Race Weekend Central

The Frontstretch 5: Things That Don’t Sit Right

1. Dollars to Doughnuts

When an NBC producer handed Daniel Suarez a box of doughnuts and asked him to pass them out to fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, it was a fun, lighthearted piece with a likeable rookie driver. But a few weeks later, it cost Suarez a sponsor.

Subway, which had completed three races of a four-race deal to sponsor Suarez in the No. 19 this season, dropped the fourth race (Talladega in October) after seeing the segment. Why? The box of doughnuts was from Dunkin’ Donuts, which also sells breakfast sandwiches.

Because Subway sells breakfast sandwiches, it considers the other company a direct competitor. Apparently it expected Suarez to refuse to carry the doughnut box or ask for a blank one or something of the like. It seems pretty obvious that there was no ill intent at all by Suarez.

The move backfired on the company, though. It comes across as greedy and petty, and fans were quick to let the company know that. Check out the replies to this Tweet from Subway today; pretty funny stuff.


Dunkin’ Donuts has a golden opportunity to get the upper hand here, too by picking up the race that Subway dropped over the print on a box that had little to do with the segment at all.

2. Oh, wait, there really was debris

I’m still scratching my head over NASCAR losing its mind over Landon Cassill’s reports of debris at what would have been a very opportune moment for the driver. Cassill is far from the first driver to report debris, real or imagined, when he would benefit from a caution. He’s unlikely to be the last, though if NASCAR intends to call the crew chief of every driver who does it to the hauler after the race, it might put a damper on things. Or there will be a lot of crew chiefs hanging out in the NASCAR hauler.

The kicker here is that there was actually debris, and the caution waved just a few laps later. But even if there wasn’t, it seems like a strange choice of things for NASCAR to take exception to. It comes across as favoritism, or lack thereof, because it’s such a common occurrence. I can’t recall NASCAR having that reaction in the past. It seemed out of place and uncalled for.

Hopefully the sanctioning body at least apologized when the real debris showed up.

3. All that work, virtually erased

Most readers know by now that I’m not a fan of a playoff system in NASCAR. This year illustrates perfectly why that is: Martin Truex, Jr. has had a dominant season, with over a 100-point lead with 11 events to go, two full races’ worth of padding. While the playoff points he’s earned will carry with him and are enough to assure him passage to Homestead, one mistake, one bad pit stop, one mechanical failure and everything he’s worked for goes away.

Remember 2016? Jimmie Johnson didn’t have the car to take the title that day, but one mistake between Joey Logano and Carl Edwards and suddenly it was Johnson’s title to win. It’s not that he didn’t earn the title in the closing laps by capitalizing on the circumstances, because he did. It’s that the system sets that up… and loves it.  Unless Truex absolutely implodes in the next 11 races, it will feel a bit cheap if anyone else carries home that new (and surprisingly not too tacky) Monster trophy.

4. Gee, thanks for the ride, Pop-pop

My first thought when Ty Dillon, GEICO and Germain Racing announced a contract extension was “Does Richard Childress have any more grandkids lying around who want a ride?”  If he does, that extension might not mean much. I mean, the last guy had just signed one, too.

5. The way the cookie-cutter crumbles

Many of this year’s most exciting races have come on short tracks or road courses. While I’m not sold on the addition of a “roval,” or infield road course combined with most of the Charlotte oval, I think it’s a step in the right direction. But then what do we get?

Another race at Las Vegas, a race that was taken from a unique one-mile track.  NASCAR had the opportunity to stand up for fans and tell its track partners that if they want to move races to 1.5-mile or larger ovals, they must come from 1.5-mile or larger ovals and not from tracks that produce a different kind of racing. Such a rule would protect Darlington, the short tracks and the road courses that give fans the best shows. It could encourage track owners to invest in buying or building short tracks.

