The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder After ... Dover by Tommy Thompson -- Monday September 22, 2008

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Ten Points To Ponder After ... Dover

Tommy Thompson · Monday September 22, 2008


1. Drive It Like You Stole It! – According to police in Mooresville, NC, thieves broke into the Roush / Yates engine shop last week, loading three Sprint Cup race motors into a stolen Penske rental truck. The Ford engines taken were specially prepared for the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series.

Don’t you just know that there is some Bubba in a barn somewhere in North Carolina trying to stuff one of those brutes into a rusted-out 1981 Ford Ranger?

2. Heap Of Trouble – In the aftermath of the post-race melee that erupted after Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr spun the Germain Racing Toyotas of Todd Bodine and David Reutimann during the September 13th running of the CTS event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NASCAR has dealt out its fines and penalties for the incident. Three crew members sat out Saturday’s Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350, hit with suspensions that last until September 24th: Mike Hillman Jr., crew chief for the No. 30 truck driven by Bodine; Mark Hillman, crew member for the No. 30; and William Divel, crew member for the No. 11 truck driven by Starr. Also, Hillman Jr. has also been fined $2,500 and had his NASCAR probation extended through Dec. 31, while Mark Hillman and Divel have also been fined $1,500 and also placed on probation through the end of the year. Additionally, Starr has been fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

But that’s not all. Richard Gay, crew chief for the No. 11 truck and Jason Overstreet, crew chief for the No. 9 truck driven by David Reutimann, have both been fined $1,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31st. Two crew members – Brandon Hopkins for the No. 30 and Tony Jilson for the No. 9 Germain CTS teams, have also been placed on probation until Dec. 31st. And if that’s not enough, all three team owners — Steve Germain of the No. 30, Tom DeLoach of the No. 11, and Bob Germain of the No. 9 — have had their entire teams placed on probation through the rest of the Truck Series season.

If only our nation’s judicial system worked so swiftly and decisively!

3. Gentleman Rules Apply – Claire B. Lang, the well-respected NASCAR reporter for XM Radio, opined on the fracas between David Starr and crew members from the Germain Racing organization that entered Starr’s pit box and confronted Starr while he was still strapped in his race truck. Wrote Lang, “Members of several teams said that they are not even to confront another driver – or ask him why he did something verbally – and that the level of pulling another driver out of his vehicle would definitely result in them being fired. The team haulers of the No. 48 and the No. 18 teams are parked next to each other in the garage here. The team guys said to me that they get along really well, and that if their drivers got in a fight they would not think it was their place to get involved in it… unless a driver came to their pit area, and then that is their turf. What happened violated an unwritten rule. You fight for your team – you’d do anything for your team – but a crew member does not confront a driver.”

Sounds like some pretty solid unwritten rules there… to let drivers settle their differences. What are the unwritten rules in this case, though? Would it have been acceptable for both Reutimann and Bodine to confront Starr together and jerk him out of the cockpit of his race truck… or would the unscripted etiquette dictate that they take turns whoopin’ up on him?

4. Chicken Soup – On Saturday, NASCAR announced a new random drug testing policy beginning with the 2009 season. Beginning in January, all drivers participating in preseason testing in Daytona for the Sprint, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series will be tested — along with all racing officials and crew members planning to be at the track on a weekly basis. Thereafter, about a dozen drivers and/or crew members will be randomly selected for testing at most scheduled race events, with the process to be handled by an independent, third-party agency.

But despite the tougher rules put in place for next year, there remains no list of prohibited substances that the sanctioning body will test for. “We’ve never had a list. It states right now in our policy that cough medicine could be abused if you’re taking that too much, and it’s going to affect the safety on the race track. That won’t change,” said NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnell. “We’ll test for anything. Our experts are very familiar with prescriptions people may be taking and legitimate medications, but we will not have a list.”

What a bummer for drivers and crews … February is right at the height of the cold and flu season!

5. Really…Nothing Happened! – The two NASCAR officials accused of exposing themselves in former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant’s $225 million harassment lawsuit have reportedly now been fired after having been placed on administrative, paid leave. However, NASCAR continues to deny the charges that Grant has asserted in court papers, in which she alleged both sexual harassment and racial discrimination from these men.

Ummm, guys… why are they being fired, then?

6. More Than Just Colleagues – During last week’s race at New Hampshire, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. once again — as he often does when frustrated — ranted and raved on the radio to crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. concerning his No. 88 Chevy’s dropoff in performance as the race continued. Junior’s profanity-laced tirades have his boss, Rick Hendrick, concerned and talking to his high-profile driver during the course of races recently in an attempt to calm him down. “They’re cousins and they’re like brothers, and they can bust [out] and say things; but when you have got millions of people listening, Tony gets some unfair [criticism],” Hendrick said. “If [Dale] doesn’t want Tony to go anywhere, if he’s put a stake in the ground that he wants Tony Eury Jr., then he needs to treat him a little bit better on the radio.”

Ahhhh… don’t worry, Rick. Those two already tried the splitting up thing – and it didn’t work so well for either one of them!

7. Every Man For Himself! – Roush drivers Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards put on one heck of a good show Sunday over the last 20 or so laps of the Camping World RV 400 from Dover, Delaware. The three Roush Fenway stablemates battled one another for the win like three drivers intent on winning the 2008 Sprint Cup — but not so much like teammates. As a result, the Ford drivers provided some of the best racing for the win we’ve seen all season, bumping, banging, and rubbing one another before sweeping the Top 3 spots.

No “team orders” rock!

Kyle Busch’s chances for a Sprint Cup title are fading into the background these days, following a nightmarish start to the Chase that’s included two consecutive finishes of 34th or worse.

