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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice?… Establishing Consistency, NASCAR’s Big Picture And Quick Hits

Did You Notice?… Establishing Consistency, NASCAR’s Big Picture And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … The inconsistency of NASCAR’s Sunday caution calls at Charlotte? Let’s review what caused a yellow flag and what didn’t: - Jamie McMurray blowing an engine on Lap 182. (oil on the track) - Jimmie Johnson blowing an engine with five laps to go. (oil on the track) *CALL: Consistent.* - Debris cautions three times: Lap 76, Lap 172, Lap 283. - Green-white-checkered wreck where cars were slowing and/or spun around in Turn 1. Jeff Burton’s No. 31 car clearly put debris on the racetrack, limping around simply to complete one of two laps and end the race. No caution thrown. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Big-Name, Open-Wheel Risks, The Marcus Marketing Experiment And Speeding Towards… What?

Did You Notice? … Big-Name, Open-Wheel Risks, The Marcus Marketing Experiment And Speeding Towards… What?

*Did You Notice?* … How the next wave of stock car drivers don’t come from stock car backgrounds? Danica Patrick joins Kimi Raikkonen as two highly-sought, open-wheel experts that NASCAR would love to put behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup vehicle with minimal training. Heck, all it took was just one top-15 finish in a Truck race to drop Raikkonen, the former F-1 champion into a Nationwide ride on Saturday; now, Cup rumors are spreading faster than that Lauren girl lost her voice before Tuesday's _American Idol_ finale. In one sense, can you blame this sport for digging outside the box? The pool of rookies recently has dried up faster than the Arizona desert. (Last time I checked, Andy Lally was turning more heads with his MMA training than on-track performance to date.) Certainly, the addition of Patrick, who is rumored to make the NASCAR jump full-time next year and Raikkonen add a bit of star quality to their future. The problem is, in the midst of those courtships, the powers that be may not realize their short-term impatience leads to long-term consequences NASCAR's _own_ development series (and drivers) will suffer. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Split-Screen Cheering Gone Insane, NASCAR David Beats Goliath And Too Much Parity

Did You Notice? … Split-Screen Cheering Gone Insane, NASCAR David Beats Goliath And Too Much Parity

*Did You Notice?* … Three days after Dover, and all we can talk about is NASCAR’s decision to allow split-screen commercials? Like a network War of the Roses, mere days after FOX one-upped ESPN with their own experiment the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” unveiled a specific side-by-side plan they’d been working on for months. In reacting to this stuff, fans have been hitting the Twitterverse, Facebookland, and whatever iPhone app they fancy nonstop, pulling a virtual rushing the basketball court as if they’d pulled off some sort of major upset. I think that’s the most interesting thing, if you’re NASCAR to take from this phenomenon, the degree to which they made fans excited by actually _listening to them._ Think of all the issues people in the stands feel slighted on these days: Ticket prices. The Car of Tomorrow. The Chase. Losing that Kasey Kahne commercial with the Allstate girls. Gaining that NAPA Nasty Commercial with Michael Waltrip’s… you get the picture. Read More »

Did You Notice?… One For The Underdogs, Zero For The Free Agents

Did You Notice?… One For The Underdogs, Zero For The Free Agents

*Did You Notice?...* The new trend in NASCAR’s Silly Season? It’s called “sticking with the status quo.” That’s a dramatic change from the last few years, when around this point in the season we’ve had at least one major announcement a driver was switching rides: *2010:* Kasey Kahne announces he’s leaving Richard Petty Motorsports for Hendrick in 2012. (April 14th) *2009:* Martin Truex, Jr. rumors start flying he’ll replace a retiring Michael Waltrip in the NAPA car (early May). Read More »

