Sunday, February 13, 2011

View From The Flagstand

After completely repaving the huge tri-oval in Daytona, NASCAR gave us a surprising Shootout Saturday night. The drivers figured out that two cars, lined up in a tight draft, were much faster than three or more together. Ten to twenty MPH faster! The closing rates were ridiculous! As I write this, early Sunday afternoon, NASCAR is already looking at various ways to break up the two car guided missiles. So, who knows what will happen next week during the Daytona 500.


Dodge had never won a Shootout in Daytona, until Saturday night. Kurt Busch, with Jamie McMurray supplying the horsepower, picked up the win after Denny Hamlin was penalized for going out of bounds coming to the flag. It was Busch's first restrictor plate win of any kind, and also gave his new sponsor, Pennzoil, their third straight win in the Shootout.


Ryan Newman and Jeff Burton led over half of the 75 laps during the race. Not that their cars were that much faster, they had powerful pushing partners behind them. Jamie McMurray (2nd) and Kevin Harvick (7th) both had strong cars, though neither led a lap. Look for those two to dominate the plate tracks again, as they did last year. Bobby Labonte had the highest finishing Toyota in 10th.


The Shootout entrants, mostly, are the best NASCAR has to offer, and they don't really have a handle on the tandem draft system yet. What happens when twenty less talented drivers, and 125 more laps, are added to the mix next Sunday? Poor judgement by veterans, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart, led to them turning around the cars they were pushing going into a turn.


I'm sorry, I couldn't even make it to the regular season before becoming ill over the TV 'experts'. On Speed TV's pre-race show, Kenny Wallace actually claimed that he wasn't kissing NASCAR's butt, while doing exactly that. Somehow, DW was an analyst during Speed TV's ARCA coverage on Saturday. What a pro! He didn't know most of the drivers, so he identified them by car number only... all race long! It's going to be a loooong season.


The TV experts were falling all over themselves to exonerate Martin and Stewart for taking out Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip, and I'm sure the two vets didn't mean to do it. But, I have to wonder if the fans would have accepted the no-fault theory if the wreckers and the wreckees had been reversed? If Busch had spun Martin, and Mikey had done the same to Smoke, would the fans have been so accepting of the 'expert' analysis?


  1. Green Flag Gene!

    I had to work last night and couldn't enjoy the race so I'll take your word for it... I see where NASCAR is tinkering with the cooling systems to make the cars run hotter thus forcing an end to the long drafts. From 185 mph to 205 mph just because you've hooked up with a drafting partner is unbelievable. The speed difference could result in a lot of rear enders.

    I was wondering what happened to Kyle... Mark Martin? I'll bet Kyle didn't go lecture him! (but probably should have) Must be diplomatic...

    Give me a guess, how many cars will still be on the lead lap at the end of the 500?

    Thanks Gene!

  2. Yea I too am a bit concerned with the rest of the field trying this in the duels. AJ said during quals that he was confused by it and not sure how to do it. Not a good sign! 500 is gonna be a wreck fest I bet.

    I was particularly annoyed with the announcers calling Kurt Harvick at least attention boys! And how about Larry Mac calling out Tony's new girlfriend in Quals. Awkward!

    We gonna see you on Sat? Hope so!

  3. Dwindy.... I have to wonder if making the engines run hot, faster, will cause any blown engines? Leading to bigger wrecks?

    HaHa. Kyle couldn't find his way to the garage area and drove through the spectator section of the infield. Suppose any were showing him that he was #1 to them? LOL

    Lead lap cars? 21.

  4. Kris.... latest I've heard is that after the Duels the plate openings will be reduced. I kept getting Kurt confused to, and Harvick's black car was hard to keep track of, for me.

    I caught a little of quals, and I heard Larry saying something about Tony's girlfriend. Wasn't paying attention to him (as usual) so I don't know what the story was. lol

    It's not looking too well for me making it. depends some on the weather here. If I can it will be last minute, Fri night, or Sat morning.

  5. Gene:
    I hope you make it to the 500. It is an experience you will never forget. There is always Greyhound bus but that is really slow going.

    My obervations on the 2 car drafts: It looks hairy as driving on ice up here. Seems if you are near the wall and move around, you can get the car in front of you loose. I also noticed Hamlin as he pulled around Newman get him a wee loose or Newman didn't know where to go.

