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Two Laps Down: Kurt and the Double-Deuce Back in Victory Lane

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Because we’re the only ones who don’t care who wins The Voice – Scotty Wazz (from the Face Off Hockey Show) and I share our views on NASCAR each week in Two Laps Down. Here is the e-mail transcript of our latest conversation:

—–Original Message—–

From: Scotty Wazz
Sent: Sunday, June 26th, 2011
To: Todd – “Wilson!”
Subject: Kurt and the Double-Deuce Back in Victory Lane

It wasn’t even close, TB,

The man, the myth, the guy who rallied his team after yelling at them– Kurt Busch found Victory Lane again; pretty much making Infineon Raceway his own. Kurt led 76 of the 110 laps, won by almost 2.7 seconds, and he ate the bowl. For a guy who was “firing” his team back in Richmond, he seemed to use that as motivation. With several pole spots and not being out of the top-15 in the past six races– top-10 for five of them; you wonder if we’re actually seeing the Kurt Busch from 2004, where he just checks out in due time and takes a bunch of momentum into the Chase. His mentality and demeanor seem to be there for success; but can he actually get cars week-in and week-out that are good enough to win??

Vickers and Stewart provided plenty of excitement at Sonoma - will the feud continue?

However, I think the bigger story Sunday was the blanks that the hired guns were shooting this weekend. The highest finishing “ringer” on this road course was 26th place Andy Pilgrim (vs. the World, get it??). Chris Cook and Boris Said were behind him in 27th and 28th, while Brian Simo was 33rd. Are we actually seeing now that the skill level of these Cup drivers has risen by leaps and bounds over the years and road-course specialists are no longer needed?? Or was this a race that really wasn’t a good test and we’ll see at Watkins Glen how these guys can still be effective??

We also had some pretty interesting spins, first with Martin Truex, Jr. having a little deja vu from last year, spinning heading towards the start/finish stripe– but he was able to recover for an 8th place finish. Yet, the battle of the day seemed to be between Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers. At the start, Stewart blamed Vickers for blocking him off the hair-pin turn; resulting in Vickers getting spun by Stewart. In return, Vickers dumped Stewart, resulting in Smoke’s car getting hung up on the tire wall and having to get pulled down by the wrecker. While they both had their reasons in the heat of the moment, they didn’t seem to have anything lingering against each other afterwards– at least on the surface. Is this another undercard we’re going to have to look at or is that just road-racing these days??

All in all, it was your typical road-race, as the guys like Jimmie Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, and Jeff Gordon– all who have had success making the right-turn adjustment– finished in the top-10, and we had guys who hate the turning right– like Dale Earnhardt, Jr– who are glad they can move on from this track and have one less road race to worry about. For you, were there many surprises one way or another, or was there something you saw that I may have not seen?? Because I only watched from a TGIFriday’s in lovely Dallas- Fort Worth Airport.

It was also a road-race weekend for the Nationwide guys, resulting in Reed Sorensen taking home the checkers there, bringing home another victory for Turner Motorsports, even though it took video replay for that to happen; with Sorenson taking the yellow only inches before Ron Fellows did. However, this is a road race where the hired guns actually did make a difference, with Canadians Ron Fellows, Jacques Villeneuve, Andrew Ranger, and JR Fitzpatrick all getting top-tens. Who knew that Canada would now be the haven for road-racers in the making?? Also, isn’t it something that not only do the Nationwide guys have to deal with Cup guys coming down and taking their spots– but now the hired guns are going to get more attention because of the fact that they will probably do a lot better and have a better chance at money because of their skill??

I’ve rambled enough– time for some G-n-G:

-Kasey Kahne said he didn’t know how the guys would do the rest of the season at Red Bull Racing with their future in peril. Is this a cheap ploy to the media so that Kahne can mentally check out now or do you think he wants to still be at RBR??

-More rumors have Greg Zipadelli leaving Joe Gibbs Racing for Stewart-Haas Racing as Zippy isn’t too happy with how things are going with Joey Logano’s results. While he downplays it, would a change for Zippy help him??

-Fox has said they’d be interested in moving some of their races to the Speed Network. They do have a lot of NASCAR coverage, people do have it readily available to them, and they do a solid job with the trucks– are they ready for the big time??