Did You Notice?… A Chaser In Trouble, Business Propositions And Quick Hits

Did You Notice?… A Chaser In Trouble, Business Propositions And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* This week’s 2010 Chase driver on life support happens to be Jeff Burton? While Denny Hamlin remains in crisis, Talladega returns the focus to the driver of the No. 31, whose fiery wreck last fall with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has precipitated the current slump that’s perhaps his most serious since first signing with RCR in 2004. The veteran remains without a top-10 finish in his last 11 races while sitting 25th in points, 57 out of a postseason spot and lacking the type of victory cache someone like Hamlin can use to earn a wild card position. That leaves his team with their proverbial backs against the wall, no room for error while reflecting on what’s put them in this spot. Read More »

Did You Notice? … The Real NASCAR Closer, Johnson Speeds To Sorry And Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … The Real NASCAR Closer, Johnson Speeds To Sorry And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* Everyone and their mother referring to Kevin Harvick as “the best closer in NASCAR?” It’s a broad-based statement, the only stats to back it up his “Hail Mary” late-race comebacks the last two weeks. Those runs were impressive, Harvick passing Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., respectively to win the races despite leading a combined total of seven laps. But has he really been the best late-race bloomer in NASCAR 2011? The answer will surprise you. The sport’s loop data keeps a statistic marked “closers,” keeping track of how many positions each driver gains in the last 10 percent of each race. Sounds like the category Harvick should be dominating, right? Read More »

Did You Notice? … Dying Title Dreams, And The Short-Race Fix That Doesn’t Exist

Did You Notice? … Dying Title Dreams, And The Short-Race Fix That Doesn’t Exist

*Did You Notice?* … There’s no clear-cut dominant driver so far in Sprint Cup? We’ve got five races, five different winners and fourteen men capable of taking the championship lead out of Martinsville – more than double what we had at this time a year ago. Certainly, drivers like Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson have flexed some muscle but the battle at the top of the points is clearly still taking shape. After all, remember where Denny Hamlin stood at this time last year; without a top-10 finish, he looked as likely to challenge for the championship as the guy blocking your view at the movie theater two rows in front (bad experience). Read More »

Did You Notice? … How Earnhardt Shaped Up, A Marketing Failure And Ford’s Cause For Concern

Did You Notice? … How Earnhardt Shaped Up, A Marketing Failure And Ford’s Cause For Concern

*Did You Notice?* … That the one crew chief change working brilliantly at Hendrick is the one I least expected? When looking at the trio of switches: Lance McGrew with Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon with Alan Gustafson, and Steve Letarte with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I figured it was NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver getting the shaft. After all, Letarte’s as laid back as your local Californian traversing Venice Beach, the last thing I thought Earnhardt needed for a guy who’s about as high-maintenance as they come on the racetrack. As Rick Hendrick detailed the changes last November on the phone, I was driving near Pocono and visualizing how his press conference would go there this summer… Read More »

Did You Notice? … Bayne’s Own Rookie Existence, The Dividing Line, And A House Of Cards?

Did You Notice? … Bayne’s Own Rookie Existence, The Dividing Line, And A House Of Cards?

_Editor's Note: While Tom Bowles continues his hiatus from “Did You Notice?,” the fill-in carousel by some of your favorite Frontstretch staff members continue. This week, enjoy some analysis by NASCAR guru and truant slacker Doug Turnbull._ The 2011 season, at first seemed to embody a different vibe than years past. Trevor Bayne’s win in the Daytona 500, followed by Jeff Gordon’s long-awaited victory at Phoenix… with a few crashes mixed in for both… all set a dramatic tone as the Sprint Cup Series set out for Las Vegas. But in Sin City, reality set in for many of the sport's "B" and "C" teams as long green flag runs left many cars multiple laps down and many fans longing for more of the action that they saw in the first two races. After Kyle Busch took the Bristol crown for about the nineteenth straight time (actually fifth straight in NASCAR competition and second straight in Sprint Cup) with Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson in tow, the reality that the usual contenders are rising to the top became even more real. It's just one of several, familiar trends that are starting to develop in the Sprint Cup Series; here's a look at a few as 2011 hits full swing... Read More »