Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Readers Respond to the NASCAR Season That Was

When last we spoke, Cheryl W. asked what I would look back on in 10 years and remember about the 2010 season. Considering the season wasn’t over yet, I asked for a reprieve, as well as your thoughts. So with another year of racing in the books, your votes and mine are in. What follows are snippets in a collection of your thoughts on what made the season memorable, starting with Cheryl, who started this column idea in the first place:

Q: Thanks for posting my question, Matt! For me, 2010 will be remembered for Jimmie’s fifth title. The accomplishment is too historical to not rank first in my mind. I wonder if next year my memorable moment will be Jimmie winning number six? — Cheryl W.

A: That’s the reasonable answer. I wonder what Jimmie’s hair will look like this time next year._

Q: I don’t think we’ll remember the 2010 season in 10 years. The only thing memorable about this year have been the empty stands and dropping TV ratings. I hope we can look back on this year as the beginning of the end for the Chase and/or King Brian. — Ken

A: Somewhat pessimistic, but that’s fair. The Chase isn’t going anywhere, Ken, and in fact, I’ve convinced myself that The Grandson is only going to make it more hokey._

Q: What I will remember in 10 years: There was this thing called Twitter and NASCAR fined its drivers for mouthing off on it. — Alan

A: Wait until video Twitter is invented. The boys’ll have a blast with that.

Q: 2010 will be known for the final stand and fall of Richard Petty in the sport. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Petty name will grace a team much longer. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t trust investments groups. — Julie B., Winston-Salem, N.C.

A: I haven’t seen one of these firms save the day to this point, Julie. In fact, it’s usually had the exact opposite effect.

Q: I hope 2010 is remembered as when Jamie McMurray put it all together and began a 10-year run as a Chase guy. The three big wins stand on their own merit, but the fact that it was McMurray in his first year back with Ganassi who won them was a shocker. Here’s to many more! — Jacqueline Timmel, Missouri

A: Unreal year for your boy, Jacqueline. What makes it even more impressive were the finishes that often don’t get discussed: Runner-up showings in the Coke 600, Southern 500 and at Talladega. The third-place run in the Bristol Night Race was something, too. If France expands the Chase field to 15, 20 or 25 — why not just reset everyone’s points with 10 to go at this rate? — he and most of the rest of the field are locks for the next 10 years.

Q: Maybe we won’t look back at 2010 as momentous for J.J.’s fifth championship because it will be just one in a line of seven or eight straight. Is there any reason to think otherwise? — Daniel Nolan

A: Regardless of how many more he’s got in him, this one will be remembered for the crew swap and subsequent comeback — or for Denny Hamlin’s choke job, however you choose to view it.

Q: Rick Hendrick’s hiring of Kasey Kahne for a spot two years down the road will open a new era in free agency. — Cami W.

A: That was bumbled from the start. I don’t expect to see that become a trend. Of course, I never thought Brian France — who hos, hums and double-talks his way through press conferences with a relatively friendly NASCAR media — could make any money on the lecture circuit. Guess I was wrong.

Q: JJ’s fifth, no doubt. Although it will be interesting to look back and see how long the “boys have at it” thing was allowed to go on. My guess is Brian will reverse stance when it fits his needs. — Paul Roe

A: Hopefully, France will remember a “safe for all time zones” NASCAR had both hardcore and fair-weather fans alike running for the exits.

One day Danica Patrick will look back and see she made a mistake trying NASCAR and 2010 was the start. She’ll get to Cup in 2012, but won’t have the talent to stay there. Then it’s back to Indy cars and swimsuit shoots.

And she’ll make a fortune in the process.

As for me? Long after Hamlin’s knee, Kevin Harvick’s consistency, McMurray’s renaissance, “Boys, have at it” and lagging ratings and attendance fade, I’ll remember Johnson’s fifth consecutive title. This run we’ve witnessed — or continue to witness, I should say — is about the most impressive accomplishment I’ve seen in the sport.

Before I get out for one final time, I had to pass along Reason No. 78 to love Bobby Hamilton Jr.: Old-school track operator. And props to WSMV Channel 4. Love Aaron, Holly and Paul in the morning.

Folks, have a great offseason. Enjoy the family, fellowship, food and fun the next month brings. And thanks for helping make this such a great year for me. Your emails have both inspired and entertained. For that, I thank you.

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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