The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder ... After Martinsville by Tommy Thompson -- Monday March 31, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder ... After Martinsville

Tommy Thompson · Monday March 31, 2008


1. Beggar – Borrower – Thief? – Jack Roush maintains that a sway bar, which he considers to be proprietary equipment, was taken from his team from a Toyota rival last Fall. Roush is fuming, and though he did not name the organization, Michael Waltrip Racing's Michael Waltrip has stepped forward and admitted that his team is the one in question. Roush said that he is considering legal action, though Waltrip characterizes the incident as a "mistake." But Roush is not backing down, and claims the Toyota team took the part to the vendor that produced it and requested that it be duplicated. Roush said, "The … nondescript Toyota team, went behind my toolbox and took my bar out of my inventory, and put it in their inventory and took it home with them. That is a fact. It has not been refuted, and it has been discussed with the team involved." Fan opinions vary; however, many place the blame on Roush Fenway Racing for failing to better secure their equipment.

Michael Waltrip was in need of a new sway bar after several wrecks at Martinsville Sunday.

Which begs the question: If you do not lock your car and it is stolen… is it your fault or… that of the “dirtbag” who stole it?

2. We're Not Saying We're Wrong, But… – In the wake of the controversy that erupted due to the tires that the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company provided to Sprint Cup teams at Atlanta, the company has announced that they will not be bringing that particular compound to Texas Motor Speedway this coming weekend. The tires in question — although believed to be more durable — provided for poor grip, causing drivers to have an exceptional amount of difficulty controlling their race cars as they slid through the turns. That day, second place finisher Tony Stewart led the driver lambasting of Goodyear immediately following the checkered flag, and numerous other respected Cup drivers have supported Stewart since in his complaints against the tire manufacturer.

Chalk one up for labor!

3. Catch Me If You Can - In 2004, NASCAR adopted the Green/White/Checkered rule in an effort to finish more of its races under race conditions rather than under caution. Since that time, there have been have been twenty-eight races during which the rule has been used. In those events, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have led at the restart and held on to win eleven times combined. In fact, Gordon (6 wins) and Johnson (5 wins) have never relinquished the lead under the green/white/checkered, and Johnson is one of six drivers that have taken a win when not leading at the drop of the green (Las Vegas (2006).

Think Gordon was begging for a caution flag those final few laps?

4. Too Little, Too Late? – Scott Dixon won the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Saturday. The event was the season opener for the IRL and the first for newly reunified U.S. open wheel racing since the merger of the IRL and the Champ Car World Series. The prerace PR boasted that three former Indianapolis 500 winners were scheduled to participate in Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), and Dan Wheldon (2005).

Not bad…not bad at all. But here’s the problem: NASCAR's Daytona 500 had four former Indianapolis 500 winners attempt to qualify for its season opener: Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Sam Hornish, Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007). Villeneuve failed to qualify for NASCAR's biggest race… but the rest did.

5. Who Likes Vanilla, Anyways? – International software security firm Vanguard Integrity Professionals is set on distancing itself from oft-controversial Sprint Cup Driver Robby Gordon. The Company has sued Gordon for $1.15 million in sponsorship fees they want returned, as well as for Robby to "cease and desist" donning their company logo on his Sprint Cup driving suit. Following the cancellation of January's Dakar Rally, Gordon made some inflammatory comments that the security company made clear they do not agree on and do not care to be associated with. Said Gordon, who believed the race organizers should have held some of the 16 scheduled days of the rally despite "direct" threats by al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups: "Let’s put it in perspective. Eleven people got killed over there. I’m pretty sure in L.A., we kill 11 a night on the streets of L.A. … It was a couple of kids in the back of a pickup truck with a couple of AK-47s that shot a couple of people.” A Vanguard statement read, "It is not positive to be associated with someone who said al-Qaeda attacks are no worse than an average night in America – especially for a security software company."

For those who complain that NASCAR drivers are nothing but "corporate mouthpieces"… meet Robby Gordon!

