(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

MPM2Nite: Debris or Not Debris?

I have a face I can not show,
I make the rules up as I go,
Try and love me if you can,
Are you strong enough to be a fan….
(With all due apologies to Ms. Sheryl Crow)

I don’t know what’s more amazing to me. Is it the fact NASCAR once again decided to orchestrate a race rather than officiate it, or is the fact there’s so few race fans who give a damn that NASCAR did so when it played out right in front of them either on TV or in the grandstands. (Let me add the official company line here, “the sold out grandstands”. Yes, in fact Fontana has finally eliminated enough seats that they’ve reached a stasis point where they can at least claim that they’ve sold out a race rather than having to resort, as previous track management did, to claiming all the fans were underneath the grandstands shopping to explain gaping blocks of empty seats.)

Of course NASCAR and the tracks no longer release attendance data, estimates or wishful thinking simply because they decided they don’t have to. And they’d probably prefer you just forget that the stated reason for stripping a historic date from Darlington and moving it to California was because Darlington wasn’t selling enough tickets. Take a quick jolt of the Kool-Aid and let’s all just forget that in that era Darlington was selling more tickets than Fontana is now. Just another bit of “Newspeak” courtesy of our buddies down there in Daytona Beach with their Orwellian bank of cameras monitoring pit road.

(Photo: Jerry Jordan)
Debris?  We don’t see any debris… (Photo: Jerry Jordan)

Pity NASCAR and the folks at FOX still trying to beat the drum that this is perhaps the greatest most exciting season of stock car racing ever despite a plethora of runaways posing as racing leaving fans napping on these somnolent Sundays as winter fades to spring. So Kevin Harvick is running away with races at will? Just listen to NASCAR and FOX. Folks, you are watching HISTORY in the making. Harvick is in a palm-drenching battle with Richard Petty for top honors in the coveted and historic battle to see if the driver of the No. 4 car can eclipse the King’s forty-year-old mark for top-2 finishes…um, er, top-2 finishes at the end of one season and the beginning of the next. Some statistician earned him or herself a steak dinner for that one because in nearly fifty years of following stock car racing I had never heard anyone discussing consecutive top-2 finishes. I’ve never seen such a number printed in the annals of the sport. Yet if somehow Harvick were to finish third at Martinsville next week, I bet that same statistician has already researched which driver previously set the mark for top 3 finishes at the end of one season and the start of the next. So, sure, Harvick might have been cruising to winning events with a three or four second gap over second place, but gosh-dern it Earl, this is like watching Pete Rose try to break Joe DiMaggio’s record for consecutive hits back in nineteen hundred and seventy-eight, ain’t it? We may not live long enough to see another driver challenge the King’s record for top 2s and being able to watch this bit of history fold out before our eyes makes me durn proud to be an American.

Yet despite the white-knuckled historical battle playing out, somehow the ratings for the Phoenix race were down and down significantly. How on earth did that happen? That left FOX in the awkward position of having to somehow claim the racing isn’t boring. In a fit of hyperbole Sunday DW claimed (and check the tape if you think I’m kidding) that the race cars running out there at Fontana were closer to their street counterparts than they’ve been in a very long time. Yes, that despite the Fusion or Camry your local dealers are offering at low-low-low financing are still in fact front wheel drive and neither has a 6.2 inch spoiler on the back included even on the options list. The corporate line all week leading up to Fontana was the well worn track surface was going to provide for outstanding multi-groove racing reminiscent of, well, Darlington, the same track that sacrificed a date for Roger Penske’s multi-purpose boondoggle in the brown-fields.

Yep, that played out just as planned. There was no runaway at Fontana, no one car leading by gaps so large the TV cameras struggled to show the second place runner in the same shot as the leader. This was different. This time there were two cars making a mockery of the race with six-second gaps back to third place. Oh, the racing was frantic and four and five wide on the restarts but that’s the nature of stock car racing today. About the only time the drivers can pass is when a caution bunches up the field nose to tail and for those next few precious laps progress towards the front is possible. Stock car races have often been won not on the track but in the pits, and I accept that. It just seems when teams are forced into contrarian pit strategies, two tires rather than four, four tires rather than two, or fuel only not in hopes of winning a race but rather in hopes of scoring a top 12 rather than a top 15 (can we get some statistician on figuring out which driver has scored the most consecutive top-15 finishes, please?)

In fact, yesterday it was Paul Wolfe’s high risk, no guts no glory decision to go with four tires during the caution period caused by the mysterious disappearing debris that won the race. I’ll take nothing from Brad Keselowski who drove  his heart out to (as he admits freely himself) steal a win. I just wish that’s what I was focused on after the race as FOX suddenly shifted gears and admitted that most of the race wasn’t quite up to par but boy-howdy did that finish make up for it. Sure, if you don’t mind tuning in for an hour of pre-race antics and three hours (oops, don’t want to exaggerate here; 2 hours, 58 minutes and 18 seconds) to see if there just might be something worth watching in the final ninety seconds. Other than that life and death battle for the top-2 statistic which ought to have you on the edge or your seat anyway. (I’m a sure a lot of fans were in fact at the edge of their seats at the two hour mark, on the edge of their seats on their way to their feet and out the front door to find something better to do with their time.)

