Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: I Never Did Like The Taste of Crow…

Before we get started, I’d like to extend my condolences to the Petty family on the passing of Lynda Petty. I never got to see Richard Petty in his prime but I have heard enough about Lynda to know she was a wonderful human being and will be deeply missed by those in the community. The world could use more women like her.

Poor Denny Hamlin. He’s going to have nightmares about Fontana hospitals and go into a spasm every time he even steps foot onto the racetrack. While I wish Hamlin well, it sure is coincidental that he wound up having to go to the hospital two years in a row at the same location. No black helicopters here, but the poor guy has got to be getting sick of Fontana’s seeming hatred of his physical health.

Not that Joey Logano was any help with that last year…

With that said, I wish Hamlin well. It’s never fun to write about or discuss someone dealing with a medical issue, especially considering this infection appears to be something in or around Hamlin’s skull. I don’t have any more information other than what has been announced since Sunday night, but I do know that it doesn’t sound good. For Hamlin to have even sought help at all speaks volumes, especially since drivers are some of the most hard-headed creatures when it comes to their competitive nature.

This health watch of Hamlin is becoming very Brian Vickers-like and, for Hamlin’s sake, I hope it’s just a passing issue and not an ongoing health scare. Of course, we will keep you updated here at Frontstretch with the latest info once we have it.

On to your questions:

 Did Donovan McNabb’s VIP treatment at Fontana convince him NASCAR drivers are professional athletes?

Did Donovan McNabb’s VIP treatment at Fontana convince him NASCAR drivers are professional athletes?

“Why was it that Donovan McNabb was allowed at the racetrack after his comments about drivers not being athletes, yet fans have a hard enough time getting autographs every week? Ugh.. I would KILL for a garage pass! Maybe I should say something disparaging about racing and I’ll get VIP treatment! I’ve been watching 15 years and never had an experience like that.”Jason

I don’t know how you being a fan for 15 years entitles you to VIP treatment. I’m sure you would enjoy it and all, but no one is entitled to anything. If you ever get to experience something like that, you should be grateful because, you’re right, very few people get to enjoy that sort of experience.

Also, don’t tell me fans never find a way to get hot passes or similar access when there are multitudes of people in the infield every week. Pit road and the garage area are always packed on race day and I’m positive a large percentage of them are non-essential personnel. I’m glad that NASCAR does allow that kind of access, unlike many other sports, but that doesn’t mean every single person should get to be there. The drivers would never get to their race cars if that were the case.

Also, people make disparaging remarks about NASCAR all the time. Just type “nascar” into the search box on Twitter and watch the comments that come up on the timeline. The difference here is that Donovan McNabb is a well-known celebrity/athlete and people actually listen to what he says. NASCAR fans, drivers, media, etc. obviously weren’t very happy with him, and said as much, but there were plenty of others who actually agreed with what he said. That “snowball effect” of negativity has a chance to damage the sport in the long run.

With that in mind, allowing McNabb to go to the track and experience it for himself wasn’t a terrible idea, since it might have changed his perspective. From what I saw, it moved the needle, if only just a little bit. He gained a new perspective of what it takes to be in NASCAR even though he still doesn’t think drivers are athletes.

I would say McNabb’s entitled to his opinion, but I hardly think it’s an opinion. All you have to do is look at the effects the G-Forces have on a driver in racing conditions (as well as a myriad of other things) to see that drivers are certainly athletes. I don’t like that McNabb was at the track, either, but I feel like it’s always a good thing to open people’s eyes a little bit. You can’t lose, either from a marketing or public relations standpoint by reaching out, trying to make an enemy a friend. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a foolproof cure for ignorance in this case.

“Hey Summer! You were one of those who said Kyle Larson wasn’t ready for Cup! I bet you’re ready to retract those comments now, RIGHT?? Go Larson!”Shana

Yeah, well, after the Joey Not-So-Sliced-Bread Logano incident a few years ago, can you blame me?

I’m pretty sure I said after Bristol that I had changed my mind on Larson’s climb through the racing ladder. However, I’ll admit that Fontana did help in that continued evolution since I wondered if Bristol would be a one-hit wonder for Larson.

I don’t know what it is about Larson that allows him to learn so many different forms of racing so quickly. I thought that the Sprint Cup Series would prove to be a tougher challenge, more difficult than any he had ever faced. After all, it has been that way for every other fast-rising driver. Perhaps it was, but in this case, Larson sure is making it look easy.

Tired of the tire story? Excessive wear at Fontana, with a warning it could happen at other intermediates makes it a story that won’t go away.
Tired of the tire story? Excessive wear at Fontana, with a warning it could happen at other intermediates makes it a story that won’t go away.

“Why is it that Goodyear can’t seem to find a happy medium between rock-hard tires and Styrofoam?”Danny

Whoa, whoa, whoa. From my point of view, Goodyear was not to blame for the various tire failures. Blame the teams, the track, the new rules … whatever suits your fancy. I’m not alone in that opinion; the majority of drivers, crew chiefs, even NASCAR itself says that the issue was not with Goodyear.

However, I’m with you in that there needs to be some sort of balance. The tires need to wear out before a fuel run is over but not so fast that it becomes a hazard. And while hard tires may be safer, there’s no doubt they put on crappy racing. You won’t see any blown tires, of course, but be prepared for a lot of strung out cars that put a premium on track position.

Tire wear forces crew chiefs to go for strategy. Four tires is fast, but you lose your track position. Two tires is OK, but you’ll get beat on a long, green-flag run. And no tires gives you track position but you’d better have a buffer between you and those with fresh rubber. That generates exciting competition, not the battle off pit road.

I don’t think Goodyear was to blame for what happened out in Fontana. But I do agree that there needs to be a happy medium when it comes to tire wear.

About the author

Promoted to editor in 2013, Summer is one of Frontstretch’s fast-rising young talents. While contributing to social media efforts, she also writes the weekly "Up To Speed" column. A Kansas native, Summer graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2015. She also contributes to other media outlets such as Kickin' The Tires.

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