stewart-Haas Racing have combined for nine of their ten wins, occupying five of the top 11 positions in the current Sprint Cup point standings. In contrast, their major American rival has struggled despite being in better financial shape and winning this year’s Daytona 500 with Matt Kenseth. They’ve been winless since Kenseth’s second straight triumph at California late in February, and have just one of their drivers sitting in the top 11 (Carl Edwards). It’s certainly possible that Ford and Roush could put just one of their drivers in the Chase for the first time in the six-year history of the playoff.

Regardless of what Smoke’s uniform may have said back in February, Stewart-Haas Racing is not Hendrick Motorsports…and that could mean trouble for the current points leader come Chase time.

With Chevrolet having such an edge, the real question heading into this Fall isn’t necessarily if Hendrick will win the title, but whether they’ll let Stewart-Haas compete alongside with them. Remember, all the engines and chassis for the No. 14 and No. 39 cars come straight from the HMS shop; and while Stewart-Haas should be commended for putting their own stamp on things, is what they’re getting from Hendrick going to stay top notch once they’re competing against those drivers for the championship? The house money says no, but it’ll be interesting to see.

So, if HMS keeps Stewart from contending, who’s best positioned to be in good shape to win this year’s title? For that, we’ll move on to the next stat, races led through 19 events:

Jimmie Johnson: 15
Mark Martin: 12
Tony Stewart: 11
Jeff Gordon: 11
Kurt Busch: 11
Kyle Busch: 11
Ryan Newman: 10
Matt Kenseth: 8
Denny Hamlin: 8
Carl Edwards: 8

Even though this stat can sometimes be deceiving (after all, someone could lead one lap in a race 36 straight times) I tend to trust this one more than laps led. Take Kyle Busch as an example: he may be second in laps led overall with 809, but his inconsistency in several other races this year clearly makes him far less than the second-best driver right now in terms of momentum.

Looking at this list, it’s Johnson’s diverse performance on all types of tracks which appears to win out. He’s shown himself capable of running up front at every type of speedway the Cup Series has to offer at pretty much any time this season; and with three straight titles already underneath him, you know the No. 48 is already well prepared on how to handle the Chase. As for his biggest challenger, if Mark Martin could simply make the final field of 12, not only would he be a likely top seed but his years of experience might finally balance out the No. 5 and give them needed consistency in the playoffs. Right now, though, I think it’s Johnson’s title to lose (despite Tony Stewart’s recent dominance) while everyone else is just playing catch-up.

Did You Notice? … That seven weeks into Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s tenure with Lance McGrew, the No. 88 continues to struggle? Yes, I do understand it’s important in light of the change to give a grace period for this new partnership, especially considering the personal adjustment involved; Earnhardt not only lost his crew chief but his cousin. However, while the sport’s Most Popular Driver may be a little happier on the radio these days, it’s not necessarily translating into much on the race track.

Here’s a quick comparison between the first seven races with Tony Eury, Jr. at the helm this season compared to the last seven with McGrew:

1st Seven Races (Eury): 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s, 1 DNF.
Average Finish: 18.4.

Last Seven Races (McGrew): 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 1 DNF.
Average Finish: 20.9.

Yes, it’s true that at times Earnhardt has been a top 10 car on the race track these past two months before fading during a series of late-race adjustments to the car. But isn’t that exactly what happened when Eury, Jr. was at the helm? Considering those runs at the beginning of the year occurred under a barrage of constant criticism – where every time the No. 88 team turned around questions were asked about the driver/crew chief partnership – you could make the case they were far more impressive.

I guess you’re thinking I’m about to draw the conclusion that it’s all Junior’s fault. I’m not. It’s just worth pointing out that so far, the rebuilding process over at the No. 88 hasn’t necessarily caught fire, which means to me that unless McGrew picks it up over the summer and early Fall, he’s not going to be the long-term answer to this problem. That means all the car owners with top-shelf crew chiefs better watch out – because if Hendrick needs a big name to put his Most Popular Driver back on track, I’m not thinking money will be an obstacle.

What do I think Junior needs? Honestly, one of those “take no prisoner” types of crew chiefs, someone who makes it clear who’s boss on the radio when he asks for an adjustment that’s just not going to work. But it’s got to be a man he can respect, able to put his money where his mouth is based on years of experience and success.

