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Flat Spot On: Sponsors Pickle But Don’t Preserve Racing

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 3 2012

Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the crew of Denny Hamlin got to celebrate for the fourth time in 2012. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

HAMPTON, Ga. – Top ten tweets from the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

1. Story of the weak: After vowing to run over Matt Kenseth at every turn following their wreck-o-rama at Bristol, Tony Stewart backed off in Atlanta. (Just when NASCAR needs a rivalry between major players during a championship run, Tony the team owner, who left a trail of fines while racing the colors of Home Depot for Joe Gibbs Racing, suddenly gets sponsor conscious.)

2. Story of the weakness: Kyle Busch is the most talented driver to never contend seriously for a Sprint Cup championship, according to the stats and prevailing opinion. (Big brother Kurt erupts like a volcano when things go poorly; “Shrub” merely smolders at setbacks and has trouble bouncing back – hence the determination needed to win a title has been absent.)

3. Another good crowd during the Chase countdown: For those people who believe that somehow NASCAR is going to fail, the revised Chase format underscores the fact those who run the sport have a good handle on what fans are looking for – drivers who race flat out for victory. (This savvy is quite amazing in some respects, given that reliable sources say NASCAR looks to hire people in “the front office” who aren’t racing fans.)

4. Sign of the Times? All three races in Atlanta had dramatic finishes with unhappy drivers in runner-up

There is no such thing as a bad day at the race track. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Cleary)

positions. (“I should have hit him in the rear and run him up the track in Turn 3,” said Jeff Gordon after failing to catch winner Denny Hamlin on the final re-start of the Advocare 500; “I just couldn’t let Jeff Gordon win the race,” said Hamlin, who had his eye on helping teammate Kyle Busch as well as himself.)

5. Bum Steer: Brad Keselowski stirred a hornet’s nest after the Michigan race when he suggested the Hendrick Motorsports team was using illegal technology in its suspensions. (In fact, many teams are using rubber bushings in their trailing arms that create “rear steer” in the corners – but some drivers don’t like the induced loose handling; the technology may be universal but some teams can’t perfect it without driver cooperation, i.e drivers that don’t like a loose car in the corners.)

6. NASCAR Sports Cars: An unusually frequent subject of conversation at the Atlanta Motor Speedway was road racing, which concerned a possible merger between the NASCAR-owned Grand-Am series and the rival American Le Mans Series owned by Don Panoz. (But the discussions at AMS generally only took place among the few people who know the difference between the two niche sports car series.)

7. Sorry: Regan Smith has apologized for knocking Danica Patrick out of last week’s race at Bristol. (Although his regret was entirely genuine – unlike, say Jacques Villeneuve at Road America – Smith joined an increasingly long list of drivers who have wrecked Patrick in stock cars because, apparently, they were afraid of finishing behind the girl and used poor judgement; no problem in Atlanta’s Sprint Cup race, where Patrick finished an uneventful race six laps down.)

8. What-er Bottle? It’s a learning process, the job of covering races. (Now we all know after Saturday’s Nationwide Series race – Kevin Harvick excepted, perhaps – that drivers frequently toss water bottles from their cars during races and that NASCAR doesn’t issue cautions for them.)

9. Tilted Forward: When Ty Dillon won his first Camping World Truck Series on Friday, it was the first time the

Ty Dillons celebrates his, and the No. 3's, victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

famous tilted number 3 of Richard Childress Racing has appeared in Atlanta’s Victory Lane since Dale Earnhardt scored a record ninth victory in the spring of 2000. (It wasn’t quite the same – but strangely uplifting.)

10. Bureau of Statistics: One wonders how many drivers have the same experience as Jimmie Johnson when it comes to the Chase? (“I wake up every year (before the season) fearing I might not make the Chase,” said Johnson. “Fortunately that hasn’t happened but I’ve used it as motivation.”)

Bonus Tweets:

11. Bad Spin: Carl Edwards, after falling out of the race and virtually out of the Chase paraphrased one of the greatest sportswriters of all time, Red Smith, when he said, “A bad day at the track beats a good day anywhere else.” (The late Smith was referring to horse racing, where a bad day often had financial considerations… .)

12. Mathematically Speaking: Quite a few possibilities remain when it comes to who makes the Chase after the Richmond race. (But it boils down to Kyle Busch versus Jeff Gordon — unless Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose or Joey Logano win the race.)

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 3 2012
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • mazakk says:

    I guess you’re on the long list of writers who feel the need to promote Danicant.

  • Tony Geinzer says:

    Duh, I feel the looney tunes that are brought to you by certain drivers are getting old.

  • mrclause says:

    Worst of race broadcast; espn not stepping up and admiting that the water bottle was not thrown at the time of the caution, that it was an edited piece from a different time in the race and then supposedly going to NASCAR to get the reason for the caution.
    I think that the three announcers did the audience wrong by not openly stating that the bottle throw was several laps before the caution. It’s sad that these three who are the most popular announce team would not stand up and turn the mountain they created back into the mole hill it was.