Happy Hour: Is Brad Keselowski getting the respect he deserves?

Jay Busbee

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

It's Independence Day, which in America means celebrating our freedom by blowing stuff up. (In other countries, it, uh, doesn't really mean much.) What's your best Fourth fireworks debacle? We once nearly set a forest of 40-foot-tall pine trees on fire by not checking the tree cover when we fired off some extra-strength Roman candles. Still, at the moment I have all 10 of my fingers, and considering I've blown up enough explosives in my day to take over Canada, that's an achievement in itself.

Anyway, your letters:

As I read through the headlines of Brad Keselowski's run at Kentucky, I get the sense that it's still a surprise when he wins, almost as if it's a some abnormal event (like Sam Hornish Jr. not running into Danica).

From my quick research, Jetski has won more races over the last four years than Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and a whole host of others that seem to be expected to win. Is he getting the respect he deserves from the NASCAR community?

— Doug
Troy, Ohio

Keselowski has a couple things working against him. For instance, he's relatively new to a sport that's slooow to embrace turnover. (Don't believe me? Check this list of race winners from 2004. Only four winners from that era aren't relevant right now, and two, Elliott Sadler and Joe Nemecheck, continue to run occasionally in Cup.) He's also racing for Dodge and Penske, two organizations that haven't held a hammerlock on the public imagination in quite some time. Still, he's as legit as they come right now, and anyone, driver or fan, who takes him for granted could be in for a surprise. And as that link above shows, he's likely to be a force in NASCAR for a long time to come.

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NASCAR is the only sport where ALL of the teams are on the field at the same time. Imagine if the MLB schedule said, "Yankees/Cubs/Cardinals/Rays et al are playing the Red Sox...at the same time." Every week we have the joy of seeing the biggest rivalries going on at 200 mph. I have watched since 1965 and with all of the terrible broadcasts, cookie cutter tracks, dial-tone personalities and made up drama there is still nothing like it. There are times I love to hate it/hate to love it but after almost 50 years I still watch it.

Michael Raby
North Port, Fla.

What a lovely email. True, too. We sometimes take for granted our embarrassment of riches here in NASCAR; your favorite driver is out there and on TV every single week. (Unless your favorite driver is Brian Vickers. Then, sorry.) Hey, the rest of you: quitcher bitchin' and write in something you love about NASCAR. Anything. We'll do a roundup.

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Can you talk about any dirt races? We here in Texas enjoy our dirt racing and go to them and enjoy the competition and passing. Try it. Some may like it. Do it in the dirt!

Bill L.

There's so much racing out there that we generally don't even try to cover the smaller events, but by all means, if you see something cool at your dirt track (video is always nice!) hit us up at the address above or below. You're right, dirt racing is something to behold, and the world is a better place for it.

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So Danica Patrick finishes 12th and actually moves up to 9th in the Nationwide standings. The strategy seems to be working. Watch the DNFs, drive like an old lady — well, not like many old ladies but certainly in comparison with the real racers — and pile up laps and points. Only one top 10 and she is firmly seated in the top 10. It's just not right.

But, if fellow drivers have kind hearts and want to help her develop, here's what they need to do: pit her. Early and often. Do it gently and don't hurt her but DNF her several times and force a new strategy. As she falls in the standings, she's going to have to start racing. I don't know that she has it in her, but we (and she) will never know unless trying for some top 5s is the only way to recover her season.

So, try not to wrap up too many others, but send her to the garage early and often. Then we'll learn if she deserves to be called a race car driver.

Paul Stewart

By taking her out? That seems a little ... unsporting. We've said it before, many times: Patrick isn't a great driver yet. But she could be. She could also be a flameout. We just don't know. She doesn't have the credibility of other drivers, but then she's not a complete embarrassment either. Her ceiling is likely much lower than most champion-worthy drivers, but soon enough there'll be a woman who won't have that ceiling. And she'll have Danica and other women of racing to thank for paving the way.

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What do you think of Erin Andrews leaving ESPN? With Fox courting her, any chance she ends up on race coverage during the college football off-season? She'd be a nice counter-balance (read: distraction) to DW. Please?

Jeff "The Real Slim Sarge" Smith

I have been at events where Ms. Andrews has been assigned coverage, and let me tell you: watching college boys watch Erin Andrews is like watching a dog on a leash with a glistening steak just out of reach. I shudder to think what would happen if you brought that poor woman to a NASCAR track. You'd have to airlift her in and out. That said, she would give instant cachet to, say, the Daytona 500 just by her presence. And there's always the chance of a Danica-Erin catfight that would crack the Internet in half. We can hope, can't we?

And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com. You can find Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR coverage on Facebook right here, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!