NASCAR Race Weekend Central

10 Points To Ponder… After the 2007 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega

1. Masterful MoveJeff Gordon clearly demonstrated not only why he has 80 career Cup wins, but is now in sole possession of the title “most career plate wins” in NASCAR history. Gordon turned a push from Dave Blaney into a sweet move to the middle, getting out from behind teammate Jimmie Johnson to sneak away with the victory. Tucking his rear bumper just in front of a charging Tony Stewart, Gordon gave Stewart no choice but to push him to the win. Gordon now has 12 restrictor plate wins, passing the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., who had 11.

2. Discontent Drivers – NASCAR can’t be happy with the number of drivers who badmouthed the racing action today, including superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon, who both told a national TV audience that from their perspective, it was quite boring. Even more blunt was Ryan Newman, who said, “It was crazy. I think the racing was not very good. I think the racing was disappointing. To see single-file racing and the guy that wins the race is sitting in the back all day just lounging around – that’s not racing to me. I hope it wasn’t what NASCAR intended with this car. I’m not complaining about the car because the old car did relatively the same thing. We’ve got to do something where we can race a little bit. I mean I was driving around with one hand, running 15th, just riding on and off the gas. It’s not racing.”

BOWLES: CAN CUP DRIVERS END PLATE RACING?

3. Kolber Quote – It frustrates me when one of the TV hosts says something that sounds so obviously wrong, especially when that person is primarily a football reporter. During today’s race, ESPN’s Suzy Kolber claimed that Earnhardt Jr. was “practically guaranteed to win here,” based on his five previous wins at Talladega. Did she know about the engine failures that have plagued DEI all year? Did she know that Gordon also had five wins at Talladega prior to today? Regardless of what people say about Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond or Larry McReynolds, at least they know NASCAR.

4. ABC Alienates Again – What better way to show NASCAR fans how much you value them than to hype a race all week as one of the best races of the year, have an hour-plus pre-race show, broadcast a 500-mile race with a very exciting finish, and then have ONE post-race interview before cutting off the broadcast to air Access Hollywood. And viewers either misinterpreted his comments or Jerry Punch misspoke when he said fans could tune to ESPN’s SportsCenter for more post-race interviews, as that program didn’t air for another hour.

5. “Miss a Lap, Miss a Lot.” So claims NASCAR. Then how can any network justify the number of commercials during a typical NASCAR race? For some reason, today seemed especially bad, but if there’s one iota of truth in that saying, then every network that covers the sport should be required to use a split screen so that fans don’t “miss a lap,” let alone a whole bunch of laps.

6. Open-Wheel Woes – Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it. I am not a fan of the big open-wheel exodus to NASCAR. One of the main reasons is that it simply cuts the legs out from under all the young (and even older) drivers who are trying to break into NASCAR the old-fashioned way – racing at their local tracks, working their way up through the ranks, participating in driver development programs, and so on. I hope, as some have asserted, that this is a fad that will pass quickly. Agree or disagree?

7. Losing Loren – It looks like NASCAR’s latest sponsorship deal, signing Nationwide Insurance to take over the Busch Series, spells the end for GEICO as a sponsor in that series after 2009. Mike Wallace is understandably upset, stating, “I’m really, really frustrated about it. It caught us all off guard. [We] knew nothing about it. Then you hear about it on Wednesday morning. And I honestly thought, ‘Well that is no big deal, we’ll be grandfathered in like Alltel and everybody was in the Cup deal.’ And then all of a sudden that changed.”

8. Vexing Videos – In other TV miscues today, ABC’s Countdown to Green show was intending to present a video with Tim Brewer in the tech center explaining something pertinent to today’s restrictor plate race. Instead, they showed last week’s video of Brewer describing how wedge works at Kansas. During the broadcast, they also played footage of a taped interview with Kyle Busch‘s crew chief Alan Gustafson, in which the sound and picture were clearly out of sync.

9. Expired Engines – Wow, how about those DEI/RCR engines today? At least three blew up – those belonging to Jeff Burton, Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. – with Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola also suffering motor woes. Somehow, I pictured a guy back at the DEI/RCR engine shop today shoving his hands in his pockets and kicking a toolbox under a bench, as a voiceover announcer declares, “NOT, the official tools of NASCAR.”

10. Rabbit Release – I love that Team Tylenol commercial in which a group of drivers tries to figure out Team Tylenol’s fictional “secret” for running so well. Elliott Sadler plays dumb with a malapropism about Rapid (Rabbit) Release, but have you ever listened to what the other drivers suggest as the secret? Gordon: “Rocket boosters.” Johnson: “Plutonium.” Earnhardt Jr.: “A time machine.” Hmm, rabbit release doesn’t sound so dumb now, does it?

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