NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Assessing Indy Blame, Fixing Goodyear Tires & Replacing Mexico City

Welcome to Mirror Driving. Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news and rumors. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

This Week’s Participants:
Tom Bowles (Editor-In-Chief; Mondays/Bowles-Eye View & Wednesdays/Did You Notice?)
Tony Lumbis (Mondays/Rookie Report)
Vito Pugliese (Tuesdays/Voice Of Vito)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Wednesdays/Full Throttle)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding A Pretty Wheel)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind our weekly roundtable was held before Robin Pemberton apologized on behalf of NASCAR for problems during the Indy race, a statement that occurred during the weekly media teleconference Tuesday afternoon. Instead, at the time of the chat, all writers were speaking from the perspective that no one official involved with the sport had officially apologized to fans.

Sunday’s debacle at Indianapolis was a disappointment, but it’s not the first time. The same thing happened last year to a lesser degree – although the track eventually rubbered up – and it happened at Charlotte a few years back. Did NASCAR handle this situation right under the circumstances that developed? If not, what should the sanctioning body have done, and what should they do to make sure it never happens again?

Amy: Thinking on it for a day, I think NASCAR handled it the right way. It was a safety issue. I do think they could have laid off the competition yellows during the second half and let the teams deal with it themselves, though.
Vito: No. NASCAR dropped the ball worse than a Detroit Lions wide receiver down by six in the fourth quarter with time expiring.
Tom: I’m with Vito. I think, given the situation they were faced with, NASCAR did a terrible job. All those people deserve their money back.
Kurt: I definitely agree, and I believe NASCAR would go a long way to improving the disastrous PR with a refund to Indy customers. But I do think Amy has a point. If safety comes first, they have to throw yellows with tires wearing like they were.
Bryan: Absolutely, positively not, Kurt. NASCAR babied the teams for far too long with those yellow flags, and utterly failed as a sanctioning body by allowing their No. 2 event to even get to that point.
Mike: But given the situation it was faced with, I think NASCAR did a great job. They got in a 160-lap race and no one was hurt. They kept people from taking advantage of the cautions to improve their position, and they ended up with a decent race. That being said, I think that they did drop the ball before the race by not having an open test – considering this is the second biggest race of the year, and it is too important not to have tried the new car there ahead of time.
Tom: What was so decent about it, Mike? You could leave the television for three hours and come back for five minutes to see the last 10 laps. Problem was, those people in the stands couldn’t leave for three hours. They paid $300 and they were stuck.
Amy: The racing was actually decent during the heat races they ran.
Kurt: They should have called the last seven laps the “Chase to the Bricks.”
Mike: I do think that, when it got to the last 50 laps, NASCAR should have told the teams it was up to them to pit as needed.
Tony: I think NASCAR was in an awful situation when it comes to decisions like that, though. If someone gets injured in a wreck, they’re to blame. If it throws 100 cautions and the product is terrible, it’s to blame as well. What I can’t get over is how Goodyear and NASCAR combined can’t figure this out.
Tom: Tony, what I’m tired about is all this crap about we need to keep drivers safe. I’m all for safety. We can’t keep holding their hand. People don’t sit in those seats to see them go at 75% throttle and not push it to the limit.