But as the race came to it’s unexpected conclusion I for one wasn’t reveling in the No. 2 car’s “out of nowhere” win. What I was thinking was” damn did NASCAR hose Kurt Busch to keep him out of victory circle.” Yes, I know I’ve earned a reputation for being a bit of a conspiracy theorist. (Prior to that plethora of late race cautions I was wondering if Kevin Harvick was going to roll over and let teammate Busch win to get him into the Chase since Harvick has already locked himself into the championship hunt and trying to find team audio on line to prove it) Instead it seemed that Harvick, whose car had been notably quicker up front with clean air on the nose, gave one more concerted effort to get by Busch but as the late Benny Parsons might have said, “He done gone and licked all the red off his candy.” When the determined drive came up short, Harvick seemed prepared to serve as wing man for his teammate and there’s no faulting him for that.

That left NASCAR with a bit of a problem, in fact a bit of a PR nightmare, to call a spade a spade. Kurt Busch is the sport’s problem child. While he is, in fact, an ex-champion, what the general public and even casual fans know the elder Busch brother for best is he’s the guy that was accused of an act of domestic violence against his former girlfriend that led NASCAR to suspend him. He’s the guy who sat in a court of law and accused his ex of being a government-trained assassin. (My eldest sister who couldn’t give a flip about the sport that has been a lifetime obsession for her older brother caught that much of the story on the world news and called to ask me if Busch was, in fact, insane.)

Almost as awkward as their decision to suspend Busch when he hadn’t been charged with anything criminal yet was NASCAR’s decision to un-suspend him when it was announced he wouldn’t be. And when the excrement was still airborne from that call, they went ahead and changed the rules to state that Busch and the No. 41 team would be eligible for the Chase if they met the standard requirements. If you think that whole unsavory mess between Busch and Driscoll is over and swept under the rug now, you must have missed Driscoll’s piece in USA Today last week. It would appear that we’re now going to watch a potential palimony suit play out in the papers rather than in court, leading one to wonder if Busch will claim that Driscoll earned a black velvet painting of a tiger in repose hanging over their fireplace for a particularly choice assassination. What NASCAR doesn’t need right now is for Kurt Busch to win a race even while the public seems by and large split into two camps; those who can’t understand why he was suspended in the first place and those who can’t understand why he’s out there racing at all and how despite the rules it was decided that he was chase-eligible. Worse yet, a victory yesterday would have all but locked Busch into the Chase, meaning the debate would continue clear through to Homestead.

With Busch in control of the race the caution flag flew on lap 199. NASCAR’s Richard Buck, who seems to have assumed Mike Helton’s previous role of Department of Outright Fabrication and Fact Bender in Chief, was absolutely adamant that there was in fact not only a bit of debris out there somewhere but that debris was in fact metallic. He can say this despite the fact by his own admission another car hit the alleged debris prior to NASCAR’s crews being able to locate it. So it’s simple right? If that bit of debris was in fact dangerous enough to call for a caution, whichever car hit it would have been badly damaged and limping to the pits with fluid and smoke bellowing from the undercarriage. Well, umm, that didn’t happen, did it? OK, wait, I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got a brand new lie. That mysterious bit of debris wound up in a tire of Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car causing his final lap spin. (Nod, nod, wink, wink, move along folks, nothing to see here.)

Busch was one again able to assert himself on the subsequent restart but he’d barely made it up front again when the yellow hanky was sent dangling in the wind again. This time at least the cause for the caution was more legitimate and at least visible. The TV panel of Kyle Larson’s Chevy was sent aflight and it needed to be cleared. Or did it? We’ll get to that.

Once again on the restart, Busch took the lead, but this time Brad Keselowski, on four fresh tires, was coming and coming hard. Busch still held the advantage going into turn one as Biffle’s car went spinning and ended up motionless right beyond the start finish line. So a caution flag flew again, right, the caution flag that would have cemented the win for Busch and ended the race under caution? In fact that caution didn’t fly. Yes, it made for a better ending to the race (and most of you know I’m not a huge fan of Kurt Busch, so my opinion isn’t based on who was in the cars but where they were at the time.) Now, I’d have to check the replay here but I am pretty sure the 16 car still had a TV panel attached to the back of it, and it was a TV panel that drew the previous caution. In this case the “debris” was pretty easy to spot. It was about ten feet long and had a big number 16 painted on the sides of it. Kind of hard to miss that one, you know? As per our friend Mr. Buck, in what seems to me a self-contradictory statement, contained in one sentence “Safety is No. 1; we always make our best effort to let it race back” So which is it? Is Safety No. 1, as we saw on the final lap at the Daytona 500 which ended under caution, or do “we” (in this case NASCAR) always make our best effort to let it race back? Kind of an easy call to make, I guess if your butt is seated in a tower not in that of a race car. Buck went on to say (watch carefully kids, his fingers never leave his hands) that the other 42 cars still racing often in three and four wide packs with red mist in the drivers eyes, were over a mile away. Let me break out the calculator here because I suck at math. Let’s see, at 180 MPH (and they were going faster than that) a stock car will travel a mile in twenty seconds. Wow, not quite the margin that those who “always” put safety as their top priority would have liked. Buck went on to point out that NASCAR had two officials in the flag-stand almost directly over the stricken No. 16 car and they could in fact see it. Bravo for those two intrepid eagle eyes. Not only could they see the car, they were able to deduce that the car was going to be able to get out of the way, not leave any jagged debris on the track because we seldom see wrecked race cars do that, and there weren’t even going to be any fluid spewed by wrecked No. 16 car because again, what are the odds something like that could happen? And jeez, even if there were a few gallons of oil on the track there was no chance that was going to trigger a wreck as the pack raced towards the checkers.