After splitting with a two-time Cup champion, Greg Zipadelli has proven up to the challenge of leading NASCAR’s brightest emerging star. Could the challenge of leading NASCAR’s biggest star be in his near future?

With that type of description, Greg Zipadelli continues to come to mind for me (as I’ve mentioned before). But could he ever be persuaded to make that type of radical move? Rumors continue of putting Ray Evernham on top of the pit box, but even a feisty old dog might be too out of practice when it comes to the new tricks you need for NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow. Whatever the answer may be, it’s quickly becoming apparent one’s needed beyond the in-house switching around of men like McGrew and Eury. Because whatever the Hendrick way of doing business is, it’s just not working out for Earnhardt – and it’s not like he’s the one that’s going to get kicked out of the driver’s seat.

By the way, before moving on it was nice to see Tony Eury, Jr. – a man beaten to a pulp for the first part of the year – smiling and having fun guiding Brad Keselowski to a near-top 10 finish before the No. 25 smacked the wall and finished 32nd. Sometimes, a change of scenery is what’s needed to bring out the best in both parties; and while Junior’s still struggling, at least one of the pair is on the verge of getting his career back on track.

Did You Notice? … The year of the “mystery debris” caution continues? No less than three yellow flags during the Chicagoland race were thrown for debris, one of which (according to Kyle Petty’s Twitter feed) was for a possible ice pack thrown onto the race track. Now certainly, there are times when throwing the caution for debris is a necessity due to obvious safety reasons. But through the years, the questions surrounding cautions thrown for pieces of metal that are neither shown on TV nor officially picked up on the race track has raised some cause for concern. But there’s a whole lot of conjecture and not a lot of factual data out there on this topic; so, I decided to stick my neck out and do a little analysis of my own.

Looking through the record books, I started a little tally of debris cautions through the first nineteen races this year as compared to 2000, the year before Dale Earnhardt’s death and concerns over safety rose to a new level. Before we begin, keep in mind I didn’t count instances where there was oil on the track or “competition cautions” NASCAR calls when rain leaves teams with limited practice time throughout the weekend. The cautions I counted were strictly for “debris,” corresponding exactly to the official results sheet for each race.

Let’s start with 2009. There’s a total of 39 debris cautions so far this year, with the only two races without them being California and Charlotte (races where rain was constant, causing so many stops and starts to the event there was really no time for these types of yellows to occur). If you’re looking for a little more detail, here’s a race-by-race breakdown of the yellow flags:

2009 Debris Cautions
Daytona: 1
California: 0
Las Vegas: 4
Atlanta: 3
Bristol: 1
Martinsville: 1
Texas: 1
Phoenix: 1
Talladega: 4
Richmond: 1
Darlington: 3
Charlotte: 0
Dover: 6
Pocono: 3
Michigan: 2
Infineon: 2
Loudon: 1
Daytona (2): 2
Chicagoland: 3

Turns out the Monster Mile had a monster of a problem with pieces of metal, with no less than half-a-dozen yellow flags officially caused by debris on the track. Not exactly the place you’d think would have the most (especially considering how competitive the last two races have been there, yellow flags or not) but statistics can surprise you.

Where the real surprise (or lack thereof) comes in is when you compare these totals to the numbers from 2000. Here’s how the first 19 races of that season stacked up:

2000 Debris Cautions
Daytona: 1
Rockingham: 0
Las Vegas: 0
Atlanta: 0
Darlington: 0
Bristol: 1
Texas: 1
Martinsville: 0
Talladega: 2
California: 0
Richmond: 0
Charlotte: 0
Dover: 0
Pocono: 1
Infineon: 0
Daytona (2): 1
Loudon: 0
Pocono (2): 0

In case you can’t add ‘em all up in between the zeroes, that’s a total of seven – yep, seven – debris cautions through the first 19 races that year. Now, to be fair there was a slightly higher incidence of yellow flags for oil back then, including a rash of five during the race at Pocono that July. But overall, the message is clear: debris on the track seems to have been considered a far less serious problem than it is now.

