The Frontstretch: Pace Laps: A Busch Fights Back, Sadler's Tussle With Smith And A Driver Protest by Frontstretch Staff -- Monday July 15, 2013

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Did you miss an event during this busy week in racing? How about a late-night press release, an important sponsorship rumor, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch going forward for the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed, no matter what series you might have missed, all in this edition of Pace Laps!

Sprint Cup: Can Busch Keep His Composure? For Kurt Busch, 2013 has been a long line of near misses when it comes to Victory Lane. Sunday appeared to be his best chance yet to be on target; leading a race-high 102 laps, it was clear the No. 78 car was the class of the field. Only pit strategy, which briefly shuffled him back into traffic kept Busch from running out front the rest of the race.

That, and Matt Kenseth’s rear bumper. A tap from the No. 20 car, while battling for position with Kenseth and Ryan Newman sent Busch around and turned a potential domination into disaster on Lap 226. While the actual contact came from someone else, most of the blame was laid on Newman, who Kurt’s younger brother Kyle called an “idiot” after the race.

“He’s a big ogre and he can do whatever he wants,” Kyle Busch claimed. “Because he can probably kick anybody’s butt, so no sense in getting into a fight with him. Glad he is out of a job.”

Busch’s final comment was made public this weekend; Newman will not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. However, among the places he is rumored to land are Richard Childress Racing, in the No. 29 or Furniture Row as a teammate to Kurt Busch. Could this feud, although the elder Busch himself stayed composed have an impact on future employment? Just as important, will the wind be let out of the single-car team’s sails when the win that would lock up a Chase bid seemed firmly within their grasp? Keeping their momentum sailing, after the off week will determine both the short and long-term future of the No. 78; remember, Busch is in the final year of his contract. Tom Bowles

Nationwide: Smith vs. Sadler “You will not win this championship, mark my word.”

Those were the words on the lips of Elliott Sadler following Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire. After being spun by Regan Smith with two laps to go following the final green-white-checkered restart of the race, Sadler, who had been running third, was understandably unhappy, losing 15 spots in the altercation to finish 18th.

But will Smith, the current points leader, actually take any repercussions from his Joe Gibbs Racing rival?

Probably not. The comments were made in the heat of the moment, after Sadler faced yet another disappointing finish. The finish puts him fifth in the standings, a mere 24 points behind Smith.

So, you know, Sadler doesn’t actually have anything to worry about; after all, the series just hit its halfway point. A 24-point deficit is totally possible to overcome, depending on various circumstances.

In other words, don’t be expecting any sort of feud between Smith and Sadler in the weeks ahead, unless another incident occurs to make it so. Both are in the championship hunt despite the spin, and as long as both continue running (mostly) well, that’s not going to change anytime soon. Kevin Rutherford

IndyCar: Odds ‘N’ Ends There are a few notes from this past weekend at Toronto for the IndyCar series. The biggest one is that Ryan Briscoe will be sidelined for a while after fracturing his right wrist. Briscoe was the unfortunate beneficiary of being caught up in a collision between two other drivers and knocked the wall pretty hard. Rookie Carlos Munoz, who finished second in the Indy 500, filled in for Briscoe. No word as to who might be in the No. 4 when the series resumes in Ohio.

Though the racing was excellent, the managing of the series looked a little lost at times in Toronto. First, they aborted the first ever standing start to begin a race — though they made up for it by going through with it in the second. Second, Takuma Sato was announced to be on probation for his pit road miscue when he ran into Ryan Hunter-Reay at Pocono — yet no one knows exactly what probation means. And thirdly, Dario Franchitti was penalized twice, only to have them both rescinded. There has yet to be formal announcements for the reasons for taking them back. That all seems like a strange conflux of decisions. P. Huston Ladner

Short Tracks: A Powerful Protest At Southside Many years ago, the drivers in the Cup Series stood up to Bill France about competing at Talladega Superspeedway. They staged a driver boycott that resulted in many of the big names of NASCAR not racing in 1969’s opening event, but France found substitute drivers and the show went on. The racers at Southside Speedway are in another situation where they are unhappy with a decision by the promoters at the track. As a result, they staged their own protest on Saturday night.

The promoter at Southside announced that drivers would have to take the checkered flag in order to receive their prize money. Whether it was an effort to prevent drivers in the National Points Championship from bringing start and park cars to the track, a ploy to sell more tires or to just try and put on a better show, the bottom line was that the drivers were very unhappy about the decision. As a result, the drivers decided to stage a protest to make a point. Nine drivers took the green flag and six of them pulled off of the track on lap one. A seventh driver crashed; then, the pole sitter had a mechanical problem and pulled off. The end result was Eddie Johnson driving around the track at near idle speed at the bottom until the race was called.

Whether the message sent to the track will make a change in the promoter’s decision, we’ll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure, it is the most attention that Southside Speedway has received since Denny Hamlin brought his short track showdown there many years ago. Mike Neff

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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…
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oldirtracker
07/15/2013 02:52 PM
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Regan smith dumping Sadler was a cheap shot and e deserves to be paid back.I would not have thought he would do something like that and specially when it cost Sadler the $100,000.

babydufus
07/15/2013 04:30 PM
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i was very luke warm about the indy shows. AND unfortunately it looks like they’ve put Mr. Walker in handcuffs (or at least put the reigns on him.) leave it to those people to find a way to screw things up just when they nearly had turned the corner.

elliot sadler who? oh you mean that guy that used to run ok in cup in the “old car” but didn’t have the staying power of drivers like… say.. um.. jeff gordon or jr. who alsodon’t relate well to the “new” car. yeah.. unfortunately he’s toast.

actually i think kurt can keep it together. he’s driving his heart out in mediocre equipment. unfortunately for him and his team that only leads to mistakes. when that team operates on the ragged edge to get results and the (god i put my tongue in my cheek when i say this) “elite” teams (those with an eff of a lot more cash) can cruise for most of the race… tell me who is going to make more mistakes… gosh, sometimes i really hate what nascar has become and listen to this, i’m not alone.

Fed Up
07/15/2013 05:53 PM
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Laugh of the week: Kyle Busch call someone else an idiot.

 

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 SI.com.