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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Carl Long, Brad Keselowski & Other Issues of the Week

Carl Long, we are with you bud. Just so you know, there are a lot of longtime fans of the sport out here that are appalled by the situation you find yourself in. Thank you for fighting the good fight and speaking frankly on the subject. We don’t get that a lot, but whether out of anger or because what you said needed saying, you didn’t back down.

I understand that rules must govern a body. However, it befuddles me when an entity like NASCAR, which has a long and storied history of operating within the “gray area” in matters of its rules enforcement, would suddenly go so “black and white” on a guy like Long. This is one of those guys that’s sacrificed to live his dream and at the same time, support ‘The Show’ that is NASCAR. How does running a guy out of business – a business that supports your sport – help the bottom line you pay such close attention to, NASCAR?

I think Long said it best on Tuesday, when he told ESPN’s Marty Smith that, “Big Bill and Bill, Jr. ruled the sport like a father – at the end of the day they took care of their family. These guys don’t care. They don’t have any heart. Basically, it seems like they don’t care about the sport, they just want to make a dollar.”

Unfortunately, that sure looks like a pretty accurate appraisal of the sport’s sanctioning body right now, doesn’t it?

Racing needs more Carl Longs. NASCAR doesn’t realize it, but it needs more Carl Longs. We all need more Carl Longs. Support the dude by signing the fan petition.

Let’s do this.

Q: This might sound trivial and, in truth, it really is, but I’ve often wondered how a track’s length is measured. For example, Talladega measures out at 2.66 miles. Is that distance measured from the bottom, along the outside wall, or midway around the track? – E.J. Macke, St. Louis, Mo.

A: The Ty Webb answer would be, “By distance.” But you’re not looking for sarcasm, so I’ll tell you that NASCAR measures a track’s length from the point 15 feet in from the outside wall. The exception is on the road courses, which are measured in the middle.

And for the record, it may be trivial, but that’s what this column is all about.

Q: Could you explain why [Brad] Keselowski is not eligible for the Rookie of the Year? I know he is running only a partial season, but at the rate he’s going (Dover not withstanding) he might have a shot at winning it anyway! Can he declare at any time or has his opportunity passed? – SteveG

A: He can declare for Rookie of the Year at any time, Steve, but there is the caveat: He’d start with zero points when he did so, regardless of when he submitted his paperwork and how he had performed to that point in the season. That’d negate the Talladega win and those 190 points. Bye-bye 146 points for the seventh-place run at Darlington.

Keselowski finalized his plans to run seven races in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 25 entry in early January. The deal with James Finch in the No. 09 was completed later that month. He chose not to file as a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate because, “…I knew at the start of the year we were going to run somewhere around 16 races and the maximum I think is seven or eight, I can’t remember specifically. I didn’t file for rookie of the year because the last thing I wanted to see was my name at the bottom of that list knowing that you probably couldn’t win it unless you ran the whole deal.”

And while some may consider Keselowski the true, if uncrowned, ROTY this year, I doubt he could catch Joey Logano, who hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in a month.

Q: Hi Matt. My question is how are owner’s points awarded? There looks to be a difference from driver points, but I can’t find out how. Any help? — Thomas Gaines, Jupiter, Fla.

A: Sure, Thomas. Owner points are awarded on the same scale as driver championship points (185 to win, second-sixth down at five-point increments, seventh-11th at four-point increments, 12th-43rd at three-point increments plus laps-led bonuses). Plus, owners receive a bonus for actually attempting a race, so any team that makes it through pre-qualifying inspection is given points.

The way this shakes down is that the first car to miss the race (basically, the 44th-place car) gets 31 points. From there, a three-point drop for the remaining cars, in order of qualifying speed, occurs. If more than 54 cars attempt to make a race, the 54th fastest on down get one point apiece.

Q: Hey Matt. I was watching This Week in NASCAR last night [Monday] and Michael Waltrip let it slip that we would see double-file restarts at Pocono. Chad Knaus and Steve Byrnes looked like they knew it was coming even though they weren’t supposed to say anything. For once, Mikey’s mouth did us all some good! Any official news yet? – Herb Pope

A: Nice, Herb. I was watching on Monday when that nugget “slipped.” And before I get into double-file restarts, I’d like to state my opinion that regardless of what anyone thinks about Waltrip the Younger, he’s perfectly suited for that role on TWIN. The chemistry between Byrnes, Knaus and Mikey is solid and the insight unmatched. It’s the one can’t-miss NASCAR show on my radar each week.

As for double-file restarts, I’d say you got you’re answer from the horse’s mouth on Monday. Mikey being a team owner and Knaus being a crew chief, it’s a good bet a memo was sent from NASCAR to the teams to expect it. The “Dude, shut up!” look on Knaus’ face when Mikey let ’er rip told me all I needed to know.

Q: Was there a tire test at Pocono this year? I remember last year there was. Just curious to see if the flat track at Pocono will resemble the flat track of Indy like last year. – CBass, Oklahoma

A: No Goodyear tests at Pocono this year, CBass. NASCAR has a tendency to float those sessions around from year to year, and last season’s Pocono races didn’t present the Exclusive Tire Manufacturer (heretofore known as the ETM) with any nasty issues.

The issue the ETM continues to deal with is at Indy. They conducted their sixth test at the Brickyard on Monday through Wednesday and have a seventh coming later in the month. The amount of tests and the ever-fluctuating weather conditions at the specific times of the tests have me a little concerned. Indy’s track is very weather-sensitive, so even if the ETM hits on a compound that works in June, who’s to say it will react the same come late July?

I think NASCAR and the ETM need to hire a group of drivers that are currently without rides (Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty, Scott Riggs and Mike Wallace come to mind), put them in the CoT and keep them in Indy until some conclusive results are seen. Yeah, it’s a ton of money they’ll have to spend, but I don’t think it’ll hurt NASCAR’s or the ETM’s deep pockets. What will hurt those pockets is another debacle like we saw last season, on arguably NASCAR’s biggest stage.

Q: How do you think General Motors’ bankruptcy will affect the Chevy teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas? Are we looking at the possibility that there will be no Dodge or Chevy in the Cup Series in the future? Thanks. – Jaime Settle

A: GM contends it has no plans to cut ‘n’ run in any way, shape or form, Jaime, but Chrysler said it had no plans to cut budgets either, and we’ve seen how that turned out over the last couple of days: The Dodge teams aren’t getting any money.

Richard Petty and Walter Czarnecki of Penske Motorsports have both said that, in the King’s own words, “They’ve stopped everything… They’re in a holding pattern right now.”

We’ll see if the same occurs on the GM front. Until then, we’ll be in a holding pattern as well. Regardless, I believe the Hendricks and Childresses of the racing world will be able to ride out the storm, particularly if it’s only for the remainder of the year. Others, think Furniture Row or TRG Motorsports, may have to turn to other options – not that I can imagine they were getting much financial love from GM in the first place.

Thank you all for the spice this week… keep ’em coming! And seriously, sign that petition for Carl Long.