Side by Side

Side By Side: Does NASCAR Intentionally Throw Debris Cautions?

I'm not even going to attempt to claim that there hasn't been a significant increase in the number of debris cautions in the Cup Series over the past 20 years. We've had articles on Frontstretch in the past that have talked exclusively about this trend. Our "Fearless Leader" wrote a piece on it last year, and Jeff Meyer has covered the issue as well. However, the idea that NASCAR would throw random, entertainment-based caution flags and call them debris cautions is ludicrous at best.

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Side by Side: New Bristol vs. Old Bristol

Once again, the argument that started immediately after the 2007 Sharpie 500, (the aftermath of which found me offering my resignation from this very site by the way… rejected, obviously!) rears its ugly head. That argument is simple: which Bristol configuration produces the best racing? The old or the new? Now, since I have fought this battle before, and with an infinitely bigger foe than my esteemed colleague this time (zing!), I jumped at the chance to do it again. Why? Because during the last decade, I have attended all but three of the August night races, not as a member of the media, but as a fan!

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Side By Side: Bristol Ain’t What It Once Was

NASCAR fans and critics these days want more emotion, more passion, less Jimmie Johnson. And in the past, Bristol could outright bring it like no other venue. (It’s even one of the few places where the 48 team hasn’t won.) Then came the Chase, the new NASCARmobile, and the resurfacing. I didn’t think much of Matt Kenseth’s spanking the field in the 2005 Bristol night race. It was great to see the 17 team fight their way into the playoffs after a miserable first half of the season. When Kenseth won it again the following year, it still didn’t occur to me that something was amiss when one of the sport’s smoothest drivers was acing one of the roughest races on the schedule. Then in 2007, watching NASCAR drivers race each other so gentlemanly in the eye of the Thunder Valley storm, it hit me.

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Side By Side: Who Will Make the Chase Cut, Brian Vickers Or Kyle Busch?

*Today's Question: Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers have combined to win the last two Cup races ... but both drivers still stand 34 and 39 points out of the Chase, respectively. With only two races left in the regular season, which one has the best chance to crack the top 12?* Tommy: Do not let Busch’s incredible winning percentage, or for that matter his triumph in the most recent Sprint Cup race unduly influence you. In all reality, it's Brian Vickers as the driver with the momentum on his side going into the last two races before the Chase field is set. Doug: Despite the hubbub surrounding Kyle Busch about his lack of sportsmanship and erratic driving under pressure, he is still a superior driver to Brian Vickers and drives for a better race team. Ask almost anyone, from the garage to the grandstands, regardless of love or hate for the brash driver, and they would agree that Busch would be able to beat Vickers one-on-one at any moment.

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Side By Side: Will Kyle Busch Make the Chase?

*Today's Question: After Sunday's wreck left him a disappointing 38th at Indianapolis, Kyle Busch dropped from 10th to 14th in points, 87 out of the Chase. Will he be able to recover by Richmond and make NASCAR's ten-race playoff?* *Kyle Busch WILL Make the Chase* _Danny Peters_ I have no doubt my Side-by-Side debating partner this week, our esteemed managing editor Tom Bowles, will blind you with all manner of statistics and juicy numerical nuggets as to why Kyle Busch won’t make the Chase. *Busch In The Chase? Not A Chance* _Tom Bowles_ Heading into Indianapolis, I already had a sneaky feeling Kyle Busch wasn’t going to make the Chase. 60 laps later, one hard hit into the outside wall has left me totally convinced.

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Side By Side: Should Jimmie Johnson’s Indy Win Have An Asterisk?

_Editor’s Note : The following is a special edition of Frontstretch’s Side By Side. Occasionally throughout the season, two of your favorite Frontstretch writers will duke it out in a debate concerning one of NASCAR’s biggest stories. Don’t let us be the only ones to speak our minds, though…be sure to read both sides and let us know what you think about the situation in the comment section below!_ *Today's Question: Given NASCAR's tire debacle in last year's Brickyard 400, should Jimmie Johnson's win have an asterisk by it in the record book?*

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Side By Side: Is Racism NASCAR’s Responsibility To Investigate?

