THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
April 3rd, 2012
Volume VI, Edition LIV
CLARIFICATIONS: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is six points behind leader Greg Biffle, second in the standings while Kasey Kahne's No. 5 car sits 17 points ahead of 36th position in owner points. Both statistics were listed incorrectly at one point during yesterday's Newsletter. We apologize for any inconvenience.
What To Watch: Tuesday
It's a relatively slow news day in NASCAR Nation, with all three series facing an "off weekend" for Easter. Truck Series rookie Ty Dillon does have some media events scheduled; he'll be on a NASCAR teleconference to talk about his season to date, then move on over to SPEED to be a guest on tonight's Race Hub.
Martinsville race winner Ryan Newman is also expected to speak to the media through a national teleconference. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver sits a solid eighth in points after five events.
Today's Top News
by Tom Bowles
Mayfields Losing House?
The legal and financial troubles for one of NASCAR's former stars keep piling up. The Hickory Daily Record is reporting
Jeremy Mayfield's house and land, purchased for an estimated $3 million will be auctioned off on April 30th at 12 PM unless he and wife Shana can find some way to pay off their debt. The 42-year-old driver, who owns a total of 455 acres of property has had an unknown source of income, if any, since being suspended from NASCAR in May 2009 for violating the sport's drug policy.
Mayfield, who has proclaimed his innocence throughout saw his appeal on the NASCAR case denied last month in federal court. But that's just one of the many issues he faces going forward; on Monday, he was in criminal court to face felony charges which include three counts of possession of stolen goods and one count of obtaining property under false pretenses. A continuance in that separate case, requested by the driver's attorney was granted until June 25th.
In an interview with the Record
, the driver maintains he's "working on something" but would not offer details as to how he'll pay the roughly $2.3 million still owed on his property. The Mayfields are also looking to push their NASCAR case forward, in some way despite the appeals loss but have no firm plans on their next step.
Junior Johnson Hospitalized
One of the sport's greatest drivers and owners remains hospitalized this week. 80-year-old Junior Johnson is being treated at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, North Carolina for what sources say is a non-life threatening illness related to 2009 back surgery. A 2010 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Johnson won 50 races as a driver, in NASCAR's early days of the 1950s and 1960s before becoming a successful car owner on the circuit. His team won three consecutive championships, with Cale Yarborough from 1976-78 and won three more in total with Darrell Waltrip during the 1980s.
Sources expect the car owner to fully recover.
Martinsville TV Ratings Flat
NASCAR's Nielsen numbers continue to drag through the first six races of 2012. Sunday's Sprint Cup event, held at Martinsville Raceway posted a 3.9 rating and a 9 share; those numbers are the same as last year. As a silver lining, it's notable the overnights recovered from last week's 3.4, at Bristol when the sport faced stiff competition from both the PGA and the NCAA Tournament for men's basketball.
So far this season, FOX is averaging a 4.8 rating and 10 share in the metered markets. That's off 6 percent from last year and the second-lowest in their 12-year coverage of the sport. Only 2010, with a rain-delayed Martinsville event posted a lower overall audience through six events.
Joe Falk's newly-purchased No. 33 team is expected to rotate drivers as part of a driver development deal with Richard Childress Racing. While remaining "independent" of RCR, the list will include Childress' grandson Austin, Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler, as well as Falk's son, C.E.
- Kenny Wallace tweeted Monday that his nephew, Steve, will return to a Nationwide Series car at Richmond under the Rusty Wallace, Incorporated banner. The former series regular has been out of a job in 2012 after losing sponsor 5-Hour Energy to Clint Bowyer last season.
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Today's Featured Commentary
A Conflicted Fan: The Result of Cheering for Too Many Drivers
Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View
by S.D. Grady
As a fan, baseball is a simple game. I cheer for the Red Sox. That's it. I don't play fantasy leagues, think that maybe Baltimore is looking pretty good this year or St. Louis recruited an awesome rookie so I'll send some happy thoughts that way. It's my team or nothing.
I am not so lucky in having such a singular view regarding NASCAR. Today, I'm sitting here wondering why I ever allowed myself to clutter my racing obsession with multiple favorites. This broad-minded approach to stock car racing has created havoc, with Sunday the latest example. A wild finish to the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville shattered my focus and left me trying to decipher how, exactly I am supposed to react.