8. Apparently… Winning Isn’t Everything – Though Kyle Busch notched his 19th NASCAR win of the season in its top three divisions during the Nationwide Series race at Dover Saturday, he finished dead last Sunday in the Sprint Cup event. Busch, who finished 34th at New Hampshire a week earlier after suffering mechanical problems, blew an engine 173 laps into the Camping World RV 400. The 23-year-old had entered the 10-race championship playoff seeded No. 1, but after just two events, he now finds himself 12th in driver championship points. “At this point, it doesn’t matter [if I think I have a chance to win the title],” Busch said after falling out of Sunday’s race. “Same thing happened two years ago – exact same thing: Wrecked at Loudon, blew up here. So where did we end up [in 2006] — dead last.”

Wow! 19 wins for Busch and he’s not threatening for a championship in Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Craftsman Trucks. Isn’t that just strange?

9. Comin’ On Strong! – Jack Roush isn’t the only team owner leaving Delaware with a deserved smile on his face! Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick finished in sixth place Sunday, with Clint Bowyer taking eighth and Jeff Burton ninth in the Camping World RV 400. Burton, Harvick, and Bowyer are now fourth, fifth and sixth in the Chase standings, respectively.

Don’t look now, Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick … but there is another superpower knocking at the door!

10. Calling All Clairvoyants – After a late-race pass at the Monster Mile, Greg Biffle has now won his second race in a row… and the first two races of the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup!

Alright, tell the truth…who predicted The Biff winning at both Loudon and Dover? And better yet, who predicted that the winner of the first two races of the Chase would not be your championship points leader?

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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09/22/2008 09:10 AM

Hey, Thomas. Just wanted to comment on your #5. Nascar can still deny culpability in the Grant suit because, in order for Nascar to be liable to Ms. Grant, it had to know and condone. Employers aren’t strictly liable for everything their employees do. The way I understand it, the employees have to be acting in the course of their employment and furthering the business of their employer. Two jerks exposing themselves to Ms. Grant or using inappropriate language to her aren’t furthering their employer’s interests. So, in order for Ms. Grant to prevail, she has to prove more than just that those incidents took place. And it seems very appropriate that Nascar’s taking action against them now if, as Nascar claims, it only recently learned of their misdeeds.

Wilbur Hatch
09/22/2008 09:43 AM

About #1
I would be more worried about those 3 engines showing up at TRD in California than in some bubba’s pickup.

With Mclaren’s number 1 F1 thief headed to MWR next year, maybe the boy’s in Mikey shop are just getting a jump on things.
I call’s em as I see’em. TRD Guilty in the past- Guilty in the future…. until proven otherwise..
Peace out.

The Old Guy
09/22/2008 11:05 AM

When Bob Osborne came on the radio and apologized to Carl Edwards for costing him the race.. Carl’s response was very succint. “The race isn’t over yet!”

Can you imagine the profanity filled tirade which would have taken place if this had happend on the 88 car?

There are drivers who find ways to win and drivers who find ways to lose.

I agree with wilbur on those three RFR engines. Rousch parts have already “mysteriously” shown up at MWR racing……

09/22/2008 11:10 AM

#4 Typical NA$CAR! Don’t tell anyone anything of substance, keep it on a sercet list, make it up as you go, and only inforce what makes you look the best. Wow, sounds like the rule book. They really are a joke sometimes aren’t they?

09/22/2008 01:06 PM

Very well said Steve O’Donnell . You are just as confused as the rest of the NASCAR management when it comes to pretending to implement a program ie; the driver diversity program . Press releases , tough talk by officials who no one takes seriously , mysterious secret lists of banned substances , make it sound official and then move on. I personally don’t think there is any real cause for concern regarding drug use in NASCAR . There have been a couple caught . There are possibly a couple who haven’t been caught . But O’Donnell tells us that since there is no list of what is or is not legal , NASCAR will have the only say . So if you are one of their favorites , sinus medicine for a legitimate use is fine . If you have not towed the NASCAR line , or have stood up to NASCAR in the past , then they may suddenly decide that the sinus medicine you are taking is a “ medicine detrimental to stock car racing” .
You’ll notice that the so-called experts they plan to use haven’t been named . In fact , the NASCAR legal department had a great deal to do with this idiotic program . There is no list , and no set parameters so that there will be no recourse for anyone falsely accused . You won’t be able to point to an accepted amount of a drug , because there will be nothing in writing .

09/22/2008 07:38 PM

#1 The engines were Craftsman Truck and Nationwide series versions that were taken.
Since Nascar has already deemed the Toyota engine superior (different restrictor plate to reduce horsepower), getting their hands on a Ford engine would be useless…unless they were looking for a good laugh.

Larry Burton
09/23/2008 12:22 AM

Battiman! Besides, TRD got a good look at Ford, Dodge, and Chevy Engines before they designed their engine from scratch. Maybe TRD is puzzled by how they are getting beat by them Fords now! After all, they did one of the best copy jobs anyone has done on a V8 pushrod engine that they never had before coming into nascar!

09/23/2008 06:36 PM

Larry: What’s your point The combination of carbs and pushrods have been around over 60 years…what’s to steal. It would have been simpler to hire Ford and Chevy engineers and designers.

Larry Burton
09/24/2008 08:22 PM

Battiman, the point is Toyota had probably the first built from scratch engine in Nascar. Most of the the other engines were modified production engines. By designing an engine from scratch, it’s very obvious they had the best engines this year which in my opinion was a unfair advantage to the other makes. That’s one reason Nascar finally put restrictors on their Nationwide and Truck Engines. Trouble is, they’ve basically waited till two thirds of the seaon was over before doing it. Chevy does have the new R06 Engine in cup but Nascar will not let them run it in Nationwide even though it was proven the Toyotas had more power.

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