Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Montoya or Martin Driving Dirty? a Cautionary Tale & as the Tryson Turns

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)
Beth Lunkenheimer (Tuesdays/Running Your Mouth & Various/Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Wednesdays/Full Throttle)
Jeff Meyer (Wednesdays/Top 10 & Thursdays/Voices From the Heartland)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

Juan Pablo Montoya says Mark Martin played dirty at the end of the Cup race at New Hampshire. Is he a sore loser, or did Mark’s reputation let him get away with one?

Bryan: Montoya is a sore loser. The Raisin did nothing that he hasn’t done before. He raced hard and clean, JPM couldn’t take the position. The end.
Kurt: Post-race tempers – he’ll get over it. It’s about winning in the end, not politeness, and Martin is a competitor too.
Jeff: What a sore loser.
Beth: I agree. He’ll be fine by next week.
Tom: Montoya’s just mad the race didn’t play out in his favor, because he probably did have the fastest car. Martin did one heck of a job to hold on through those final three restarts and he definitely earned this win.

See also
Fan's View: That Couldn't Have Been Team Orders, Could It?

Amy: I don’t think it was so much team orders as a frustrated driver with a faster truck wanting by.
Mike N.: Hornaday has the thing locked up. He should have let Harvick go.
Tom: You’d think it would be the owner pulling over for the driver running his truck for a title. I don’t like either scenario, but what Harvick did was doubly wrong.
Bryan: You don’t pass trucks over the radio. That’s BS, especially in the closing laps in the top five.
Amy: I think if Harvick hadn’t have been in the heat of the moment, he’d have realized that what he was asking was stupid.
Tom: I would hope Harvick came to his senses; but then again, he had a big team meeting with everyone at the haulers after the race.
Kurt: The team meeting is probably to develop code words for the radio. “The bath water is hot this Thursday” means “let me by.”
Mike N.: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” means “dump Mike Skinner.”
Kurt: “He or she smells like a bus” means “block Todd Bodine.”
Tom: Seriously, what’ll happen the next time the No. 2 car is entered? I’m real curious to see and no matter what, Harvick will now be questioned for any move near his trucks – and deservedly so.
Kurt: Did Harvick hire Hornaday to get the best possible finish each week? There you go.
Tom: I’m so proud of Hornaday for not moving over. Good for him standing his ground and realizing the owner was being a nitwit.
Beth: Honestly, if Harvick really had that great of a truck, he wouldn’t have been screaming into the radio for Hornaday to let him pass. And I’m sure Harvick will figure it out, but when you’re in the middle of a race and are faster than the guy holding you up, you might not see so clearly. Unless he fires Hornaday, this is no big deal at all.
Bryan: Amy, the thought of telling your team truck to move over should never enter your mind, period.
Kurt: I don’t understand what Harvick was thinking in the first place. He’s a veteran of the sport, for crying out loud!
Bryan: Not all of us embrace the HMS school of bending over to cooperate on the track.
Mike N.: Hey, don’t forget the Roush lead swapping dance a couple of years ago.
Kurt: In the closing laps of the race, I’m amazed that some guys think teammates should let them by.
Tom: I think we’re going to see Harvick be contrite about it this weekend at Dover. What goes around comes around though… he had an awful time in the Cup race the following day.
Amy: How many guys have their spotter tell another driver during the course of a race to move his slow ass out of the way?
Bryan: Slow ass, second place. Slight difference.
Tom: In the meantime, this is the first year in a long time I remember the Truck title being in the bag this early. Rare that anyone runs away with it like Hornaday is. The funny thing is, the Hornaday-Harvick battle on-track was some of the more exciting racing I’ve seen all year.
Bryan: Well it helps when NASCAR black flags the second-place driver for being aggressive, Tom.
Mike N.: When the second-place car is driving like a total tool, they have to.
Bryan: If “tool” is the standard, NASCAR should have black-flagged Harvick on Saturday.
Kurt: To try to understand Harvick, he has nothing to race for but a win, and it wouldn’t have cost Hornaday many points. Still, it doesn’t make sense.
Beth: I’m not surprised Hornaday is running away with the championship. He’s only finished outside the top 10 four times in 19 races.
Kurt: If your guy is racing for a championship, let him race.
Beth: Exactly, Kurt. That’s why I can understand where Harvick is coming from, but he was completely out of line Saturday.
Jeff: Or if Harvick had said, “let me pass and try and pull you up there…” then that would be different, but Harvick simply wanted Ron to move over so he could try and win, and that is what confuses me.
Kurt: Maybe this just reveals more of the team orders thing. I’ll bet there’s more of it than we know.
Amy: I don’t think Harvick was seeing that Hornaday was racing for the championship as much as he saw that he thought he had a chance at Busch. I think it will blow over, Harvick will figure out he was being a tool and Hornaday will win the championship by way more than five points anyway.
Kurt: It’s not the points so much as the idea of being asked to let your owner pass you. Doesn’t generate a good feeling.
Tom: The troubling thing is two cars on the same team can’t race side-by-side anymore without any of this stuff coming up. And not to divert back to Question 3, but this is the problem in the sport today. If you’re on the same team, everyone is required to work together. As if you all get the same amount of points no matter where one car finishes. That’s fine if that’s how the rules work, but they don’t. You know, I hate to pull the back in the ’80s card, but Junior Johnson’s two teams used to go at it tooth and nail.
Mike N.: They hated each other, Tom.
Amy: I think you still see that to an extent.
Kurt: But what do you want to do, Tom? NASCAR has tried to limit the number of teams and it’s ridiculous.
Tom: Kurt, the only people that have the answer are the guys slowly buying and supplying every team in the garage, but that’s another topic for another day.
Jeff: But remember, I could see if Harvick were just a teammate, but he is the truck’s owner as well.
Amy: Any of the Roush drivers would wreck any other RFR driver for the win.
Kurt: Jamie McMurray may be out of a job, and for what?
Bryan: It happens occasionally now. The Rusty v. Newman incident at Martinsville in 2005 was a classic.
Amy: What about Jeff Gordon and Jimmie at Martinsville? Jeff would have happily wrecked Jimmie but he couldn’t turn him.
Bryan: Woulda coulda shouldas don’t count, Amy.
Mike N.: He tried to dump him Bryan, he just couldn’t.
Kurt: But Amy’s right. There weren’t any team orders there. All Rick Hendrick cares about is not wrecking.
Amy: The No. 1 rule for Penske’s Indy cars is “Don’t wreck each other.” Other than that, bring it.
Mike N.: The No. 2 rule is piss off Danica Patrick. Just to see her stomp.
Kurt: I think Roush is more or less hands off too, but I don’t know that for sure.
Jeff: Should be the same for crew chiefs too, Amy. Don’t beat each other up.
Amy: Or drivers.
Tom: Anyway, we got off topic there. Sorry about that. But it used to be things like the Harvick – Hornaday incident wouldn’t even be a thought in people’s heads a decade ago in this sport. Now, sadly, it’s commonplace.
Mike N.: I don’t think it is commonplace, Tom. There’s not a lot of owners driving around the track.
Kurt: Is it, Tom? We’re talking about one incident, I don’t know that it happens all that often, at least this obviously.
Amy: And Harvick wrecking Hornaday for that spot wouldn’t have gotten a second thought either, Tom.
Bryan: Right on. The mere fact that a driver can think of that shows just how wrong things are in the sport.
Kurt: Harvick wrecking Hornaday would have been even more foolish – maybe that’s why he was so fired up.
Mike N.: Drivers think that all of the time. The fact it’s the owner is what is messed up.
Kurt: But when you’re behind that wheel at 150 mph, logic doesn’t play as a factor. I stop thinking at 30 mph.

