NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Pocono’s Tedium Turns Tumultuous & Junior’s Dream Team

The boys gave us plenty to discuss this week, so let’s get to it.

Here’s the big one you missed! [In reference to the daily “Frontstretch Newsletter’s “Numbers Game” on Monday.] Number of times we didn’t get to see either “live” or a replay of Denny Hamlin taking the so-called NASCAR yellow flag! ONE!!!!

Q: TNT’S COVERAGE SUCKED! — Stan Welsh, Jensen Beach, Fla.

A: “Sucks!” he cried. Duly noted, Stan. I didn’t think the coverage was that bad (considering they were trying to make chicken salad…), but I, like many others in the Twitter universe, would’ve preferred Phil Parsons not lob Kevin Harvick an alley-oop post-race.

Otherwise, it seems viewers are going to complain regardless of which network is televising. I just roll with it, man, although I’ll admit I’d liked to have seen exactly where Hamlin was when that caution flag flew. Luckily, Hamlin answered that question for me in the post-race press conference moments later….

“I was, I mean, a hundred yards maybe from the start/finish line when the caution did come out,” he recalled. Hamlin then threw this little gem out there that hasn’t gotten much run on NASCAR’s sanitized sites:

“I think that they have the yellow flag in their hand instead of the white,” he said. “They’re just waiting on something. There’s no way they switch flags that quick. I think they had it, were ready to go with the yellow.”

“For the show purpose, it was good. But it was a legitimate caution. I was just looking around, all around that racetrack, for any debris. I was going to call BS if they had a debris caution right there. I was glad that that didn’t happen. It was a legitimate reason… unfortunately for my teammate.”

Q: No one knows what’s to become of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick, but everyone is starting to believe it is not the right fit for him. I’m going to ask this to you this way: Where do you think Jr. would fit in best if you could assign him a team (JR Motorsports included)? — James Mulberry

A: That’s an excellent way of asking a question that, as you state, no one truly knows the answer to, and I’d say RCR, no doubt. He doesn’t have to drive the No. 3, but he’ll feel more at home in the rough-around-the-edges environment Childress offers.

My second pick would be Michael Waltrip Racing. OK, that sounds strange on the surface, but his ol’ buddies Mikey and Marty are over there, and the pressure wouldn’t be nearly as great. Yeah, I know there’s that little hood ornament issue, but… perfect world and all.

I think what he needs is 1. Comfort. 2. Familiarity. RCR would be a comfortable fit, and MWR would provide a familiar environment.

The last thing he needs, in my opinion, is to worry about Cup ownership and tearing up his own equipment. Gosh, that boy is carrying enough on his shoulders as it is.

All that said, I still don’t see him just up and making a clean split with HMS. The financial side of the issue simply won’t allow it.

Q: All this comment about Delana Harvick’s firesuit sounds like kindergarten. Grow up, Logano. I think Delana is the only wife of a driver who is also an owner, and what she chooses to wear is her business. How many other wives’ names appear as owners and yet never attend the races? — Sharon

A: Sorry Sharon, but when he uttered the now-infamous “firesuit comment,” it didn’t strike me as an insult to DeLana, but a shot across Kevin’s bow. You know, a “you’re whipped, dude”–type blast us guys are always looking to unload. And for the Harvicks’ part, they’re taking it exactly the way I’d expect them to: By having a whole mess of t-shirts printed up that they’re selling at www.kevinharvick.com for $15.

By now, I’m fairly certain you guys have heard about this, but the shirt reads “I Wear the Firesuit in this Family.” Proceeds go to the Kevin Harvick Foundation, and I’m thinking about getting one for my girl Rach, although she doesn’t really wear the firesuit in our crib. (And she probably won’t be reading this, so I’m in the clear.)

There are other wives that have some sort of ownership stake in various teams, and the majority of them are seen fairly often, if not weekly. The teams’ official listed owner is usually not attributed to family members anymore, but there are a couple women still on the entry list each week – Teresa Earnhardt being the most notable. I believe Andrea Nemechek may be a listed owner, as well as some low-budget Truck Series programs that list wives, mothers or fathers for tax purposes and the like.

Q: Denny’s knee sure isn’t bothering him now. Do you think the only places left that it will hurt him is on the road courses? He is not a premier road racer as it is, and I think that could derail his title hopes. He will at least take a hit in the regular season standings. Luckily for Denny, Jimmie isn’t a great road racer either. — Bob Gottlieb

A: I never thought Hamlin’s surgery would hinder him that much from the get-go, so I’m not surprised he’s running as strong as he is. In scanning through his road stats, I’ve found he’s stronger than you might think, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a win at Infineon or Watkins Glen, bum knee and all.

A quick look at his road racing results:

Infineon Raceway: 2006: 12th; 2007: 10th; 2008: 27th; 2009: 5th
Watkins Glen: 2006: 10th; 2007: 2nd; 2008: 8th; 2009: 10th

That’s a career average of 10.5, and if you throw out the 27th-place stinker, it’s 8.1. Not bad, huh? In fact, it’s downright solid.

So there certainly won’t be a title-derailment regardless of his results, and as I said, a win wouldn’t surprise me. Like Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kyle’s brother Kurt, when you’re running as well as they are across the board, a win could be a reality every week.

Q: Tom Logano: Let the boy stand up for himself. A few weeks away from the track would be best for you now. — Sincerely, race fans everywhere

A: Hey, a couple million race fans can’t be wrong. For good measure, here’s what everyone’s favorite owner/driver had to say about Tom on his Tony Stewart Live Sirius Satellite Radio show:

“I’m going to be perfectly honest,” Stewart said. “I’ve kind of had enough of Tom Logano getting into the middle of stuff. Joey is a great, great kid and I still to this day believe that Joey was the best idea that we had to have somebody replace me [in] the Home Depot car. But I think his dad gets in the way a little bit too much.

“At this level you’ve got to let these guys handle it on their own, and I don’t think his dad — he doesn’t need to be in the middle of it. Unless he starts driving a racecar, he needs to stay out of it. Nobody else’s fathers get in the middle of it.”

Sounds about right to me.

Thanks for sticking around until the end. As a reward, you get a Joey Logano-inspired video clip of the week.

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