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Race Day: Racing And Feuding Moves To MIS

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 13 2010

Kurt Busch had a heluva good qualifying effort on Friday and will start today's Sprint Cup race at Michigan from the pole. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

The hot topic in Sprint Cup this week – as it has been fairly often this year – is driver feuds. Their causes and effects have been debated more than the slumping economy in the garages at Michigan International Speedway this weekend.

The spark, of course, was last weekend’s post-race blowup between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

Earlier this weekend, other drivers who will compete in today’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 were questioned about feuds and here is what a select group had to say.

Kurt Busch, when he was asked how he deals with run-ins with other drivers: “Being a new guy, you don’t necessarily know how to handle all the situations. When you’re a new guy, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt. That’s where I’m at a mix with this whole scenario. I raced Jimmy Spencer early on in my career and I wasn’t supposed to be lipping off and sticking my neck out. Now it seems OK for somebody to do that.  It’s amazing what 10 years in this sport can do.  Not just on my side of it, but on how everything gets viewed.  I don’t think that (Kevin) Harvick did anything terribly wrong.  He was a veteran teaching a young kid a little bit of the ways of the world.  That’s what a veteran did to me early on in my career and it helped to elevate my game pretty quick.”

Greg Biffle, when asked how his run-ins have shaken out: “What usually happens is that you have some kind of crash like this, you are cussing at each other or slinging mud and then you race each other fine from then on. A lot of times it isn’t an issue. Normally that is how it gets resolved. It goes from an extreme to treating each other with respect. That is most of the time how it pans out, believe it or not.  I get along with Kevin fine. We both understand that we have to race each other and give each other room.”

Carl Edwards, when asked if he thinks drivers should be allowed to resolve conflicts on the tracks:  “I think we should be able to resolve things on the tracks, or in the pits, or wherever. You have to be able to tell guys that things don’t fly. I am normal. I grew up in Columbia, Missouri. If you had an issue with somebody, you go and take care of it. You can’t let it be because it won’t fix itself. What is different now is that you are on television and everybody has an opinion and it gets twisted around. That is one dimension of it.

“The second part is that some of the participants understand that very well and manipulate it. They don’t act like normal people and use you guys to make whatever reality they want to be. It becomes very difficult as a driver to decide what to do. You think it would be great if you could pull a guy aside and work things out. If you can’t work it out then whatever, but you can’t do that now. It is like this big mess now.”

Fast facts

What: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400

Where: Michigan International Speedway; Brooklyn, Mich.

When: Today, 1 p.m. ET

TV: TNT, noon ET

Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128

Track layout: 2-mile oval

Banking in corners: 18 degrees

Grandstand seating capacity: 119,500

Race distance: 200 laps/400 miles

Estimated pit window: 40-44 laps

2009 winner: Mark Martin

2009 polesitter: Brian Vickers

2010 polesitter: Kurt Busch

Trivia time

Michigan races have been won from the pole 16 times. Who was the first driver to win a race at MIS from the pole?

Fuel problems

Michigan tends to be a fuel mileage track. Drivers will have to be aware of that as the laps wind down as nobody wants to sputter to a halt on the track.

They don’t want to sputter to a halt on public roads, either.

Driver Jimmie Johnson was asked if he has ever ran out of fuel in his personal vehicle. He said:

“Between the span of the last two races here last year, I wasn’t paying attention to my Tahoe—I guess I ignored the bell or buzzer telling me that I was low on fuel and we were late going to the airport trying to get to a race.  We were riding along and the car shuts off.  It was out fuel.

“I heard about it from my wife then, and I still hear about it today. I’m pulled over on the side of the road, and I had to call someone from my office to help us out, get some fuel and bring it over, and we were pretty far from a gas station, unfortunately.

“It’s amazing how many people were angry that I was out of fuel on the side of the road.  I had an old lady shoot me the bird, which I just couldn’t believe.  She was behind me and just honking, so I walked back and said, “Man, I’m out of fuel, what am I supposed to do?”  She just shot me the bird.  I was like, “Wow.  This is great!”  My wife still reminds me of it today.”

Track tidbits

Most wins by a driver – 9, by David Pearson

Most top-fives – 21, by Cale Yarborough

Most top-10s – 29, by Bill Elliott

Most lead changes – 65 (1981)

Fewest lead changes – 7 (1984)

Most cautions – 10 (2006)

Fewest cautions – 0 (three times with the latest being in 1999)

Best average finish among current drivers – 6th, by Carl Edwards

Fathers Day

With father’s day approaching, one has to wonder whether the actions of Joey Logano’s father in the post-race pits at Pocono – he was in the middle of the fray between his son and Kevin Harvick – were good or bad.

Mark Martin cast one vote for good.

“I loved seeing Tom Logano’s reaction and I’m a Dad. And anybody who would criticize that, a lot of them aren’t Dads. I have a son that competed, not only in racing, but in hockey too. Heck, I stood up one day, yelled at him, hit him with his stick when he was playing hockey and a kid’s dad was standing to me and I didn’t care. So, I’m a Dad and I am a Tom Logano fan as well.”

Trivia answer

David Peason won from the pole the first year the track was open to Cup – 1969. He was driving a Holman-Moody Ford.

Next up

The Sprint Cup cars take to the road – the road course at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Kasey Kahne won that race last year but that was in a Dodge. Brian Vickers won the pole but will not repeat as his season has been ended by blod clots.

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

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 13 2010
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