What’s the bottom line in this analysis? There’s no question NASCAR has gotten busy cracking the whip on safety. However, a nearly 600 percent increase in debris cautions from the beginning to the end of this decade seems to indicate that something has gone awry. I have a hard time believing a lot more parts and pieces suddenly fall off these COTs, and an even harder time that cars designed to be safe are suddenly at more serious risk against the same types of things which were falling on the race track nine, 10, even 20 years ago. NASCAR can claim all they want they’re not throwing cautions at specific times in order to bunch up the field; but with this type of disparity, man, you’ve got to wonder.

One more point here before signing off: every time you throw some sort of debris caution, you’re throwing yourself in some type of gray area where you put yourself in a box for explaining what type of criteria constitutes debris on the race track. And considering how badly NASCAR deals with gray areas – see yellow line, Daytona, and double-file restart issues as their latest examples – this is one line they’re going to end up getting burned on if they keep crossing it. At some point, you have to let the drivers race … even if it means one guy is dominating over the rest of the field. Anything less constitutes direct manipulation of the competition; and if the officials have the power to change the playing field at random, well, does that make what they’re controlling a sport?

Tom Bowles is now on Twitter! Click HERE to become a follower.

Don’t forget about Tom Bowles and Matt Taliaferro’s Athlon / Frontstretch Podcast, sponsored this season by Wrigley’s! Check out the archive by clicking here, and look for the newest edition to head your way sometime later this week! Of course, if all else fails, you can always listen to us on iTunes for FREE! Search for our weekly show under “Athlon.”

Contact Tom Bowles

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

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!

07/15/2009 01:25 AM

Last week at Chicago the announcers made comment that Jr’s car was 7 mph slower than most of the other cars on the track. Is this his fault….I think not, I thought that was what a crew chief was for, to set up the car to be as fast as he could. What is the problem there,,,,it seems like none of them are smart enough to get a good set up on his car. I’m just wondering what you all think the problem is.

07/15/2009 04:15 AM

Crew chiefs need accurate, insightful feedback from their drivers regarding the performance of their cars in order to make good adjustments. That has never been Jr’s strong suit. What’s a CC supposed to do with a profanity-laced tirade? I don’t think Jr will ever make Hendrick a better organization (other than merchandising) but I think HMS will make Jr a better driver.

07/15/2009 04:47 AM

It just seems to that in the past there has always been one Hendrick car that has lagged the other 3

07/15/2009 05:10 AM

I’m a Jr fan, but there is obviously something up. In his dominate plate track days, DEI just cleaned house… even Waltrip’s only wins came then. Then the gear rule was put in place and Jr hasn’t done much since. His 1 win last year wouldn’t have happened if his name wasn’t Earnhardt… passing the pace car 6 or 7 times coasting with his engine off because he was out of gas and was just waiting for the race to be called for rain. Don’t forget that NASCAR even warned him after he passed the pace car the first time, yet, unlike all but a couple of drivers, they never black flagged him.

You can’t blame his equipment any more, nor Eury Jr., so there is 2 excuses down.

I do think Tom brought up a good point, which I have noticed myself from listening to his scanner. Jr does dictate a lot of the changes made to his car. Obviously he isn’t winning, so he really needs to just shut up and let whoever his crew chief might be do his job… and give him the info of what the car is or isn’t doing.

Also something I’ve noticed, Jr seems fixated on running High, Wide, and Handsome… Harry Gant style. Chicagoland was the perfect example of that being a bad place to do that. The NNS usually benefits because of their restrictor plated… errr, “tapered spacered” engines, yet the bottom line was undoubtedly the way to run there. Yet Jr ran the whole race on the high line, which could easily account for being a lot slower than other cars, 7 mph as Marilyn stated. At most tracks, you run the high line when you can’t run the bottom. If he is just setting it up for the top, he has no chance of running the bottom. Thus giving him less options to pass if he does happen to have a fast car.

And running the high line almost makes me wonder if he has gotten “gun shy”. I can’t think of a specific wreck that might have led up to this, but he already admitted to running his 2nd(?) season with double vision caused from a couple of concussions. With his money, even if you love to race, you sometimes have to step back and think if it is worth it to put your life on the line 36+ weeks out of the year.

