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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice? … Long’s Last Words, Driver Of The Decade, And GM’s Rough Road Ahead?

Did You Notice? … Long’s Last Words, Driver Of The Decade, And GM’s Rough Road Ahead?

*Did You Notice?* … That at the end of a provocative, fantastic "interview by ESPN’s Marty Smith,":http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/news/story?id=4225487 Carl Long took a swipe at NASCAR worth expanding on. In case you hadn’t heard, Long lost his appeal of an oversized engine penalty on Tuesday, meaning not only is he stuck with a 12-race suspension from the Cup Series, but his crew chief remains responsible for a record $200,000 fine. If the duo doesn’t pay it (Long refuses to let his head wrench, Charles Swing, fall on the sword on his own), they won’t be racing in NASCAR as of February 2010. The fine leaves Swing without a license and Long’s team in irrecoverable financial difficulty. The decision amounted to a brow-raising move from the NSCRC, especially considering the difficulties small teams are having even staying in business to begin with. But when Smith asked Long about the future of blue-collar, independent organizations like him, he got bluntly honest ... Read More »

Did You Notice? … France Manipulates The Truth, Why Parity Is Still Problematic, And Driver Do’s And Dont’s

Did You Notice? … France Manipulates The Truth, Why Parity Is Still Problematic, And Driver Do’s And Dont’s

*Did You Notice?* … In this space "last year,":http://www.frontstretch.com/tbowles/16748/ 11 races into the season we took a look at how the “Big Four” of Gibbs, Childress, Hendrick, and Roush were dominating the sport. Since we’re at the same point in 2009, I thought it might be a good time to revisit those numbers and see if we’re a little bit closer towards the parity NASCAR hoped to achieve with the Car of Tomorrow. Read More »

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Drug Mistake? (Not Mayfield’s), Keselowski’s Should Be Cup’s Top Rookie, And Johnson Plays Dead

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Drug Mistake? (Not Mayfield’s), Keselowski’s Should Be Cup’s Top Rookie, And Johnson Plays Dead

*Did You Notice? ...* How secretive NASCAR is trying to be with this whole drug thing? There’s two main questions that came up in my head since the positive test, ones I couldn’t answer immediately as a reporter as Darlington was a weekend I’d taken off: 1) Why was Mayfield allowed to practice and qualify if NASCAR knew there was a positive sample? 2) Why will NASCAR not publicize its list of banned substances for drivers – especially when they have a history of shadiness with drug suspensions (See: Tim Richmond, 1980s)? I thought I was going to have to wait until this weekend to get answers, but it turns out "Jenna Fryer had a fantastic piece":http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/news?slug=jf-fivethings051109 she put out over on Yahoo! with some of them (for those looking for a good read post-David Poole, let me tell you, her stuff is always top notch). Read More »

Did You Notice? … Kyle Busch’s 200-Win Fantasy, Stremme’s Dream Turned Nightmare, And Hendrick’s Big Choice

Did You Notice? … Kyle Busch’s 200-Win Fantasy, Stremme’s Dream Turned Nightmare, And Hendrick’s Big Choice

*Did You Notice? …* The big hubbub this week – by far – is whether Kyle Busch can get to 200 wins throughout his Cup career in NASCAR’s top three series. What? I’ve been under the weather with some kind of flu bug this week, so at first I thought I was being delusional. But no, that’s what Busch said after his post-race press conference, a quote that’s sent speculation soaring as to whether or not it can be done. But for those of us who’ve been around a long time … you have to laugh. I remember during Jeff Gordon’s peak years in the mid-1990s, speculation ran rampant as to whether or not he’d be able to achieve a total of between 100 and 150 wins in Cup during his career – or possibly even come close to challenging Richard Petty. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Tragic NASCAR Death Reminder To Push For A Higher Standard

Did You Notice? … Tragic NASCAR Death Reminder To Push For A Higher Standard

In four years of covering the NASCAR beat, I never “officially” met David Poole. But you don’t have to know him to understand. The word is beloved, and the year is 2006. I’m asked to speak for a documentary about the past, present, and future of NASCAR. The producer, a friend, chooses three writers to be his main analysts; David Poole and I are among the chosen few. The day he interviews Poole down in Charlotte, I get a call. “You won’t believe what happened,” he says. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Restrictor Plate One-Hit Wonders And The New Precedent Of “Probation”

