Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: When the Story About the Story Becomes THE Story

So, things look to be getting a little snippy concerning the reported/rumored/speculated/totally fabricated tale of a Tony Eury Jr./Alan Gustafson swap at Hendrick. And I’m not speaking to anything that’s actually happening at HMS. I’m just talking about the sites and organizations reporting (or not reporting) on it.

(In your best ring announcer voice) In this corner, weighing in at roughly 500,000 unique hits per year, a quirky little website long on passion but short on funding and struggling for legitimacy… CaptainThunderRacing.com!

And in this corner, weighing in at a mind-boggling 10 million unique visitors per second, hailing from Bristol, Conn.: the World Wide Leader, the Mother Ship, the Four Letter Network, the we-overpaid-to-broadcast-NASCAR-a-couple-years-ago-and-now-we’re-stuck-with-it… the reigning sports leader: ESPN.com!

Yes, it seems the Four Letter Network is HMS’s sounding board these days, or its PR rep. ESPN wasted no time in dispelling the Captain’s rumor (it ain’t a story ’till ESPN breaks it, after all), even going so far as to indirectly classify the site (along with others like it) as an “upstart, cottage-industry website” while calling the report “screwy” and “wacky.”

And of course ESPN, not content with the volley of jabs that had the underdog against the ropes, continued the assault with a crushing left hook when it reported that an email from someone “high up inside Hendrick” flatly denied Cap’s report. Someone high up? What the hell does that mean? Shoot, I could throw that in an article every week and probably get away with it. Example: Q: Matt, are NASCAR tires really filled with nitrogen? A: Yes, they are. I asked someone high up at Goodyear why and here is what he told me….

Anyway, I find it humorous that 1) Captain Thunder reported the story in the first place. I mean, c’mon, everyone has a friend whose aunt is the neighbor of a secretary at some place important, right? And 2) that ESPN.com peed its pants when it read it (for fear it had missed a scoop – particularly one involving Junior) and fell all over itself not only dispelling it, but smearing Thunder’s name in the process. You are the worldwide leader, right? Then act like it!

But the funniest element of this whole situation is that, all the while, Todd Parrott was replaced by Ben Leslie as Bobby Labonte’s crew chief, and over at Richard Childress Racing they’ve swapped two whole teams! With one of them being Kevin Harvick’s, for gosh sakes! But to put the icing on the cake, so to speak, those last two weren’t reported until a press release from the respective companies was, uh, well, released.

See also
NASCAR Crew Swaps Treat Symptoms, Not Disease, for Nos. 07, 29 Teams

Hysterical. The stuff on Jayski can be more entertaining than the stuff on the track sometimes.

OK, time to get down to business.

Q: I wonder why the races are called “stock” car racing when the Ford Fusion does not come stock with a V-8 engine. Being a Ford person, I do not know about other brands. – Donnkay

A: It’s no longer “stock car” racing, Donnkay. That is an antiquated term that we still apply to this form of racing simply because we’ve always known it as such. It certainly was at one point, but that time has long past. It had been a natural evolution towards a reasonable separation – until NASCAR skipped about eight generations with its Car of Tomorrow.

As such, the only thing stock about any of NASCAR’s IROC clones are the glove compartments.

Q: Why did NASCAR penalize Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears for their actions at Phoenix? I thought NASCAR wanted emotion… isn’t that what Brian said last year? I could maybe understand a penalty if Junior spun Mears during green and caused a big wreck, but on the cool-down lap? Give me a break. – Mike Peters

A: Why did NASCAR penalize the two? Why, actions detrimental to stock car racing, of course. But let’s be honest here, Mike, being placed on probation is not much of a punishment. Heck, Tony Stewart has spent more time on probation than off, and I’ve never seen him miss a race.

Besides, NASCAR has a history (since France’s comments prior to last season) of slapping the boys on the wrist in instances such as these. The most recent one I can remember was at Bristol last year, when Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch decided to play tag on the cool-down lap. Both got the same “punishment.”

See also
Happy Hour: Why We Don’t See as Much NASCAR Emotion as We’d Like

Personally, I agree with you, Mike. A little post-race fireworks is more of what this sport needs. And I hate when people say that “a 3,400 pound racecar is a weapon.” Not on the racetrack at 40 mph it’s not. And not when the drivers are safer in NASCAR’s tricked-out safety mobiles than we are on our city streets.

Q: Can you tell me who has the most laps in any motorsport at PIR? Including modified, Silver Crown, Cup, Nationwide, Trucks, etc. Thanks. – Johnny King

A: Johnny, I gotta be honest with you: I didn’t have much luck with the USAC portion of this question. I tried, bud, but if there are stat sites for this organization, I sure haven’t found them.

As for the stocks, it looks like Harvick has the most laps turned around the joint. Between Cup, Nationwide and Truck competition he’s completed 7,906 circuits. In the laps led category, Greg Biffle tops the list with 1,080 across the three touring series.

That’s it for the week. Now, everyone go buy one of those mushy stress balls before Sunday. I’ve found it helps to calm the frayed nerves of Talladega.

About the author

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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