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NASCAR Bristol postscript

by Dave Grayson
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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Over the previous NASCAR weekend we watched our reigning champion pad his already impressive racing stats, we watched the rise of a future NASCAR star and we discovered that drivers really can coincide with each other on the track if enough observers are carefully watching every move that they make. With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

Chad Knaus
Over the previous NASCAR weekend we watched our reigning champion pad his already impressive racing stats, we watched the rise of a future NASCAR star and we discovered that drivers really can coincide with each other on the track if enough observers are carefully watching every move that they make. With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to Jimmie Johnson for a stellar performance last Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway. THUMBS-UP to Jimmie Johnson for a stellar performance last Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway. There has been a lot of talk that says this team always seems to come out on top. They've certainly proven that point over the past four years. To put it simply Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire Lowes #48 team are actually that good at what they do and the challenge is out to the other teams to upgrade their programs if they have any chance of stopping that fifth consecutive championship.

Johnson's Bristol win has added some padding to some already impressive numbers. It was his third win, in five races, in 2010 and his seventh win in the last 14 Sprint Cup events. It's also his 50th career win which ties him for tenth on the all time NASCAR winner's list. Win number 50 comes within 296 starts which gives Johnson a winning percentage of 16.892 percent.

Johnson also gets to cross Bristol off of her personal list as one of the tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit where he's never won at. There is now only five tracks left on that list: Michigan, Infineon, Chicago, Watkins Glen and Homestead. Bet the farm this team is working on eliminating this list.

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WHAT'S-UP with those comments made by Kevin Harvick about Carl Edwards? We were so busy watching Edwards and Brad Keselowski we almost didn't see this one coming. During a live radio interview last Friday Harvick was the latest of a long list of Sprint Cup drivers who was asked about the Atlanta conflict between Edwards and Keselowski. Harvick raised more than a few eyebrows when he said "I'll be honest with you, I'm not a huge Carl Edwards fan. I think he's fake as hell." Harvick was later asked to quantify those comments and said "you just can't be the good guy, the bad guy and the bully all at the same time."

It's been speculated that there's still bad blood between these two drivers that dates all the way back to the Talladega race in the spring of 2008. It was that race when Edwards got into the back of his team mate, Greg Biffle, and triggered a multi car wreck, known at Talladega as "the big one" that included Harvick. After that event Harvick said "he raced like a panzy and spent most of the race in the back. Then he charged to the front and triggered the big one." One week later the hard feelings escalated into a physical confrontation in the garage area of the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Last Friday Carl Edwards made quick work of responding to Harvick's latest barbs and said "I have absolutely no respect for Kevin Harvick. I think he's a bad person. That's my opinion and I've told him. We've had our deal before and his actions through that interaction were devious, underhanded and cowardly. I just have no respect for him."

THUMBS-UP to Edwards, Keselowski and Harvick for the polite approach they chose when they were racing together Bristol. They were, of course, aware that everyone was watching to see if a confrontation was coming.

WHAT'S-UP to anyone who truly thought there would a confrontation? With Edwards' three race probation and all that scrutiny this trio of drivers would have been crazy to even think about starting any situation.

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A WHAT'S-UP/THUMBS-UP combination goes out to Dale Earnhardt Jr and his #88 Hendrick Motorsports team. Earnhardt worked his way to sixth in the Bristol race and the Junior Nation was smiling. But during a course of a yellow flag pit stop the WHAT'S-UP element kicked in when Earnhardt was caught speeding down pit road by NASCAR. The driver was incensed by the ruling and, via his in car radio, had several opinions regarding the pit road scoring systems that involved the use of some rather salty language. It was the kind of language on the radio that often gets the attention of both NASCAR officials and the Federal Communications Commission.

The drive through pit road penalty turned out to be a blessing in disguise and that's where the THUMBS-UP element becomes effective. The penalty cost the team a large amount of track position. However later in the race there was the Bristol big one that resulted in crash damage to several cars running in the top 15 positions. Had it not been for the pit road penalty it's quite likely that the #88 team would have been in the middle of that wreck.

Another THUMBS-UP goes to Earnhardt for driving the car to a seventh place finish which elevates him to eighth in the championship points standings.

Crew Chief Lance McGrew also deserves a THUMBS-UP for using some reported tough love while talking his driver through the typical Bristol frustrations. An example of this came late in the race when Earnhardt came over the radio and said "the car is pushing like a truck." McGrew replied "don't lay down on me Bud." An incensed Earnhardt came back on the radio and said "I can't lay down here, this is Bristol. I don't ever *#!**#! lay down. Don't ever say that on the radio. (We) don't need the whole world hearing that."

THUMBS-UP to the modern day, fan friendly, technology that does allow the whole world to hear moments like that.

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THUMBS-UP to Casey Mears, and his Keyed Up Motorsports Chevrolet, for finishing 30th at Bristol 17 laps down. There were some mechanical problems but the team made repairs and sent the car back out on the track to finish the race which earned them $82,000 plus badly needed racing dollars. So, what's the big deal here? Bristol marked the first time this go or go home status team managed to even qualify for a race this year. After last Friday's qualifying run, when it was evident they had made the race, crew chief Doug Richert came over the radio and said "believe it or not!"

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THUMBS-UP to young Justin Allgaier and his first ever NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Bristol last Saturday. This is a very talented young driver who is going to bear watching in the future. THUMBS-UP to team owner Roger Penske and Dodge Racing for the one-two finish in this race from Allgaier and Brad Keselowski.

WHAT'S-UP with the bad luck that once again bit Nationwide Series driver John Wes Townley at Bristol? Following a practice crash last Friday the team had to roll out their back up car. Efforts to get some practice laps in to dial in the back up were deterred with a transmission fire. Then late in Saturday's race Townley was collected by another car and crashed the second car late in the race. Here's a guy that really needs a change in his mojo.

THUMBS-UP to Nationwide Series veteran Kenny Wallace for finding a very unique way to get his sponsor logo on television. Wallace and his team had a one time sponsorship deal, from Hot Rod Grills, for the Bristol event. Fighting handling issues during the race, Wallace frequently went a lap down. But with the typical Bristol caution flags he kept getting the lucky dog free pass and the car was seen on television getting waved to the lead lap line. Wallace managed to do this a whopping five times. Here's hoping that Hot Rod Grills was impressed with the effort and signs on for some more races.

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THUMBS-UP for Saturday's Scotts EZ Seed Showdown featuring NASCAR legends such as David Pearson and Cale Yarborough. It was a true treat for us old school racing fans. THUMBS-UP to former driver Rick Wilson for winning this race.

That being said keep a good thought for veteran drivers Larry Pearson and Charlie Glotzbach who were involved in a savage accident during the final laps of this race. Pearson underwent surgery for a fractured left ankle and is also being treated for fractures in his pelvis and right hand. He's reported to be in fair condition. Glotzbach is reported to be in good condition while being treated for injuries that were not disclosed.

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The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to Sprint Cup driver/team owner Tony Stewart who last weekend took the racing media to task for again bringing up the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski incident from the Atlanta race. During an interview at the Bristol media center, Stewart chastised the racing media for asking the same questions over and over and reminded everyone that the Atlanta race was two weeks ago and it's time to let it go. He even challenged the reporters to dazzle him with some intelligent questions.

Another THUMBS-UP goes to yours truly for finding all of this very funny and not being the least bit offended with Stewart's tirade against my chosen profession.

The final WHAT'S-UP of the week goes to Sprint Cup driver Scott Speed for his pre Bristol hair do. The jet black dye adorned with bright blue tips received all of the attention the driver was looking for. I just wonder how much Quaker State Oil it took to make those blue tips stand up that high.

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