In the span of ten minutes, I watched Jeff Gordon put a bumper to Jimmie Johnson's fender to retake the lead he had so thoroughly proven was his for the day. A dyed-in-the-wool Gordon fan, I bounced up and down as the laps ticked down, listened to the announcers regale me with the 200th win propaganda and prepared to bid farewell to a rather dismal start to the season. The fact Dale Jr. sat in third kind of made for a nice bookend to the day. Life looked rather rosy at the moment.
Then the No. 10 rolled to a complete stop. Some unsavory comments slipped past my lips as my fists beat the sofa into submission. However, besides the thoughts that cataloged the number of strategic options now available to the previously scattered field, my mind uttered one word. "No!" I might have thought it a few times over and over. I did briefly wonder what had possessed Reutimann to execute such a hare-brained maneuver, but the idea vanished just as fast. He drew a yellow the same way that drivers across the country call convenient cautions - he stopped. Most of the time no foul is called even as the crowd boos, and if my favorite were in the same spot as Reuti, he very well have pulled the same cheap trick.
Then came the finish; the No. 39 did a bump n' run on my driver (well, not directly, but still! Can you still hear the angst in my voice?) Jeff and Jimmie were taken out by middle-man Bowyer and a general scuffle erupted for position behind the front row skirmish. None of this mess should have shocked me. Martinsville is a short track, and races at this facility end with shortened fenders and tempers. Usually, it makes me happy, not heated.
But hey! Did you see the 'Dinger cross the checkers right behind Newman? That, too, elicited a grin for a moment. Junior finished where he ought, strengthening the start to his admittedly very good year. Kenseth, Truex, Hamlin, Stewart, Almirola (?), Keselowski and Bowyer rounded out the top 10. Really, any other week I'd be dancing in appreciation at that lineup. It's just chock full of victory stories!
Yet I am not happy. I am...conflicted, emotionally wrung out and quite possibly tickled pink.
My driver, for whom I've been cheering for 20 years, lost a race he should have won because, well, it wasn't his turn to receive Fate's blessing. I can say this much after a night of letting the events settle into my brain. The lack of Hendrick's 200th win is depressing.
Ryan Newman, previously known to me as "my rookie" in his inaugural year, showed some short track savvy and took what was offered. Smart. 'Dinger rode Newman's bumper for the final green-white-checkered and demonstrated why I cheered when he switched to the No. 22. Cool! And above and beyond it all, pit road and Victory Lane erupted into a cacophony of blame and apologies after the end of the race, one beautiful sound to this fan's ears.
If I really stop and think about it all, I shouldn't be upset. In fact, I got exactly everything I hope for when NASCAR returns to the short track circuit. Jeff Gordon dominated the day. I could not predict the finish to the race. More than one team suffered at the hands of another. Fenders were bent and tempers frayed. This Sunday was good! Possibly even great.
Still, the best possible outcome for this fan did not play out, my hopes for glory dashed at the last moment in a convincing and brutal fashion. And so the depression will win out this week. I can only hope for a better, less complicated outcome in the weeks to come. It would certainly be easier to decipher.
No Danica Stat This Week
She didn't do anything!
S.D. Grady is a Senior Editor for Frontstretch.com. She can be reached via e-mail at sonya...@frontstretch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @laregna.
Numbers Game: Goody's Fast Relief 500
by Garrett Horton
AJ Allmendinger finally got his first top 10 driving for Roger Penske, finishing second at Martinsville. The runner-up result beats his previous career-best finish, a third in the 2009 Daytona 500.
There wasn’t a single caution flag for debris Sunday, marking the third straight week race control did not throw what has become known as a somewhat controversial caution over the years.
Bad fast on Friday, just plain bad on Sunday. That has been the theme for Kasey Kahne in 2012. Even though he is off to a disastrous start to the season, Kahne is tied with Kevin Harvick for highest average starting position after six races with a 7.8. He has already qualified on the pole for two races; however, the newest driver at Hendrick Motorsports has still yet to lead a single lap all year.
There are eight full-time drivers with one DNF or less that have not yet scored a top-10 for the year. The list includes 2000 Cup champ Bobby Labonte and three first-time winners from last year: Regan Smith, David Ragan, and Marcos Ambrose.
By picking up his first Sprint Cup victory at Martinsville this past week, Ryan Newman now has 16 career wins, moving him into a tie with active competitor Greg Biffle for 48th-most all-time.