Then again, maybe he is just a good a driver, not a great one. Kyle Petty definitely didn’t even come close to living up to his father’s name. Yet is still a very likeable guy. Jr has to live up to a Legend’s/Hero’s name. Maybe it just gets to him. I know at least half the fans want another Hero to watch every week. The PC Gordon and Johnson will never be it. Kyle Bush is the closest thing thing that makes racing exciting in almost any position he is on the track, IMO, and yet he isn’t closing the deal either. Maybe too many of us are still looking for Jr to fill that role for us?

On the flip-side, and also ties into news about Harvick… once he started Jr Motorsports, he hasn’t seemed as competitive. Harvick seems to be the same way. Maybe these guys are just stretching themselves too thin? I used to be a huge Harvick fan, still a huge RCR fan with Burton and Bowyer at the top. But once Harvick started his own team, his whole attitude changed. Maybe seeing the bills of a wrecked car changed his mind when it came to running into someone after the race was over. Or losing a crew member for several weeks from starting a fight, etc., etc., that changed his attitude. But without a question it has changed, and his racing has gone steadily downhill, even though he did make the Chase last year. Jr seems to being going the same route as Harvick. The top guys are already stretched pretty thin with their time. Maybe starting a race team is only something do to after having a Championship or two under your belt, aka, Tony Stewart.

I don’t know, NASCAR is too tight lipped about what goes on behind the scenes to know anything for sure.

07/15/2009 07:13 AM

I seriously doubt Greg Zipadelli would leave Joe Gibbs. He just got relief from 10 years of dealing with a difficult driver. Why on earth would he trade someone as easy to get along with as Joey Logano to go work for another difficult to please driver and take all the heat which would come with being JR’s crew chief.

The Old Guy
07/15/2009 07:50 AM

Why are even discussing what Jr., and his new CC, are doing at this point in the season? It should be obvious to everyone by now that the problem is not, and never has been, the CC or the equipment.

Debris cautions are a joke. I seems a bit suspicous to me that they seem to be thrown when one of a certain group of drivers is about to go a lap down or is in danger of losingt the first car a lap down position. Suspicious indeed.

As far a manufacturers are concerned. Let’s see how many realistically contending teams there are in each make.

Chevrolet. HMS, SHR, RCR & EGR. There are a couple of S&P Teams in chevy’s

Ford RFR & Yates(a contender?) as far as I know, there are no S&P teams, maybe Boris, in Fords.

Toyota. JGR & MWR and a whole bunch of S&P teams.

Dodge. Penske & RPM. and a couple of S&P teams

In reality, Chevy has the edge here. A few years ago, Ford had the “strength in numbers” advantage.

Today, the un-informed say that Hendrick has NASCAR in his pocket. A couple of year back, they said Rousch had NASCAR in his pocket. I personally don’t think any team has NASCAR in their pocket. Dale Earnhardt Sr. did have their ear better than anyone else.

07/15/2009 08:00 AM


Lets see now, we have professionally designed and built “race cars” (OK, OK, that’s a stretch with the CoT), thru wind tunnels, thru 5 post shakers, thru intense pre-race inspections, all with the intent of going in excess of 200MPH!


Only in the WWF world of NA$CRAP!

And, as regards Jr.! His interest is not in racing, it is being with the boys just drinking and hanging out! His lack of talent & desire has finally caught up with him, he is a mid-pack driver, AT BEST!

07/15/2009 08:21 AM

Those stats on debris cautions were a real eye opener . Obviuosly this needs further investgation . You sure beat all the other media to the punch . Keep up the good work .

MJR in Springfield VA
07/15/2009 08:33 AM

Jr. is where he is based on his name. I never thought he was that “great” of a driver to start off with…he’s not much different that most of the other guys out there, he still puts his pants on one leg at a time…just like the rest of us boneheads. He’s there because his last name is Earnhardt….face it.

I have been to several races where they threw debris cautions. And I watched very, very carefully to see what and from where the “debris” was collected. Several times the safety trucks just circled the track and did nothing. Hell, during the spring race in Dover a safety truck never even entered the track during one of the debris cautions. Yes, NA$CAR is manipulating the races. They can, remember they write the rules…..on an etch-a-sketch.

