Thursday , September 18 2014
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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice? … Harvick’s Drought, Franchitti On The Outs, And DEI Losing Its Clout?

Did You Notice? … Harvick’s Drought, Franchitti On The Outs, And DEI Losing Its Clout?

*Did You Notice?* … That in expanding my short and sweet column from Monday, Kevin Harvick’s winless streak in Cup racing – as Danny Peters so "dutifully pointed out":http://www.frontstretch.com/dpeters/17807/ is up to 51 races, with his last points-paying win occurring at the 2007 Daytona 500. Wait a minute … isn’t that the _disputed_ Daytona 500 for the ages, in which Harvick’s opportunity at the win came when NASCAR chose not to throw a caution once cars wrecked off Turn 4 in the final lap of the race? Just think of where this man’s career would be right now if he didn’t have that victory in hand; or, if Mark Martin had just enough to hold off his last lap charge. Last season, the No. 29 barely made the Chase despite that win, and struggled to a 10th place finish in the final standings. But there’s more: in Harvick’s last 52 starts, he has just _six_ Top 5 finishes. Among the drivers who have as many – or more – during that span are outgoing Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears, part-timer Mark Martin, and 2008 Daytona 500 winner-turned mediocre performer Ryan Newman. Read More »

Did You Notice? … The Father’s Day Love For Junior, Sorenson’s Pending Pink Slip, And Goofus And Gallant

Did You Notice? … The Father’s Day Love For Junior, Sorenson’s Pending Pink Slip, And Goofus And Gallant

*Did You Notice?* … And I know it’s been mentioned countless times already, but three days later I still can’t get over the irony of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. winning his first race for Rick Hendrick on Father’s Day. The bond these two share has been well-documented, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what was on both of their minds during that special day. I mean, just think about what Junior said in Victory Circle; the first points-paying win in two years, to the point where a monkey was clearly lifted off his back, and he referenced Happy Father’s Day about three times. For both, it was not only the continued validation of a partnership they both firmly believed in, but another moment in which they shared the pain of past experiences to cement a bond that’s rapidly becoming family – not car owner, not friend. Of course, Junior always wanted the car owner who would come up to him in Victory Lane and truly be appreciative of his driver and their success; what he didn’t have with his stepmom, he now has with Hendrick – but this additional bond, now that’s a real bonus for both of them. Read More »

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

Did You Notice? Nice Guys Finish Last, NASCAR’s Diversity Nightmare, And 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. “The No. 2 got a good start and we got down into (turn) three and he was real close to the back of me and got me loose,” Reutimann said when it was all said and done. “He didn't touch me - we were racing.” “Once the No. 2 got to us, it was game over.” Read More »

Did You Notice? … Family Favoritism, Biting The Hand That Feeds You, And Statistical Silliness?

Did You Notice? … Family Favoritism, Biting The Hand That Feeds You, And 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. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers by team: *Joe Gibbs Racing* - 3 (Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch) *Hendrick Motorsports* - 3 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon) *Richard Childress Racing* - 3 (Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick) *Roush Fenway Racing* - 2 (Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle) *Gillett Evernham Motorsports* - 1 (Kasey Kahne) Right now, there’s just three drivers in the field who weren’t Chasers in 2007: Kahne, Biffle, and Earnhardt, Jr. And Kahne’s candidacy appears to be tenuous at best, as he’s holding the 12th and final slot in points by the skin of his teeth; should he lose out to 13th place David Ragan in the coming months, we’d have our first Chase rookie but lose the only car owner who wasn’t involved in the title hunt last year in the process. Read More »

Did You Notice? … How To Start And Park, Why Nationwide Is Dying, And Crew Chief Free Agency

Did You Notice? … How To Start And Park, Why Nationwide Is Dying, And 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. For proof of this growing problem, let’s go back to Talladega. Back then, everyone was applauding the effort of Morgan Shepherd, the perpetual start and parker in the Nationwide Series who chose to go the full distance, finishing a respectable 13th. However, Shepherd’s total winnings in that race were $20,775; that’s just $3,000 more than he would have made if he finished 43rd and parked it on the first lap. Read More »

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

Did You Notice? The CoT Doesn’t Equal Parity, Busch Can’t Contend For A Title … In Trucks, And 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. Let’s take a look at Top 5 finishes to date through 11 races this season: *2008 Top 5 Finishes Through Darlington* *Joe Gibbs Racing (3 teams)* -- 15 *Hendrick Motorsports (4 teams)* -- 12 *Roush Fenway Racing (5 teams)* -- 11 *Richard Childress Racing (3 teams)* -- 8 *TOTAL:* 46 of 55 possible Top 5 finishes this season (84%) Read More »

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

Did You Notice? The Unbreakable Car, the Unbearable All-Star Rules and 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. So, complain all you want about the CoT – and clearly, it still has some problems – but if we had the old car this past weekend, there’s no telling how many cars wouldn’t have finished the race. *Did You Notice…* That the possibility of drivers making it into the All-Star Race having competed in one Cup race all year long simply isn’t fair. Read More »

Did You Notice? Carl Edwards Underpaid? NASCAR Youth Is Undervalued, And Mears Gets A Wakeup Call

Did You Notice? Carl Edwards Underpaid? NASCAR Youth Is Undervalued, And Mears Gets A Wakeup Call

*Did You Notice? …* That Carl Edwards’ reported salary – $6 million per year – is the highest paid salary of any NASCAR driver to be publicly revealed to date. And frankly, I’m a little surprised; considering Edwards’ stature, my first thought was he might be a little underpaid. Winning four of eight races this season, Edwards is clearly one of the Top 10 drivers in the Cup series today. Personally, I think he’s in the Top 5, but let’s rank him according to his current rank in the points: 10th place. With that number as a benchmark, let’s look at the 10th-best salaries of players in the four major sports in 2007: *NFL* - Larry Johnson, $13.3 million (figure includes bonuses) *NBA* - Stephon Marbury, $17.2 million *MLB* - Richie Sexson, $15.5 million *NHL* - Ryan Smyth, $7.5 million _Source: USA Today_ As you can see, Edwards’ salary falls below all four categories; not only that, but it’s locked in place for the next _three years._ Of course, there’s far more here to take into consideration; Edwards will likely get a percentage of his souvenir sales – adding a few more million into his pocket – and also gets a percentage of the purse money he wins throughout each the season. But all in all, it looks like the salary may be a bit behind the curve – especially by the time 2011 rolls around. Read More »

Did You Notice? Pruett’s Bumper, A Tale Of Two Juan Pablos, And The Cup/Nationwide Connection

Did You Notice? Pruett’s Bumper, A Tale Of Two Juan Pablos, And 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; once he wasn’t, that’s a dangerous inconsistency precedent for NASCAR to set. What if someone partially tears a bumper at Talladega this weekend? What will they do then? Read More »

Did You Notice? Johnson’s Special Photo, Messing With Montoya, And … David Gilliland?

Did You Notice? Johnson’s Special Photo, Messing With Montoya, And … 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. It's almost like crews decided to use the shorter distance to take more chances and see how far their parts and pieces could push them; but at a track where the RPMs come close to 10,000, maybe they pushed a little too far. Even the big guns were having trouble all night; Kyle Busch's car was among the more notable ones that hit the rev limiter virtually every time down the front straightaway on Saturday night. Read More »