Thanks for the fresh batch of questions this week, race fans! The inquiries continue to trickle in – go ahead, insert 1989 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year joke here – but seriously, folks, we need a flood of questions and opinions to keep your one and only interactive column running.
I know the season is becoming laboriously long, but we’re almost through this, so hang with me and play ball for a few more weeks. Enjoy the show out in the desert!
Q: Matt, what became of the “water in the fuel” issue that derailed more than a few team’s chances at Atlanta? It was such big news for a few days and then it was gone , like it never happened. I never heard what the verdict was or the cause of the problem. Thanks! – Gerry Daugherty
A: You’re right, Gerry; it was all the rage for a solid 48 hours, only to die a quick and painless death. Funny, because it cost at least three teams a shot at a win on the final restart… and possibly a few others who had issues throughout the day.
For an official explanation, though, I give you NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp:
“A failure did occur in a piece of portable dispensing equipment that is sometimes used to supplement the permanent pumps on busy race days,” Tharp told reporters at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend. “This failure allowed a small amount of water to be dispensed. Portable equipment has been used for many years without a problem and, in fact, this equipment functioned properly during the Craftsman Truck race at Atlanta, right before the Nextel Cup race.”
There you go. It wasn’t Sunoco’s fuel supply after all; the portable containers, as Tharp stated, have been used for years to get fuel to teams quicker on busy race weekends. So much for conspiracy theories… seems this mess was a fluke, after all.
Q: I disagree with you wholeheartedly concerning Roger Penske giving Kurt Busch‘s owner points to Sam Hornish Jr. [as discussed in last week’s Fanning the Flames]. Loophole or not, Kurt Busch and his team earned those points and, past champion’s provisional or not, belong to the No. 2 team.
The fact that Hornish could steal a spot [in the first five races of 2008] from Dale Jarrett makes me sick. The guy hasn’t earned it, I don’t care how many races or championships he has won in IndyCar. – Roger Kelleher
A: Fair enough, Roger. When asked last week, I responded that, “If there is a loophole, you’d best jump through it if you expect to keep up with the competition.” And I stand by that. If I’m Roger Penske and I’m dead set on getting Hornish into the show, I’m all for transferring Busch’s owner points to Hornish’s start-up team. Heck, NASCAR gave you its blessing; so why not take advantage of the system?
Problem is, that system is flawed and antiquated. This issue boils back down to the Top-35 rule, which had its time and place – but not anymore. You know what really baffles me? I have not heard one person, one person!, who agrees with NASCAR’s qualifying procedure which is based, more or less, on the Top-35 designation. At what point does common sense replace stubbornness? But that is another question for another day.
By the way, I’ve been told that the Penske story was leaked so early that Kurt Busch heard of the possibility through the media. Bet he took that real well,
Q: Hey, Matt! What’s the scoop on drivers changing teams? We read on internet reports and hear on SPEED or ESPN that Driver X is in talks with Team Y or that Driver X is being courted by Team Z. Very rarely do these scenarios ever play out. Actually, a driver (Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a good example) ends up with a team that came out of nowhere. How does such talk start and make its way to fans as fact when, in reality, the rumor was never true? – Glen Norris
A: It’s the ‘Scott Boras Method’ played out to perfection, Glen. Leading teams to believe your client is in demand pushes the appeal of said client higher. So a driver or his agent leaks the word that Driver X is being courted by Team Y to possibly open doors to discussions with other owners. That gives the appearance that Driver X is more in demand than he actually is… which drives up interest.
Q: My wife and I will be attending our first Cup race in two weeks at Homestead. I have a scanner I will be bringing, but I’m not sure how to get the frequencies for each team. Namely, we want Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr.’s frequencies, but if you know where to get a list of all the drivers, we’d love that information, too. Thank you. – Roy and Jillian Clark
A: Roy Clark? The Roy Clark?! I saw you at the Opry five years ago; the red, white and blue guitar rocks in its simplicity. Let those blessed fingers do the walking to these frequencies, Mr. Clark:
Not enough? Stop by any of the Racing Electronics haulers at the track to get a printout of each teams’ channel.