Monday, March 27, 2006

There are some Bristol leftovers, so let's pass them around

OK, there are a lot of leftover things from Bristol that I want to touch on and hear from you guys about:

1. I know you've heard about what Kevin Harvick said about Kurt Busch on Friday. I want to tell you how that happened. Harvick was the guest at the weekly "Nextel Wake-Up Call," a press opportunity that's done at every track.

He'd been asked about 10-12 questions covering a wide range of topics and we were coming to the end of the session. Several times this year, I've tried to ask Cup drivers a very open-ended question to see if there's anything on their minds that we might not be asking about.

I asked Harvick if there he felt there were things that people believe about him that are wrong, misconceptions or bad assessments that he'd like to challenge. It was a softball, frankly, and he turned that into a series of punch lines about Busch that turned into a big deal that would have turned into a HUGE deal if Harvick had been able to get to Busch's rear bumper in the final laps of Sunday's race.

There's never been any love lost between Harvick and Busch, and I know Harvick still had hard feelings from a late-race incident at Atlanta in which that pair and David Stremme were involved.

But I do believe that Busch was on the nose when he said Harvick's intent was to create a story to get the media off the trail of his contract situation with Richard Childress Racing and, potentially, Toyota.

Mission accomplished.

But the other side of that is that at Martinsville and beyond, Harvick absolutely cannot accuse the media of agitating that story by continuing to ask about it. He started it on his own terms.

2. I believe I could come up with a very convincing argument on both sides of whether what Busch did to Matt Kenseth on Lap 496 was fair.

On the one hand, drivers will tell you that it's against the "code" to try to wreck somebody to pass them, even if it's for the lead with five laps left at Bristol. Kenseth said that's what Busch did, and of course Busch did not agree.

For sure, Busch wasn't alongside Kenseth when he bumped him, he was behind him. In some drivers' eyes, that makes a difference. On the other hand, if Busch had just ridden around in second and not tried to win, what would people be saying about him?

You've got to do what you can to win, don't you? It certainly makes for a good debate.

3. If Robby Gordon had shoved Matt Kenseth after the race, reckon he'd get the same discipline from NASCAR that Jeff Gordon gets?

4. Bumping somebody out of the way constitutes "aggressive driving" and draws a penalty at Daytona. Bumping somebody out of the way at Bristol is "how you pass?"

5. Some folks have pointed out to me that the rear TV panel on Dale Jarrett's Ford might not have been made out of sheet metal but out of Fiberglas. OK, but when it flies off the car into the stands it's still a projectile.

If that situation had been addressed as it was happening by NASCAR, the whole outcome of Sunday's race might have changed given Jarrett's role in keeping Kenseth behind him as Busch was catching up.

26 comments:

Marc said...

I noted your "sheetmetal" reference at my place but took it one step further than just pointing out the error.

Here is a re-write and merging of two things you wrote:

“If NASCAR gave out a black flag that’s deserved for every taillight panel (or one of a dozen other similar panels) dangling off a car in a race at Bristol, only a handfull of cars would be on the lead lap at the checkers.”

I concede any panel flying into the stands is a potential hazard but I will ask this question.

If NASCAR had thrown the black flag for the #88 do ya think the hew and cry over NASCAR manipulating the outcome of the race wouldn't have been heard?

Highly unlikely given the extreme partisanship shown on some blogs and NASCAR forums.

David Poole said...

Marc: Everybody there knew that panel was going to come flying off. You just can't ignore that.

jayho said...

true but clint boyer also had that same issue. And is it fair to black flag a driver who was a victim of circumstances when kyle bush was the one who took it off?

Carrie said...

David:

Answer to #3 is of course not. Robby's the wrong Gordon in NASCAR's eyes. I mean, did they penalize anyone else because they needed to "calm down" like they penalized Robby? That said, Robby knows he can't get away with the same stuff as everyone else so he should have done himself the favor of keeping his displeasure at NASCAR's call to himself.

Response to #5 is to see the above. Robby would have been black-flagged in a heartbeat if he was trailing a bumper cover like that. They didn't black-flag Jarrett because he's Jarrett. NASCAR penalties depend on who you are, particularly those levied in-race.

Marc: NASCAR could run an incident-free race and would still be accused of manipulating the outcome depending on who won. The only two reasons the conspiracy theory idiots need to complain is that a Hendrick driver wins or their guy loses.

Anonymous said...

responce to #3 matt came toward jeff.jeff did not go looking for matt,you don't go up to a driver 2min.after you wreck him and expect anything other than what jeff did.he is human and he gets angry just like the other drivers do and need i say this is not the first time matt wrecked jeff.he got what he deserved......

Anonymous said...

Sunday we once again saw the hypocrisy of NASCAR. Jeff Gordon gets steamrolled by Matt Kenseth on the final lap of the race but NASCAR doesn't throw the caution flag. We hear continually how the most important thing is the safety of the drivers. However, when push came to shove -- both literally and figuratively -- NASCAR turned a blind eye to Gordon's spinning car and all the speeding traffic directly behind him. I guess a green-flag finish is more important than Gordon's safety. I guarantee if that spin had happened 10 laps previous, we would have seen the caution flag.
-- Steve Lynch

Anonymous said...