BOWLES: NASCAR CAN’T MAKE A LIVING PLAYING IT SAFE

Amy: I’ll always agree to err on the side of safety but you’re right, Tom; those guys are professionals, and I’d have liked to have seen NASCAR trust them to make the right call about pit strategy.
Vito: Safety, schmafety… if you cannot construct a racing tire to last more than five laps before it has worn down to the cords, then the race should be postponed, a different tire brought in, or find an alternate vendor. The worst part was the acceptance of it all from everyone. As if there was nothing that could have been done about it, that they knew all this was going to happen, but just shrugged it off as one of ‘them racin’ deals.’ As Tom said, there ought to be a refund.
Kurt: 100% right, Vito. All of the drivers were apologizing, and NASCAR was acting like only “bad fans” would complain.
Tom: This sport was built on danger, and NASCAR chose to hold a 400-mile parade. And better yet, the drivers played along. What is this sport coming to?
Kurt: Well, I don’t argue that it was a miserable race Tom, but think of the PR if someone was hurt in that mess.
Tom: It could happen anytime, any week, anywhere Kurt – tire problems or no tire problems. I feel like eight years after the death of Dale Earnhardt, everyone is so afraid of it happening again it’s lost sight of the fact that whether it happens again or not is completely out of our control. So, they try and take control in the name of safety. Look, no one stops a football game because they fear someone on the field’s about to get hurt.
Tony: Back in the day at Rockingham and at Darlington before the pavement, the tires got eaten away and the crew chiefs had to make the tough calls, so I’m not sure why the same thing can’t apply here.
Vito: Tony, I want to get back to your point about Goodyear and NASCAR working together. You know, many are quick to point the finger at the tires, but the Car of Tomorrow is an easy scapegoat – and one that bears a good portion of the blame here.
Kurt: The problem Goodyear has is that they have to balance a safe tire with a raceable one, which is a near-impossibility in this car.
Bryan: But NASCAR as a sanctioning body clearly did not do its homework on this car if the teams can show up for the second-most prestigious event of the season and be caught with their pants down.
Tony: The thing is, from what I hear, the crew chiefs were given the choice to test at Indy or Pocono with the new car, and the majority wanted Pocono because they thought their findings would better apply to multiple tracks.
Vito: OK, so let’s ditch a test at Indy, roll 43 cars off into a corner at 205 mph, cross our fingers and hope those styrofoam walls do their job. The culprit here – plain and simple – is NASCAR. It has steadfastly refused for over a year now to let the teams do anything to this car that they said they’ve needed.
Kurt: I agree, Vito… the car is extremely difficult to pass with, drive out of turns with, keep on the track, and now make tires for.
Bryan: And if the sanctioning body is going to limit who can provide tires, it owes it to their fans to know – and not just think it knows – that the tires can handle the events.
Kurt: Indy said they would make the track available to NASCAR for future testing.
Mike: Great. NASCAR needs to have a 43-car tire test this fall and again in the spring at Indy to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Vito: No downforce. No adjustability. A big, heavy, unbalanced, wobbly box on a hard tire barreling into a flat turn at over 200 mph. What did NASCAR actually think was going to happen?
Tom: Vito, this really forces them into some hard decisions about the new car, don’t you think?
Vito: Oh you’d think. Will they do anything about it? Doubtful.
Tom: And as for making the choice of pure manipulation of the outcome like they did… basically turning it into the Brickyard 17.5… that was just disturbing.
Bryan: I agree, Tom. The fact that they’re counting the points from this race ticks me off.
Kurt: Now that I think about it after we’ve had this talk, I feel NASCAR actually handled it poorly. Not so much with the competition yellows… but the PR.
Tony: Well, we’re sitting here Monday morning quarterbacking this while NASCAR had to make a choice in the moment – and it did that based on history that the tires eventually come around as the race wears on. Where they screwed up is because it never happened.
Vito: I would disagree; this is not Monday-morning quarterbacking. We’re echoing what the teams have been battling for 18 months now to no avail with this stupid car. It’s a good thing the CoT is safe, because with the way it devours tires, it’s going to need to be…
Kurt: I would just once like to see NASCAR’s sanctioning body stand up and say, “This is our fault and we apologize to the fans and paying customers.” Instead of “the good fans will understand.”
Mike: NASCAR should be embarrassed if it’s going to put this off to the fans to understand.
Bryan: Listening to Robin Pemberton say, “we do a damned good job most of the time,” made me sick. Those fans shelled out tons of money to see that travesty.
Kurt: The fine print in Pemberton’s statement is that only jerks would complain about paying for that fiasco. Editor’s Note: Again, Pemberton sang a different tune on Tuesday, apologizing to the fans and assuring such a fiasco will “never happen again.”
Tom: Kurt, I can’t emphasize enough what a mistake that was. If this wasn’t the second most important race of the year, it’s the most important. And it’s one of maybe three times all year certain people take a look at our sport. Daytona, Indy, championship week. That’s when the fan with barely a passing interest in NASCAR pays attention. And this is what they see??? No wonder the national sports media – people who barely know our sport as it is – were tearing us to shreds all over the place on Monday.
Bryan: NASCAR ought to be ashamed of themselves, and it better get its act together and do its homework… not just at Indy but at every freaking track on the circuit to make sure the one company they allow to build tires can actually produce a decent product.
Kurt: Bryan’s right: the PR has been awful, coming one week after NASCAR made Toyota slow down just because they were better than everyone else.
Tom: And again, it’s not just the way they structured the competition cautions that was the problem. This was the way they structured the race itself. Pit road was closed under green-flag conditions! When’s the last time you saw pit road closed under the GREEN FLAG? NASCAR was making rules up as it went along, as if the rulebook hadn’t even been in existence for 60 years.
Mike: They closed pit road because teams were taking advantage of the situation, Tom.
Tony: But that’s a damn good point. If you’re going to create a quirky situation, then at least let the teams think up quirky strategies.
Vito: There weren’t any problems like this during the Indy 500 and last year’s race had several long green-flag stints. The car is the culprit, and Goodyear brought a tire that if it didn’t get ground to dust likely would have been chunking and blistering.

