My theme for Charlotte?

1.A night of firsts on a Day of Memory?

Kyle Petty’s first top 5 in 10 years
Casey Mears first win
Toyota’s first top 5

2. Brother Can You Spare a Gallon?

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” was one of the best-known American songs of
the Great Depression.

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

(Written in 1931 by lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and composer Jay Gorney.)

Charlotte is usually the marathon of the season but it was well worth the nearly
6 hours. At first I thought my theme would have to be “The Junkman Cometh.”
But, amazingly, most of the wrecks (and there were plenty) were still running at
the end. I think that is a tribute to the unsung crews of NASCAR (and to a 600-
mile race).The season is just beginning to warm up and as we head into the summer heat
let’s see who has staying power, because as we all know , ‘it isn’t over until … ‘

3. Now for the concrete of Dover?

Michael

FOUL PLAY?

The buzz late last week was Jack Roush’s criticism of several teams that s-t-r-e-c-h-e-d the rules by running tests at tracks outside NASCAR’s control and using tires other than Goodyear’s by obtaining unused tires from other teams. Seems Jack believes that was unfair as it gave Hendrick, Childress, and Gibbs (the three named by Roush) an upper hand at the beginning of the season, especially with the COT.

Roush admitted that he hadn’t caught on fast enough but said that that would change.

Maybe those testing on tracks outside of NASCAR’s control were stretching the rules, but we all know that in the shop and in the garage, crew chiefs and mechanics are doing all they can — within NASCAR’s regs — to gain an advantage. Seems ironic in a sense when we reflect back to when Roush had five cars in its stable and all were beating the pants off the other competitors. Jack wasn’t violating any rules about the number of cars an owner could have but he wasn’t about to pull any off the track voluntarily.

Yes, so now we’re going to have a four-car stable as the rule. Sorry, Jack. You got caught off guard!

Jon

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DECISION!

Did anyone see Smoke beat up on his rivals last week?

Didn’t think so given all the hullabaloo about Junior. (For the record, Smoke DIDN’T beat up anyone last week.)

So now the waiting game begins — where, oh where, will Junior end up next year? Even the souvenir makers are asking that he make a quick decision so that they can begin manufacturing the new merchandise! So much for racing.

Still, there are a great many fans of Junior who would like to see him end up driving for RCR, given that’s where Dale Senior ended his career. Some even would want Junior to drive the No. 3 COT next year. Personally, I think those are two bad choices for Junior.

Why, you ask?

First, just driving for RCR would put immense pressure on Junior because his father drove for RCR. Second, what (lord forbid) if Junior didn’t win a NEXTEL title driving the No. 3 for RCR? Calamity would certainly ensue because Junior is seen as capable of winning a title if he’s with the right owner. I think it would be unfair to Junior to put him in such a position.

Given his other choices (and the current status of several owners of Chevy teams), my opinion is that Junior should go it on his own. He already has the offer from Rick Hendrick to assist with engines. He certainly has the financial backing as well as name recognition to bring on additional sponsors (and perhaps financial partners). The only major problem is that single car teams simply have a tough row to hoe, and he would not be any different. Tough decision making time for Junior.

Best of luck!

Jon

Earning Stripes on (A Happy) Mothers Day….

First, let’s get the jokes out of the way … such as, “Let’s put on the tea
kettle,” “He’s just blowing smoke,” or “I didn’t know they still made Stanley
steamers,” etc. It doesn’t matter — JG just rolls on and is, IMHO, heading for
one of the best seasons in modern NASCAR history.

Now for the race itself … See, this is why the older tracks still have “it” —
they simply give us a race worthy of watching — no really big accidents, just
fans sitting on the edge of their seats at times wondering …

…Wondering when a “big one” was going to occur as this car or that car slid around a curve and earned the famed “stripe” for which the Lady in Black is noted.

… Wondering which car was next to have an engine fly apart right at the end.

… Wondering if the #24 was going to erupt like a Vesuvius and scatter Dupont rainbow colors over everyone.

… Wondering why every race can’t be like this.

That’s what I’m wondering too my friends.

That’s the view from here.

