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Minter: Pointlessness Of System Is Pointed Out

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 4 2011

Jeff Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson got the victory – and even some points – at Phoenix. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A few observations as the Sprint Cup circuit heads to Las Vegas for the third points race of the year:

First off, as some of my colleagues have been pointing out, it took six races for a winner to actually earn some points. All three winners at Daytona were pointless since they’d signed up to race for points in divisions other than the one they won a race in. And at Phoenix, Kyle Busch, who is competing for points in the Sprint Cup Series, swept the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series races.

That’s not a bad thing though. NASCAR certainly seems to be on an upswing with its compelling story lines in the opening weeks, and none of those story lines involved points.

Trevor Bayne’s crash at Phoenix might have not been such a bad thing after all. After his stunning Daytona 500 triumph, he’d been on a non-stop media blitz, one that continued right up to the start of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix.

Maybe now he’ll catch a little bit of a break and can go back to focusing on racing.

The Trevor Bayne story took a detour last Sunday at Phoenix. Is that a good thing? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

But on the other hand, NASCAR couldn’t have a better ambassador at this point. He’s brought the Wood Brothers race team, which has been a fixture in the sport for 61 years, back to the forefront. And his clean-cut image is welcomed by many and much needed given the type of news items that preceded his win a Daytona.

Bayne’s performance on and off the track has shuffled the stories of Michael Annett’s drunk driving and Brian Vickers regrettable interview in “Maxim” magazine, one in which he admitted excess drinking of vodka and hard partying, to the back burner.

Jeff Gordon’s 83rd victory keeps NASCAR nostalgia in the news for another week. Just as Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 victory had fans and the media looking back at the storied history of the Wood Brothers racing team, Gordon’s win has people looking back at Cale Yarborough, the man he tied on the Cup circuit’s career victory list.

In his winner’s interview Gordon reminded his audience that the first Cup car he ever drove belonged to Yarborough. It was just a test at Charlotte, and plans for him to drive the car in a race at North Wilkesboro were blocked by contractual issues, but the connection is there just the same.

“I got that call from Cale, which blew me away and then the interaction with him as a team owner, testing his car,” Gordon said. “I’ll never forget that moment. That opportunity was something that I was very proud of.”

Gordon’s latest win also puts him one victory away from bringing another story from the past back

Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip are at the center of a numbers controversey. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

to the forefront. One more win and he’ll have 84, which will tie him for sure with Darrell Waltrip and some say Bobby Allison.

But there’s plenty of evidence to show that he’ll need one more to tie Allison, who’ll be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year.

It seems that the only place you’ll find Allison with 84 wins is in the official NASCAR record. On racing-reference.info, the most thorough NASCAR stat site on the Net, Allison has 85 wins. Many other credible sources also give him 85, one more than his long-time and sometimes bitter rival Waltrip.

The issue involves a Cup race in which NASCAR filled the field with Grand American cars, as happened occasionally back in the day. The problem arises because the lighter Mustangs and Camaros sometimes outran the Cup cars.

Here’s how Allison explained it during an interview last year.

“I won a race in Melvin Joseph’s Mustang at Bowman Gray Stadium (in 1971 in Winston Salem, N.C.),” he said. “Richard Petty ran second that night. For a couple of years it counted, and all of a sudden it came out.

“I thought they gave the win to Richard Petty, and of course the Pope isn’t going to take a win away from Richard Petty. It’s gone forever.

“I found out later somebody had dropped mine and two of Tiny Lund’s that he won in his Camaro. A few years before Bill France Jr. died they reinstated Tiny’s two wins. Bowman Gray doesn’t have a winner, so that gives me 85.”

One thing’s for sure – Jeff Gordon will need to win three more to claim undisputed possession of third place on NASCAR’s all-time win list. And the way he drove on Sunday, it might not be that long before that happens.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 4 2011
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Terry says:

    If a pony car had won the first ‘Daga race….would Big Bill had declared it the winner? It is that simple. If it was run as a NASCAR sanctioned GRAND NATIONAL RACE….then it is what it is. I don’t care if it was MICKEY ROONEY in a NASH….it is the winner. They are allowed to run to fulfill the ticketholders demand for a race…..then they are in it….to win it.
    IN or OUT….NO HALVSIES.

  • Harry Balzer says:

    Congrats to Jeff Gordon. ALLWAYS BEEN A FORD MAN MYSELF,but have been following Jeff closely since his last win at Daytona. Thought his win carreer might have been over after those two really bad crashes he had. But it looks like he’s back in the sadle. Good to see him back. He is a class act. H.B.