Speaking of Goodyear, they’re the elephant in the room in this whole monster debate. What should the tire company be doing to ensure these tire problems never happen again?

Bryan: The tire company needs to do the same damn thing that NASCAR should have… say we messed up.
Vito: A good start would be finding more than three teams to go up there and test.
Tony: They have tire tests every year at Indy (except this one) for a reason: this track is difficult on tires in a way that no other track is.
Bryan: How the hell can the sole provider of tires justify going in to race weekend with a tire it hasn’t run on the new car and just say, “Oh, it will be OK?”
Amy: And they need to design tire compounds specifically for the CoT! They want to bring one tire for the Cup and Nationwide cars… and that doesn’t work!
Kurt: Definitely true, Amy, but the focus should be making the Cup cars drivable first.
Vito: Goodyear needs to tell NASCAR what the teams are telling them: this is what this piece of crap needs to turn and not destroy tires.
Tom: It’s almost like Goodyear’s too comfortable with their position in the sport. I mean, by their own admission they saw tires wearing out after five laps in the test and the response was “Oh, whatever, it’ll work out.”
Mike: So here’s an idea: make a phone call to Firestone! Indy cars create far more downforce and sideload than stock cars do, and Firestone tires handle it just fine.
Amy: If they can’t, I bet Hoosier can.
Tom: Amy, I wish Hoosier would get involved. They’ve said they don’t want to get back into Cup racing, though.
Bryan: NASCAR’s rules on tire production are the sole reason Hoosier left. If they didn’t have to make enough tires for every team every weekend I bet they’d be back.
Kurt: Hoosier may have paid off NASCAR to design this car.
Mike: I think they should bring in Firestone. It makes a great tire that works for the Indy cars, I’m sure it could do it for stock cars.
Vito: The problem for Goodyear is – and this is what Amy alluded to and race-winning crew chief Chad Knaus has been clamoring about all year – they are running old car tires on a car that is completely different.
Amy: But they brought a tire that fell apart last year on that old car, too, so what did Goodyear think would happen with the CoT that loads the right side more?
Vito: I wouldn’t say it fell apart last year, Amy. They did not have nearly the issues last year that was suffered this go-round.
Amy: They still had a lot of issues last year early in the race that demanded a couple of competition yellows, although the track did rubber up better.
Tony: Exactly, Amy, which is why they were in no hurry to call this race at the time. You have to wonder, though, what happens at these test sessions where only three manufacturers are invited.
Mike: Goodyear needs to step up or get out because this is another in a long string of failures by NASCAR’s sole tire provider.
Bryan: Firestone, Hoosier… who cares who they bring in? It still means Goodyear has to produce a good tire or get out of the way.
Kurt: I also find it very difficult to believe that in supposedly seven years of CoT research, no one thought about tires.
Tom: Agreed; you can’t just completely blame it on a new car. Heck, manufacturers come out with new cars in the real world and Goodyear does just fine adjusting to them.
Bryan: Kurt, Tom and Tony are both right on the money. And a test with three cars three months prior to the race in different conditions and prior to the running of the Indy 500 does not provide adequate data to base a tire choice off of… especially with a new car coming into play.
Tom: I just can’t believe Goodyear didn’t call for an open test after the data they found back in April.
Mike: Yeah… I don’t want to see a tire war, but if Goodyear can’t get it done, then someone else needs to be given a shot.
Vito: Goodyear has been getting a free ride for a long time now. Watch a Formula 1 race some time and tell me how many tires you see blowing out; and these are on cars generating some unreal g-loads.
Amy: And NASCAR’s excuse of Hoosiers not being safe holds no water. If they’re so unsafe, why are they allowed in other NASCAR-sanctioned series?
Vito: It’s probably not a good thing to have a tire war in the middle of a season, though. Pick a manufacturer before the season starts, and stick with it.
Bryan: But exclusivity deals can make companies complacent.
Tom: That word – complacency – all fits into this horrible, horrible cycle we’re in. No one’s pushing it to the ragged edge anymore. Drivers stroke it because of the Chase. Goodyear strokes it because they have no competition. And NASCAR is mailing it in because it’s busy counting cash.
Mike: Still, I think Goodyear is at least 70% to blame for this, and it should be the one providing the refunds just like Michelin did when they screwed up the U.S. Grand Prix.
Bryan: Goodyear hasn’t had even had to defend itself either. NASCAR’s doing it for them.
Vito: Which is why maybe this will be the catalyst to find a new tire supplier for 2009.
Kurt: I would think, if anything, this should be inspiration for NASCAR to take the reigns and get its act together. Imagine that casual fan that Brian France has spent all of NASCAR’s capital courting watching this one…
Tony: The bottom line is that there are many elements to this problem. If it were one single issue, it would have been fixed in a week.
Bryan: NASCAR and Goodyear should share the blame here because they were both completely lethargic and complacent. Neither did their homework, and the fans and competitors were left with one of the worst stock car races ever run.
Tom: I couldn’t believe Robin Pemberton’s initial comments Sunday night. I hate to go back to that, but I was in shock. It was like he said, “Criticize all you want, but this is how we play the game and things are going to be fine.” It’s like a sore loser getting pissed off that no one wants to play with him anymore.
Kurt: True, Tom… while the drivers are apologizing, NASCAR’s arrogance is astonishing.
Vito: This is where NASCAR jumps the shark, I’m afraid. It’s that same, “We can do without you… can you do without us?” attitude that it has towards the drivers. It’s now being foisted upon the fans. Believe me, the acres of empty aluminum you see along side of the track each weekend is bound to grow exponentially as the year drags on, the economy slows and people finally say, “I’ve had it” with NASCAR’s antics.

