Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Touch ‘Em All… From Jimmie to Jeremy & Back to Juan

I had a whole big intro here that appealed to my stat-loving side. All kinds of goodies about how unbeatable Jimmie Johnson has been in the Chase over the last three years with the dorky stats and facts to back up my argument.

Then our yellow-wallpapered buddy, Jayski, beat me to the punch yesterday when he posted a paragraph about the same thing with a link to here, there & everywhere, complete with all the marvelous statistics that fascinate me but probably bore you.

So if you want to read about why the No. 48 still has to be considered the team to beat, go over to Jayski. But let me just say this: The man has not finished outside the top 15 in any race over the last three championship-winning seasons. Not one!

I’m all about the old-vet-beats-young-punks or driver-turned-owner-goes-Alan Kulwicki-on-the-field stories, but that Johnson stat should scare the hell out of everyone else in the field. And it should end a lot of speculation about who the man to beat around here is.

Lots going on in the NASCAR world. Let’s hear from ya.

Q: I haven’t heard anything lately on the Jeremy Mayfield saga. I was just wondering if you have any new details about the court date. And do you think we will ever see him race again in a NASCAR-sanctioned race? Thanks, – Eric Barnett

A: You’ll see him out at KMS before you see him LMS, Eric. By the way, how’re the fields looking out there these days?

Eric dropped this the day before the news broke that NASCAR, on Tuesday, asked U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen for a mental and physical exam on Jer-e-myyyyyy (insert Unocal 76-girl voice here). Seems the boys in Daytona want to see if, in fact, Mayfield suffers from ADD and taking it a bit further, to medically determine if he has a substance abuse issue.

To support its concerns, NASCAR has acquired written affidavits from three individuals and a deposition from four others who claim to have personally seen the two-time Chaser use the Smurf Dope multiple times since 1999 (putting a new spin on the term Speed Racer).

His trial is not scheduled until September of next year at the earliest, so in the meantime he’s kept us entertained with a wrongful death suit he filed against his stepmother, who lends real credence as one of NASCAR’s star witnesses and has been sued for non-payment by Arrington Manufacturing on engines it supplied earlier this season. Word is, they were the real Shiznack… they kept the car running all Tweak-end long.

And I did all that while side-stepping my boy Vito’s High Speed Chicken Feed reference – still the best one to this day.

Q: Hello Matt. I’m wondering if you watched Mike Helton on TWIN on Monday night. He is steadfast on NASCAR’s policies. When does he and/or Brian France come clean and admit that things in NASCAR are not as healthy as they want us to believe? The cars are a total mess of a problem, the Chase is not a true measuring stick of a champion and spectators, sponsors and TV viewers are jumping ship. Why can’t they level with us? That’s what we hardcore fans want to hear! It’s OK to have problems, but tell us what is being done to fix them. – Genn B., Bellbrook, Ohio

A: I’m not clear on what exactly you expected to hear him say. He’s the president of NASCAR, after all, not some journalist whose job it is to shoot us the unbiased facts.

Q: On the yellow that finally got thrown on the last lap at Loudon: Is there a written rule that lays out the procedure for when the caution should be thrown? And is the last lap any different from any other lap? Thanks. – William Ross

A: The rule is that the caution is thrown and the field is frozen at the moment NASCAR deems an accident interferes with the racing (being in or out of the racing groove, cars on the apron, debris, etc). Of course, that’s subjective, because it can be argued when an “incident” becomes and “accident” that interferes with the racing and when debris is actually in the racing groove.

There’s a myriad examples I could give that all contain the words “accident,” “wreck,” “debris,” “spin” …you get the picture. I think the point is that, in short, it’s ultimately NASCAR’s decision when to throw a yellow. And last weekend they should’ve thrown the rag with the field in turn 3.

Q: Hey Matt. I love Robby Gordon’s paint jobs. His cars are always classy and “well dressed” with multiple sponsors. But how come he can attract so many sponsors and owners like Childress and Yates have such problems? I bet Childress would take a couple off of Robby’s hands for that No. 07 car. – Corby773

A: Because Robby will negotiate with the companies that’ll jump on board when it fits their agenda (see: Sylvania, MAPEI, Hard Rock Las Vegas, Quaker State). The big boys want big money that they know will stick with them all season – or that will at least plug the open slots in their calendars. And with Jim Beam leaving the organization next year, Robby’ll have to find even more small one-offs than ever before. The sledding just got tougher.

Q: If Juan Pablo Montoya would act a little classier he might have a bigger fanbase. At least he wouldn’t have as many people against him. What’s wrong with Mark Martin doing what it takes to win? Martin didn’t wreck him or anybody. He protected his lead and was rewarded for it. Kudos to Mark. Get an attitude adjustment Juan. – Becky Litton, Jacksonville, Fla.

A: Montoya got beat and no competitor likes that. He got out of his car, he expressed his displeasure, but at no time – either on or off the track – did he disrespect Martin.

Yeah, his initial post-race comments kind of came across as sour grapes, but aren’t we looking for someone to shoot us straight? JPM was PO’d because he lost, and when you’re in that situation it really doesn’t matter to whom it is you’ve lost to.

I agree with your point of view on Martin, though. Do whatcha gotta do. It’s go time.

Before we part ways this week, keep those who’ve been ravaged by the flooding in the Southeast in your prayers. Coming from a past victim and someone who’s keeping an eye on a creek at this very moment, I can assure you their lives will be turned upside down for months to come.

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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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