NA$CAR is in a slow, but sure, spiral death spin. If there is anything left in 5 or 10 years it will be a miracle. Last man out, turn off the lights and bring the flag.

07/15/2009 09:23 AM

Do you not see Rick in Victory lane with Tony everytime he wins? Rick will cont to give give SHR what they are getting now. To have one of your satellite teams win the Championship would be huge from the buisness side for Rick.

Bill B
07/15/2009 09:50 AM

Yes to have a satellite team win with your equipment is huge, if that’s your only option. But if you have the option of having one of YOUR cars winning the championship it’s even more huge. Ask yourself this, will HMS benefit more financially if and HMS car wins or a SHR car wins.

07/15/2009 09:55 AM

Since first watching Jr race the #31 Wrangler Monte Carlo in the summer of ’97 at the Myrtle Beach Raceway in what was the old Busch Series, one thing is missing…Tony Eury Sr. Pops, as he is known in the garage, seems to be the one crew chief that simply laid down the law to Jr. He setup the car, adjusted the car and said, “shut up and drive the wheels off it”!

Look who started Jr in the Cup series back in ’00 with Budweiser and had him running for race wins and finishing the seasons in the top 15 every year? When Eury Jr took over Pops was still in the background at DEI bringing his son along to be a crew chief. Look at what Pops is doing with Keselowski in the Nationwide series. He didn’t win two Busch Championships with Jr because they were both lucky.

I’m a big Jr fan, but I have to admit that since he parted ways with Pops, his performance has decreased. I hate that everyone blames Eury Jr and other crew chiefs…lets just be honest about it and admit that Jr doesn’t have the technical knowledge to set up this COT car to race.

Pops is employed by Jr to run his Nationwide team, so I hope that Pops comes out of retirement from Cup racing and gets Jr back on track to contend for race wins.

As for mystery debris cautions…it’s just NASCASH’s idea of getting more ad $$$ to line thier posckets. It’s all about the sponsors these days and less about ‘real’ racing and the fans that love the sport.

07/15/2009 09:58 AM

If you read the Jr sites, you will see his rabid little fans saying over and over: (Fill in the blank here) was not Jr’s fault.” “He did nothing wrong” Now they are blaming everything on his Car Chief! (rolling eyes) They are also blaming Rick for not giving Jr everything at Hendrick! They say Rick should not be doing anything for anyone else but Jr, and should only be worried about Jr, cause he is the most popular driver. They claim Rick is giving Jr the leftovers from the other teams! UNREAL! Talk about being out there, and making up crap!! LOL!! It’s laughable really! They really are totally delusional! They will do and say anything to avoid the truth!
Wake up Jr fans! HE IS JUST NOT THAT GREAT! He may be a bit better then an average driver, but he is not as good and perfect as his fans say he his. If they would just accept that, and not be blaming everyone under the sun, except Jr, for his problems, they would be better off.

Mike in Floyd Va
07/15/2009 10:03 AM

When a debris caution is called and not a single truck goes out onto the track as happened before at Atlanta, you have to wonder. When a race is stopped for rain in Turn 2 and you’re sitting in Turn 2 and there’s no rain as happened at Charlotte this year, you have to wonder. When Kasey Kahne got ready to pass Jr. at Charlotte a few years ago and lap him and a debris caution came out every time Kahne was about to lap Jr., you have to wonder.

07/15/2009 10:18 AM

Yes, the debris caution comes out to bunch up the field when the race starts putting people to sleep. Problem is, it tdoesn’t take long for the field to get strung out and we have follow the leader racing again. No long after another debris caution comes out to bunch up the field again…..

07/15/2009 11:02 AM

Jr. can’t drive the COT period. He and the vast majority of drivers can’t get a handle on the out of control feel this car has. If you look you see guys that have been raised on the dirt tracks are doing pretty good with the COT. The pavement guys are not as strong.The feel Jr. is looking for he will never find on the COT, that is why race after race they adjust the car from decent to bad. Because Jr is never satisfied with the feel of the car and STILL thinks they can adjust it until it feels right for him. When Jr accepts the COT for the way it handles ( Yes I mean Shut up and Drive the DAMN thing) then he will get something done. Until then he will chase the COT until he retires.