PUGLIESE: REFLECTIONS ON INDY, THE WORST RACE EVER

Amy: What could NASCAR have done? They trusted Goodyear to bring a decent tire, and Goodyear didn’t do their job. NASCAR wasn’t the bad guy this time.
Bryan: NASCAR knew the same freaking results about the tires that Goodyear did months ago; they just took them at their word.
Tom: And they hid that information damned well, too. I talked to people this week and they had heard things about the tires, but if you had to do an informal poll, I would bet a good deal of the garage had no clue how bad it really was.
Mike: And NASCAR didn’t have an open test after the tire test showed that tire wear was worse than in the past. I don’t know that it could have fixed it in time, but it would have been more prepared.
Tom: And instead of an open test at the second-biggest race of the year, they added testing at Pocono… Pocono!
Amy: But we all complain that NASCAR doesn’t listen to the teams… it listened when the teams asked for the Pocono test, so we can’t have our cake and eat it too.
Tom: OK Amy, but then why not add another? We spend a freaking month at Daytona for the 500 and we can’t spend two days at Indianapolis?
Amy: If Goodyear developed a decent tire, like they are paid to do, this would all be a non-issue.
Kurt: I don’t know that the problem will be fixed for next year, either. Charlotte still isn’t right.
Bryan: I think NASCAR needs to do open tests all over the freaking place and get a handle on the tires being used on these CoTs. We’ve still got new tracks in Kansas and Homestead we’ve yet to run on.
Tom: And they’re going to need to do a heck of a PR job. I saw a poll today on foxsports.com with 50,000 respondents. One of the choices on that poll was “After this race, I will never watch NASCAR again, I’m done.” 30% of respondents chose that answer.
Bryan: Think of all the fans there yesterday who were at their first race…
Tony: I bet NASCAR is willing to call out those fans instead. “Ok, you say you’re not coming back or watching us, we’ll see about that.”
Mike: I don’t understand why NASCAR and Goodyear have not sent out a letter or open letter to say we are terribly sorry that this huge race blew chunks.
Tom: Mike is really on the money with his apology letter. That really what would have gotten everyone’s attention. Not, “This too shall pass” attitude.
Bryan: NASCAR is just as guilty in this situation. Goodyear is complacent and did awful, but NASCAR is keeping them there and speaking in their defense every step of the way.
Vito: Look at how the tires are wearing, too. You don’t get balls of rubber gumming the track up like you used to. Now it’s just a fine dust.
Mike: I don’t understand the dust issue, but it’s the same thing that happens at Charlotte. They run tires on WoO cars that are far more powerful and probably more top heavy than the new car is. Whatever the reasons, Goodyear didn’t push themselves to make the best tire for the best competition. They are beaten up about safety, and won’t err on the side of competition.
Tom: I think both parties need to take a big gulp, come out this week and say they are sorry. If they remain defiant, it really could be the beginning of some major, major issues.
Bryan: It’s too late now, Tom. NASCAR already told 200,000 that Sunday’s race wasn’t that bad – and it did it with a straight face. NASCAR won’t apologize its way out of this.

