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Pedley: Is That A Body Lying Under The Bus?

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 28 2011

Tony Stewart is at the center of a racing mystery after issuing cryptic words in Victory Lane last weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

In today’s Morning Memo we find:

Dead Weight sleeps with the fishes.

Last Sunday’s Sprint Cup victory by Tony Stewart in New Hampshire came with a built-in mystery. A mystery complete with a John Doe victim.

Stewart himself prologued the mystery when he gave an excited, impassioned Victory Lane television interview after winning the Sylvania 300.

During that interview, Stewart was asked why he has won two Chase races in a row after having gone winless during the 26-race non-playoff portion of the 2011 season.

Stewart, in part, said, “Well, we got rid of some dead weight earlier this week. So, it made it a lot easier. It’s been a big weight lifted off our shoulders. Just sometimes you have to make adjustments in your life and we did that and it has definitely helped this weekend for sure.”

The TV reporter, of course, moved on without inquiring about the identity of the mangled victim(s) who was suddenly lying under the bus.

During the portion of post-race interviews held inside the media center at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, other reporters attempted to dig a little deeper.

Stewart’s crew chief, Darian Grubb, was the first to get to the dais in the media center. He

Is somebody missing from this picture from earlier in the year? (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

was asked what Stewart was referring to in Victory Lane.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it,” Grubb said. “But I haven’t heard what he was talking about.  I know he went and did a lot of dirt racing and had a lot of fun this week, kind of unloaded everything. Maybe it was a lot of dead weight off his mind.

Grubb was then asked if there were any personnel changes on the team.

“Not that I know of,” Grubb said. “Maybe he’s talking about me and I just don’t know it yet.”

That response was met by laughter.

Stewart was next to the dais and the laughter ceased in mid ha-ha.

Things went like this as soon as the interview was thrown over to the media.

Question: “Tony, ever since you were on TV in Victory Lane, the buzz all around the track and Internet is wondering what you meant when you said, ‘We dropped some dead weight earlier this week’.”

Stewart: “We’re just going to leave it at that.”

Q. “Could we ask if that was?”

Stewart: “You can’t ask anything. It is what it is. That’s all it was is what you said. That’s where we’ll leave it.”

Q. “Darian said there’s not been any personnel changes on the team.”

Stewart: “No, there hasn’t.”

So, who is that under that bus? Or, what is that under that bus? Why was it/they put there? Was “Dead Weight” pushed or did he/she/it/they jump? Talk, dang it.

It appears the only way the racing world will know for sure just what is the key to Stewart’s incredible playoff-season success is if Dead Weight chooses to speak from the grave or left a note.

Memo to Dead Weight: Sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omlette. I’m sure you understand. Just business.

IndyCarnival

It looks like Brian Barnhart, as Lloyd Bridges says in “Airplane”, picked the wrong year to

INDYCAR's Brian Barnhart and his series have had tough year.

give up smoking.

The president of race operations for INDYCAR has been given the flying double bird by Will Power, has beaten like a rented subcompact by Helio Castroneves on Twitter and has been waterboarded by bloggers from Loudon to Motegi this season.

On Tuesday, INDYCAR announced that Castroneves was being fined $30,000 for ripping into Barnhart, whose head he begged for on Twitter after the series penalized him for passing under caution in Japan.

That $30K sounds a tad low to me for somebody who committed the intra-series seditious act of calling the top cop a “circus clown” among other things. Unless, that is, whoever issued the fine (Barnhart?) was in tacit agreement with Castroneves.

Me, I like Barnhart. Smart guy, accessible official. He was an essential piece in the early years of the IndyCar Series. He was a well-respected race series officials in the game at one time. Even among the enemy.

I remember after the 2002 Indianapolis 500 – when most of the racing world thought that interloper Paul Tracy of the rival CART series won the race but was subsequently moved to second place when IRL officials ruled that his seemingly victorious pass had come under caution – what a CART-team owner said to me.

The guy said he had faith that the right thing would be done in subsequent protests because Brian Barnhart was in charge and the guy had nothing but respect for Barnhart and his integrity.

Now, he seems to be caught up in same kind confusion and lack of direction which is gripping the entire series. It seems if there is a rake lying anywhere in the sea of grass out there, INDYCAR and Barnhart will step on it.

Too bad. Open-wheel racing is fabulous sport. And Barnhart can do much better.

Memo to Brian Barnhart: Those headlights coming at you may be on the front of a bus.

Finally…

Yes, fuel mileage races can be exciting for fans. Cliffhanger-drama type exciting. Will he or won’t he make it drama. But fuel-mileage races just seem to me to reward the wrong virtues. The race does not always go to the swift in life, but in NASCAR, it should…The last time a driver won the first two races of the Chase? That would be 2008 when Greg Biffle did it. In fact, that would be the only time a driver won the first two races of the Chase? And how did that serve Biffle? He went 0 for 8 the rest of the 2008 Chase and finished third in points…NASCAR is making a social media event of its release today of the 2012 Sprint Cup schedule. It will release the schedule bit by bit on Twitter beginning at noon ET. The special hashtag for the event is  #2012schedule. This ought make the old-schoolers feel welcome.

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

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 28 2011
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Lydia says:

    Funny how The media assumes Stewart was talking about a past girlfriend…when the simple truth could have been the “dead weight” of the press asking him the same questions over and over. He won Chicagoland so the pressure put on him from the media should be gone. Maybe the reason he didn’t elaborate is because the media didn’t get the analogy and to try and explain himself just wasn’t worth it. Whatever he did worked so let it go and let’s race!

  • Rusty says:

    ” The special hashtag for the event is #2012schedule. This ought make the old-schoolers feel welcome. ”

    You got that right. I’ve a Facebook and LinkedIn account, but now Twitter get’s all the hype. Next year it will be something else. I’m not going to keep chasing the latest fad new-age marketing tool in an effort to keep up. You want my business, try coming to me rather than beign all trendy.

  • Jo Green says:

    I too am dying to know what Tony was referring to, and I’m not even a big fan of his. Funny how we have all become such a bunch of nosey-parkers. LOL