A long time ago someone taught me that on any given Sunday, at any given race track, in any corner of that track there is going to be debris. It’s the nature of the beast and the maelstrom of air really fast loud cars kick up in their wake during a race. So if you choose to throw a caution for debris it’s always legitimate. Get down there and dig and you’ll find some slob’s empty sandwich wrapper laying eight feet outside the racing groove. The problem isn’t debris, it’s the consistency with which debris cautions are thrown. Just last week at Phoenix NASCAR threw a debris caution for what was clearly an empty water bottle. (Now how do you suppose that got there?) And according to Buck NASCAR would never, ever, ever (and we can trust them given their track record, right?) try to manipulate the outcome of a race.

Which brings to mind a recent runaway tire that ended up in the tri-oval grass in the midst of a cycle of pit stops. NASCAR chose not to throw the caution until that sequence of stops had played out to avoid altering the outcome of the race. Well Jezum crow,  Cousin Petey, was that stationary tire a hazard or not and, if so, how was it any less hazardous for a dozen laps prior to the caution flying?  And while the topic is open how do we square this year’s Daytona 500 ending under caution (safety first) with the 2010 running of the Great American Race when Harvick got the win after NASCAR decided not to let the race end under caution while Mark Martin was leading even though there was a huge pig pile of a wreck right there on the front stretch and the 17th place finisher (Clint Bowyer) crossed the line upside down and on fire?

And while I’m venting, what’s with the spate of red flagged races lately? Hey, I’m all for giving the fans the show they paid to see but what is the criteria for what’s deserving of a red flag (once only used if the track was completely blocked or there was a very serious injury) and what doesn’t (the fact some drivers might run out of gas running under the yellow). Make the call now before it’s a hot button topic next week. Nobody is looking for perfection from the tower, just some sign of consistency and even their most stalwart supporters have to admit that NASCAR’s track record on such matters is consistently inconsistent.

OK , so there’s my rant. You could have seen that one coming from a mile away like a locomotive pulling tank cars ablaze. But this is the part that really disturbs me. Ten years ago, a race finish like Sunday’s would have had everyone up in arms. However reluctant they might have been to do so the broadcasting network would have been forced to address the issue and the drivers who’d missed at least a shot at the win because of such a call would have had some mighty caustic comments on the race’s outcome. Instead, Matt Kenseth, who had an unexpected shot at the win, was told a debris caution had come out and the best he could come up with was, “Yeah, I figured that was coming.”

When those questionable cautions put a seemingly sure win at risk Kurt Busch might have said “WWE” over the radio but by after the race, Busch might have been clearly fuming but his anger management counselor apparently had the leash on when Busch smiled and said he’d just been “out-muscled” there at the end. If calls as questionable as the ones made at Fontana Sunday had been made in a truly legitimate sport the controversy would dominate the news.

Yes, judgment calls always have to be made. Was that wide receiver’s foot out of bounds or just inside?  Was he forced out of bounds or was he headed in that direction anyway? But even if it was an NFL game with no championship implications between the two sorriest teams in the league, the talking heads would be bright red in the face as they analyzed replay footage in ultra-slow motion trying to decide if the referee’s call was correct. That’s just not the case in NASCAR anymore. As such I can only agree with Busch, this is the WWE, not a legitimate sport any longer. You’ll recall that the WWE was once a ratings giant, entertainment posing as a sport loosely based on wrestling. The bad guy might have been beating the snot out of a crowd favorite and the fans would pretend to be enraged into a blood lust, but Deus Ex Machina- the good guy would pound his nemesis over the head with a folding chair, then take a staple gun to his scrotum in clear violation of the so called rules and everyone just accepted it. That’s what they’d tuned in to see anyway.

Sure some fans have taken to the various social media outlets to express their frustration and even rage at how the end of yesterday’s race played out. A lot of them are saying stuff like they’re so angry they’re never going to watch another NASCAR race again. But I’ve been around this sport long enough I know just about all of them will be back next week. Like Pavlov’s dogs we’re all so conditioned to knocking into that pole in hopes of a treat that we keep banging into it even after the treats have long since ceased.

