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Two Laps Down – The Instant Replay Win

November 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Because something is always better than nothing - 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: Todd – “Wilson!”
Sent: Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
To: Scotty Wazz
Subject: The Instant Replay Win

Hey Wazz,

Wow, that was an…um interesting ending to Talladega, wouldn’t you say? It would have been a lot of fun to let everyone race back to the checkered flag and see how it all would have played out, but you can’t argue with NASCAR throwing the caution – A.J. Allmendinger was on his roof, and there clearly would have been a safety issue when the cars got back around to the finish. I also have no problem with NASCAR going to the video tape to figure out where everyone finished – that is way better than relying on the last scoring loop, which was probably a lot different than the standings when the caution was actually thrown. Better to make us wait a few minutes and get it right.

The one thing I don’t get, though – how on earth did Kevin Harvick finish second with a car that looked like that? The front end was all-kinds-of bashed up, yet somehow the team taped everything up enough to keep the front end aerodynamic, and next thing you know – there’s the No.29 at the front of the field. Certainly a championship-caliber effort.

Kevin Harvick is on his game in the Chase, but Johnson has some serious baby-mojo

I was also surprised by some of the people we saw up front – Michael Waltrip Racing had a great day with David Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr. both in the top-6, and Mikey himeself looked racy at times despite finishing 28th. Sam Hornish and Brad Keselowski also both did a good job of pushing people towards the front most of the day.

Now the biggest story, of course, was the Chase – it is the closest it has ever been after seven races, with Denny Hamlin 14 points behind Jimmie Johnson and Harvick now just 38 back. Harvick is officially in the mix, but with Texas, Phoenix and Homestead left – who has the advantage? I’m still sticking by Johnson for consistency – who get’s your call?

Off the track, it appears that Richard Petty Motorsports is now officially a mess. There are tons of rumors floating around, and I think Fox Sports had the funniest one. Here it is, stick with me on this: RPM will fold, at which point Earnhardt-Ganassi will switch to Ford, form an ownership alliance with Doug Yates and Ganassi will own the No.42 and No.1 while Yates will take over the No.9 and what was the No.43…all while Richard Petty goes off and forms a new No.43 team. Got all of that?

Unfortunately, Fox doesn’t provide us with any of the awesome stuff they were drinking when they came up with this ridiculous scenario. Do you buy any of that?

The only thing that seems to have any validity is that George Gillett’s lenders have reportedly taken control of the team back from him, and are allowing Richard Petty to run the organization for now. Will this have any effect on the performance at the track, or is it just a move intended to keep spending under control?

Here’s some Gas-n-Go topics:

- Childress Racing is letting Kevin Harvick, Inc. take over their Nationwide operation next season. Isn’t this basically the same deal that Dale Junior got from Hendrick – when JR Motorsports essentially too over Hendrick’s Nationwide operation?

- Robby Gordon is introducing his own energy drink – Speed Energy. Funny thing – Robbie showed up to Talladega driving a pick-up truck with the new drink’s logo, and Amp actually demanded it be towed out of the parking lot, because it was a ‘competing brand’ at ‘their’ race. It isn’t even for sale yet! Was NASCAR just screwing with Robbie because they aren’t big fans of his?

- Kyle Busch – another week, another win grabbed from a regular in a lower series. This time it was in the Truck race – but at least the finish was amazingly close.

- Another former Pit Stop Radio guest, Donnie Neuenberger, finished 17th in that Truck race. It’s the second week in a row a PSR guest has hit the track, I didn’t even notice he ran five other races this year. Go figure.

So hit me with it, Scotty – Who has the edge in the Chase over the final three? Can you give us the Canadian scoop on the madness with George Gillett and RPM? Was NASCAR just trying to piss off Robbie Gordon? What else you got for us?

TB

—–Original Message—–

From: Scotty Wazz
Sent: Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
To: TB
Subject: RE: The Instant Replay Win

Well, TB,

It wasn’t up there with the Talladega finishes of the past, that’s for sure– but you shouldn’t expect much in a Chase scenario. I mean, no one is going to really go for it, because they don’t want to be blamed for ruining a Chaser’s chance at a title and the Chasers don’t want to do something that’ll have them drop even further back in the standings. That said, I’m sure everyone enjoyed the instant-replay finish over the timing line, mostly because, like you mentioned, better to get it right than to have people lining up at the trailer complaining about them being ahead of so-and-so.

Kevin Harvick is showing that he’s championship material, even driving the hunk of junk he ended up with. He’s on a mission and his car definitely showed that in the end of it all. Now just 38 points behind Johnson– you can bet he can taste the Sprint Cup, but he has to play it smart. He’s a guy who can be the greatest or he can implode on himself. At Texas, he’s been so-so, but does have top-10s in the last two races there. If he can survive Texas he should be setting himself up nicely.

