Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Victory Lane’s Ultimate “D’Oh!” Moment

Did you catch it? Did you see the irony there? You know, victory lane. Last weekend. Jeff Gordon emerges victorious to a shower of Pepsi, Powerade and confetti in victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway, and as the post-race interview works its way through the first round of sponsor acknowledgments, a cell phone is thrust into his hand from off camera. It’s Mr. Hendrick calling – and he probably should take that seeing as he pays for, well, just about everything.

Jeff does so and says, “I got ya those six shooters, buddy! Hey boss…?”


“Ahh, we lost him, I don’t know what happened.”

“I don’t know what happened.” Don’t we all say that every time we drop a call? It’s like instinct. “Hey Mom… Mom?” Click. Redial. “Hey. I don’t know what happened, anyway….”

See also
Bowles-Eye View: Jeff Gordon, NASCAR's Elder Statesman?

But I digress. Tell me, was there ever a moment when the suits at Sprint and Samsung cringed so hard? This was one of those promising moments gone shockingly askew, like something out of a Ben Stiller movie. Here you have the race winner of the Sprint Cup Series’ Samsung 500, and he’d just been handed the greatest marketing tool the two companies could have wanted.

Regardless of what type of phone it was or what service was being used (trust me, it was Sprint), Jeff Frickin’ Gordon was about to use the products they market in victory lane! It was subliminal advertising at its best… so legitimate, so authentic, so unstaged – and it all amounted to nothing.

You saw it, right? You caught that, did you not? Tell me I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve been in the market for a new phone lately and found myself searching the net for some info on Monday. That’s when I found myself chuckling at Samsung’s website, where the slogan read, “Revolutionary technology. The most innovative designs. Features that fit your life. The future of mobile is here.” And Sprint’s, which had among others, “Sweet and Clear Coverage.”

Revolutionary technology? Clear coverage? Well, everywhere except in the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area. I guess I’ll stick with the LG line and my Verizon coverage instead.

But thanks for the demo, Jeff. Oh, and congratulations on the win.

Alright, on to this week’s batch of questions. Be sure and stay strong over the off week – these are traditionally ones where the input slumps a bit.

Q: Matt, do you think it would have been a better career move for David Gilliland to have signed with RCR for a full-time Busch ride the year after he won his first Busch race at Kentucky in June 2006 instead of signing with Yates Racing for a Cup ride? I guess that is assuming the RCR full-time Busch ride wasn’t just a rumor.

RCR’s Busch program is always competitive and has full-time sponsors. Maybe he could have used a year or two in a lower series to grow and sharpen some of his racing skills. And finally, who knows, a couple years with RCR and he could have been sitting in RCR’s fourth Cup entry this year with Jack Daniel’s or General Mills as a sponsor.

It just seem like where his career is after first signing with a Yates team that had been struggling and now with underfunded TRG Motorsports, maybe a full-time, funded ride with RCR (even in a lower series) would have been the better career choice – although I’m sure since driving in Cup he has made some decent money, and I’m sure that plays into a decision. – Adam Dodds

A: This is a tough one to answer, Adam, because it’s impossible to know how Gilliland’s career would have been altered (for better or worse) had he taken a spot with RCR in the then-Busch Series. Of course, we’re speaking in hypotheticals here, because I don’t know that an offer was ever formally extended to Gilliland by Childress.

The thing about Childress’s Busch/Nationwide programs is that the seat never stays warm. Remember Timothy Peters or Tim McCreadie? How about Mardy Lindley or Brandon Miller? Each took turns there, as did Scott Wimmer in what I thought was a beautiful pairing of team-to-driver. None have stuck, though. In fact, the only driver to run a full season in a Childress machine in the Busch/Nationwide Series since 2006 (the year Gilliland would have made his supposed jump) was Clint Bowyer – and he did that as a cherry-picking Cup regular last season en route to a Nationwide title.

I just don’t think the job security there at RCR is good. Not that Gilliland found any more security in Cup, either. Although Yates stuck with him for two full seasons (2007 and ’08 after 15 races in ’06) he managed only four top 10s in 87 starts. Granted, the equipment wasn’t Tier 1 stuff, but that’s not a real flashy record.

Sometimes when the money and the opportunity are there, you have to go all carpe diem and make the most of it. Gilliland was a nobody that became a somebody the minute he won at Kentucky, and he’s parlayed it into one of only 43 spots with the Big Boys. It’s hard to second guess that.

Q: Now that NASCAR is taking engines back to the R&D Center for teardown, I have to ask: Did everyone pass muster this week? And what’s up with that new rule? Just curious. Thanks! – Jerry Wayne

A: NASCAR issued a very small and to-the-point release on its media site yesterday stating that (and I quote): “Post-race engine inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5 has been completed and all is clear.”

I’m still not sure what precipitated the change from engine teardown of the top two finishers as well as one random entry being conducted at the track to the R&D Center in Concord, N.C. According to the sanctioning body, the new measure was enacted to save money and enhance the inspection process.

I’m not sure how NASCAR shipping three engines back to Concord and then having to return them two days later is going to save anyone any money, but I’ll guarantee the process of inspection has been “enhanced.” Consider the grip tightened.

And lastly, a chance for Tina to vent. Hey, that’s what this column is for. I’ll just step back here and let her go:

Q: Matt, I personally get tired at race time being so early nowadays. The season doesn’t get started good, and people are already calling for a championship winner. I have noticed this in the last several seasons and frankly… I’m sick of it!

It takes all the fun out of it for me when that is what people concentrate on (not how a 39th-place starter ended up fourth – unless it’s someone everyone likes to begin with – and when that does happen, all of a sudden he’s the new hero of the week. Everyone kills themselves for interviews asking the same dumb*** questions: “What happened man, you were great out there!”)

Racing used to be a sport unto itself, it had different rules, different strategies, a different season. Now NASCAR is trying to ram the “let’s-be-like-baseball” down our throats… HELLO!!! WE ARE NOT BASEBALL!!! The ONLY way we are alike is that we both have seasons, that’s it.

Have a great week. That was the start of mine. – Tina Pintor

A: Well, you’ll have a week to cool off, Tina. Serenity now. And to everyone: Have a great Easter weekend.

About the author

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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