Even the media have by and large shrugged their shoulders, noted there were some inexplicable goings on there at the end and then moved on. Nobody’s surprised, nobody’s angry, except folks like me and the cadre of readers who still tune in to my occasional columns. I fully expect in the comments section below some folks will be singing hallelujahs but most will be questioning why I’ve got my tits in a wringer again when this is what we’ve come to expect. If you don’t like it, leave. Once again I’ll be labeled a conspiracy theorist (though I have in fact resisted the urge to rename Fontana “Ruby Ridge Speedway” to this point) and a “hater” a term once used to good effect by partisans of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart by now forever usurped by one long-coiffed (and very scary) performer out of Nashville. I accept my role as a (hopefully) occasionally amusing curmudgeon still beating the drum of legitimacy. But as a long overdue shift in the weather brings warmer temperatures and melts away all that snow once again a nice ride on the Harley is sounding better than three hours wasted just to see when that last debris caution flies and stirs things up for a few minutes.

NASCAR will get along just fine without me. They did so while I was away and I know they will do so again if I leave. I’m not the issue here. The issue is all the former fans (as evidenced by declining ratings and reduced ticket sales) who never announced their intentions to leave, but went ahead and did so and haven’t come back since. If I missed the memo and NASCAR has gone on record as saying that they’re now marketing entertainment posing as a sport and everyone has accepted those terms, just let me know. There’s a lot of blue highways left unexplored in Chester, Lancaster and Berks counties and I have miles to go before I sleep.

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Matt joined Frontstretch in 2007 after a decade of race-writing, paired with the first generation of racing internet sites like RaceComm and Racing One. Now semi-retired, he submits occasional special features while his retrospectives on drivers like Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison, and other fallen NASCAR legends pop up every summer on Frontstretch. A motorcycle nut, look for the closest open road near you and you can catch him on the Harley during those bright, summer days in his beloved Pennsylvania.

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55 comments

  1. Avatar

    I wish you went further with this column, but I suspect your blood pressure was up enough. A few things, thank you for scratching the surface.

    I didn’t see Harvick playing wing man or the rise of a potential wing man, he seemed hell bent on basking in the glory you mentioned regarding a record of this or that as he let Kurt finish 3rd and kept his second place wonderfulness, whatever it is, in place. Harvick just isn’t that benevolent. As I said since this started, Nascar has played God with the races for so long, if you listen closely to drivers radio’s the comments made by Kurt and others this is nothing new, nobody likes it. ***Spoiler Alert***A mention of “The Chase*** The drivers don’t like The Chase or the latest Chase, the radio tells the tale, as they work their butts off and suddenly their stellar 26 race season means squat, a Justin A. hits you, or your engine blows up for the first time all year, etc…you do not advance. Heard it over the radio last year myself.

    I don’t know what rock you have been under the past 36 hours but folks are mad as hell..they are not mad at the debris caution by itself, they are mad because they feel Kurt Busch is targeted by Nascar, that he will never win a Sprint Cup race because of Nascar. That is very troubling to me, a mob mentality mindset if you will. Never mind about the ever problematic bullshit cautions that have plagued and cost many a driver a win, some fans who cannot separate the previous treatment of Kurt by Nascar and the debris cautions are making so much noise..Nascar in their simple minds just might ignore the validity of complaints regarding cautions and view this occurrence as fans of Kurt gone crazy. And I for one don’t equate this “support” of Kurt as love as some believe, but it is out of hate for Nascar. I never seen so much angst afforded any other driver this has happened too, and sadly it has happened often under the banner “that’s racing”, and it is to a point.

    The clowns in the booth sold their brains,souls and free speech for a paycheck and the ability in their minds to “stay relevant” in this sport. The booth has a script and story to sell, and they will not deviate. Just look at when the “surprise” upset comes, it is somebody who didn’t get the big sell at the beginning of the program, and it is pathetic to watch them heap praise on their own when they just don’t know what the hell to say.

    I am concerned about what will happen the rest of the season, seeing the “Kurt was robbed and should have won” stuff makes me wonder now if the driver who wins needs approval from the nutjobs via twitter or some other outlet before they are allowed to do their burnout and ride into V-Lane.

  2. Avatar

    I go back to last year’s Phoenix Chase race. IIRC, it was somewhere past halfway and two Chasers (Logano and Hamlin)were down a lap. A single-car incident brought out a caution, putting Logano back on the lead lap. A brake rotor from the incident was still out on the track when the race restarted (in spite of spotter and driver chatter that it was still out there). Poof, caution for debris, putting Hamlin back on the lead lap.
    Also who can forget the early days of the Lucky Dog, how many times there was debris when the 8 car was about to be lapped or had just been lapped? It was downright comical.

  3. Avatar

    Yes Matt, that is the new NASCAR… “Making every race exciting through creative officiating”. Every rule they have introduced in the last ten years has increased the crapshoot factor in both the individual races and the championship. I don’t believe that NASCAR did anything specifically because it was Kurt Busch, it’s just become the norm. The new formula for exciting racing is to have lots of cautions, bunch ’em up, and watch the mayhem and chaos on the restarts. The racing is secondary. It’s all about the chaotic restarts.