With six races to go before the Chase, four drivers in the top 12 have yet to visit victory lane. One reason the Chase point system was instated was to make winning races more important. Should a win be mandatory for making the Chase and contending for the title, or is the minimum 70-point disadvantage going in punishment enough?

Kurt: No, no, no.
Tony: No way.
Mike: No, you can’t mandate winning.
Vito: No. The Chase is stupid anyway, so this question is kind of irrelevant. Winning should be awarded and compensated; however, the goal should still be consistency.
Amy: I agree, but winning should be worth more.
Kurt: How was the Chase supposed to make winning more important, anyways? If anything, the Chase made winning less important.
Tom: I agree with Amy on this one. We need to come up with some type of solution to get guys more aggressive during the regular season.
Bryan: Why not mandate winning? If you can’t win a race you shouldn’t win the title.
Mike: The Chase is contrived enough, Bryan. Can you imagine Jeff Gordon missing the Chase when he’s fifth in points at the cutoff?
Tom: And what if Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t win the fuel-mileage deal at Michigan? Then you’ve got someone who’s second place in points and out of the Chase. That’s a no go.
Tony: The fact that the 12th-place driver has a chance to win the championship is bad enough; let’s not create a completely fake system. There are good drivers who don’t get their first win until the end of the season, and they shouldn’t be penalized for that.
Amy: I’d love to see one of those guys winless guys take the title though, just to screw with Brian France’s head.
Kurt: I would, too… but then we’d get more “tweaks.”
Bryan: Hey, it might happen. If Matt Kenseth finishes seventh every week in the Chase, he might sneak a title in.
Tom: I do think NASCAR should do something to make the sport’s “major” races worthwhile again. Remember the Winston Million? Why can’t Sprint bring something like that back?
Kurt: I don’t understand why people place more emphasis on, say, winning one race to get into the Chase as opposed to performing consistently. Five top fives are harder than a fuel-mileage win.
Vito: The No Bull 5 was always interesting. Putting more emphasis on winning races could also open up the Chase to part-time competitors or drivers just picking the big money events and sitting out the ones that are not as valuable – which, in today’s world, might not be such a bad thing.
Tom: I thought it was disgraceful that we’ve gotten to the point people like Ray Evernham say his team is so focused on the championship, they wouldn’t gamble for a win at Indy and take the points instead if it came down to it. Not to diss Ray… he’s doing the smart thing, what he has to do under this system. But it’s just so wrong.
Kurt: Well that’s what the Chase does, Tom. It creates points racing in the races before and during the Chase.
Amy: I will say this… requiring a win would put an end to the points racing.
Mike: Not really, Amy. If someone had a win, they’d start stroking.
Amy: But a bunch of guys would have to dig until Richmond.
Bryan: And if, say, a win gets you in… you would have a summer stretch of racing that would be amazing.
Mike: The Chase has eliminated racing for wins. You want to make them important? Make them worth 100 bonus points instead of 10.
Bryan: Hell, give a race winner 250 points.
Kurt: I disagree with adding points for wins, though. Guys generally go for the win when they’re running second.
Mike: But if Kyle Busch is sitting there with 700 points in hand going into the Chase right now, more guys would be trying to win to cut into that.
Vito: I think guys are trying to win anyway, regardless of what stupid point system is being enforced. It costs the same to try to win as it does to drive around in 20th all day.