Steve,

While I think NASCAR probably should have thrown a caution for safety, I also think that they were in a no win situation as far as fans and media go.

No flag, not being safety conscious, flag trying to manipulate the race or guaranteeing a GWC.

John in Dallas said...

1) Harvick is just as big a whiner as Busch, as far as I'm concerned. The media treats these guys with so much reverence, it's scary. Respect is certainly due the drivers simply for the fact that they risk their lives every Sunday (and some Saturdays) for our entertainment, however they are human beings. As such, they feel, they like, they dislike, and they judge. I don't like Kurt Busch either (Harvick must have been channeling me for the "ears pinned back" comment) and I like to see the rivalries. It adds to the drama of the sport and gives us a hero and/or anti-hero to focus on. Pro wrestling does the same thing, but the difference in NASCAR is that the drivers and media choose the heros and the heels, not the sanctioning body. Let the boys be boys and settle their differences on the track(s).

2) I truly believe that NASCAR has to adjust interpretation of the rules depending on the track. At a single-groove race track (which comprises all the short tracks like Bristol or Martinsville), drivers either have to wait for a driver to make a mistake or force that mistake with a bumper or fender.
As far as 'aggressive driving'... If the drivers don't drive aggressively, their careers are very short-lived. There's a distinct difference between aggressive and reckless.

3) I like Robby Gordon. He's always been my favorite dark horse driver, even more so now that he's an owner-driver. I'm glad to see him running up front like he has of late. But he makes his own trouble with NASCAR. When his crew chief told him to shut up and take the penalty Sunday, it was wholly appropriate. No, I don't believe that Robby would receive a different penalty than Jeff, but Robby's a hothead and that gets him in trouble. We rarely see a physical outburst from Jeff like the post-race shove on Sunday, but we hear Robby shooting his mouth (or his helmet!) off quite often. Jeff is also one of the smallest drivers out there, and I'm sure that he's leery of getting into shoving matches with guys bigger than he.

4) See #2.

5) Sadly, I didn't get to see the race, but listen to it on MRN. (As a side note, MRN needs more affiliates along I-20 between Jackson, MS and Shreveport, LA!) I don't know how long Dale ran with the bumper cover hanging off, but if it appeared to be a piece that could fall off and cause a wreck, he should have been black-flagged. Obviously, it did fall off and didn't cause a caution because it was never debris on the track. Instead, some fan nearly got hit by a chunk of sheetmetal. The fan was lucky he wasn't standing two feet to his left. As it was, he got a unique souvenir, as opposed to injuries.

Someone mentioned NASCAR's hypocricy, but the only place that reared its ugly head on Sunday was with D.J.'s bumper cover.
Now, with the Gordon shove-fest, we'll see what gets meted out later today. But that would be Tuesday's hypocricy, not Sunday's.

Justin in Knoxville said...

I wonder if you plan to ask Mr Helton these questions.

There is no denying there is becoming a much too obvious bais when it comes to who is penalized for what.

The comment that got Robby a 1 lap penalty was "the people in the tower suck".

Are you kidding me?

Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr says that and that would be laughing in the tower saying what a crazy and funny guy Jeff or Dale is. Even if it did upset them there would not a be a one lap penalty reguardless.

Its becoming a joke.

dan said...

Regarding question number 3--Jeff pushing Matt was out of character for Jeff. He does not have a history of that kind of anger as, say, Tony Stewert does. Jeff may deserve a couple of week's probation, but no loss of points. He already lost enough of those.
As far as bumping at Bristol--Bristol is different from Daytona. Some drivers are skilled at moving someone out of the way. Others cannot do it without wrecking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the context there. Its good to know the why behind the comments.

Anonymous said...

Of course Robby wouldn't have received the same penalty as Jeff not because Jeff is the chosen Gordon but because Robby has a history of being a hothead and Jeff doesn't. Matt came to Jeff, Jeff didn't come to him and as for coming to apologize the whole Roush organization seems to think that you can run over whoever you want and if you say sorry then it's okay. Well if Matt is truly sorry then let's give Jeff the points for being 3rd and Matt the 21st place points since he himself admitted he was wrong.

Mert said...

Poole,

I’m not a Robby Gordon apologist, but it seems he can’t even look the wrong way without being penalized. To bring Robby into the pits for “bad language”, and not bring in half the field for their language is a joke. These are the ways NASCAR can change an out come of race and turn it into WWF. I can’t imagine he is the only one using bad language, beside That’s Racin.

Also, as for Matt’s disapproval of Kurt’s bump and run. I remember sitting in the Late Rockingham Speedway track for the Busch Race and watching Matt get his first Busch win by a bump and run on Tony Stewart. I guess Matt does not remember that.

Brad said...

The only hipocrisy was Jeff getting pissed at Matt for doing to him what Jeff did to Matt a few laps earlier. God knows Jeff's NEVER done that to anybody else. Jeff may be the biggest whiner in NASCAR, but I'm guessing that comes from his Napoleon Complex.

Anonymous said...

people you can't have it both ways
everyone says that kurt is the most hated guy in the garage, so you expect him to be worried about going against "the code'
comeo on every single one of those other 42 guys would have bunped kenseth out of the way for the win, IF they were up there capable of pulling it off and getting the win
kurt is a fantastic wheel man, he did it he won end of story

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