    I am so glad that Jeff is retiring this year. As the sport inches ever closer to reality television it will be nice not to give a *&^% any more.

    • Avatar

      and I will be right there with you, Bill, in the not giving a *&^% any more after November. It will be a nice relief in many ways, I can watch or not depending on whether I have something better to do or not — and I will bet that I can find MANY “better things to do” although it won’t be watching NCAA basketball or baseball as Richard suggested, but wow, lots and lots of free time and I won’t be spending any $ on going to races or souvenirs.

      Whatever new “idea” Brainless comes up with in the years to come or whatever nonsense he spews as a “great” businessman, well, it will all be just random noise.

  4. Avatar

    not a fan of kurt busch, but it was stolen from him. i saw that even WITHOUT my glasses on.

    all this hoopla about martinsville race being on foxsports1, woo hoo……why not put california race on foxsports1 and martinsville on fox? i need to find out what earthshattering program will be on fox next sunday. but this is the beginning. if i recall, when i looked at the tv schedule for the year, numerous races, once nbc takes over, will be on nbcsports. such a decision, nbcsports is in an upgraded package for most cable/satellite providers. do i really care any longer about racing to fork out the extra $$?

    my one boss is a na$car fan as well, and every monday morning we discuss the wwe. this past monday (yesterday) he came in and just shook his head in disgust.

    i do think it’s bye bye na$car. you’ve really messed things up.

  5. Avatar

    In March of 2011, me and my buddies made a trek to the Gatornationals to watch the qualifying rounds. This was the year that Kurt Busch was toying with NHRA, working with Allen Johnson. If you’ve ever been to an NHRA event, you know how wide open and accessible everything is to the fans. We had stopped over to the side to observe the line of folks waiting for Kurt’s autograph. Soon, the crew was calling for Kurt to strap in and make a qualifying run. He signed autographs for the last few fans in line, then, with the crew urging him to come on, he waves us over. We’re like, don’t worry about us, go make your run. He says, “No, you guys have been over there for a while, I want to make sure you’re taken care of.” And, he scribbled out his autograph on postcards for each of us, then took off to make his qualifying run. I know that Kurt has ruffled many feathers with his antics in NASCAR over the years but, to me, that little bit of time that he insisted that he take to please a handful of fans, said a lot about how Kurt feels about the people that support him. He may show his hind-end to other drivers, officials and reporters but, he was nice to the fans, the people that motorsports wouldn’t survive without. I’ve felt all along that Kurt has been railroaded over this whole Driscoll affair and I felt again Sunday that NASCAR was blatantly attempting to keep him out of victory lane. It wasn’t a new feeling I’ve had about NASCAR, I’ve felt that way many many many times before. But, I keep watching. I’ve followed NASCAR since the 70s. It’s in my blood and I’m unable to cleanse myself of it.

  6. Avatar

    Emperor Brian wants a game seven moment at the end of every race and this is his way of doing it. If anyone watching the end of the race didn’t expect a debris they’re a newbie. Brian is in his own little world and none of his toadies will tell him the real facts. When I watch movies I listen for lines that apply to Brian. The best one so far is “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

    A line I just heard is “The best way to see the future is to remember the past.” What do they say about ignoring the past?

    I saw this on Jayski.
    ” It was a tough question for someone so steeped in American motorsports history. But NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France took it on the chin today in Dearborn: What was his biggest failure in his 12-year reign as stock car racing’s top executive? France, 52, whose grandfather, Bill France Sr., founded NASCAR in 1948, didn’t flinch in admitting it was the “Car of Tomorrow,” the fifth-generation style Sprint Cup Series race car that was introduced in 2007 and was replaced in 2013 by the smaller, lighter Gen-6 model.
    “We are going to make mistakes,” said France, who has pushed the competitive envelope at NASCAR since taking over from his father Bill France Jr. in 2003, making significant changes to series qualifying rules and the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship format, among other things. “Occasionally, we make a big one now and again. I would say that if there is one thing we could have done better in the last 10 years under my watch, is when we launched what we called ‘the new car.’ It is now called the Gen-5. We just didn’t get the collaboration we needed to get from the industry, the owners, the drivers, the engineers and car manufacturers. They had a voice, but they didn’t have a loud enough voice, and so we changed that.”
    The Gen-6 car that is now used in Sprint Cup looks a lot more like your Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota. It has generally been embraced by teams and drivers, though not universally, for its racy nature.”

    Am I the only one who thinks he should have said the chase? But Brian thinks (and probably been told) everyone loves it.

    • Avatar

      He’ll admit to the chase being a failure 5 years after NASCAR goes back to the old points system due to there only being 2 NASCAR fans left in the country.

    • Avatar

      brain fart is suppose to be at some business symposium here in atlanta soon. when i hear the advertisements for it on the radio during my commutes, i just laugh….”successful businessman brian france, ceo of nascar”……this is the farthest thing from the truth in my book.

      now, he has been successful in lining his pockets with money, but he’s taken something that just needed slight tweeking, and has created a toxic waste dump.