Michael

YELLOW,YELLOW,YELLOW …and blue skies

Well, probably better that we had a sunny race so we could see the yellow better. It seemed to be the usual race for the season so far — good racing early, then the boring bits, then a pretty exciting chance to see which Hendrick car would be the victor.

Boy, talk about your potential ‘black helicopter’ theory — what is it with the COT and Hendrick?! Are they that good? Well apparently so.

Overall, well done Richmond

BTW: Let’s give some kudos to others who aren’t getting much air time — such as Ryan Newman and Dave Blaney.

On another note…

A few columns back I called for a “return to yesterday” with regards to tracks. Of course next Saturday night the COT will meet the Lady in Black and if the cars are as hard to turn there as they were here you will need a dayglo yellow flag.

Now, it’s time to show some respect for the drivers and to drop some rules. Let’s do away with –right now — both the champions provisional AND setting the starting grid by owners points. While our race commentators noted who didn’t make the JSCR 400 (wow, that must be awfully tough for DW), they failed to mention the actual qualifying speeds of those cars. Personally if I were 40th fastest and was bumped by a slower car having higher ‘owners points’ I would be, well … I would not be happy. For that matter why not tell only 43 cars to show up or better yet take the several who don’t make it and tell them if they don’t make it six races in a row then they should just come back next year.

Hey, at least NASCAR’s carbon footprint would shrink …

That’s the view from here.

Michael

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR!

It’s hard to believe that when I first started watching NASCAR regularly, there were so many single car owners. Even some owners today were single car owners for quite a while before bringing on a second (or third or fourth) car. Rusty Wallace with Penske, Dale Earnhardt with Childress, Bobby Labonte with Gibbs.

Then, we also had the owner/driver combinations, most notably Geoffrey and Brett Bodine (although they didn’t have that much success). Today, according to the list of Nextel drivers on NASCAR.com, there are only four single car owners, with one (Robby Gordon) an owner/driver. Surprisingly, two of the four are in the top 29 (Raines at 23rd and Gordon at 29th — Kenny Schrader is 40th and Kenny Wallace is 43rd) after the recent Richmond race.

What’s my point, you ask? The days of single car owners are nearly at an end. As a result, I believe that what we’re going to see (and probably are already seeing) is “competition compression” (we saw it last year on several occasions when three multi-car teams captured nearly all of the top ten positions in a race; additionally, no single car owner won a race last year). This “competition compression” is going to have a detrimental effect on second- and third-tier multi-car teams (minimal chance at winning, let alone be in the “Chase”) and fan interest.

Let’s face it — picking Kenny Schrader, Sterling Marlin, or even Bobby Labonte to win on a regular basis is an exercise in futility. Last year all races were won by drivers from six teams! Maybe this explains the “top 35 in owners’ points” syndrome that has been thrust upon us!

Jon

BUMS, BEER BOTTLES, AND BAD MANNERS

Yes, as I was quoted yesterday in Dustin Long’s column appearing in the Virginian-Pilot, “perception is reality” and the reality for the non-NASCAR fans is that we’re all “bubbas”.

Why is it that the “bubbas” in the stands simply can’t stomach their driver not winning and thus have to act like Neanderthals?

I don’t care that the Philadelphia Eagles’ new stadium has a jail; we don’t have jails at our race tracks. We don’t need these ______ (fill in the blank as you choose) throwing beer containers on the track — what’s next, didn’t like that pass by the “24” so we’ll throw something at him the next time he goes by? Then Tony Stewart would indeed see debris on the track.

The fact is that we, as fans, must police ourselves. No amount of cajoling by track owners prior to a race or by drivers and owners after the race will change fan behavior if we, who sit next to these ____ (your choice again), are allowed to throw things at drivers simply because (1) they don’t like the driver, (2) are inebriated, or (3) both.

So if you’re reading this blog and love the sport of NASCAR, take a stand this weekend if you’re in Richmond. And if not Richmond, then wherever you attend a race. To paraphrase our Virginia tourist theme, NASCAR is for Lovers, not for bubbas! Let’s go racing, boys!

Jon