Also, if you want to increase fan interest in the XFINITY and Truck series, take them far away from those bigger tracks and back to the regional short circuits. The racing would be as good as it gets, the Cup drivers would be out of the picture, and the fans would see some of the sports roots. It’s time.

About the author

Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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Yes, Amy! Drop the sanctioning fees on the Truck races and run a schedule consistent with the Busch Series from the late 80’s/early 90’s.
Cut the travel and have one race a year at Daytona,
Charlotte, Dover and Darlington.
Keep Gateway, to replace Nazareth and get back to IRP, Myrtle Beach, Hickory, South Boston (keep Martinsville, Richmond and Bristol. 250 lap/mile races, one stage break and find a TV partner who will broadcast 25 races on Thursday or Friday night (pick one night at start every race at 8:00 pm with the exception of Dover). Drop the Chase and let em’ race!


Keep The Dirt race and Add Two More. Drop Road Course Racing to cut travel and prep costs.


IMO, with no proof, something funky happened with CARL. I think NASCAR and JGR got the hype going with Suarez with this “XFINITY” BS championship. Jesus Joe got dizzy with excitement with MORE foreseeable $$$$$$$…and ARRIS wanting SUAREZ, got what they wanted and CARL was gone. Purportedly happy as a clam to spend more time with family and maybe to be a farmer! I call BS, I have no proof, my opinion. This seems like JGR maneuvers of the past. Carl had an excellent relationship with SUBWAY for many, many years. Whether you like SUBWAY or not is not the point. I do believe they saw an opening to get out of the clutches of JGR and the nobody SUAREZ and took it. Good for them. Do I have proof, no…but Subway has loyalty too, and it isn’t a open check for JGR it seems.



Just keep in mind what would we do if we were paying these people, JGR and Suarez, to represent our product.Then they take our money and disrespect us by, in effect, promoting a competitors product. Most of us I believe would have done just what Subway did. You want to support Dunking Donuts fine. Just return my check.
There is no innocence here, they knew the deal and they screwed it up. Now don’t try playing the victim.


I agree completely!


Amy, you make a great point about the tracks, but that would mean that Nascar would have to care more about the product on the track than it does about money. Which we all know is never going to happen. The move to Vegas was strictly a money move and nothing more.


As I posted on Tom Bowles column. No more Subway for me. Suarez is not a big deal to me, but Subways minor league response that Dunkin Donuts is direct competition is BS.


Segment points, race points…and they complain the Latford system was too compli9cated? This is just stupid. For me, the season ends at Richmond, with a deserving Truex the Champion.


Good point IMO on taking two lower division out into the heartland. Their attendance at the Cup weekends ought to be an embarrassment to NASCAR. Granted, they’d be playing in smaller venues but I suspect their gate receipts would actually be larger. Wow, I can’t even imagine what a weekend of Xfinity and the trucks would pack in at the home of the Snow Ball Derby. Granted, the drivers would still need exposure to the Cup tracks…but there certainly in room in the schedule for a compromise.


Denny’s weekend wins have been declared “encumbered.” Seems after the events Reverend Joe must have been praying not to get caught. I guess on Saturday they thought it was Kyle in the car and he needed the help.


Really…Did the declare both encumbered? Not that it matters, the clown has another win I believe.


sorry “they”..meaning NASCAR.


Yes both.

“Race finish is encumbered per Section 12.10 Encumbered Race Finishes.”

Applied to both finishes.


Thanks…too bad that win last weekend was Denise’s second. Would have loved to see that…must make RICHMOND BS! Interesting, Logano had that one win and them taking that win away is a big deal, means everything..and I doubt he is going in the stupid “PLAYOFFS”, oh well his team has sucked hugely this year anyhoo compared to their caliber of old. Hell, half the people don’t belong in the damn “playoffs”…anywho the point is..ENCUMBERED for JGR means nothing, as it cost them nothing with the season. Very weird.