-A lot of contract talks for Carl Edwards, JP Montoya, and Clint Bowyer, amongst others, are in the news– but how big of a turnover do we actually expect this off-season??

Alright TB, let ‘er rip– does Kurt have what it takes to make a big run and be a true player in the Chase?? Are we seeing the death of hired guns in the Cup series?? Can Nationwide drivers every catch a break??

~SW

—–Original Message—–

From: TB
Sent: Sunday, June 26th, 2011
To: SW
Subject: RE: Kurt and the Double-Deuce Back in Victory Lane

It was definitely impressive, Scotty,

Kurt looked great in practice and was good in qualifying (he overdrove it a little, or else he would have had a shot at the pole), but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think KuBu – as the kids on the Twitter like to say – was going to have the car to dominate the way he did; the only time the 22 wasn’t at the front of the field was when the different pit schedules jumbled things up a bit. I give those guys props, though – they had a plan to only make two stops no matter what anyone else did, and it was a gutsy call, because it meant Kurt was going to have to drive the wheels off the thing to keep up with the guys on newer tires, and he did it.

Kurt Busch has been strong lately, but will that translate to a Chase run for Dodge's only organization?

Now you know I’m a fan of the road racing, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, but I thought this race was a lot of fun. Not only were guys beating and banging on each other all day long – including that great dice with Vickers and Stewart – but the pit strategy made things completely unpredictable. Heck, at one point, Jamie McMurray’s crew was asking him whether he wanted to come in for tires, and he said something to the effect of ‘it’s up to you guys…I have no clue what will happen if we do.’

I think the whole tires-vs.-track position thing made the end exciting, but I was a little disappointed that the guys who went for tires on the last stop – Montoya, Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson – ended up being so far back for the final restart. If Montoya had half a chance, he would have given Busch a run for his money…instead, JPM was trying so hard to get to the front that he was basically running over people rather than passing them, and he paid dearly for it, eventually getting spun out.

Back to Kurt, though, you’ve asked the $100,000 question – can he keep it up? That is a hard one to answer. We saw Denny Hamlin get himself turned around this season (although he had suspension problems Sunday), but Denny has Gibbs Racing and all of Toyota behind him. All Kurt has is Dodge and one mediocre teammate. I think he can make the Chase – especially with the cushion he has over 10th right now – but a championship contender? I’d like to think so, but I’m not convinced. What do you think?

I thought that Stewart-Vickers thing was classic, even though it totally screwed up my fantasy picks this week. Tony said that Vickers was blocking and threatened to wreck anyone the rest of the season who tried to block him…which means he’ll have to wreck about three or four guys a week from here on out. Strange thing is, I don’t even think Vickers was blocking – it was really crowded going into that corner, Brian was just looking for some room to get through. Normally, I would say this wasn’t over since Stewart went back out on the track at the end of the race looking for the No.83 car, but I think after Smoke sees the replay a few times, he’ll realize it wasn’t really a block and let the whole thing go.

And I’ve got the end of the Nationwide race taped so I haven’t seen the critical footage of where everybody was when the caution came out, but what a crazy finish, and as much as I wanted to see the Gerard Depardu-like Ron Fellows win because he was so strong earlier in the race (before the part I taped), it is cool to see a Nationwide regular win.

I will say this about both the Nationwide and Cup ringers – in the Cup series, you’re right, the regulars are so good now, that there is almost no point for any ringers to show up other than Boris Said, who usually runs pretty well. That said, since ringers do show up, I would really like to see what Andrew Ranger would do in a Cup Series road race – that kid drives the wheels off of the Nationwide car – and he’s won the Canadian Tire series a couple of times. If we’re going to have ringers showing up for Cup races, shouldn’t they be kids with some future potantial? Who knows, maybe he could be the next Marcos Ambrose or Robby Gordon (well, at least the part before he went crazy and formed his own team).

Before G-n-G, I’m going to bump a topic up to the main discussion. We were speculating the past few weeks about Kasey Kahne giving up on Red Bull before the end of the season just like he did with RPM…and I think he might be reading our stuff. Not only did he question the team’s performance for the rest of the season, he also said he would love to get some seat time in the No.5 car before the end of the season…”in a test session”, as he put it. If you ask me, I think by “test session”, he really means “in a race in place of Mark Martin.” Rumors have been denied that Kasey and Martin could switch cars for the final 10 races if neither makes the Chase…do you think it could happen? One way or the other, I think it is only a matter of time until Kasey checks out.

