Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Marcos, in America it’s pronounced “D’Oh!”

Don’t worry, Marcos. It happens to the best in the business, too. Need proof? Check this out.

Looking to get something off your chest? Have an opinion about the controversy of the week? Want to get a technical question cleared up? This is the place. Shoot me an email this week and I’ll get your name up in pixels next Thursday.

Now, let’s get to this week’s batch.

Q: Marcos Ambrose: Biggest D’Oh! of the year? Of the decade? — Bart S., Springfield, USA

A: It’s gonna take a big one to top it – although Peter Griffin tops Homer Simpson in my book, so there’s bound to be one more “freakin’ sweet!” one on the horizon.

Q: Matt, no one has addressed this issue with Marcos Ambrose. Why was he trying to save fuel? I haven’t heard anyone give a good explanation. Were others doing the same? Was this just not addressed by TNT, like the weather that the TV guys don’t talk about until it’s over the track? Thanks. — Ben Grant

A: I don’t know if others were coasting under caution or not, but my best guess is that he and/or the crew chief were looking ahead, accounting for the possibility of a green-white-checkered finish — maybe numerous ones. The course is nearly two miles long, so it’d take a substantial amount of fuel in the tank to be assured they had enough for a big accident that took a few laps to clean up in overtime. Throw in the possibility of another two GWCs and you can see the concern.

However, I honestly don’t know what his fuel situation was, but I thought everyone — including Ambrose — was good. Maybe, on top of the non-JGR Toyota teams being down about 30 horsies, they’re getting bad mileage as well.

Q: Here’s a new one. I read that there are rumors Kasey Kahne or Mark Martin could go to Red Bull next year, and that Red Bull would switch to Chevys (sorry, Chevrolets) with Hendrick support. Seems far-fetched to me, because Hendrick must have much better options that are closer to home. What can you tell me? — James Mulberry

A: Only that I heard the same rumor, but it’s one of about five out there, so it’s hard to sift through all the BS. I agree with you that it sounds somewhat far-fetched and if I had to guess (emphasis on the word “guess”), I’d place it pretty low on the probability scale.

Q: With Bobby Labonte out at TRG, does that end a consecutive start streak? Jeff Burton just had his 500th, but didn’t Bobby have one going, too? Too bad a quality guy like Labonte has to toil away in the twilight of his career. I’ve thought he could be back in the top 10 with the right equipment. — Cecil Mason, Richmond, Va.

A: This one came in between Labonte’s divorce from TRG Motorsports and rebound date with Robby Gordon Motorsports. And let’s not forget the other dates he has lined up with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing team, too. (BLab’s getting’ around, huh?)

Yes, Labonte’s consecutive start streak in the Cup Series sits at 596, good for seventh on the all-time list. Ahead of him: Ricky Rudd (788), Rusty Wallace, brother Terry, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Martin (not an active streak) and Jeff Gordon, who, with 597 straight starts, is only one race ahead of Bobby. Burton’s streak of 500 places him 10th on the list, 13 races shy of Richard Petty in ninth.

Labonte will race Gordon’s No. 7 Toyota at New Hampshire before manning Finch’s No. 09 at Daytona and Chicago. It’s my understanding that there will be no start ‘n’ parking involved (which was a reason for the TRG split), so it should be interesting to see what he can do with a Hendrick engine — especially at Daytona. Hey, we’ve seen that No. 09 do it before on the plate tracks.

Q: When is Bobby Labonte going to catch a break? Not that he was going to win with TRG, but now he is really fishing for a ride. Is this Labonte bailing or TRG? Also, where does he land, or does he? Labonte needs to be in the Cup Series. A Braun car in the NNS won’t do. — Jamie L., Absecon, N.J.

A: Again, Jamie slipped this one in between announcements. However, I think Labonte has had breaks come his way; I just don’t know that he’s taken advantage of them. I admire his loyalty to what was then Petty Enterprises, but I believe he’s rethinking some of his decisions, because RCR is looking really good right about now.

As for this split, I think it’s mutual. In a perfect world, they’d still be racing, but with TRG forced to go the S&P route to stay afloat (something Labonte doesn’t want a piece of), and the team needing to cut payroll — crew chief Doug Randolph packed his bags a few weeks back, too — it seems the hands of both parties have been forced.

Q: They’re going back and forth, so who’s your favorite for the title, No. 48 or No. 11? — Stevie W., Kernersville, N.C.

A: You left out the No. 29 there, Stevie. Be that as it may, I still can’t bet against the No. 48 until they give me a reason to. I wonder if the No. 29 still has another gear, though.

Thanks for hangin’ till the end. Enjoy the Return of Danica this weekend. That is, if you’re not watching the USA’s World Cup match, which will be televised at the same time as the Nationwide race in Loudon.

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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