07/15/2009 11:09 AM

Is it possible for anyone to write a column about NASCAR (re. the debris cautions) and not mention Dale Earnhardt? He was an excellent driver, no doubt, but he was not the epitomy of NASCAR because there were others just as good, and the man has been dead for years. Let him RIP and move on!

bobby dee
07/15/2009 11:11 AM

Always have been debris cautions. More now. Good article. Nice comment about Zippy

M.B. Voelker
07/15/2009 11:52 AM

I’m getting really tired of the “Jr. needs the right crew chief,” business. A driver who needs a specific, “magic crew chief” in order to win is simply an inferior driver.

I tried to count how many crew chiefs Kyle Busch has won races with in Cup, Nationwide/Busch, and Trucks — its at least 9, but I can’t find a solid list.

Mark Martin and Greg Biffle have probably won with similar numbers. Tony Stewart as well if you count his IRL wins as racing at a comparable level of challenge.

Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, and a number of other drivers have shown that they can communicate with and win with multiple crew chiefs.

Seems to me that it would be more productive for Jr. to learn better communications skills and to become more adaptable in his style than for Hendrick to indulge him by installing a revolving door on the 88 team crew chief’s office.

That is, at least, if you measure productivity in races won rather than in t-shirt’s sold.

07/15/2009 12:21 PM

The only difference between Dale Jr. and Paul Menard is that one needed his daddy’s money to buy a ride, and the other just needed his last name.

07/15/2009 01:05 PM

Don’t hand the manufacturers’ title to Chebbie just yet. Wait until sandbagger Edwards gets the new Ford engine – he will take off and make a chase of the chase.

The facts for Jr is this: his stock has fallen. Plain and simple. He and only he can pull out of it. No new crew chief, sponsor or owner is gonna help the guy now. “To gell with a new CC” is a lame excuse.

That Mr. DeBris guy that runs out on the track at suspicious times of the race is a french guy from France (Brian).

P on U
07/15/2009 01:05 PM

WTF is up with the Jr hating? I’m not his biggest fan, but he has won more races and had better finishes than MANY drivers in this sport.

I agree that he doesn’t appear to like the CoT POS – but who does? He said it after a NNW series race this year. It went something like this:

Reporter: How did the car feel out the today Dale?

Jr: It felt great! I actually had front down force and could turn.

Simply put the CoT will always have shite on track racing (except for Talladega). It sucks!

Na$crap claimed when they broke out this POS that they would work with the teams and drivers to give them what they need. They have asked for more front nose on the car for downforce and to give them some travel in the front end with some actual suspension. Get rid of that stupid azz spoiler and splitter please!

They have done nothing except for lowering the the rear wing closer to the trunk. That is it. Shite racing? Keep it the same, look at the pretty cars going around the track. BORING!

Look mate, if INDIVIDUAL drivers cannot adjust the car to get a feeling they need there will mot be serious racing on the track. With the CoT – the computer and “rig” tell you how to set the snow plow up. If it hits on. you dominate, fall off the setup a little? Compete crap!

It is nonsense. I have come to the conclusion that Brian France used to get slapped around by his daddy, now to take revenge – he is going to drive it (Na$crap) right into the ground.

This is the only logical explanation I can come up with. Good job you wall eyed drunk rat!

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
07/15/2009 01:11 PM

The increase of debris cautions can be traced to the Network TV deal that began in 2001. Dale Earnhardt Sr.‘s passing had nothing to do with the exponential increase in yellow flags in my estimation.

D.A. Seal
07/15/2009 01:14 PM

I never want to let facts get in the way of a good story, but Jr has 18 wins in almost 10 years in Cup, which puts him tied for 39th on the all-time list. Pull up the list of all-time wins and look at the names behind him and right around him (Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Matt Kenseth). NONE of them raced with anywhere near the expectations or pressure. He has definately benefitted from his name, but you have to give him credit for what he’s accomplished carrying the burden and expectations of that name. As for the stats with McGrew…the numbers can be a little deceiving with so few races. Did anyone figure in at Sonoma Jr was wrecked running in the top 10 when Carl Edwards decided to go three wide in a road course corner and wrecked him? Or Daytona where he was as fast as anyone and was collected in someone elses wreck.