6. So… How Do You Like It? - Back-to-back 500 lap short track races at Bristol and Martinsville have illustrated just how different the racing has become between the two tracks. This season's first visit to Bristol, which was repaved and reconfigured to include progressive banking, saw only 10 caution flags for 86 laps, with 17 lead changes. At yesterday's Goody's Cool Orange 500, there were 18 cautions — short of the last Martinsville event in October of last year, when there were a record 21 yellow flags dropped.

Racing or Wrecking? Which do you choose?

7. It's Right Here In The Rule BookNASCAR gave more guidance on how it would apply its policy to allow owners to transfer points between teams this week. Michael Waltrip Racing had requested that the owner points David Reutimann earned while driving the No. 00 be transferred to the No. 44 UPS MWR Toyota that he took over the week after the retirement of Dale Jarrett. However, NASCAR's John Darby denied the request, explaining that the point swaps are only granted when there is a change of business function, such as the case of Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish, Jr. at the start of the season. He said, "This [point swap] was never meant to be used to give a driver the best position he can get."

It wasn't?

8. Thanks A Lot, Buddy - The aforementioned Reutimann then suffered mechanical failure at Martinsville, relegating him to a 39th place finish on Sunday and putting him in a difficult spot. So, NASCAR's decision to disallow Reutimann the 27th spot in owner points from his former No. 00, coupled with the poor finish, has his new No. 44 now 37th in owner points, which will require him to qualify into next week’s Texas race on speed. Meanwhile, rookie Michael McDowell, who finished 26th in Reutimann's former No. 00, still has a guaranteed starting spot by virtue of his team’s 25th position in owner points.

Yesterday's race was the first time that Reutimann had a guaranteed starting spot in a Cup race during his time at MWR. Well… at least he knows what he needs to do for next time!

9. School's In Session – Jeff Burton leaves Martinsville as the NASCAR Sprint Cup point leader on the strength of his solid 3rd place finish at the historic track, jumping three spots in the process. However, the usually unflappable and deliberate-speaking Virginia native and 15-year Cup veteran, made a point of calling out MWR's Michael McDowell during a nationally broadcast interview for not allowing lead cars to pass him in the closing laps of the Goody's Cool Orange 500. Burton warned, "That kid in the double-zero [No. 00] better learn some manners…or he'll get taught."

Michael McDowell…welcome to Cup racing!

10. Bracket This! - NCAA March Madness is coming to an end, along with those hoop picks that looked so promising when predictions were made; only to be upset by, well…upsets. But never fear, race fans; keep the sporting fun alive by having family, friends, and co-workers try to predict the Top 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship drivers after Richmond the first week of September. Presently there are only 127 points separating 20th and 12th place in the standings. Too easy, you say? Pick them in the exact order, then!

Rk Driver Points
1. Jeff Burton 915
2. Kevin Harvick 876
3. Greg Biffle 855
4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 846
5. Kyle Busch 831
6. Tony Stewart 811
7. Kasey Kahne 786
8. Denny Hamlin 758
9. Jeff Gordon 749
10. Jimmie Johnson 746
11. Ryan Newman 741
12. Clint Bowyer 740
13. Martin Truex, Jr. 695
14. Carl Edwards 686
15. Matt Kenseth 677
16. Kurt Busch 669
17. Juan Pablo Montoya 633
18. David Ragan 628
19. Elliott Sadler 626
20. Brian Vickers 613

Ah, ha! Not as easy as it sounds, huh?

Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why things went down the way they did at Martinsville? You’d know if you subscribed to the Frontstretch Newsletter and Amy Henderson’s Big Six column, a quick way to get you up to speed on any of the action you missed the day before. Still haven’t signed up for the newsletter? Click here to get it sent to your inbox ASAP; and remember, the best thing about it is it’s 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 Tommy Thompson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Max Fan
03/31/2008 09:01 AM

I have a point to ponder….