I meant the Saturday win not his other Cup win

Biff Baynehouse

1 – Eff ’em! Danny-Boy’s story is emblematic of the American dream. I an think of a oil-tankers worth of worse things to do than do as prompted by an ill advised TV producer. And to think by terminating JGR, Subway is reenforcing their brand identity. No one noticed or said BOO until Subway reproched it weeks after the fact. Pfft, so counter-intuitive! Good bye & good riddens this low-grade dawg food merchant!
2 – Perplexing, esp considering his report of debris was accurate. It is favoritism, but it is also a competitor doing the Nascar’s & the venue’s job. It is their job to provide a safe track. They failed. Then they admonished the guys who stepped-up & did their job for them. What is the lesson? Shut-up next time & allow Hambone or Lil E to cut a tire on the debris & go head long into a wall & break his back. Nascar needs to do a presser & clear this air!
3 – That’s the fun part. This format was supposed to eliminate “points racing”, but it hasn’t. Furthermore, you might as well draw straws at Chicago. You have corporate team drivers who are eliminated from the chase (or not even in it to begin with) taking out other competitors (JGR vs Loey Lagano TWO years in a row). You also have the medical waiver that permits guys who missed 11 races to take the Cup home. As I said from day so many years ago on it is a disgraceful farce. They have reduced the Global epitome of Motorsports championships to an insipid craps-shoot that is devoid of all sports integrity. I’ve gradually divested from Nascar. Now I have practically no time of interest. Where as I took in my first Indycar race at WGI this year, & also attended the IMSA 6 hr. & plan on going to the Trans Am race this weekend. Eff’ Nascar. With “stages” they can not even be bothered to put on integral races anymore. Boycott ACTIVE!
4 – Meh? I’m anything but an RCR fan. I still always view the “silver-spoon” act is impotent & vitriolic criticism. Since when is having a supportive family a bad thing?
5 – It was very interesting to watch a corporation turn it’s back on legions of avid devotees & invest billions in new venues central to major population centers, on a hope & a prayer that devotees will spontaneously materialize from town-folk with no aptitude or appetite for motorsports. It is even more interesting, now that the cookie cutter business model is faltering, that Nascar seem to think these uninterested town-folk (with no aptitude or appetite for motorsports) will spontaneously allocate their disposable income to their brand AFTER Nascar removed essentially ALL sports integrity from their races & championships (via the “chase” & “stage” insipid mockeries). If Nascar doesn’t have sports integrity, they have NADA. Eventually, either the easy way or the hard way, the fan base that clings to Nascar’s fragile existence, & Nascar themselves will figure this out. The other aspect that dominates Nascar schedule is that there are only a hand full of events that are NOT held at venues owned by SMI or ISC. Typically date changes are a juggling act between these two entities, & the other privately owned venues take the leavings or starve. So it’s very unlikely there will be any revolutionary schedule revisions anywhere in the distant future. If the CMS infield circuit model is a success, that is the blueprint for the future. This for two reasons. First, many fans do not realize it, but permanent garages are prerequisite for Cup series events, so very few road circuits in the USA can accommodate this. Second, there are active infield circuits at MANY of the venues currently on the schedule. Indy & Tona are the fore most. So, I find that Nascar could evolve into a something similar to the sprint race format V8 Supercar uses a plausible notion. Where at ovular venues with infield circuits, Nascar races infields on Saturday & the oval on Sunday. And at dedicates ovals or road circuits, they just run two sprints on the same track configuration. I hope for this. To my sensibilities, a format consisting of separate, distinct & integral Cup series sprint races would be a VAST improvement over the current “staged pee break” farce. The latter or which, to my sensibilities, has just destroyed the brand.


Hmmm. emblematic? Ah NO. Last I heard, he has nothing to do with being part of the legal American dream. He is MEXICAN..and his dream is MEXICAN…he has nothing to do with the American dream, until he becomes a full on CITIZEN. Other than that, something short of that….. PFFFTTTTT!

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