Perhaps it’s time for Dover predictions.

Beth: I’m going with Johnson for the sweep.
Kurt: Denny Hamlin.
Tom: I have to go look at who I put in NASCARmedia.com’s Chase Tracker, since somebody from our site should be playing that game.
Amy: I’m going outside the Chase and taking Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Mike N.: Wow, that’s a stretch.
Kurt: Ooooh, look at Tom all documented and stuff.
Tom: Yes, I actually entered that ridiculous game for us. I’m not sure I get it, but I want to beat celebrities.
Kurt: Celebrities like Jarrett?
Bryan: Going out on a limb and taking Newman. Gibson and Co. were racing to win on Sunday, Chase be damned, and Newman’s at his best track. They’re gonna shock the Chase for at least one week.
Jeff: I pick Bobby Labonte!
Mike N.: I’m going to take Stewart.
Tom: I picked Martin and I’m going to stick with that. Hey, Greg Biffle went two for two last year. Here’s the kicker, though; Carl Edwards in second. Gets back in the Chase. Johnson third, Kurt Busch wrecks and becomes the second driver to fall out of contention.

Mirror Predictions 2009

Welcome to our third consecutive year of Mirror Predictions! Each week, our experts take the end of this column to tell us who the winner of each Cup race will be. But as we all know, predicting the future is difficult if not completely impossible… so how do you know which writer you can trust when you put your own reputation (or money) on the line?

That’s why we came up with our Mirror Predictions Chart. The scoring for this year is simple:

Prediction Scoring
+5 – Win
+3 – Top 5
+1 – Top 10
0 – 11th-20th
-1 – 21st-30th
-2 – 31st-40th
-3 – 41st-43rd

Through 27 races, the All-Star Race and the Shootout this season, here’s how our experts have fared so far:

Writer Points Behind Predictions (Starts) Wins Top 5s Top 10s
Beth Lunkenheimer 31 27 2 10 15
Bryan Davis Keith 28 -3 25 3 10 13
Amy Henderson 24 -7 29 3 8 14
Kurt Smith 22 -9 18 3 6 10
Vito Pugliese 20 -11 14 1 5 9
Tom Bowles 18 -13 8 1 5 6
Mike Neff 15 -16 17 1 5 9
Jeff Meyer 11 -20 20 0 6 9
Tony Lumbis 0 -31 1 0 0 0
Matt Taliaferro -3 -34 1 0 0 0
Phil Allaway -4 -35 5 0 0 1

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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