*Today's Question: NASCAR suspended Nationwide No. 62 team's crew chief Bryan Berry last Thursday, citing Section 12-1: "Actions detrimental to stock car racing...involved in an altercation with another team". It was later revealed through various media outlets that Berry allegedly said a racial slur in reference to Marc Davis, the 19-year old driver of the No. 10. Since the announcement, there has been sporadic coverage of the suspension by the major NASCAR networks and no official statement by the sanctioning body.* *Is it NASCAR's responsibility to publish what precise actions resulted in a suspension -- specifically when racism is involved? Further, does it help the sport to discuss this explosive topic, or does it just keep an old injury fresh with no hope of healing in the future?* Bryan Davis Keith: Before we even get into this topic, let’s set one thing straight: When NASCAR announces that they are indefinitely suspending a competitor from the sport, for _any_ reason, there needs to be a crystal clear picture presented as to why the suspension was handed out. That it was not the case when Bryan Berry was suspended is unacceptable... and there needs be no debate here that NASCAR needs to communicate its penalties a whole lot better. With that said, where there needs to be debate, and a lot of it, is with the decision NASCAR made to suspend Bryan Berry in the first place. Because frankly, his suspension and the aimless series of events and statements that have followed make it clear that NASCAR rushed to make a judgment it did not need to make. S.D. Grady: When NASCAR announced the indefinite suspension of Nationwide crew chief Bryan Berry last Thursday, that’s all it did. Yes, there was the usual line and paragraph regarding which rule of the NASCAR golden book he violated — the all encompassing Section 12-1, actions detrimental to stock car racing — but, there was nothing else. Now, I don’t believe any of us would benefit by knowing the exact derogatory words used in this case. However, I do believe that by burying the hot-button topic of race in the stack of weekly press releases followed by silence, NASCAR is in danger of promoting the stereotypical reputation the sport has been trying to shed for almost 20 years.

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Side By Side: Is the Daytona 500 Now Bigger than the Indy 500?

*Today's Question: With the struggles of open-wheel racing over the last 15 years, the Indy 500 has struggled to maintain its national appeal. Considering NASCAR's explosive growth over the same time period, is it fair to say at this point the Daytona 500 is the biggest race in North America?* Bryan: The face of motorsports has changed in North America. NASCAR, not open-wheel racing, is the top of the pyramid. The Rick Mears and A.J. Foyts of this generation are not going to be racing in Indianapolis this weekend... they’re going to be in Charlotte. Phil: While it is definitely true that the Daytona 500 has eclipsed the Indianapolis 500 in TV ratings, and NASCAR, despite its recent slide, has many times the average viewership of the IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis 500 is still the bigger of the two major auto races. Remember, TV ratings are not the only factor for how "big" a race is. The race at Indianapolis, by over a hundred thousand fans, still attracts a bigger race day crowd than the Daytona 500 does. And that's just for starters...

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Side By Side: Will Dodge Return To NASCAR In 2010?

*Today's Question: With Chrysler filing for bankruptcy, their racing division was quick to reaffirm they'll be involved in NASCAR for the foreseeable future. But with the company's fate now in the government's hands, will they let it happen -- or will Dodge wind up pulling out of the sport following the 2009 season?* Bryan: The last thing the Obama administration is going to do in trying to restore Chrysler to its stature as a viable, red-blooded piece of American industry is to make a spectacle of squashing the company’s involvement in motorsports. What’s the point of celebrating “Yes, we can build American cars” if “No, we can’t race American cars?” Tom: Let's not forget this manufacturer is just one year removed from missing the Chase altogether. So, while losing Dodge is painful, it's not like they have a powerhouse brewing within NASCAR ... and that makes cutting the cord that much easier for a company that's going to be looking to save money any way it can.

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Side By Side: Does The NASCAR Points System Need An Overhaul?

*Today's Question : Seven races into the season, Jeff Gordon already holds a lead in the points so large, all he needs to do is start the race at Phoenix to maintain it no matter where he finishes. But even with such a large cushion, he wouldn't even be the point leader in the playoffs if the season ended today.* *Is this a sign our points system needs a major overhaul? Or should we keep things the way they are?*

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