Do you think if “partgate” didn’t involve a Toyota team Jack would have made such a big deal about it? Hmmm?

My guess is NO. I bet this sort of thing happens all the time, but because it was a Toyota team Jack wanted to crucify them!

03/31/2008 09:52 AM

And I’ll bet, whoever your favorite is, is never guilty of anything! The fact is that nascrap teams cheat and steal all the time! In the old days a fight would have settled it, but in these days of brian and the rest of the “sissymen” Jack of any other owner only has the public forum to attempt justice.

Woobie boy
03/31/2008 09:53 AM

hey Max Fan
Stealing is Stealing. It’s illeage!!! Plain and simple
I guess because it’s Toyota gave 95 million dollars to NA$CAR it doesn’t make it stealing…. at least according to your thought procees? May be people should come to your house and take what ever they want??? Hey it’s not stealing…according to you.

Bob Whitehead
03/31/2008 11:28 AM

AMEN, Woobie! Stealing is stealing. When RFR got the part back, the Roush-identifying paint finish was reportedly sand-blasted off, and the manufacturer contacted about duplicating it. No, nothing suspicious about that! Thank goodness the manufacturer had enough integrity not to duplicate it, but call Roush and tell him.

According to Kyle Petty on “Tradin’ Paint” yesterday, the sway bar is one of the parts NASCAR doesn’t specifiy what it’s made from, and other specs which gives them some freedom to research new ideas. This sway bar reportedly was of a slightly different shape and size that it didn’t fit IN the parts bin, so it was stowed UNDER the pit box, from which it was stolen. Jack has every right to prosecute this to the fullest extent. NASCAR is being their typical wuss self, and of course, they’re not going to lift a finger to help Jack Roush anyway.

Go Jack!!

Good column, Tommy!!


Kevin in SoCal
03/31/2008 12:33 PM

If you dont lock your car you can expect it to be stolen, but its still the fault of the bottom-feeding thief.

Michael McDowell probably would have started in the Nationwide car but David Reutimann wanted the ride and wouldnt give it up. It was part of his contract they worked out for this year. So McDowell gets thrown in the fire with no experience.

03/31/2008 01:13 PM

EVEN if they got it by accident how do they explain it being sandblasted and repainted ? Any way you explain it its still pretty shifty ! And if you dont lock your street car does that mean the thief isnt charged with grand theft auto ? NO …it means your insurance company will refuse to pay damages …Dont think Jack is worried about an insurance check ! As far as Mcdowell goes ..hes a rookie but hes still gotta know better ..i mean even kid kyle the moron got out of the way !!

03/31/2008 04:05 PM


There’s an angle to the Robby Gordon/Vanguard story that everyone is overlooking. Vanguard is just trying to use Robby’s statement as an excuse. The real issue is that Vanguard owner and CEO will not be able to fulfill his dream of completing a Dakar Rally, now that they won’t be racing in Africa. Ronn Bailey sponsored Robby to buy his way onto a first class competetive team. He was to drive a second Hummer for Robby in return for his sponsorship dollars.

Please, someone in the media needs to do a bit more research than just reading Vanguard’s press statement.

Max Fan
03/31/2008 07:52 PM


I never said that stealing was okay, nor did I say taking a swaybar wasn’t stealing…in fact, I agree it is wrong…however, I did write that there would be less of a story if it was another team (such as another Ford team or a Dodge team). No denying Jack has a vandetta against Toyota, so he will naturally use anything he can to disgrace them. This shouldn’t have been a Roush versus Toyota thing, it should have been a Roush versus MWR thing (if that was who had “stolen” the part). The manufactuer shouldn’t have been brought into it! Jack wanted to purposely single out Toyota.

03/31/2008 08:35 PM

Better be carefull throwing stones Jeff and Jeff . The rookie year for Burton was not what i would call spectacular , and Gordons’ rookie year was one big crash fest . Using McDowell for an excuse is not gonna fly guys . You got beat !

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