danny tall
07/15/2009 01:29 PM

Thank you Tom. Debris cautions are a na$car tool, used to keep a driver in check if they don’t like him. Your article substantiates what I have noticed for years. The driver that has had the greatest negative impact of mystery debris cautions – has also been the only driver that na$car and tv media have tried to show creating a debris caution. Amazing as it may sound, the technology used to try to show this driver throwing something on the track required about 10 different camera angles, but that same technology is not used to show other debris. If you look at the time frame of this driver starting a single car team from scratch and compare the timelines listed in this article you will notice a pattern. What driver has had a debris caution put him a lap down while pitting under green more that 1 time in a race? More that 2 times in 2 races? more than 3 times in 3 races? No debris shown. Selective enforcement of the rules is why tv ratings and attendance is so bad. Anyone besides Tom know which driver? If you haven’t got it yet, he was wrecked under caution 2 times in 1 race by the same driver. He had an in car camera catch fire in his car while leading. He was leading at Sonoma and a caution was thrown because a stopped car got back on the racing surface. Most fans don’t like him. Most fans really don’t know that much about him – or they would.

07/15/2009 01:49 PM

Has anyone ever seen JR with a womeon on pit lane , before or after the race?

07/15/2009 01:49 PM

Uh the one factor for debris from 2000 to 2009. Brian France and his TV deal. Have you noticed that most times, the caution is called during commercials. Just call them concession stand cautions. Fake excitement, lets do another Double file restart caution. I’m sure since Brian only attends a few races a year. He has a direct (red phone) Debris phone straight into the control suite at the race. He sits home in his condo drinking whatever he drink to run over curbs and hit stuff with, and calls debris cautions.

07/15/2009 03:39 PM

What has happened to Nas-WWE-car is really no different that what has happened to the NFL.

Let’s water down the sporting elements and play up the entertainment aspects and boom! You have rules to protect the QB from any kind of hitting, because if the number 1 goes down, then attendance and interest might suffer. Likewise, if some of the front runners get lapped, then folks stop tuning in or leave the track, thus hurting the France family’s income.

It is all about style over substance. Highball Brian doesn’t give one hoot whether the racing is legitimate or not, he is all about the money and the power.

Kind of sounds like “Scarface”…the money and the pow’r.

And we all know what happened to Scarface.

Nascar is setting themselves up to implode.

The Old Guy
07/15/2009 03:51 PM

DA Seal is right. Jr does have 18 wins in 10 years in NASCAR. All but one of them with DEI and all but one of them with the most heavily funded team in NASCAR.

However, Mr. Seal, pull up the last five years of Jr.‘s performance and see what you get. BTW, he’s still in one of the most heavily funded team in NASCAR.

And, BTW, Terry and Bobby LaBonte have both won championships along with Kurt Busch who has been driving one fewer season and has one more win along with that championship.

Good try though!

07/15/2009 09:01 PM

Ever since Jr. was in that fire a few years ago, it seems he has lost something. Sometimes close calls and visions of Dads pulling you out of fires tend to make you realize what risks your are taking. One thing, if JR does not make a move in the very near future, he will have to start using some of his own money to live on!

Lets call it what it is, an excuse, not a reason to call a caution. Debri, Trash, Crap on the track, farce! I have heard in the communications between drivers and cc where the cc will indicate that a caution will probably come out soon!

Big Henry
07/15/2009 11:47 PM

Danny Tall: Would that be Robby Gordon?

Bad Wolf
07/16/2009 12:37 AM

Danny Tall, It is Robby Gordon and I have noticed the same thing for years.

07/18/2009 10:08 PM

The difference is if Jr’s name wasn’t Earnhardt, you people wouldn’t be talking about him. So shut up already;


Contact Tom Bowles

Recent articles from Tom Bowles:

Did You Notice? ... Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Did You Notice? ... Drivers Still Make A Difference... But Silly Cautions Don't
Did You Notice? ... NASCAR's Free Agent Lynchpin, Uncomfortable Reality And Gambling
Did You Notice? ... Toyota Trouble, Limping Into Action And Testing The Waters
Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief

If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.

Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at