    Wreck fest 2011 predictions: If you loose your draft partner early, might a well hang it up unless you can hook up with another driver. No way you will be at the front at the end. It will be interesting to see how this 2 car draft will play out in the 500. 42 cars in a 2 car draft cannot occupy the same real estate at the same time. Going to be a lot of traffic conjestion towards the front. I imagine we will see some real "big ones" in the last few laps of this race.

    That means 1 car is going to be a back filler all alone. Possibly Derick Cope will finish this race too if the engine holds out for 500 miles.

  6. question; why does the leader always get away with forcing the ther guy below the line? If they ping you for passing under the yellow, they should also ping the guy who pushed you down there.

    They always go high letting the driver behind duck to the inside, then they close the door when it's too late...

  7. Agreed they are going to have to clarify that yellow line rule again b/c to me it did look like Hamlin was in front of Ryan when he did go under the yella but had not completed the pass and would have been unable too unless he did go under.

    Not sure what Newman was thinking even coming an inch off that yella line?? Hamlin couldn't have swung outside b/c Kurt was there so he would have had no other option than to push Ryan to the win.

  8. Photo... good to see that you've finally dug out from under all that snow this winter. I've been to a few Daytona 500s, it is an awesome event. Too much work is what may keep me from going this year. Though, too much is better than the alternative.

    I agree with you, there just won't be enough room for all those two car drafts. I'm sure the powers that be will find a way to screw it up. lol

  9. Tez... If only more drivers would do what Keselowski did at Talladega in 2009... wreck the blocker! A few more of those type outcomes may force NASCAR to change their view of blocking is fine.

    I'll predict that if the closing rates stay as fast as they were in the Shootout, someone will throw a block and be dropkicked through the goalpost.

    Simple solution is to do away with the idiotic yellow line/out of bounds rule.

  10. What a finish! The Duel races are going to be insane. All of these unknowns about the new racing style just add to the fun.

  11. i haven't decided if i like the "trailer" racing.

    doesn't this remind you of trailer races at your local short track.:)

    what is the exact rule on the double yellows, does anybody know? i thought Hamlin had atleast a fender on Newman. Plus i thought they had a last lamp rule, after the last couple of Dega races, where they said the yellow line rule didn't matter on the last lap. Any body else remember that, or am i just crazy?

  12. Kristen; you have done the impossible....made sense to me on a Monday before lunchtime, LOL!

    I guess that must be it...they deemed the whole thing as one move, he didn't get alongside and then swerve, he was always in the process of doing it.

    I'm now wondering if I should call in sick on Thursday....

  13. JM... it will be exciting to see what the less experienced drivers will do. Especially after seeing what the veterans did on Saturday night.

  14. Stork... Exactly! The mother-in-law races!

    Two and a half years ago at Dega, they took the win away from Regan Smith after he went below the line to pass Stewart on the last lap. I can't recall them changing that rule since then.

    Rule 7, Article 133: A car can not go below the double yellow lines at Daytona or Talladega to improve its position in the running order. It is still legal, and encouraged, for the front car to block the trailing car. Leaving the trailing car with two options, go below the line and attempt to pass... which is illegal, or... knock the hell out of the blocker and cause the 'big one', which is perfectly legal.

  15. The scoop on Tony's girlfriend- because I know Kristen is just about to die of curiosity :o).

    Her name is Jessica Zemken, she is 24, and until last fall, Tony was mentoring her dirt track career. Last fall, he signed her to drive for his World of Outlaws team. According to Larry Mac, they discovered they enjoyed each others company while travelling to various races, so they decided to start dating.

    I'm not so sure that it's a good idea for the boss to be dating one of the employees. Remember all the fallout and discord at Evernham when Ray was dating Erin Crocker. Maybe racing in different series will put a stop to that. Time will tell.

  16. SB... based on experience, I have to say, unless she is extremely talented (on the track) it will demoralize fellow employees to see someone keeping her job based on a personal relationship with the boss.

    Maybe Tony can be the 1 in a 1000 bosses that can date an employee with absolutely no overlap between the personal and professional relationship.

  17. She is 24 and he is 40 this year right? BLECH! I don't see this being a good career move for her if she wants to actually race with any respect. Course getting her MRS might be better than any trophy.

  18. that can't be the rule, Gene....there's no "** exceptions will be made depending on who it is involved." :P

  19. Gene, YOU get a checkered flag for your analysis, particularly your black flag!! Gotta love ol' DW being a shill for Toyota! NOT!