This week, we’ll clean out the Fanning the Flames inbox. Just so you all know how it works, and so you don’t get impatient with me, I often reserve inquiries that are not time specific and scatter them around here and there. Well, since this was a slower than usual week from the Flameheads, I thought I’d knock a few out.
Q: Hi Matt. Do poles won due to a rainout in qualifying count as an actual pole won in a driver’s stats? There is no more Bud Shootout set by poles, so I don’t know if it matters. But for the sake of records, what’s the ruling? Thank you. – Bette Widnor
A: Thanks for the question and the patience, Bette. The answer is no, poles awarded due to qualifying being canceled and the field being set by owner points are not credited to a driver’s career stats, nor did it qualify someone for the Bud Shootout under the old format.
This season has been about the wackiest for that scenario than any I can ever remember. Jimmie Johnson has won five poles, but has started first nine times in all due to rain on Friday. I wonder how much quality time Jimmie and Chandra have logged watching Jim Cantore in the motorhome this year?
Q: My chance to be heard! Now this is just my opinion, but Johnson will not be caught in the Chase. They prove time and time again that they are the best team, top to bottom, in Sprint Cup. Carl [Edwards], Jeff [Burton] and Greg [Biffle] have given it a great shot, but none have the firepower to knock Jimmie off the top.
By the way, sorry about your luck, Kyle! – Linda B.
A: The world now knows, Linda. Thanks for going out on a limb with that bold proclamation.
Q: This is random, but we noticed it and wondered: A few races back, at Dover or Kansas, Edwards threw his water bottle out the window after a yellow-flag pit stop. Is that done a lot? And seeing as NASCAR will throw a caution whether anything is actually on the track or not, isn’t that considered a safety hazard? We’d never seen this before. Thanks! – Beth and Bob Taylor
A: I seem to remember that, too; it was an in-car camera shot, right? The water bottle-out-the-window toss happens from time to time, and it’s not really a big deal. A track attendant will pick it up or, if it’s a self-cleaning racetrack, the bottle will simply land out of harm’s way.
Roll-bar padding at race speed is a different story, however (and I’ll refrain from a Robby Gordon crack, as I got blasted for one a month ago).
Q: Fantasy advice from you, Matt. Of the Chasers, which drivers would you go with for Atlanta? I already have Kyle Busch as my “keeper” Chase pick, so I get three more. I’m assuming you’ll say Jimmie and Carl. Who’s your No. 3? Thanks! – Doug Williams
A: You’d assume correctly on the first two. It’s just hard to bet against Johnson regardless of track these days (although he swept Atlanta in 2007) and Edwards makes his money on the intermediates. For the third pick, I’d go out on a limb somewhat and take Dale Earnhardt Jr. He’s finished seventh or better in 10 of his last 14 AMS starts – 13 of those being in a DEI Chevy. And if that’s not enough to sway you, his lone start in Hendrick equipment netted a third-place showing back in March. He’s a demon on the track in equipment to match, now.
Check out Frontstretch’s Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans column on Thursday, where Mike Neff and Bryan Davis Keith will undoubtedly expound on the topic.
Q: Matt, beyond the splitter and wing of the CoT and the all the Styrofoam, can you tell me what the differences are from a dimensional standpoint from the old car? – Tim C.
A: Sure. The roll cage was shifted three inches rearward, the driver’s seat has been moved over four inches toward the center of the car, and the body itself is two inches taller and four inches wider than the spoilered cars.
All in the name of parity, right? Oh wait, I meant safety.
OK, short ‘n’ sweet this week so before I go, a question of my own: If Martinsville and Atlanta – two distinctly Southern racetracks with oodles of history and heritage – are so beloved by the traditional, old-guard crowd, why did they never sell out even before the economic downturn?