NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? Nice Guys Finish Last, NASCAR’s Diversity Nightmare & Chase Vulnerability

Did You Notice? That one of the compelling themes in NASCAR as of late is proof of the phrase, “Nice guys finish last?” David Reutimann is the latest example; known as a man who won’t bump anyone out of the way in order to get to the front, Reutimann got loose with Clint Bowyer oh-so-close behind him in the final laps of the Nashville race on Saturday night. While Brad Keselowski went on to win, Reutimann – who had been in position to take the checkers before a late-race caution bunched up the field — fell back to a fourth-place finish on older tires.

Did You Notice? Family Favoritism, Biting the Hand That Feeds You & Statistical Silliness?

Did You Notice? That halfway through the regular season, not a single person in the top 12 in points is a first-time Chase participant? We can expand that out to individual teams, too, as each of their car owners has been Chase bound as recently as 2006.

Did You Notice? How to Start & Park, Why Nationwide Is Dying & Crew Chief Free Agency

Did You Notice? All the talk about Nationwide Series teams looking to pull out of the series with the advent of the Car of Tomorrow? Well, it goes far beyond whether or not car owners will be able to afford the new car; frankly, the purse money for the series isn’t proving a justifiable reward for a struggling owner to stay involved.

Did You Notice? The CoT Doesn’t Equal Parity, Busch Can’t Contend For a Title… In Trucks, & More

Did You Notice? That the gap between the “Big Four” in Cup Racing and the rest of the pack is getting wider than ever before? We say this stuff all the time, but I did a little research in the “off week” to take a look at the stats for the 2008 Cup season to date. What I found intrigued me: the multi-car teams of Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing – teams that have combined for 15 of the last 16 Cup championships – continue to dominate the landscape in ways we’ve never seen, even with the Car of Tomorrow.

Did You Notice? The Unbreakable Car, the Unbearable All-Star Rules & Sophomore Success

Did You Notice? The degree to which the Car of Tomorrow’s durability stepped it up a notch on Saturday night? There’s no questioning the new car has better durability, but the amount of vehicles who walked away from serious problems with the wall – especially turn 2 – was unprecedented for the Lady in Black. Kyle Busch was the biggest offender of the CoT luck bank at Darlington, slamming the fence so many times you’d think his car would have been mincemeat by sometime around lap 150. But Busch held on, and so did several others as the DNF total for Darlington stood at just two when the race was over; and neither one of those problems was due to a crash.

Did You Notice? Carl Edwards Underpaid? NASCAR Youth is Undervalued & Mears Gets a Wakeup Call

Did You Notice? That Bob Osborne’s return gives Robbie Reiser a chance to focus on some other sinking ships? While the No. 99 was held very much afloat during Osborne’s six weeks away (one win, three top-10 finishes) the same couldn’t be said for the rest of Roush Fenway’s programs. In the last four races of Osborne’s suspension, the other four Roush programs combined for one top five and four top-10 finishes; in particular, Matt Kenseth has looked out to lunch with new crew chief Chip Bolin after a strong start. Was Reiser providing more of a steady hand to that No. 17 then we think once he began his GM role at Roush? We’ll find out in the next few weeks, as that program is desperately in need of a boost.

Did You Notice? Ganassi’s Trial By Fire(d), The Trials & Tribulations of the Woods &… Morgan Shepherd?

Did You Notice? That at Talladega, the No. 21 Ford driven by Jon Wood had to pull in the garage after just one lap in order to fix radical adjustments made in qualifying to get the car in the show. Now, I know it looks like I pick on the Wood Brothers every week, but it’s hard to ignore them when they continue to make major mistakes. There were seven other cars who qualified on time for this race, and none of them had to spend nine laps in the garage area to fix their cars within the first five laps.

Did You Notice? Pruett’s Bumper, A Tale of 2 Juan Pablos & The Cup/Nationwide Connection

Did You Notice? That in the closing laps of the race in Mexico City, with Scott Pruett’s bumper hanging by a thread, NASCAR refused to throw the black flag on the No. 40? Is it just me, or wasn’t that pretty dangerous? Sure, it’s not Pruett’s fault the bumper got loose; it was because someone else laid the chrome horn. But in virtually any other situation – say, at Bristol – that car would have been on pit road within five laps. As far as I’m concerned, that thing could have fallen off, someone else could have run it over, and that person’s day would have been ruined through no fault of their own. It sucked for Pruett, but he should have been forced to pit.

Did You Notice? Jimmie Johnson’s Special Photo, Messing With Montoya, & David Gilliland?

Did You Notice? That the Sprint Cup Series can go to a fast, sleek intermediate track and have no mechanical failures in a 500-mile event – as was the case in Fontana this February – but then they go to a short track and have nearly half a dozen engines go south in one of the shortest races all year? In a 312-mile race, there were two engine failures and a handful of other cars that lost a cylinder at Phoenix; shockingly enough, that ties the record for most blown engines in any race so far in 2008.

Did You Notice? Polesitters Falling, Professionalism Rising & Fans Simply Have No Shame?

Did You Notice? Well, you couldn’t have noticed this one. But I was absolutely appalled by an incident I saw in the garage Friday at Texas. Kyle Petty – already coming off a rather traumatic week in his driving career – was talking animatedly on a cell phone while walking down by his trailer. All of a sudden, out of nowhere a fan runs him down from over 50 feet away, with a picture in hand, a marker, and obnoxiously asking for Petty to sign. Now, I understand the urge for athletes to sign something as much as the next guy; but wouldn’t you want your one meeting with your favorite driver to be more of a “special” moment? And don’t you think there’s still some rules of common courtesy that need to be followed — especially when you’re in the middle of a working garage on a Friday?

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