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What they said at New Hampshire

by Dave Grayson
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

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Chad Knaus
NASCAR's weekend in New Hampshire left us several nuggets worthy of Monday morning fan conservations in the employee break room. From deadly serious crew chiefs attempting to be cheerleaders, drivers shedding dead weight and even revelations regarding the installation of hair plugs there were plenty of comments that deserved to be repeated.

I've always had a great deal respect for crew chief Chad Knaus. His accomplishments, on behalf of driver Jimmie Johnson and team owner Rick Hendrick, over the past five years alone says he deserves our respect. But his knowledge and talent while sitting on top of the pit box doesn't automatically make him a cheerleader. Knaus is very stoic. You can practically hear the wheels turning in his head over the roar of the race cars on the track.

New Hampshire was not a great race for this team. The car's handling was off all day and not even Knaus could seem to find something in his bag of tricks to make it right. So when Knaus felt the need to attempt the cheerleader role he received a rather surprising rebuttal from Johnson who said " dude your cheer leading is terrible. I've been driving my ass off. Don't sweat it. It's actually annoying more  than helping so just let me go do my thing."

The long day in New Hampshire resulted in an 18th place finish and a drop to tenth in the points. There is already talk regarding "the championship string is broken" or "the dynasty has crumbled." Blah, Blah, Blah. It way too early in the Chase to be making those announcements. No one on the track runs a Chase scenario better than these guys and their season is far from over. Johnson probably put it best in a Monday "Twitter" message that read "that really sucked-on to Dover."

Regarding the cheer leading gig, perhaps Chad Knaus could borrow some notes from his Hendrick Motorsports colleague Steve Letarte. Now there's a natural born cheerleader/crew chief.

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On the subject of New Hampshire nuggets, here's one from a racing veteran who knows how to dispense nuggets: Larry McReynolds. During an appearance on the Monday edition of the SPEED Channel's "Race Hub" program, McReynolds was engaged in a conversation regarding the Chase hopes of driver Kyle Busch.

In the first two races of the Chase Busch, and his Joe Gibbs Racing team, has fallen from first to sixth in the standings. That in turn has led to speculation as to whether this factor will be another disappointing Chase run for this team. McReynolds raised an interesting question when he asked: "do you know how you can tell the fall season is here? The leaves fall off of the Busch."

Related to this topic was a survey presented by ESPN during their New Hampshire pre race show. The divers in the Chase were asked to rate their competitors. When Kevin Harvick was asked about the merits of Kyle Busch he quickly replied "I never think about Kyle Busch because, (pausing), I just don't."

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When it comes to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase For The Championship no one is hotter right now than Tony "Smoke" Stewart. It was just a short matter of weeks ago when we were wondering if this team was going to make the Chase line up at all. Now he's won both Chase events so far and sits on top of the points standings.

Apparently he accomplished this feat by shedding some dead weight. During the New Hampshire victory lane interview Stewart said "we got rid of some dead weight earlier this week. So, it made it a lot easier. It's been a big weight pulled off of our shoulders. Just, sometimes you have to make adjustments in your life and we did that. It definitely helped this weekend for sure."

Needless to say the NASCAR media was completely baffled by this unusual statement. It's not the first time Stewart has said or done something that left us all baffled. It's not even the first time this month for that matter. When asked exactly what he meant, Stewart made it clear that he would not elaborate. In a transcript of the post race press conference, provided by "Team Chevy" Stewart said "we're going to leave it at that. 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."

(WHAT???). Since the New Hampshire press conference there has now been speculation that says these comments made be centered around the driver's personal life. If that's true then we should respect Stewart's wishes and "leave it." Also, if the speculation is again true, then Stewart also needs to "leave it" and let it remain in his private life.

This appears to be something usually covered by those trashy  tabloid magazines and the NASCAR media doesn't need to go there. There's only one way I would actually read a story like this one from a tabloid: it would give me something to do while I'm spending way  too much time standing in a long check out line at my local supermarket.

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Send some good thoughts to Katie Kenseth, the wife of NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth, who was injured last Monday while practicing for a charity race scheduled for October 15th on the quarter mile oval located within the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event, titled "The Better Half Dash", will feature the wives and girlfriends of Sprint Cup drivers racing small Bandolero cars.

During the practice session Kenseth crashed her car and suffered a broken scapula, shoulder blade, along with scrapes and bruises. However the incident didn't impact the Kenseth's sense of humor. In a "Twitter" message, Katie Kenseth wrote: "that didn't turn out so well, that was the shortest racing career in history." Matt Kenseth sent a "Twitter" message thanking everyone for their concern and support and added: "Katie is feeling much better and I learned something new: how to put a bra on."

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Apparently some NASCAR fans noticed that Nationwide Series driver, and SPEED Channel host, Kenny Wallace's hair line seemed different and asked him about it. In a series of short "Twitter" messages, the always candid Wallace wrote: "I have had three hair transplants done by Bosley. I want you all to know. I show all my friends my scars on the back of my head from the transplants. I guess I'm scarred for life, ha ha ha. I spent 18 thousand dollars on three transplants, split it up three ways. Kind of like girls getting boob jobs, ha ha ha."

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Item last is a daily affirmation, sent via "Twitter", from Delana Harvick who wrote: "nothing says welcome back, we missed you like a big dog poop on the floor."

That's so true, the love of a fine dog is unconditional. It's also a comment that deserved to be repeated.

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