Did You Notice? … Restrictor Plate One-Hit Wonders And The New Precedent Of “Probation”

*Did You Notice? …* The Daytona 500 is less of an indicator of season-long success than ever before? Heading into the second restrictor plate race of the season, no less than six of this year’s top 10 finishers in the Great American Race have yet to better their runs from February. Desperate for the draft dice to roll their way and get their year back on track, let’s take a look at each of these men who left their mojo down in Florida: *David Ragan* *Daytona 500: 6th* *Best Finish Since: 17th – Fontana* Who would have guessed that Ragan’d be on this list? Armed with both a high-dollar sponsor and that always tenuous “driver about to have a breakout season” tag attached to his back, the Chase appeared to have already put together a golden throne for this man’s arrival. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Lesa Takes The Helm, NASCAR’s Expensive Engines, And No Guts, No Glory

Did You Notice? … Lesa Takes The Helm, NASCAR’s Expensive Engines, And No Guts, No Glory

*Did You Notice?* … With Jim France stepping down as CEO of International Speedway Corporation, it’ll be the first time since the company was incorporated in 1953 (then known as Bill France Racing, Inc.) that it won’t be run by a France. It’s an amazing development for a series whose foundation was secured by Big Bill back in the late 1940s; in France’s place, John R. Saunders has been selected as the man to take over the role. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Keselowski Kicking Logano’s Butt, Harvick Unhappy At Intermediates, And Nationwide’s No-No?

Did You Notice? … Keselowski Kicking Logano’s Butt, Harvick Unhappy At Intermediates, And Nationwide’s No-No?

*Did You Notice?* …What keeps Kevin Harvick from being labeled a serious championship contender? It’s his lifetime performance on 1.5-mile ovals. Those tracks used to be easy pickins’ for Harvick – his first two Cup victories came at Atlanta and Chicagoland in 2001 – but over the last few seasons, his fortitude has faded at facilities which make up four of the ten tracks in the Chase (and if you count the 2-miler at Fontana, it’s actually five). Read More »

Did You Notice? … What Jimmie Johnson’s Hiding, Why Patience For NASCAR Owners Pays Off, And Driver Depression

Did You Notice? … What Jimmie Johnson’s Hiding, Why Patience For NASCAR Owners Pays Off, And Driver Depression

*Did You Notice?* … How patience seems to still pay off in the long run? So often these days, Cup teams let their drivers go without giving them a full chance to develop. Between impatience amongst sponsors coupled with the pressure of media expectations, it’s pretty hard to leave a guy in a ride for two, maybe even three years. But perhaps A.J. Allmendinger will become the classic case for promoting long-term growth over pulling the trigger too quickly. They released the former open-wheel star over at Team Red Bull after just a season and a half in the Cup Series (and limited time in stock cars prior to that). Even though the ‘Dinger had begun to turn things around last summer – scoring two top 10s and seven top 20s over a three-month period – it just wasn’t enough for the powers that be to offer him a long-term deal. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Earnhardt’s Free Pass, Busch’s Less Than Intimidating Nature, And Mourning NASCAR’s Past

Did You Notice? … Earnhardt’s Free Pass, Busch’s Less Than Intimidating Nature, And Mourning NASCAR’s Past

*Did You Notice?* … Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s been getting rather "lucky" these days? Just 19th in points after five races, so much talk has centered around the No. 88 team struggling to get it together. Some feel like they’ve turned the corner towards respectability in recent weeks … but I’m not so sure. A quick look at the Free Pass statistics tells you all you need to know about his season. With six free passes used in four races, Junior’s needed help to get put in position to finish even as high as he has. And whatever you think the problem is, the facts speak volumes for a four car Hendrick organization that prides itself on a top 5 finish being a disappointment. Junior hasn’t even had one of those since Martinsville last Fall, where he wound up second to Jimmie Johnson; and at this point, it's been over eight months since he was the top-performing HMS car in a race (Coke Zero 400 - July 2008). Read More »