    • Avatar

      Actually, he is spouting a whole lotta b.s. about the C.o.T. (Gen-5 car) , the teams, the owners, the manufacturers where whining, complaining suggesting, etc. about how to handle the situation and telling NASCAR and brianfart what was needed/wanted. So many of the Gen 5 characteristics could have been implemented into the “current” car without all of the super expense to the owners. bigger greenhouse, side (door) panel foam, moving the driver to the right a few inches, and on and on. Why Fox and NBC spent such an ungodly sum on the TV contract is baffling. If they would have balked at the asking pricing NASCAR had no other suitor available.
      Brian Farts biggest mistake THE CHASE duh!

      • Avatar

        In that quote, it almost seems like he’s blaming everyone else for the lack of success of the COT, doesn’t it?

    • Avatar

      What’s funny about the article you posted about France, is the “New Car” or Gen 5 car that he called it was never called either at the time. It was called the Car of Tomorrow and it was sung from the rooftops at how awesome the Car of Tomorrow was going to be. Then Kyle Busch told everyone in Victory Lane in Bristol what everyone else thought it was. Nice deflection though by France

    • Avatar

      What I found amusing was that when NASCAR applied their post-mortem spin about the C.O.T.. all that Robin Pemberton had to say was that the C.O.T. was all about “safety”.

      He never did explain what the rice-boy wing and cobbled-together front splitter had to do with “safety”. In fact, we saw quite the opposite…when those cars got backwards as speed, they quite often got airborne in a spectacular fashion. After one such incident, Ryan Newman (an engineer by education) put the blame firmly on the rear wing.

  7. Avatar

    I’m one of those people you mentioned that just don’t care what Nascar does anymore. I watch out of habit and because my wife knows to leave me alone when I’m watching the race.

    I’m not a Kurt Busch fan either and he has deserved alot of the bad publicity that he’s gotten over the years, but I know the diference between karma and sodomy, and Kurt got screwed last Sunday.

  8. Avatar

    Great column! It depicts my feelings about the race as well as the BS that NA$CAR has become. Fox, the booth
    buffoons, and director have only added to the farce. Thank goodness that baseball and golf have begun.

  9. Avatar

    AMEN Matt, AMEN! Can’t wait for the snow to melt here in the Northeast so I can support local racing.

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    I have been a fan since the early 80’s. Back before the Chase, new point system, all the COT 1, 2 3…

    I have seen NASCAR at it’s best, and now it’s worst. When I started, there was no pit road speed, no soft walls, no crazy rules and inspection cages or lasers. No helmets for pit crews or for the flagman. No roof flaps to keep the cars on the ground when they spun backwards.

    But you know what? It was the best racing I have ever seen! Don’t get me wrong, safety is a good thing, but back then when a driver jumped in that car, he knew it could be his last ride. It was death defying racing at it’s best. It’s what brought fans in by the droves.

    Look at every highlight brought to us on TV and they show Rusty barrel rolling totally destroying his car in an unidentifiable wad of metal. Richard’s barrel roll into the fence at Daytona. Ricky Rudd’s black eyes from his horrific crash at Talladega.

    We’ve made these cars almost (and I say almost) so safe, the drivers are getting a false impression of ‘no way’ they are going to get hurt. But, you look at the wreck Kyle had at Daytona, and he really only hit that wall at around 100 mph, slow for a racing injury causing two broken legs don’t you think. Roof flaps have all but guaranteed us seeing a roll over at Daytona or Dega, which was what fans went to see at every race at those tracks.

    Point is, they had a good thing but just could NOT stop making changes to something that was working and bringing in the fans. Now, (and I hate hearing this all the time) it’s a SHOW. A show? Hell no, it’s a RACE. If I want to see a show I’ll go to my local theater. Which makes me think of something else, maybe it’s time to discard NASCAR and go back to my local dirt track where there’s still good ‘old boy’ racing every Friday night!

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    What a great article. One of the best I’ve read lately. Kurt got MOLESTED with that BS. Went to my first NASCAR race in 1965 at Darlington(Rebel 300). I became a serious fan after that and for many years attended many races. Maybe my decline started in the nineties when NASCAR began to believe their own publicity, gouge the fans for tickets and motel rooms, and try to make racing equal. Face it NASCAR doesn’t have any technical guy who is as smart as a crew chief much less an engineer on any team. So they build the so called technical center in Charlotte to confiscate race cars to try and figure what the race teams are doing. They have accomplished their goal of controlled shows(no racing),no passing, not interesting, and horrible mouth pieces in the booth, to put the icing on the cake. Thank God a lot of fans have rewarded them for their effort by not going or watching!!!!!!

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    Great column. Do you think you will be permitted to write a farewell piece before your press credentials are pulled?

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      Matt is a columnist (at least for this story), so I’m not sure if he has a press pass. And, if there’s one thing Tom Bowles is known for is allowing his writers to write so I don’t think Matt is going to be squashed anytime soon. Whether or not that affects the site’s ability to access NASCAR stuff is a different story…

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        matt was “black balled” by na$car years ago. he says what he things and the heck with being politically correct.