Ok, Gas-n-Go:

– Clint Bowyer proved we were right last week about Carl Edwards. After the Red Bull announcement came out, there were instantly rumors that Bowyer had been in talks with RBR, and would have to scramble to find a ride for next year. Clint said the media were simply making things up. Just like we said they did with Carl Edwards and Gibbs. Take that, lazy reporters looking for cheap clicks.

– The Zipadelli rumors actually make me think something is up with that No.20 team. If an ultimatum has been thrown down by Zipadelli – either the kid goes or I do – who would you rather keep? Zipadelli, or Logano??

– Speed certainly couldn’t be worse than TNT and their never-ending AC/DC montages (for crap’s sake). I actually think it would be ok, but it sure isn’t a good sign for NASCAR that FOX thinks they would be better served showing something else Sunday afternoons…

– Call me crazy, but I don’t see Edwards, JPM or Bowyer going anywhere. Of the three, I actually think there is more of a chance that the Edwards-to-Gibbs thing could happen than the other two leaving, but I think even the chances of Carl moving are pretty small.

Hit me back, Wazz – Does Dodge have the resources to actually win a championship? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a few of these Canadian kids give a Cup race a shot? How long until Kasey gets all prima-donna on us?

TB

—–Original Message—–

From: Scotty Wazz
Sent: Monday, June 27th, 2011
To: Todd – “Wilson!”
Subject: RE: Kurt and the Double-Deuce Back in Victory Lane

Since you bumped it to main, TB,

I’ll start with RBR first and I TOTALLY think Kasey not only read us, but follows out way of life. But it’s interesting he did mention the whole “test session” gimmick and I could totally see him and Martin making the swap….or at least have Kasey actually taking over and leaving Martin out in the cold, then getting picked up by Red Bull for those races. This just gives him an excuse, which could be a running theme to his career– started at Yates, moved to RPM, then now with Red Bull– which was only a one year deal. Does this put a bad onus on Kasey’s career or are these all coincidental??

Kahne is already talking about the No.5 car. How long before he pulls another RPM on his team??

Back to the race, it was totally a ballsy move for the #22 to actually stick to their two-stop platform. The thing with it all is that if it hadn’t panned out; would we see another fit thrown by KuBu?? If so, it would have been warranted, but we didn’t get to it because it was the right call for everyone. Kurt knew what he needed to do to keep the gas in check and not run too hard on it. While he’s the only Dodge, I think he could do it– but this could be those good runs until the ultimate downfall that seems to happen to the streaky guys. However, at the same time– the mentality of the “Us vs. the World” that Penske could take on may fuel the team more than not.

But about the road-racing, the Jamie McMurray response is indicative of how much the crew chiefs earn their money in this event and in Watkins Glen, especially with the pit being in reverse at the Glen. These are guys who pretty much do the same thing over and over on the ovals, but the road courses are when the crew chiefs have to be on top of the strategy and really need to make their mark with their driver and calm him down when they get heated and reassure them that they’ll be able to get their spots they lost back on the road courses.

I like how you think Smoke will actually come to his senses when he sees the replay. Honestly, he’s a guy who is stuck in his ways and maybe he’ll back off a bit when it comes to this incident, but I also think he’s stuck in his way for what he thinks is a block and what he thinks is the best way to move that block out of the way. While he said he’d do it to his teammate/employee Ryan Newman, I also think Newman would be steamed and there’d be turmoil there when all was said and done. It’s Smoke being Smoke– he was Kyle Busch before there was a Kyle Busch.

It’s funny you mention the Canadian Tire series because both Ranger and JR Fitzpatrick are huge names with big backings– both fan-wise and sponsor wise. You have a very good chance to see one of these guys get into the Nationwide and be a guy like Ambrose or even JP Montoya; but then you have the same problem with them that the younger guys in Nationwide deal with. This is a reason why there needs to be more strict regulations for who can participate in Nationwide and how often because you won’t get the next wave or even guys who are coming from elsewhere and then the sport dies.