The top two drivers in points, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr., have a combined winless streak of 184 races. Biffle’s last victory came at Kansas in 2010, 49 races ago, while Earnhardt’s last trip to victory circle dates back to the June Michigan race in 2008. Junior's winless streak has now reached 135 races.
Jeff Gordon led 328 laps at Martinsville, the most he has led in a single race since 2001 when he paced the field for 381 circuits at Dover. This is the eighth time in his career Gordon has led more than 300 laps in a race, but the first time he failed to finish in the top 3 when doing so.
There have been a total of 1,925 laps completed at the 1/6th mark of the season. Only three drivers have completed every single one – Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Martin Truex, Jr.
Garrett Horton is a Contributor for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via e-mail at garrret...@frontstretch.com.
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TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:
Five Points to Ponder: Junior Hendrick's Head Honcho? SHR Showing Up The Boss And A.J.'s NASCAR Recovery
by Danny Peters
Don't Lynch David For Goliath: What Martinsville’s NASCAR Finish Taught Us
by Tom Bowles
Who's Hot / Who's Not In NASCAR: Martinsville-Off Week Edition
by Brett Poirier
Couch Potato Tuesday: NASCAR Improvements While A New Network Rises Above
by Phil Allaway
Tech Talk with Gil Martin: Utlilizing Telemetry in Cup and Nationwide Series
by Mike Neff
For a number of years, Hickory Motor Speedway had one very short pit road. However, in the mid-1990's, an addition was added in. Where was this pit addition?
Check back Wednesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
The 1992 Mountain Dew 500 at Hickory Motor Speedway, held on Easter
Weekend, is best known for the track breaking up, resulting in an
all-time record of 26 cautions and two red flags to sweep the excess
pavement away. However, this race was not supposed to be run in April.
When was it supposed to go off?A: The Mountain Dew 500 was supposed to be run in late February on an off weekend (for the Cup Series) in between the Daytona 500 and Rockingham. The teams made the trip to Hickory, practiced and qualified for the race. Then, the rains came and wiped the event out. Instead of running it on the next clear day, it was decided to delay it to the next off weekend on the Busch Grand National schedule, which happened to be Easter weekend. The sellout crowd and more hospitable temperatures were a boon for the track, despite the constant wrecks. By 1993, the race was officially moved to Easter weekend.
Frontstretch Trivia Guarantee: If we mess up, you get the shirt off our backs! If we've provided an incorrect answer to the Frontstretch Trivia question, be the first to email the corrected trivia answer to tri...@frontstretch.com and we'll send you a Frontstretch T-Shirt ... FREE!
~~~~~~~~~~Coming tomorrow in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Brad Morgan
-- Full Throttle by Mike Neff
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more!
Tomorrow on the Frontstretch: Did You Notice? ... by Tom BowlesDid You Notice? ... How and why Ryan Newman's wins have come around the last few seasons? Tom Bowles notices a pattern developing, laughs off the Danica hullabaloo and more in this list of small but important observations around the NASCAR circuit.
Beyond The Cockpit: David Reutimann as told to Amy Henderson
Before the No. 10 broke and stalled out on Sunday afternoon, David sat down to talk about the vast changes in his career for 2012, his part-time gig with RBR Enterprises, and so much more in our
latest weekly driver interview feature.
Frontstretch Top Ten by Jeff Meyer
Get laughing to start your day with another hilarious edition of our NASCAR staff top 10 list.Mirror Driving by the Frontstretch Staff
Who will win Hendrick Motorsports' 200th Cup Series victory ... when it finally does happen? How will the Good Sam Club 200 at Rockingham turn out for the Camping World Truck Series? And was David Reutimann truly to blame for Sunday's shenanigans? Find out in our
weekly writer roundtable.
Top 15 Power
Rankings after the Goody's Fast Relief 500 compiled by Summer Dreyer
How far up the list did Ryan Newman move after his win on Sunday? See who your favorite NASCAR experts from across the country
voted first in our AP-style, top 15 poll.
Going Green by Garrett Horton
Garrett returns to his usual Wednesday slot with another thought-provoking NASCAR commentary.
This week, he tackles the early-season success of Martin Truex, Jr. and just what, exactly has catapulted the turnaround at the No. 56 NAPA Toyota team.
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