The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder ... After New Hampshire by Tommy Thompson -- Monday June 30, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder ... After New Hampshire

Tommy Thompson · Monday June 30, 2008


1. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Hendrick Motorsports made it official last Friday that Casey Mears — who joined HMS in 2007 to replace Brian Vickers — would be released from his No. 5 Chevy ride at season’s end. Said team owner Rick Hendrick at the time of Mears’ signing, “Casey is a talented driver and a high-character person who is going to be a great fit with our organization.” Hendrick went on to say, “He has the ability to win races and ultimately contend for championships, so we’re thrilled to welcome him to Hendrick Motorsports.”

After just 52 points races… Next!

2. Do The Math – Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 from the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway was altered by the race sponsor in a promotion that had the race length extended an extra lap this year. The toolmaker said the extra mile was added in honor of Lenox customers – users and suppliers of industrial tools – who perform physically demanding jobs yet receive little recognition.

Hey, wait a minute! 301 laps x 1.058-mile track length = 318.45 miles. Oh, wait; no, they didn’t go an extra 18.45 miles did they? Maybe just an extra 1.058-miles for hard working folks… Was the race supposed to be 300 miles plus one mile? Oh, Brother!

3. It’s Official! – Tony Stewart will become part owner at Haas CNC and bring fellow Indiana driver Ryan Newman with him to the team next year… or, he might be in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 being vacated by Casey Mears… or, he will be held to his contract at Joe Gibbs Racing and be required to continue to chauffeur the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota until 2010…or…

Readers may insert their own Tony Stewart rumor here: _______________.

4. Bank It – In 2002, New Hampshire Motor Speedway underwent an extensive facelift, largely due to the fatal and tragic accidents at the track in 2000. Those accidents claimed the lives of Kenny Irwin, Jr. and Adam Petty, and were attributed in part due to the lack of banking in the turns, causing cars to hit the outside retaining walls at particularly high rates of speed. Progressive banking was constructed into the turns as a result of those accidents, with angles that ranged from four degrees installed into the lower lanes to seven degrees of banking from that point to the top of each turn at the oval.

Yet… people continue to refer to Loudon as a “flat track.”

5. You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie – Rain had been in the forecast for the running of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 for several days, yet the race was a sellout. Sellouts are nothing unusual for New Hampshire Motor Speedway, though. In fact, Sunday’s standing room only crowd at the almost 96,000-seat motorsports facility was just the latest in a 27-year streak of nothing but sellouts for the track’s Cup Series events.

Who said NASCAR racing is a Southern sport?

6. We’ve Gone Global – Canadian Patrick Carpentier became only the second foreign-born driver to qualify for the pole in a Cup Series race in the more than 60-year history of NASCAR. The last non-American pole sitter was Lloyd Shaw out of Toronto, Canada in June of 1953.

Considering the influx of international talent into NASCAR the last three years, isn’t it a safe bet that the sport won’t have to wait some 45 years for the next foreign Coors Light Pole Award Winner? And not necessarily just by Canadians…

Canadian Patrick Carpentier knocked out the competition on Friday to score his first career pole.

7. Lagging Behind – Michael Waltrip and his No. 55 Toyota scored a second place finish in the rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at Loudon, New Hampshire. Pit strategy gave the owner/driver of the three car Michael Waltrip Racing team his first Top 10 finish of 2008. In fact, it was only MWR’s second Top 10 finish combined for the three teams in the first 17 events of this race season (David Reutimann finished 10th at Charlotte in May).

Word to Michael… Toyotas are supposed to be competitive this year!

8. Good PR? – During the last caution period of the race brought out when Sam Hornish, Jr. and Clint Bowyer wrecked on lap No. 280, NASCAR’s most booed driver Kyle “Rowdy” Busch and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya had an on-track altercation. Montoya took exception to what he perceived as unnecessary contact by the Sprint Cup point leader, and admitted to intentionally spinning the No. 18 driver out down the frontstretch. As a result, Montoya was penalized two laps for rough driving and credited with a 32nd place finish.

Lose a few positions…gain a bunch of fans?

9. Not A Total DudNASCAR officially ended the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 on lap 284 of 301 while the race was under red flag conditions due to rain. On lap 270, leaders including Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, and Jimmie Johnson hit the pits during a caution period for an accident that saw Jamie McMurray slam into the rear of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as Junior attempted to enter pit road. It looked like a real nailbiter might be developing, as those cars with fresh tires were set to battle others who’d stayed out on fuel mileage to gain track position. But instead, after just two green flag laps, the race ended with the top finishers being those cars that did not pit — nor were running up front at any time during the race. The rain certainly made for an anti-climatic ending to an otherwise good event.

But the day wasn’t a total loss. During the SPEEDTV pre-race show, a man in the trackside television audience had a monkey on his shoulders… drinking beer! Long live NASCAR!