Tom: You know, the old points system is working just fine in the Craftsman Truck Series. And let’s see, less multi-car teams, less aerodynamic cars, no Chase, better racing. Hmmm…
Bryan: They’re having a heck of a season over there.
Vito: It would appear that way, Tom. And the Nationwide Series wouldn’t be that bad if Clint Bowyer had a bad race or two.
Bryan: Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski are right there, Vito. That is going to be a race before it’s all over.
Mike: We used to have some great points battles; they just didn’t involve 12 guys.
Kurt: The thing is that the Chase was a response to Kenseth’s 2003 title, when he just earned one win – and now, it’s much easier to win it with zero wins!
Vito: Gordon called. He’d like his fifth and sixth titles back, please. Seriously, look at how Jimmie Johnson won it last year. Ran hard early, took it easy during the summer, won it in the final 10. Just like regular sports. NASCAR got to be where it was because it was different. Now, it is generic like everything else.
Tony: I actually think its a lot more difficult to finish in the top five week-in and week-out over recording seven wins and a bunch of average finishes in between.
Tom: I think we’ve made it too much about points… points don’t lead to running it on the ragged edge. Points lead to a bunch of calculated math and putting you in the right place at the right time. Earnhardt never won any of his championships thinking he needed to finish 16th one week and 11th the next.
Mike: If you want to make it more about racing, make the difference in points much greater. And I have always maintained that NASCAR should either not pay points for 25th on down or pay the same points.
Kurt: Since we’re on the subject of going for the win, I had a thought: If the championship was decided before the last race, as it often used to be, for the last race or two we would see guys going for nothing but the win.
Bryan: Personally, I’d rather see a points system that allowed a guy with 10 wins to trump 30 top 10s.
Mike: I agree, Bryan. I think that the champ should have the most points and that should be attained by winning the most.
Tom: I think what we’ve all learned from the Chase experiment is that fans weren’t leaving because of football… it’s because the schedule’s at 36 races. I mean, it’s a looong season and it’s hard for fans to stay that involved. It’s not like baseball where you can take like a week off in the regular season and still feel like you know what’s going on.
Amy: Agreed, Tom. They maxed out at 34.
Tony: Over the past five or six years, I’m relieved by the time the final race comes around – not disappointed that’s its over. But NASCAR and its new “entertainment focused” regime got nervous that they wouldn’t have excitement every year even though, throughout history, some years are good and some are not as good – and the sport still grew.
Bryan: Good point Tony. Too much knee-jerk reaction this decade. Drivers need to be coming to the track not just wanting to finish first, but needing to.
Kurt: NASCAR was closing in on beating the NFL, and then it tried to become more like the NFL… brilliant. Anyway, I don’t like Chase questions because I don’t like the Chase, but I don’t think winning a race should be a requirement to get in.
Mike: I’m with you, Kurt. Winning should not be a requirement. But it should be worth a lot more points than it is.
Bryan: Nope, I think you should win to get in. The Chase is already convoluting the sport, so throw points consistency out the window like the Chase already does and make these guys earn their spot.
Tom: I think that – whatever the solution – the bottom line in everything we’ve identified is that drivers don’t fight for the win like they used to. They points race. And NASCAR needs to address that.