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    I am a Keselowski fan, it was really odd not being at all excited that he won.

    Kurt Busch is already only 38 points out of 16th in the standings. If the 4 and 41 maintain their domination on the 1.5 tracks, it is going to be hard to keep him out of the chase even if he doesn’t win.

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    Matt, I’ve been watching racing in various forms for thirty plus years. What’s happened to nas$car over the last ten or so years has been hard to watch. In fact, it’s turned in a suicide watch. nas$car seems intent on destroying itself. What happened to Kurt Busch at the end of that race made me want to vomit. It was basicly saying “We’re taking some of the egg on our faces and throwing in on yours”. All for spite. The nas$car I was once fanatical about no longer exists. I don’t even bother to watch Xfinity races. Who cares. Since king brain fart took over the reins of the sport, the racing has becoming anything but that. I didn’t watch a whole lot of the race, but I tuned in for the last 20 or so laps just to see if or when nas$car would manipulate the end of the affair. I wasn’t disappointed that they did it yet again, but how they did it was almost criminal. Oh well, Baseball and golf have become must see events compared to what nas$car has become.

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    As an old-school Jimmy Spencer type, I never liked Kurt Busch… in fact I Disdained him as a Spoiled Brat Cry-Baby! I never understood Why ‘a World-Class Operator’ like Roger Penske would have ever even considered hiring him. Sunday I found myself cheering, pulling, even praying for Kurt to Win! This Dude IS PURE TALENT! This Dude Got Screwed out of a Win that He Absolutely Earned! Count me in as a new Kurt Busch Fan!

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    I grew up watching the USAC stocks at Milwaukee and traveled the circuit with my dad and brother to other tracks. I’ve also help a friend for a few years with late models he ran at local dirt tracks. Racing is in the blood of the males in our family.
    I remember when Nascar went beyond 20 minutes of Wide World of Sports and they were showing entire races on TV. It was great stuff. I WAS a season ticket holder at Phx for over 20 years and I had tickets for last November’s race but instead stayed in the Midwest for my sons 18th bday. I actually was in Phx 2 weeks ago when the “show” was in town. Didn’t go. Went on a bike ride and listened to the race on Sirius. It’s in the blood but I no longer record every race or even watch them anymore. I’m surprised that I don’t miss it more but then I ask myself “why miss a show” when what I really miss is a “race.”
    Local track here I come after watching Nascar screw Kurt B. What a bunch of garbage!

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    I couldn’t agree more with about everything that has been said. I can remember the times over the last 40+ years I have traveled from the most northern region of the northeast to go to to Daytona in February. I’m sick to my stomach at what Nascar has become. I have gotten to the point I set the DVR. Never watch a race live. If somebody told me I had to watch a complete race live I would probably shoot myself or at least get so drunk I couldn’t remember my name. And yes Kurt got screwed on Sunday. I guess all I can do at this point is turn on the DVR watch the start of the race. Then fast forward until a yellow comes out,see what that is about then fast forward to the next yellow. Then watch the last 10 or so laps. Should be able to do the whole race in about 30 minutes. Lew

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    I agree Kurt was screwed out of the win, but Matt Kenseth was screwed out of the win first. I knew with under 20 laps left and questions about some drivers running out of gas, that Nascar would find some debris. It is sad when you just accept the farce that is Nascar as just the expected end of a race.

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    AXL ROSE WILL WIN THE CUP TITLE AT THE HARD ROCK IN OAKLAND BEHIND A LITTLE OLD MAN ON THE BUFFET LINE IN CALIFORNIA. THE TIME HAD COME NASCAR US A JOKE

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    WWE is in fact the only way to describe the events on Sunday. When will NASCAR get it through their heads that their fan base is reduced to folks that want to see a race that doesn’t include the mystery debris cautions? This track is the exact reason why they need to move to tracks that are shorter and create more excitement? Antway, on to Martinsville, I might watch.

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    All these comments and nobody has pointed out that it was 2007 that was the Harvick vs Martin Daytona finish, not 2010 as Matt said?

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    Great post. Frankly, I’m amazed and perplexed the the Racing Alliance and the team owners in general aren’t weighing in on this. On any Sunday, it appears that NASCAR may not be manipulating for a single team, but will for an exciting outcome that can biff any team at any time. Why Stewart-Haas is not fuming and firing darts with the aid of sponsors who are also being biffed is beyond me. As much as hoping fans make a racket, it’s really going to be team owners and more importantly, sponsors who have to put the real pressure on.

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      The RTA isn’t saying anything because they are happy with the racing. Its the money side they are interested in. Same for Stewart Haas. Simple.

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    All these comments and nobody has pointed out that it was 2007 where Harvick beat Martin by a few inches with no caution flag at Daytona, not 2010 as Matt said.

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    Glad to see other fans feeling the way I do about NA$CRAP. Kurt should sue them for domestic violence
    after getting nailed on Sunday! Bet you won’t see any articles that are as honest as this one. Thanks Matt.

