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Fanning the Flames: NASCAR’s Longest Owner/Driver Marriage & Pending Roush Divorces?

I received a text from my brother last weekend stating “I guess ur watching the hall of fame induction, this is really cool.” Coming from a college-age kid that isn’t necessarily a die-hard, I thought what he said was really cool.

Good job, NASCAR. You often take our body blows when we don’t like what we see. I liked what I saw at the Hall of Fame, though, so it’s only fair to give you an “a-atta boy.”

Now I’ve got a vacation to get to, so let’s skip the formalities and get to your emails. We’ll start off with one of your favorite posters:

Q: What happened to the standardized start times? NASCAR.COM lists the start of [last] week’s race at 9:30 p.m.! And I saw a TV ad for next week’s Indy race starting at noon? What gives?!?!? — DansMom

A: The Sprint Showdown started at 7:30 ET, which is what the standardized Saturday night start time is. If ya wanted to see the Big Show, you had to stay up a bit later.

As for Indy, yes, it’s going green at its traditional 1:00 ET start time, but coverage on ABC starts at noon. Any talk you’re hearing about pushing Indy’s start time an hour earlier to allow “The Double” and Bruton’s $20 million pertains to next season. And at this point the times and the treasure are still just talk, although by next week at this time, they may both be fact.

Q: Boring show in the All-Star Race. Will NA$CAR ever consider moving it around to different tracks? Richmond especially would be a great place for it, but of course I’m a homer. — Cecil Mason, Richmond, Va.

A: Be careful what you wish for. There are a lot of 1.5-mile venues out there that bring twice the sleep-induction factor as Charlotte. If the All-Star Race floats around, it will end up at cookie-cutter and big flat tracks at a 5:1 ratio over the short tracks, which is what everyone wants to see when talk like this springs up.

For the time being, though, I don’t see it moving and haven’t heard any rumblings whatsoever.

Q: Matt, Jr. Nation continues to cry about Jr. and McGrew, but Carl Edwards was invisible during the All-Star Race and he’s been invisible for a season and a half. Why no talk of splitting Edwards and Osborne up or any of the other Roush crew chief and the driver pairings? At some point, when the whole company is in left field a shake up needs to be made. — Benny R., Arkansas

A: Honestly, I don’t think shuffling crew chiefs is the fix to Roush’s problems. The Roush Fenway organization has won three of the last 48 races — and two of those were plate-track wins. If this were just driver/crew chief issues, the winning percentage would be much higher and the problems wouldn’t be across the board. Besides, we’ve seen Edwards and Osborne split up in the past and Carl was miserable. We’ve also seen the damage this pair can do when the cars are there.

The problem for Edwards, Osborne and the entire organization is that, at the moment, the cars aren’t close. They are getting beat because of computer simulations that aren’t jiving and equipment that simply isn’t up to the HMSs and JGRs of NASCAR. A team’s chemistry can be spot on, but if the car is built to be a 13th-place car, it’s more often than not going to be a 13th-place car.

Q: If Bass Pro is staying with Earnhardt Ganassi like Jayski is reporting, does that mean Jamie McMurray is feeling confident about his shot at another year there too? I would hate to see Jamie Mac’s momentum killed again. He looks comfortable at EGR and it’s translating into good runs. — MAC-Lovin!

A: Aloha, Fogel. That’s as much Johnny Morris’s call as Chip Ganassi’s. Of course, Ganassi talked Morris — the founder of Bass Pro Shops and a huge supporter of motorsports — into the hire in the first place, so we know Chip’s opinion does hold weight. As does that Daytona 500 win.

I couldn’t agree with you more that McMurray looks like a different driver since coming home. I wouldn’t be shocked if he scored another win this season, and that’s not a prediction I was making about him in his Roush years. Concurrently, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was offered an extension. In fact, I’d kind of be surprised if he wasn’t.

Q: Since Kevin Harvick has re-signed with Childress, does that make the two the longest tenured driver/owner combo outside of Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick? My math says Harvick and Childress have 10 years together and Gordon and Hendrick have 19 this year. Thanks Matt! — G. Pender

A: Your math looks right if you count the one race at Atlanta in 1992 that Gordon entered for Hendrick. And the Harvick/Childress numbers are on the money, too.

However, there is one pair in between the two in question, and that combo is Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush. This year marks Kenseth’s 11th with Roush (after a one-race stint with Bill Elliott in 1998 and five with Robbie Reiser as the listed owner in ’99). This tandem also donned the same DeWalt primary colors for 10 years, nowhere near the length of time as Gordon’s 19 with DuPont, but impressive nonetheless.

Continuing down the list we find the aforementioned Harvick/Childress team tied with Jimmie Johnson and Rick Hendrick, going strong at a decade together (counting Johnson’s three starts for HMS in 2001). Johnson’s Lowe’s sponsorship has been on board every step of the way, too. Just behind them sit Greg Biffle and Uncle Jack at nine years strong, followed by Edwards/Roush at seven years.

Kasey Kahne also has seven years in the same seat, although the ownership changed from Ray Evernham to George Gillett sometime in 2007. Wrapping up, we find Jeff Burton and Childress at six-and-a-half years, with Clint Bowyer/Childress and Denny Hamlin/Joe Gibbs at six apiece.

Thanks for making it this far. If you need me, I’m on a bass boat for next the five days. With the cell phone off.

And by the way, in response to a reference I made last week that a few of you wrote to me about, here’s your video link of the week. Thought I forgot, didn’t ya?

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