Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? Bristol… And Beyond

In this new column, Frontstretch Managing Editor Tom Bowles points out a few short, pointed observations about the Nextel Cup Series each week that you might not have noticed or seen.

Did You Notice? That in the final restarts of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, Carl Edwards had none other than Elliott SadlerKasey Kahne‘s teammate – lining up beside him on the inside every time. But even though Sadler could have made himself a roadblock – opening the door for second-place Kahne to make a move – he instead bowed out of the way, a remarkable statement of a class for the Virginian who’s had a tough year himself on the Nextel Cup circuit.

Then again, Sadler knows all too well the problems a lapped car can pose – he nearly lost his victory at Texas three years ago when the No. 30 of Johnny Sauter stayed in the racing groove in front of him on the final lap. After that incident, Sadler’s never wanted to be “that guy” who affects the outcome of a race, and he clearly did a great job of making sure he didn’t this past weekend.

Did You Notice? That even though many blamed the boredom of Saturday’s Cup race on both Kahne and Edwards hitting the perfect setups, the lack of drama at Bristol still just didn’t make any sense. Especially since the Busch Series cars, running a vehicle similar to the one Nextel Cup is about to throw away, staged an epic battle on the new track just one day earlier.

It seemed to me that the Car of Tomorrow vehicles struggled to have the same type of handling success one day later – good, but not great. Remember, these guys can barely get the car to turn on their own; one can only imagine what it’s like to do it side-by-side with someone else. Half a year in, it now makes me think the CoT needs some offseason work before it officially becomes the Car of Today every week in 2008.

See also
Ain't That a Shame - But Who's to Blame for Bristol?

Did You Notice? Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears genuinely conflicted whenever anyone, anywhere mentions the name Teresa Earnhardt. Let me put it this way – as someone who’s been through their own share of family problems through the years, it’s never comfortable when any part of your private dirty laundry gets aired in public. It may be true Junior brings some of this scrutiny on himself – you can’t make comments like the one he made about losing his number back at Michigan and then expect everyone to ignore them.

But you’ve got to wonder how much Junior underestimated how much his relationship with his stepmother would play out on the public stage. On top of that, I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s long past time we, as the media, starting doing the man a favor by simply shutting up about it whenever we can.

Did You Notice? That even though Robert Yates and Rick Hendrick may be unable to reach an agreement to transfer the No. 38 to Earnhardt Jr., the class Yates showed in making the offer is a throwback to NASCAR’s Golden Era. No matter how many cookie-cutter tracks, how forced the political correctness, or how extreme the criticism that attacks this sport, you can’t take away the core values that make NASCAR so great – in a time of need, everyone steps up to help each other out. In this case, the Ford-Chevy rivalry was thrown out the window, as Yates was merely trying to do something he felt was right. Nicely done, Robert.

Did You Notice? That Dan Wheldon‘s melancholy acceptance of Ganassi’s order he stay in the IRL in 2008 speaks volumes about how bad the state of open-wheel racing is in this country right now. The way the poor guy appears to be acting, it’s like he was being given somewhat of a death sentence. At this race, I’m expecting Marco Andretti to be driving in NASCAR by 2010.

Did You Notice? That amidst all the hubbub about DEI and RCR’s open rides, suddenly both Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Wimmer have moved up from darkhorse status to “viable candidates” to get those jobs. Why do I mention this? Because yours truly has been hawking both men as good matches for these positions for weeks. Sorry guys, just had to pump up my own ego a little bit before we wrapped this up!

About the author

The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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