G-n-G:

-We all like cheap clicks, let’s be honest. Yet, I don’t know if it’s lazy or if they have horrific sources giving them information– but at the same time, who’s to say that the drivers aren’t waging the dog??

-For me, I’d keep Zipadelli. He orchestrated that #20 team and got Tony Stewart from a young upstart to superstar driver. Joey Logano is a guy who is good, but if Zippy can’t help him; who can??

-Solid point about FOX, but at the same time– maybe it’s just FOX trying to do what they did with FX years back and give a side option and let the Speed producers and all take their hack at the big time.

-You’re right– ZERO MOVEMENT ON THE CHICKEN FINGERS!!! This could be a dull off-season and everyone knows it, which could explain the crazy rumors and what-not.

White flag, TB– Is it Kasey’s fault everyone else but him messes things up?? Can Penske’s attitude help fuel the fire for the rest of the year?? Is there help for Nationwide?? Zippy or the Kid??

~SW

—–Original Message—–

From: Todd
Sent: Monday, June 27th, 2011
To: Scotty
Subject: RE: Kurt and the Double-Deuce Back in Victory Lane

I wouldn’t trust Kasey, Wazzman,

The strange thing about Kahne is that he keeps moving up the ladder. Let’s face it – he had one really, really good season, and then what else? Sure, he made the Chase again a few years back, but was never really a threat for the Championship. Yet, despite being a seriously second-tier driver, he snagged one of the biggest sponsors in the sport (Budweiser) and then, despite essentially quitting on his team at RPM, got signed for a season with Red Bull followed by a longer contract with Hendrick Motorsports – the best organization in the garage. He’s like the Brady Anderson of NASCAR. It doesn’t really make sense, if you ask me.

These Canadian Tire kids are pretty good. Let's see a few - like Andrew Ranger - at a Cup road course

Fortunately, Rick Hendrick doesn’t take much crap from his drivers, so Kahne can’t be too scatterbrained at HMS, but it is only a matter of time before Kasey rocks the boat so much at Red Bull that they let him boot Mark Martin out of the No.5 car.

Oh, and has anyone else noticed that every team Kasey drives for either goes out of business or gets sold to someone else? Coincidence? Ok…it probably is coincidence, but still…

I think you’re right about Penske, they do have that “us vs. the world” attitude, and I think that counts for something. I also think Kurt has the talent and experience to make a run at the championship, but there is just something about the Busch family – they are so streaky, especially when it comes down to the critical part of the season, that I think guys like Johnson and Edwards and Harvick will leave the Busch brothers in the dust.

The Zippadelli question has two answers, I think. For Gibbs Racing, I think that I’d rather have Zippy – it isn’t that Logano isn’t good, but he’s been given a championship car, championship crew chief and a championship shop – and hasn’t been able to do a whole lot with it. Those other parts couldn’t have gone wrong all at once, so I am thinking the driver is the issue with the No.20 team. As far as Zippy is concerned, though, i think he’d rather be with Tony – there was almost a Johnson-Knaus-like quality to that pairing, and I think it would benefit both at this point to get back together, so to speak.

Oh, and if we were still doing the Pit Stop Radio awards, I would have to nominate you for quote of the season with “Smoke…he was Kyle Busch before there was a Kyle Busch.” Simple, succinct and totally true.

So, what have we learned this week?:

– You heard it here first – Kasey Kahne is a train-wreck waiting to happen at Red Bull. Craziness looms in the not-too-distant future, and we won’t be surprised at all when he is driving the No.5 car before the end of the season.

– Dodge may be out on an island all by themselves, but they are making a decent go of it with Kurt. As long as he can keep the peace with his team, they actually have a chance to make some waves in the Chase.

– Given the choice, we’d both take Zippadelli over Logano. That’s not good news for Joey and his goofy grin, but it is good news for all of those who want to believe the Carl Edwards rumors.

– We want to see some Canadians…in the Cup series. At least give us Ranger and Fitz for the road races.

– You might not be a big fan of road racing, but you gotta admit it is interesting. Me, I admit it is fun!

– And, most importantly – ZERO MOVEMENT ON THE CHICKEN FINGERS!

Next week – light up them fireworks, it’s night racing in Daytona.

TB

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