NASCAR News – In The Draft and Wilson's Race Report
NASCAR

Two Laps Down: The Shrub, The Spin and the Silly Season

August 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I should take the opportunity to introduce those that aren’t familiar – my partner in crime on this Two Laps Down endeavor is none other than Scotty Wazz – host of the Face Off Hockey Show as well as the prolific hockey website The Strangest One of All. Now, before you start thinking “Hey, what’s a hockey guy know about NASCAR?” – the Wazzman and I used to host Pit Stop Radio for five years, plus we did a season of Two Laps Down over at Catchfence.com. It’s been too darn long since we’ve talked NASCAR, so for everyone’s entertainment (ok…mostly our own), we’re presenting another installment of our latest e-mail ramblings:

—–Original Message—–

From: Todd – “Wilson!”
Sent: Monday, Aug 23rd, 2010
To: Wazz
Subject: The Shrub, The Spin and the Silly Season

Hey Wazzman,

Talk about the right week to kick-off another run of Two Laps Down - Kyle Busch single-handedly gave us enough material to last the rest of the season – pulling off the trifecta, feuding with Brad Keselowski, taunting the crowd…to call it a circus-like atmosphere surrounding The Shrub this weekend is a bit of an understatement. It was more like the WWE, actually.

Kyle's trifecta was impressive - but was it enough to elevate him to the ranks of Johnson and Gordon?

As for the driving itself – I don’t care who you are, you have to admit that winning the Truck, Nationwide and Cup races in the same weekend is pretty darn impressive, especially at a place as tough as Bristol. But that being said – how historically significant is this feat, really? True, nobody has pulled off the three-race sweep before, but is that because it is impossibly difficult, or because not that many people have actually tried it? Let’s face it; lots of drivers dabble in the Nationwide series, but few do it seriously – and even less run Truck races. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to downplay Kyle’s accomplishment, but while everyone in the media is making it sound like a historic milestone I am wondering if maybe it had more to do with opportunity than anything.

Now, as for the verbal sparring between Busch and Keselowski, I don’t have to wonder about that – I like it. I think it is fun…it gets the fans railed up and keeps everyone talking. I was watching Wind Tunnel with *low voice* Dave Despain, and the volume of people who wrote or called in upset over the antics between Kyle and Brad was mind-numbing, but I say let ‘em go at it – it is boring when two guys have a run-in and then play nice (ala Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson) – I want to see a real feud every so often. Sure, it is a little cheesy in a professional-wrestling kind of way, but as long as nobody pulls a Jimmy Spencer, it’s all good by me.

I don’t want to forget the Silly Season – and I’d say that, other than the Kyle Busch Show, the biggest surprise of the weekend was the Brian Vickers press conference. I get a little queasy with all that surgery talk, so I’ll admit – it was really tough for me to sit through the whole thing…you gotta warn people when you’re about to go into that much detail. Red Bull kept the whole thing under wraps pretty well, too – that was some serious stuff Vickers went through – but the doctors say he should be ready to go in 2011…

…and that is great for everyone – not named Scott Speed. With Vickers back in the No.83 and Kasey Kahne presumably taking over the No.82, that leaves Speed on backup duty, and since the Red Bull guys aren’t popping out babies at nearly the rate they do over at Hendrick Motorsports – Scott will have a lot of time on his hands to play video games and paint his nails. Maybe they put him in a Nationwide car or Truck for a season? It is a possibility, I suppose, but not a very good one.

Assuming Vickers comes back, though, all of the sudden Red Bull is looking pretty racy for next season with him and Kahne. Brian was starting to make some real headway before he was sidelined, and with a teammate who has actually won a race before – it looks like they have the potential to be the No.2 Toyota team behind Joe Gibbs Racing. Do you think the Vickers-Kahne combo can take Red Bull to the next level, or will Kasey essentially phone it in, knowing that he is headed to that team of baby-making superstars over at Hendrick in 2012?

I promised I would keep things short, but I’ve already failed miserably at that – so even though there is more to talk about, I’ll turn the stage over to you, Wazzman.

Todd.

—–Original Message—–

From: Wazz
Sent: Monday, Aug 23rd, 2010
To: Todd – “Wilson!”
Subject: RE: The Shrub, The Spin and the Silly Season

Wilson, Oh Wilson,

That’s the thing with the two of us – we always know how to cash in at the opportunistic moment when things are getting good. Of course, if we were any good, we’d still be on the radio…

While I understand the point of the Cup guys pretty much sacking every series below them, I think Busch’s milestone is worth the hype. It’s not like it was a one-off for Kyle, he’s been competing in each series consistently enough to almost make him a regular in all three. Plus, you have to consider how tough that track is. The bullring in Bristol is a place where you’re lucky to finish with a running car, much less win all three races. The fact Shrub was able to beat and bang and go at any cost to win all three races at a place where you have to deal with the mental game as much as the physical game; it’s a testament to his ability. That said, I think that with the races being spaced out from Wednesday to Saturday could have helped a bit, and he definitely had great equipment — but you still can’t discount how grueling it really can be to do all three series at a track like that win them all. Even with the fanfare, though…win a Championship, Shrub; and give us all something to really praise you about.

Keselowski seems to be a little too concerned with his image, as opposed to his results

I’m right there with you on the sparring between Busch and Keselowski, but the one thing I wonder is – if Keselowski is trying too much to be like Busch, it could be hurting his performance. I mean, Keselowski has already had run-ins with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and now Busch and he hasn’t been in the spotlight for too long. Is that a help or hinderance to make these many enemies in such a short time?That said, this kind of thing definitely make the sport a bit more interesting. Like you said, there’s no need to play nice, and if there’s some sizzle to a feud, it works out perfectly. The big thing is to not let it get too out of hand on the track, much like we’ve seen between Edwards and Keselowski in the Nationwide Series. And by “pulling a Spencer”, you mean looking lonely in the garage paddock eating a sub looking for someone to talk to??

The Vickers thing is very interesting, especially the secrecy of it all. I wonder if this were someone else, how under-wraps would it be?? Not to say Vickers isn’t a big name– but I guess he didn’t have a high enough status for people to do some digging and uncover this immediately. Plus, without him, it’s not like Red Bull Racing had been really ripping it up and getting attention with what’s might happen next season for them; so that helped cool any heat over Vickers’ possible return.

As far as Red Bull for next year, I find it interesting that Hendrick would give Kasey Kahne the freedom to run for another manufacturer; but I don’t think it will help Red Bull at all because he’ll only be there for a year and the organization will not have a vested interest in him like they do with Vickers or, to a lesser extent, Speed. Plus, I don’t know how good Red Bull is to anyone aside from Vickers. Look at how they treated AJ Allmendinger, and now he’s a star with Richard Petty Motorsports. I don’t think they’ll sink too much into Kahne if he can’t perform in the first seven races, because he’s gone in a year– why sink money and effort into a driver who’s on his way out, especially if he struggles?

Speaking of RPM, what do you think about Marcos Ambrose taking over for Kahne in the #9 Ford?? As much as I like Ambrose, do you think he can perform better in the equipment that RPM is going to provide to him?? As scrappy of a competitor as Ambrose is, I’m on the fence about him going there. Sure, he could perform well and do something magical with the #9. At the same time, I wonder if he’ll have a future with any team if he’s unable to deal well with this ride. I hope I’m wrong, but at the same time– I wonder with all the troubles Ford has been having, is this really the best place for a guy trying to make his mark on the sport??

Now, I could go on and on about how Kevin Harvick is making Budweiser and Reese’s Cups sound fantastic or how Max Papis is starting back at square one heading to the Truck Series for next year, or how Kevin Conway is not only leading the rookie points, but also could be an attribute to any team that picks him up because he’s got the sponsor already lined up….but I’ll pass it back to you– what say you about all of this, sir??

~SW

—–Original Message—–

From: Todd – “Wilson!”
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 24th, 2010
To: Wazz
Subject: RE: The Shrub, The Spin and the Silly Season

Hey Wazz,

There is no question that Kyle picked the toughest track to pull off the trifecta – I give him major props for that, although I am still not sure three-wins-in-a-weekend is something that will elevate him into best-of-his-era status, only because nobody else has really made a concerted effort to win all three – at least not as often as Kyle.

But you’ve got a point that Kyle deserves credit for racing anytime, anywhere – and I actually think he’ll have a much better chance of securing his place in the NASCAR history books in a bigger way – with wins. After Bristol, Kyle now has 78 career wins across all three series. At age 25. That is impressive. But, like you said, all those wins have only produced one Nationwide championship, and if Kyle really wants to be known as one of the best, he’s got to find a way to stop falling apart in the Chase and bring home a Cup championship – otherwise he’s on the road to becoming NASCAR’s version of Dan Marino…and they even both wear helmets – go figure.

Now, on to Keselowski – I think you are totally right – in the quest to be one of NASCAR’s ‘bad boys’, he forgot that you have to back it up with results. Talking tough after dumping Carl in the Talladega race was fine – he won. But since then, he has kept the attitude, but forgotten about the racing. And if he doesn’t start worrying about what is going on behind the wheel, he may find himself out of a ride eventually. He’s 40 points behind David Ragan right now, for Pete’s sake, and it isn’t like Kurt Busch is struggling in with the same equipment. I’d vote for Brad as the biggest disappointment so far this season – I expected a lot more.

Conway proves that it doesn't take top-10 finishes - or even a ride - to win the ROY title, you just need a sponsor

As for Marcos going to RPM – if only he would have Kahne as a teammate, I think the move would be great. That’s not the case, obviously – but I still like this one. I think the chassis will be on par with what Ambrose had with the No.47, but the big bonus will be those Roush-Fenway engines – we’ve seen what they have done for Allmendinger, already. It would be better if he had a more experienced teammate to help him learn the ovals, but I still think the situation could work out well for Marcos, and certainly his Mikey Waltrip-like sponsor-friendliness will help RPM.

I think the best situation would have been for Marcos to go to RCR, but he doesn’t bring the kind of bankroll that Paul Menard and his dad do, I suppose, so that was out of the question from the beginning.

Budweiser and Reese’s – that an even more fantastic combo than Kyle Busch with M&M’s and Pedigree! And here’s the kicker – the word is that Harvick beat out Tony Stewart for the Budweiser sponsorship…and that Old Spice may do a limited Cup/Nationwide deal with Harvick since they are leaving the No.14, too. The Old Spice thing is just talk, but based on the way Smoke’s attitude-o-meter completely went off at Bristol when he was asked about sponsorship for next season, I’d say there is probably some truth to the rumor.

And speaking of sponsorships – still nothing yet for Jeff Gordon – what’s up with that?

I’m rambling again, but I will turn it back over to you with a quick Kevin Conway overview: he’s finished a grand total of three races this season on the lead lap (two of those on road courses), he might sit for the final 12 races of the year – and he’ll still handily win the Rookie of the Year title – how does that happen?

Do you share my rosy outlook for Ambrose? Has Stewart scared everyone away? Can anyone buy a ride….or even a ROY trophy? Take it to the house, Wazz-man.

Todd.

—–Original Message—–

From: Wazz
Sent: Tuesday, Aug 24th, 2010
To: Todd – “Wilson!”
Subject: RE: The Shrub, The Spin and the Silly Season

Hey Wilson,

It’s definitely an upgrade for Ambrose, but like you said– if Kahne were still around, it’d be the perfect situation. The parts and development that RPM have will benefit Ambrose, especially the motors. But you bring up the veteran presence, or lack thereof, at RPM– is Allmendinger the lead guy now?? If so, then I think that RPM could be in a bit of trouble. As great as it is to have Richard Petty owning the team, he can’t be out there driving for them and I foresee a lot of growing pains with this team. Especially without a veteran in the #19 car, it will be very interesting to watch RPM and see how they react to learning the ropes together.

As far as Jeff Gordon (with his black SS and the navigation) goes, if you believe what you hear– Wal-Mart will be on that car, and it is surprising they weren’t in the sport already. You’d think they would have been in long before Target, but Target is the main brand you think of in NASCAR when it comes to “big box” stores. Even if it isn’t Wal-Mart, with the amount of sponsors Hendrick has on their teams combined– something will happen, especially with the Gordon named attached.

Budweiser and Reese's - a match made in NASCAR heaven. Let's hope Harvick doesn't get confused about which sponsor's product to hand out at Halloween

Now, as far as Smoke goes– I really don’t know what is going to happen with him. While he’s in the top-ten on the standings, how much do you think the ownership side is wearing on him when it comes to being a driver/owner? But Smoke is another guy with a big name and multiple championships– he’ll get something together. Isn’t it interesting we’re seeing more and more split-sponsor cars? That either means a lot of companies that want in so badly they’ll go in with another company (RE: Reutimann’s Domino’s/Burger King on the 00 a few seasons ago) or there’s simply not enough money going around to sustain a full season.

When it comes to Kevin Conway, you can buy a ROY and a ride– it seems that he’s close to signing with Robby Gordon Motorsports for the rest of this season and next. That’s an interesting way to go about things, but it looks like ExtenZe has a stake in Conway and they’ll go anywhere with him and air their weird infomercials at 3am on Spike TV. What does this say about the rookies coming up, though, when Conway hasn’t done jack and still is in the race for ROY? We’ve seem to hit a lull in talent, but you have a lot of guys coming up like Michael Waltrip Racing’s young guns Trevor Bayne and Ryan Truex that should be here sooner rather than later– which is something we’ll probably touch on next week.

Now, what did we learn:

-Kyle Busch performed amazing feat at a tough track. He’s very good driver and can win at any track. That said, win a Cup Series championship, and then you can be called “great.”

-As great as Brad Keselowski is at verbal sparring, actually shutting up the competition by beating them will do more than anything you can say to or about them.

-Brian Vickers’ story is great, even if it makes us a bit squeamish when the details are put out there.

-You can win a ROY with a sponsorship that’s not really FDA approved.

-Sponsorship is a fickle thing, even if you’re a past champion.

Now, I’m going to have some Budweiser and Reese’s Cups for my next meal, just to see if Kevin Harvick is onto something.

~SW

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

NASCAR News – In The Draft and Wilson's Race Report