NASCAR announced that the Nationwide Series will no longer race in Mexico City. Was this the right move for a growing series? And what track should replace Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?

Bryan: Rockingham!
Mike: Amen, brother!!
Kurt: As far as what track could replace Mexico City, I’ve narrowed it down to about 45 of them.
Tony: You know, NASCAR seems to get ADDish when they go to different countries
Amy: But the race was never meant to be long-term. It was meant to be an attraction while the Corona Series got up and running – and it served its purpose.
Kurt: That race was awful… super-long caution periods, ESPN losing the feed, two red flags, please. Race elsewhere.
Mike: The effort and expense getting down there is not worth the reward, so it is good they aren’t going back.
Tom: Two words: Thank God. I hated the race in Mexico… especially after covering it this year.
Bryan: Any track that uses mesas for walls has something wrong with it.
Amy: As for a replacement, Rockingham would be awesome; but it needs major upgrades before hosting a NNS race.
Mike: Rockingham could have the seats in place by race time if they were given the date.
Bryan: Honestly the Rock wasn’t in that bad of shape for the Carolina 500 in May… they could do it.
Amy: It’s not just seats at Rockingham, Mike
Mike: Yeah, they’d just have to rebuild the seats on the backstretch. I really hope they’ll go back to Rockingham, though.
Tony: An ARCA/NNS double would be a great weekend of racing.
Amy: Personally, I think they should keep it a road course.
Tom: Really, Amy? The Cup Series has two road courses… don’t see any reason why Nationwide has three. I do think they should go to Iowa… if the IRL and ARCA is any indication, racing there is going to be freaking awesome.
Kurt: Yes, Iowa would be good.
Bryan: Iowa is going to be a great addition to the slate; but it will never have the flavor of Rockingham.
Mike: Rockingham should be back on the schedule.
Bryan: And talk about some positive PR for NASCAR to bring the Rock back.
Tom: I do like the Rockingham idea… but who’s to say NASCAR can’t do that as a standalone one weekend when Cup’s in Atlanta or something?
Kurt: How about Eldora?
Mike: They’ll never go back to dirt, Kurt.
Kurt: Why not? Show some cojones and add a dirt track to the schedule.
Tom: They’d never do it.
Amy: How about South Boston? That’s a fun little track.
Tom: I loved it when the Nationwide Series raced in South Boston. Loved that and Hickory. Those were cool little tracks. But the reason NASCAR won’t go back to any of those is because they’re in Virginia and North Carolina. It goes against their principle of going national.
Amy: What kind of reason is THAT?
Tom: I know. But… going from Mexico to North Carolina would be going back to your roots.
Kurt: Tom’s right… NASCAR can’t stand their Southern image.
Tony: But if it happened, the Rock would get the upgrades and a lot of support – both financially and from the fans. File it under the “you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” category.
Mike: I think you’re right, Tony. They had more people for the ARCA race than will attend the rest of the ARCA races this year combined.
Bryan: The fans at the Rock’s ARCA race were so thankful to have that race… and to think it was mostly a bunch of Midwestern drivers they’d never heard of… NASCAR back at the Rock, especially if you brought in something like the Southern Mod tour, would go over great.
Tony: That would inject some much needed life back into the series. Yes, it would be a temporary boost… but they need something.
Kurt: Do you think NASCAR would market that though? That’s the question.

Predictions for Pocono?

Kurt: Empty seats and 30% fewer viewers. Seriously, Kyle Busch.
Vito: I am going to go with Brian Vickers.
Mike: Denny Hamlin wins at the big triangle.
Tom: I’m going to break rank and go with Hamlin, too. I thought he was struggling for awhile to the point he’d be borderline on making the Chase, but Indy was great for him and as far as Pocono is concerned, he’s due.
Tony: I’ll say Edwards gets his fourth victory to match his four runner-up finishes this year.
Amy: And I’ll go with Johnson. The No. 48 won Indy and they’ll win again this weekend at Pocono. If not for poor pit strategy, they would have won the race in June.
Bryan: I agree. Johnson wins two straight… especially after the win at Indy.

2008 Mirror Prediction Chart

The Goodyear Gods were not with Amy Henderson this week, as her pick of Kevin Harvick Shelled out nothing but misery throughout the course of the day on Sunday. Just minding his own business, the driver of the No. 29 Chevy was an innocent victim in a wreck which took out the No. 2 of Kurt Busch. Forced to the garage for repairs, Harvick finished 37th, and the resulting deficit created between him and Johnson allowed for others to climb atop the standings.

And that “other” person is Bryan Davis Keith, whose winning pick of Johnson has him back in the top spot once again. But with the Tricky Triangle coming up this weekend, can Keith hold on to his margin? You’ll just have to write in next week to see exactly what happens – as our predictions championship for 2008 continues…

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Bryan Davis Keith 2771 -0 18 3 10 15
Tony Lumbis 2723 -48 21 3 6 12
Amy Henderson 2692 -79 21 1 5 10
Vito Pugliese 2003 -637 16 0 6 8
Mike Neff 1944 -827 15 0 5 8
Matt Taliaferro 1543 -1228 12 0 4 6
Tom Bowles 1364 -1407 12 0 2 5
Kurt Smith 1049 -1722 9 0 3 5
Tommy Thompson 710 -2061 6 0 2 3
Beth Lunkenheimer 341 -2430 3 0 1 1
Danny Peters 190 -2581 1 1 1 1
Jeff Meyer 94 -2677 1 0 0 0
Kim DeHaven 0 -2771 0 0 0 0

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch