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Memo: Bad Memories Have Long Shelf Life

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, July 27 2009
The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard has produced a lot of beautiful moments. And, some rather ugly ones. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard has produced a lot of beautiful moments. And, some rather ugly ones. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

In today’s Monday Morning Memo we find:

* More on the subject of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and whether or not it is a big, huge, important race.

You can get a sense of the that from the way those who have won the Brickyard talk about it. That’s common sense. The bigger the race-victories, the bigger the memories, the bigger the reminiscences.

But you can also get a sense of size and importance from listening to drivers who have had their hearts broken at places like the Brickyard. That is, the bigger races produce bigger heartbreaks.

Dale Jarrett is a two-time winner of the 400. He won it in 1996 and 1999. Great, great memories he said over the weekend.

Then there was the 1998 race.

At the Brickyard that year, Jarrett obviously had the fastest car. By the mid-point of the race, he and his Robert Yates Racing team had the field covered with a several-second lead.

But as he came down the backstretch on lap 80, his car coughed a couple of times and then slowed. He had run out of gas. As his car began dying a silent death, other cars blew past.

His pit crew had to run several hundred yards up pit road to get to the stalled car, and then had to push the dehydrated 3,400-pound Ford back to the pit stall. One pit crew member collapsed. Remember?

Jarrett clearly does.

The mood of a media interview he was giving darkened considerably last Friday as Jarrett talked about ’98.

Jarrett jaw went all firm as he talked about the decision by his crew chief, Todd Parrott, to stay out an extra lap or two in hopes of milking the big lead they had been able to post.

The real anger which Jarrett still feels toward Parrott’s decision nine years later was made optical-glass clear last Friday.

Jarrett summed it all up and attempted to bring the interview back toward a warmer climate by saying, “It still eats at me, if you can’t tell.”

Everybody laughed except Jarrett.

Memo to self: Next time, ask Jarrett about the 1996 and 1999 Brickyard races.

* On auto-racing streaks.

On Friday night at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ron Hornaday Jr. won his fourth consecutive race in the Camping World Trucks Series.

This fall, Jimmie Johnson will be going for his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship.

All of that brings up the question: Which is harder to do, win four straight races or four straight championships?

An argument can be made for the former, I think.

When you go for championships, mistakes can be overcome. That is, say you drink too much coffee before climbing aboard and in a jittery moment, you turn right instead of left during the race.

Well, in the next race, you switch over to decaf, make sure all turns are in the proper direction and the last-place finish is forgotten.

In a single race, one bumble bee in the car and up the nose and the streak is history.

Memo to self: Keep car windows shut during bee-mating season.

* On conspiracy theories.

I have not toured the comments sections of racing websites this morning but I am pretty sure that somebody somewhere is going to go all Jim Garrison over Sunday’s Brickyard race vis a vis Juan Pablo Montoya.

They’ll be saying NASCAR screwed the Colombian driver by slapping him with a late-race speeding penalty which probably cost him the victory.

And to be honest, as Montoya’s lead grew past the 5-second mark late in the race, I began to wonder how post-race inspection was going to go on the No. 42 car should he hang on for the victory.

Because, after all, Montoya is still considered by some in the sport to be more of an outsider than one of the gang and it just will not do to have the former Formula One driver win NASCAR’s second-biggest event.

But, the verdict on NASCAR here is: Innocent on all counts.

I like the way crew chief Brian Pattie put it post race.

“It’s electronic,” Pattie said. “It’s not like there is a lot to discuss. It’s not like the old days where everybody is doing handheld (stopwatches). It’s black and white. It is what it is. They did their job. Now we go back and do ours.”

Pattie said that at some point, he will see the graphic proof of the infraction, but, he said he is pretty sure what he will see is Montoya speeding.

Memo to self: Get one of those “I support local law enforcement” bumper stickers.

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

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, July 27 2009
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