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    maybe Bruton will re-open North Wilkesboro Speedway. You know that track that didn’t have enough seats? that track which just couldn’t hold enough butts for racing of today?

    Seems now that track would easily be a complete sell out in 2015.

    just a little sarcasm on my part. I think the NWS would sell out in today’s Nascar if it held 100,000!

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    Well thought out and well written! I used to watch Nascar as much as I could, but these days just keep up on Jayski. It’s a shame how far Nascar has fallen and it’s also a shame how many Kool-Aid drinkers like DW there are who just ‘toe the party line’. I was never a fan of Kyle Petty as a racer but man he would at least call BS as a commentator. It was refreshing to see someone express what so many of us feel- great article!

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    While this is not the point of your article, I too have been wondering: Since when do consecutive win/top-whatever records span two seasons? And I am a Kevin Harvick fan…

    Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention to stats over the last 37 years.

    Thanks for voicing that Matt

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      Re “Since when do consecutive win/top-whatever records span two seasons.”

      I guess it started about the same time that Truck, Xfinity and Cup wins were combined for Kyle Busch’s career stats… LOL.

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    You know what I don’t understand????? Why don’t all of you go watch the ncaa or baseball or some other bs sport instead of hanging around just to bitch all the time about racing. It’s friggin hilarious to read these Opinions from people who have never done anything but sit on their ass & watch. Oh well…..joy of the Internet

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      Just for the record I watch every race although this may be the last year I can say that.

      So what are you saying…
      If you just sit on your ass and watch the race as opposed to actually driving a car in some racing series, then you don’t have a right to an opinion?
      Or
      If you don’t watch the races you should move on, watch something else and totally detach yourself from NASCAR.

      You need to read Jon Bogart’s comment above. You see, there is a major anger issue that is the result of taking a sport that people lived for and warping it until it no longer resembles it former self and abandoning those fans that made the sport what it was. It would be difficult to argue all the changes if the sport was thriving (ratings and attendance at tracks continuing to grow) but it isn’t. So long time fans are pissed off and want to exact any punitive punishment they can at NASCAR. For most, commenting on websites such as this is their only recourse.

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      Well it’s simple really. Some of us are free thinkers, and question authority. Others, like yourself, are content to sit idly by and be told what you like. Some of us are not satisfied with the status quo, and constantly seek improvement. Others, like yourself, are happy with “it’s good enough”. We are the revolutionists that seek to overthrow dictatorships. Others, like yourself, tell us just to go live in another place if we don’t like how it’s ruled. Fortunately for you, and the rest of the blind sheep in your flock, you are able to reap the benefits of our efforts without lifting a finger. France is counting on your kind to continue your apathy. He knows if he feeds you garbage, then all you will do is ask for more.

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      FYI Richard. Look at the ratings and the grandstands. Alot of them already are.

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        Doesn’t Mike and Darrell have a long lost brother by the name of “Richard”, just asking.

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    I am one of those ex-NASCAR fans who finally had enough and hasn’t watched a race since. It had slowly been building up all through Dumbass France’s reign of destruction, and finally hit it’s peak in the off season before last season. It was the one race to determine a champion that finally put me over the edge, straw that broke the camel’s back, or whatever you want to call it. That was it! I couldn’t take any more abuse. I haven’t watched one second of a race since.

    I was a die-hard fan of NASCAR since the 1970’s too. Went to numerous races every year, and never missed a second of a race. Spent my money on new gear every year, suffered depression during the off season, and a full-fledged NASCAR junkie. Even the most loyal of fans have a limit as to the abuse they are willing to endure. To watch a complete idiot destroy something I loved, was beyond abuse. It was pure torture which eventually broke me down and drained every ounce of my passion.

    Like many victims of torture, I have strong feelings of resentment and hatred towards the person responsible for their agony. I now despise NASCAR and hate it with same the passion that I once loved it with. I pray for it’s ultimate destruction, and enjoy watching it die the same slow, painful death that I did. I eagerly scour the internet for information that doomsday will soon be here. I cannot wait for that day to come, and will celebrate the death of NASCAR like I have never celebrated anything before. Ideally, it will be followed be other immense celebrations, such as the France Total Bankruptcy Celebration, and the birth of a new racing series based exactly like 1980’s NASCAR Celebration.

    My faith is what keeps me going, and gives me the strength to survive. My strong belief that the NASCAR Apocalypse will soon be upon us, and that the Resurrection will follow, has given me a sense of peace and tranquility. For I know it is coming soon, and then all will be right in the world once more, and for all eternity.

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    I firmly believe that Nascar has decided that they are no longer a sport, but racing entertainment. They just haven’t told anyone. I mean how else can you explain all the manipulation to make a boring race exciting. Do they think we are that stupid? If they really wanted this to be a sport, they would be spending more of their time trying to fix the boring ass racing instead of trying to add more gimmicks like eliminations and one race take all championships. Instead, their mentality is to add a ferris wheel at the race track to generate interest. Count me as one who used to watch every lap of the races who hasn’t watched very little in the last 3-5 years. You really only need to watch the end of the races now anyways.