Montoya driving a Ford next season? Sounds crazy, but it just might be a possibility

That said, I don’t know why– but I still have to stick with Jimmie in all of this. Maybe I just hate change, but I think the crew has been there before and they won’t feel the pressure that the #11 and #29 teams may feel going down the stretch, because it’s not so much the driver– but the crew that will have to hit all the marks. That’s why I give the #48 the edge in the last three. We know what can be done driving wise, it’s time for the intangibles to kick in.

MWR must have taken what they learned from the DEI-era in terms of plate racing, because they were hooked-up. But I have to say, it’s good to see both of those cars up there, even if it was a crapshoot of a race. Regan Smith should also get a solid call for his 12th place finish, continuing to surprise with the #78 team. On the other side of the equation– Dale Junior’s season keeps getting harder with a 39th place finish in all of this– a track he usually solid at.

Ganassi with Yates, Petty on his own, Finkle is Einhorn?? This is a crazy scenario, that’s for sure– but at the same time; do we expect anything different?? This whole ordeal has been one crazy event after another– drivers bailing, cars being repo’d, investors being sought– this is definitely going to be one for the books when all is said and done.

That said, I can definitely see that Ganassi going to Ford, like I said in the past; they’re a middle-of-the-road team in the Chevy cartel, but the blue oval crew would welcome that Ganassi entry as a number-two team. I could definitely see the #1 and #42 be there in the Ford camp and doing well. Don’t know about Yates taking over the #9 alone, but I definitely see all three joining up in some kind of conglomerated powerhouse….or some kind of house. Maybe an outhouse??

As far as Gillett, you’ll definitely have to like that they’re letting Petty run stuff for now, because that way they’re able to focus on the track; thus making themselves marketable to get said lenders off the hook. Yet, even though Petty is still a big name– do you think the name recognition is enough for people to trust getting into a sport with as much uncertainty as there is in NASCAR?

Hitting the G-n-G:

-The best part about Cup teams letting their drivers take over the Nationwide operation is that they will be able to give their drivers the best parts for their teams and a chance to expand their operations, as well as taking the burden off of the main organization to keep people employed. Which is another question– do you think some of the guys are sweating to see if they’re going to have a job next season??

-Oddly enough, wasn’t Gordon part of the last censorship issue when his #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy had its logos blurred out during Daytona 500 qualifying when Nextel took over the title sponsorship?? That said, if Amp is going to be this petty with an unreleased car– why aren’t they bitching about Red Bull Racing as a whole?? This is definitely NASCAR trying to down play a driver with an upstart energy drink and a car that promotes male enhancement.

-The truck race was definitely a solid one, but the sad part is that no-one seemed to give two hoots. I mean, we didn’t even know our buddy Neuenberger was in the thing– so that tells you something. Is there anything that NASCAR can do to get more hype for the truck series or will they have to hope some of the bigger names can do it for them??

Okay TB, what do you think about the Ford possible take over and if Chevy will put up a fight for Ganassi?? Does Harvick have the patience to pick his spot or will he go all out because he can taste the title?? Why much Robby Gordon be a rebel like he is?? What say you??

~SW

—–Original Message—–

From: Todd
Sent: Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
To: Scotty
Subject: RE: The Instant Replay Win

Hey Wazz,

Yeah, I have to say I am impressed with Harvick – I always thought that he was consistent enough to compete with Johnson, but I didn’t think he was willing to fight so hard to stay in the mix. His effort at Talladega gets extra points in my book, and I actually think he is a bigger threat than Hamlin at this point.

But you hit the nail on the head with Johnson – all other things being equal over the last three races, the No.48 team certainly gets the edge in my book because they’ve been there – they have the experience, and having done the routine four-straight years they aren’t going to be feeling the pressure nearly as much. Of course, the No.48 team has been a little shaky in the pits this time around in the Chase, so they aren’t invincible, but I’m still on board with them having the edge.

That brings me to an interesting question, though, Everyone seems to say they are sick of Johnson winning championships, but – if things are really, really close – will they still be upset? I mean – everyone thinks that Johnson just dominates without even trying, but if it all comes down to Homestead and he only beats out Denny and Kevin by a couple of points, are people still going to be annoyed that he won?

I tend to think that it won’t matter if the No.48 wins it all, as long as it is exciting up to the last lap, but that’s just me.

Junior and Harvick have both taken over their Cup owner's Nationwide operations - and there's nothing wrong with that

And heck – if I were running Ford’s racing program, I’d be all about getting Earnhardt-Ganassi on board. They have to get something beyond Roush-Fenway, so I am sure they have made a lucrative offer to EGR. Supposedly they need to make a decision by Wednesday, so it will be interesting to see what they do, but I’m just not sure they would be able to walk away from the engine program they are running with RCR.

I guess everything kinda hinges on Chevy – if they feel like RCR can build good motors by themselves, then they might not fight too hard. Heh – I initially thought there was a 0% chance EGR might make the flip, but now you’ve got me thinking there is a possibility.

When it comes to RPM, I think letting the King run the show is their best chance to get things moving in the right direction, both on the track and off. That said, I think they need someone to step in and help to really get things to a competitive level. That is one thing I have never understood about Petty – he always ran his own car so well, but once he stepped out from behind the wheel, they never kept pace.

