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Morning Memo: Debris Comes In All Kinds of Sizes

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2009

Martinsville is a short track but you still would not want to get hit by one of these babies. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Martinsville is a short track but you still would not want to get hit by one of these babies. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Let’s see what’s in the Morning Memo:

Yep, finally saw some of that mysterious debris which NASCAR officials seem so fond of throwing yellow flags at. It was laying there on the track surface near the start/finish line at Martinsville last weekend and aren’t you conspiracy freaks feeling a bit shamed about your wild theories about phantom cautions now.

Through the miracle of big-screen, high-def television and pretty darn good – though glasses-aided – eye sight, I was able to discern exactly what the piece of debris was. It took no longer than a few seconds to recognize and identify it.

It was…a race car.

John Andretti’s race car to be exact. About 3,400 pounds, without the driver. Big number and some words clearly printed on the side of it. In about 3-foot tall letters.

There would be no speculation about why this caution was called and called quickly. Except, well, no caution was immediately called. Not until after it appeared a ghastly physics experiment was about to be held.

On went the race. About 15 seconds after Andretti’s car crashed and came to a rest during the green-while-checkered restart at Martinsville, out of Turn 4 roared the field.

For the most part, the momentum of taking the corner at 90 mph pushed the cars out to the wall, making the Andretti debris, which was low on the track but very much on the track, less scary.

But the incident still left some wondering; what up with that? They’ll flip on the yellow lights for a match stick on the track – the little cardboard ones, not the big, huge, giant wooden kind, mind you – but not for a stalled car on the front stretch during a Martinsville mad dash to the finish?

Interesting, driver Jimmie Johnson said.

“The caution at the end,” the Chase points leader, said, “I didn’t know until I came off of 4, and my spotter had mentioned there was a car sitting on the inside, and when I looked up I could see the caution and the checkered at the same time.

From that standpoint I see that they are consistent and waited until the last possible second to throw the caution out so that the finish could be as exciting as possible. It makes me a little nervous as I’m charging into the start/finish line there’s a car sitting there.  I wish it would be thrown a little bit earlier for safety reasons. Might as well be on the safe side.”

Andretti, still sitting inside his car as the field blew past, said after the he was not all that concerned.

“I think NASCAR makes the best calls that they can make at the time,” Andretti said.  “They have to make split-second decisions like we do.  It wasn’t a bad call.  To me, I wasn’t in a great position, but I wasn’t in an overly dangerous position. Again, NASCAR focuses on the race itself, and they want to see the winner come across the finish line.

“Had they finished on the back straightaway, every result probably would’ve been the same.  But, it’s not the same for the people sitting up in the seats. So I can appreciate that.  I don’t think I can ever say that was a bad call. It’s probably the call I would’ve made.”

Me, I was concerned and I was on my couch at the time.

And, glad that wasn’t a horse race.

Memo to self: Just a little consistency from race control is all we ask.

In a related matter:

Perhaps the best line of the weekend from a television booth came from former driver and blunt announcing instrument, Randy LaJoie.

When, after a caution was called in a race for debris and it turned out the debris was just a wad of paper, a fellow boother defended the call aloud; how could NASCAR officials to tell that it was just paper?

Lajoie offered: With binoculars.

Memo to self: Remember, paper does not crash cars, drivers do.

Don’t blame Dodge

Kasey Kahne’s Chase is all but mathematically over. He’s 11th in the 12-driver playoff and 439 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

In half of the six Chase races, Kahne has finished 30th or worse.

Could it be that current Detroit partner Dodge has been slow to help Kahne after it became known that his team would move to Fords?

Not a chance, George Gillett, co-owner of Kahne’s Richard Petty Motorsports said a couple weeks ago.

In fact, Gillett said, Dodge has been wonderful to Kahne and all of RPM since the Ford decision was announced.

Memo to self: Still, don’t tell the mechanic that you plan to start going to Pronto Change for routine maintenance in the near future.

Good read

Good friend and sports writer extraordinaire Joe Posnanski recently spent time with three-time champion Jimmie Johnson in San Diego. Posnanski is doing a big story on Johnson for Sports Illustrated and the thought here is that if anybody can mine a gripping story from professional sports’ most challenging interview, it’s Poz.

Can’t wait to meet Jimmie via Posnanski.

Memo to self: Reserve opinion that not all writing done with ink on paper is becoming an embarrassment to journalism’s past.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2009
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Emil Latella says:

    Remember, that blunt announcing instrument, Randy LaJoie is one of the bright spots in a year full of poor motorsports broadcasts.
    I love that phrase. If you coined it, thank you (I’m stealing it).