Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or @NickBromberg.We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy.
It's Talladega week! Is everyone else playing Talladega by Eric Church on repeat or is it just me and Marty Smith? OK, just the two of us? That's fine.
I have other obligations this weekend, but you're in good hands with Jay Busbee. Heck, even better hands. I fully expect jeers when I return on Monday after you've been spoiled by Jay's brilliance.
Our overriding theme with Happy Hour this week isn't too surprising. I bet you can guess what it is.
@NickBromberg How does NASCAR explain the hypocrisy of fining drivers for fights while also using fights in commercials to promote races?— Chris Nulty (@RealChrisNulty) April 30, 2014
@nickbromberg What happened to "have at it"?— Bob B (@jtrat) April 30, 2014
After hearing of the penalties levied on Mears and Ambrose. I went back and watched the promotional commercial for the 2013 season that featured the brawl that followed the Gordon and Bowyer incident at phoenix in 2012.
I guess I didn't catch it last year that the same commercial also features video of Carl Edwards intentionally crashing Keselowski at Atlanta in 2010.
I think someone needs to get the heads of NASCAR a thesaurus. I'm pretty sure that "actions detrimental" doesn't mean what they think it means! - Darrell
As NASCAR VP of Competition Robin Pemberton says in the video above, Ambrose landed a punch with a closed fist. To me, that's the huge factor here; we simply haven't seen any fights with fists. Usually it's pushing and shoving and screaming and then it's over with.
Now, I would have preferred that this would have simply been a "don't do it again or it'll be a really big punishment" scenario, simply because the two drivers aren't ones we've seen involves in debacles on pit road in the past. But with a short probationary period and relatively small monetary fines, I can handle it.
But I do wonder about the line between disagreements that happen in the garage and those that happen on the track. How much of a difference really is there?
Yes, NASCAR has gotten a lot safer recently, but the risk of serious injury is much higher when settling a disagreement with a car than with your hands and fists in the garage or on pit road after the race. No one is simply going to pummel another person, and anyway, it wouldn't have a chance to happen because there's always a bunch of people around to break up something when it escalates.
When Edwards flipped Keselowski, he was given three weeks probation, and likely one of those "don't do it again or it'll be a really big punishment" warnings. Not much different than the punishments that Ambrose and Mears got.
Of course, Edwards didn't mean to flip Keselowski. He simply wanted to crash him and deliver a message. And thankfully Keselowski was OK. But it's the perfect example of the risk I talked about above. I'd prefer a blurrier line between on the track and in the garage.
Tell me what you think. Do you think this year's tire is any better than Goodyear's debacle of 5 or 6 years ago when they had the single worst tire in history? You remember...Indy, when they could not run more than 20 laps without a blow out. That year the tire was really bad all year. Well so far this year...4 races have been decided NOT by driver tire wear..but by the shabby tire Goodyear has brought to the track. For example, 2 times this year Johnson has had a bad tire cost him a win. Explosions caused by tire beads melting have almost caused serious injury. Multiple drivers blowing tires both at California and Darlington. Yesterday at one of the best tracks in the sport, Richmond... we witnessed a tire that could not go even HALF of a fuel run!?!?! It really made that whole race just unbearable to watch! THERE WAS NOT ONE GREEN FLAG PIT RUN!?!? - Brian
Does Goodyear wish that things have gone differently this year? Probably. Do teams like Jimmie Johnson's wish that things have gone differently this year? Yes. Does this mean we're looking at a tire epidemic? No, I don't think so.
We've gotten to the point where there's no happy medium with the tires, even if it's simply from a perception standpoint. How much of it is Goodyear's fault and how much of it is the current car package's fault is up for debate too. But if the tires aren't wearing too quickly, they're too hard and don't wear enough, making races a track position race where teams don't take tires on one side of the car for an extended period of time. (see: Phoenix). And do we want a green flag fuel run at a short track to begin with?
Is there work to be done to find that happy medium? Absolutely. But as far as I'm concerned, I'd rather we err on the side of tires that wear quicker (with a low risk of a massive failure) than tires that last too long. Tire wear produces good racing, and the random and not-too-frequent tire failure provides an element of unpredictability to racing that has always been there.
And thankfully, since we're going to be at Talladega, tires shouldn't be a talking point.
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