10. New Old News – Busch wins!

Wait, not him… the other one!!!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Jeff G
06/30/2008 06:53 AM

So, from the looks of the crowd it may be you get two seats with each ticket purchase. Yea, that monkey was way cool. I think Jimmy and Kenny should get one to entertain us during the show…lol

06/30/2008 08:25 AM

“S’cuse’ me”?

Quote: “In fact Sunday’s standing room only crowd”!

Now what am I missing here? Or should I ask just what race track you were at? If anyone was “standing”, it was only because they could not make up their minds on which of the 30,000 EMPTY seats they really wanted to sit in!

If this was a “sellout”, then I wonder what the owners did with all the tickets they bought! (not unusual for owners to buy up the remaining tickets so they can be considered as a sellout! Does not cost them, the owners, anything to do so.)

Mike In NH
06/30/2008 08:57 AM

Douglas, you slay me – there were no “2 for 1” specials, and it was a sellout. The track was not 1/3 empty. The black helicopters were not circling.

And it’s good the JPM is gaining fans for running into Kyle on the yellow – almost taking out other cars in the process – because he sure hasn’t been gaining them with his race results of late.

I’ll give Carpentier credit – I had him losing the lead on the first lap, but he held out for five or six. :)

06/30/2008 10:24 AM

You missed something about the length of the race:

Jeff G
06/30/2008 10:58 AM

Yea Mike In NH!
I agree with you!
I saw all those fans dressed as empty seats!! LMAO..

06/30/2008 11:04 AM

“Readers may insert their own Tony Stewart rumor here:”

Tony Stewart will leave NASCAR and go to the IRL, forming his own team. Tony will bring Kyle Busch over as his driver.


Ken Smith
06/30/2008 11:22 AM

Hey! There’s good old “Mike in NH” again in this column trying to convince everybody that all those empty seats they saw weren’t really empty!! I guess it was all the standing fans that would rather stand than sit !!

hank lee
06/30/2008 11:46 AM

Well fellas. EVERY RACE this season has had empty seats. I was in Bristol, the “hottest ticket” and a third of my section was empty in the Allison Terrace Section I, but I guess we won’t talk about that because we just LOVE Bristol, don’t we?

06/30/2008 11:46 AM

“Readers may insert their own Tony Stewart rumor here:”
Tony will loose weight, leave racing altogether and have his own show on HGTV.

Montoya is a punk. He’s too hyper-sensitive and takes every pump and grind personally. I hope his exit from stockcar racing comes soon.

Good to see Kyle Petty back at the track, and in the booth no less.

Theresa Who???
06/30/2008 12:31 PM

Tony will be going to DEI and drive the number 8

Mike In NH
06/30/2008 12:44 PM

Well, I’ll man up and admit maybe I did miss the empty seats while watching since everyone is insisting so hard they were there. It could be because I was watching the cars, not the stands… ;)

Standard practice for all sports is to declare a sellout when all seats are sold, regardless of whether the fans show up (this is why a lot of NFL games are sold out even though you see empty seats, especially of late Jets games in December!). I have no doubt NASCAR does the same thing. It doesn’t make sense to me that the owners, if they WERE to buy tickets to make it a sellout, would then buy even more to make it more than sold out, but standing room – that just sounds like black helicopter talk to me. Could it be the rain in the forecast, coupled with memories of the fun and games at California in week 2, convinced some folks to not come to the race?

I’ll also man up and admit calling out Douglas by name was not cool, so apologies for that. I usually don’t do that, I must have been in a crappy mood (or under-caffienated) this morning.

06/30/2008 03:33 PM

NH is going to lose a date to Kentucky – and it should.

Sunday was some poor racing. They were just making laps to get outta there.

Bruton may be many things, but he is no fool. And he is not about to dump a bunch of money in such a sad-sack track.

It will be no loss to lose a race from there anymore than it would be at Pocono, another sad-sack location.

Ken in Va.
06/30/2008 04:19 PM

Mike, I saw the empty seats because the nonaction on the track was boring. If it was a sell out, it was a buy one-get one free. I have been to the Bristol night “sold out” race. My free sponsor paid seat was surrounded by many empty seats.

Whenever I hear sold out or debris caution from NA$CAR, I automatically assume it is not true and need proof that is is true. If the cameras shows a bunch of empty seats or doesn’t show the debris, I assume it is a lie.

Unlike y'all, i like NASCAR
07/01/2008 09:39 AM

it seems many people writing in to the site complain way too much about sell outs and the like. of what importance is it to you? i highly doubt that anyone here benefits personally or financially from the number of race tickets sold. it’s a moot point and a pointless, childish discussion. i get excited to watch the races and could give a darn if the seats in ______ have empties. just one suggestion, put some banking in NHMS … just a little more, enough to race in a little bit harder into the corners.

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