What about the Yates idea – but teaming up with Petty instead of Ganassi? Two wrongs don’t usually make a right, but maybe by taking the technical expertise of Yates and combining the marketing power of Petty, they may be able to get somewhere.

Gas-n-Go:

- I agree that Cup owners turning their Nationwide series operations over to drivers is a good thing, at least in the case of JRM and KHI. It allows new owners to develop, and hopefully they will give rides to drivers that really need them. Junior likes to give kids a chance, and it looks like KHI is going to help Elliott Sadler revive his career.

- Ha! I forgot about the Cingular fiasco! I really think NASCAR just likes to rub Robbie the wrong way. Like you said – they couldn’t give two shakes about Red Bull, but they freak out over Gordon’s soon-to-be drink? They just haven’t learned that the more you prod Robbie, the more resolute he gets. I think it is fun – they each keep looking for ways to stick it to the other.

- Outside of letting the Cope twins run Trucks each week, the Series just needs to encourage more media attention. I think they have a great formula, they just need to make it more attractive: double-headers with the Nationwide series (running the same day), or possibly run a few road courses or hit tracks like North Wilkesboro or get real crazy and do Laguna Seca or something. Any ideas?

Take it to the house, Scotty – will fans accept Johnson winning another championship if things are super-close? How about a Petty-Yates team? And What are your ideas to make the Truck series more popular?

TB

—–Original Message—–

From: Wazz
Sent: Monday, Nov 1st, 2010
To: TB
Subject: RE: The Instant Replay Win

You know TB,

The funny thing about this whole Yates-Petty-EGR extravaganza is that if you get Yates with either one of those established teams, that name could finally get back to some kind of prominence. Let’s be honest, people were a bit scared of the Yates Rockets back in the day with the #28 and #88 teams putting other teams on their heels when it came to dealing with them race-in and race-out. It wouldn’t hurt the Ford crew to get Petty hooked up with Yates because the braintrust there is seconded to none when it comes to experience behind the wheel and in the boardroom. Lure EGR in and maybe make the Petty-Yates mongrel invention be a satellite. That way, it keeps Petty afloat, gets Yates into a bigger fold, and allows EGR to have a smoother transition to the Ford team. Much like how MWR and JTG-D Racing got hooked up.

And when you talk about hooked up, Harvick has it dialed in to the point he was during the season, which saw him lead the way most of the year before the points reshuffling. You’re dead-on when it comes to Harvick being more of a threat than Hamlin, mostly because Harvick, I think, is hungrier than both Hamlin and even Johnson, for that matter. He’s got something to prove to himself and to the fans.

The Truck series has been putting on great racing...too bad nobody ever notices

That said, the #48 is the team to beat– because like Ric Flair taught us, “To be the man, you’ve got the beat the man,” and JJ is that man. The pit stops have been shaky, but nothing disastrous where Johnson can’t use his skill to save a good finish. The next race will set the stage on whether or not we’ll have an exciting points Chase. Which brings me to this– the fans do really want a close ending, but don’t want Johnson winning. I don’t think if it matters or not if it’s close because if Johnson wins; they’ll riot. Like we’ve said, if you don’t win the Chase, why be in it?? I think the fans think the same thing that if you’re going to keep seeing Johnson at the top of the standings at the end of the season– what’s the point?? Some may be swayed that it was a good year, but most of them will be still irate that JJ won again.

I’ll take the Trucks out of the G-n-G. If you remember, the series itself had a great buzz when it came in back in…I think it was 1994, but it seemed to have peaked past 2000 or something like that. There was a time where the trucks were more exciting to watch, and I think they still are, but the promotion doesn’t seem to be there anymore. You always had the ads about how you’ll see the rough racing you won’t see in the other series and you should tune in or attend to get some heart-pounding action. I don’t get why people and sponsors won’t buy into this series anymore because it’s a great chance for everyone– a chance to be seen, to develop drivers, to get good racing at a lower price. It’s something that needs to be marketed better– and maybe get it off Speed for a couple races and have it on Fox, FX or even ESPN2, because as great as Speed is; not going to be the destination that’ll be widely seen.

So what have we learned??

-Kevin Harvick is on a mission and he is going to be more determined to get the Championship; even with Jimmie Johnson being the odds on favorite heading into the last three races.

-Ford needs to be able to get another cartel of cars into their clique or else they won’t survive. If it means luring EGR with a lot of money and R&D, so be it. Roush-Fenway and the unknown Petty Motorsports isn’t enough for exposure.

-The Truck series needs more exposure without all the gimmicks like hot, blonde twins– because it’s not going happen every race.

-NASCAR hates Robby Gordon. From blurring logos to stopping a maybe-energy-drink from being promoted, even though it wasn’t any different than Red Bull pimping themselves out. I don’t know what he did, but the bad boy of racing is getting muffled.

~SW

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