Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.
I'm on golf duty this week, covering The Masters from Augusta. (Follow along over at Devil Ball Golf or on Twitter. Trust me, it's not just white guys hitting a little ball with a stick.) While the patrons at Augusta are supposed to be more well-behaved than the infield denizens at Daytona, I'm hoping that's not the case. I'll see if I can shout "Go Junior" when Tiger tees off. Hey, better than "Get in the hole!"
Anyway, your letters.
I certainly hope NASCAR is happy with its green-white-checker policy. Honestly, more often than not, the only thing left after these is a bunch of wrecked race cars and a driver in victory lane that doesn't deserve to be there. Not saying I like races to finish under yellow, but I feel NASCAR and/or the drivers need to figure out a better way to handle these late race cautions that seem to come up every week these days. Thoughts?
West Lafayette, Ind.
My thoughts are what they always are in these situations: virtually any idea that you try to implement will have blowback you can't expect. Doing away with GWC? No way. Finishing a race under caution sucks. Adding a lap to the GWC (so it'd be a GGWC, I guess)? That might solve the problem, particularly at a small track like Martinsville. Two laps really isn't enough to get going there, whereas two laps at Talladega is a lot more room to maneuver.
I understand it's frustrating for fans of, say, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson this past weekend, but really ... what more can we do? The race has to end sometime. Otherwise it'd be like soccer, which ends whenever the ref decides it ends ... and nobody wants that.
Answer me this: how many ugly race car drivers are out there with 20 times the talent Danica Patrick has racing their hearts out on Friday and Saturday nights that will never get the opportunity she has been given simply because of looks? Call me a chauvinist if you like but there is no denying facts are facts.
— Curtis Largent
"Who you callin' ugly?" - Dozens of Friday and Saturday night drivers
I seriously want to meet these legions of drivers who are being unfairly kept down by Danica Patrick. The guys who are astonishing drivers but, because they've got a snaggletooth or a harelip, don't get the chance to race in the big time. If you're mad at Danica, why not be mad at, say, Paul Menard too? He's gotten where he is because he brings along a sponsor. How's that different?
Yes, in absolute terms, there are plenty of drivers who are better than Danica Patrick. But everyone from Big Bill France right on down to Trevor Bayne knows that racing isn't just about talent; it's about marketability, too. You can get doors opened with one, but you can only prop those doors open with both.
If NASCAR wants to know why they're losing fans, and television viewers, they have to look no further than Fox's coverage of the first part of Martinsville. One of the big reasons I watch NASCAR is for the strategy involved, watching a race unfold, and seeing the different decisions that are made play out. A key component to that is pit strategy; yet, time and time again, it seems, television coverage is unwilling, or unable, to break away from their precious commercials to cover an accident and the resulting pit stops accordingly. I'm not familiar with the inner workings of a live sports broadcast, so I don't know if there are outstanding reasons as to why breaking in from a commercial doesn't happen, but some of the best racing is done on pit road.
Either NASCAR and its broadcast partners should make the dual screen during commercials mandatory for the entire race, have the broadcast network break in during commercials during important race altering events, or prepare themselves to continue to lose viewers and fans.
The "can't come back from commercials" issue is one that rears its head every race. Here's the deal, friends: broadcast networks don't put on races out of the goodness of their hearts. They do it to attract advertisers. And given a choice between upsetting the fans over a missed pit stop and upsetting a multimillion-dollar-paying advertiser who wants to hawk some sandwiches or auto parts? Guess who's going to be the loser there.
This is why online coverage of a race is going to be so much more important going forward. If it means that much to you to catch every element of the race, pony up the dough and get in on the subscription models. They're good stuff. Barring that, though, we're all at the mercy of the networks.
Man, I'm coming down against all the letter writers today, aren't I? Surly mood. Let's go on ... whoops, I disagree with this too. Ah, well.
What's the difference between what David Reutimann did and intentionally spinning on the track to bring out a caution? He ignored pit lane with flat tires to bring out the caution. And the only reason they did that was to not lose spots and points so they would keep at least 35th place in the rankings. He and his team should have / should be penalized the same as a spinner.
— Tim Madigan
Well, technically his car broke down, so it wasn't really the same thing. If you saw his interview afterward, he was clearly upset not only over what happened, but over being impugned (SAT word!) for allegedly altering the balance of the race.
Look, Reutimann was doing what he had to do based on the way that the system's set up. Yes, it altered the race, but he WAS playing by the rules. And are you really THAT upset Jimmie Johnson didn't get a win? (Calm down, Vader fans. Joke.)
I'm so sick and tired of hearing about Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, what's wrong with Kasey Kahne, and will Danica live up to the hype. I get that fans like to hear about them,but where's the love for guys flying under the radar? Paul Menard, 11th in points,with 3 top 10's. Dave Blaney, took what would've been a start and parker and got it in the top 35 solidly. Do they get interviewed after a race? Very rarely. Instead we get to hear from a guy who finished 20th talk about their bad day.
It's a question of serving the masses. More people want to hear about Jimmie, Danica, Kasey et. al. than Menard or Blaney. Sorry, but them's the hard facts. We like the home-run hitter more than the utility infielder, we like the lead guitarist more than the bass player. Nobody likes the bass player. (Except in Rush, the Beatles and the Chili Peppers.) Yeah, the bar is higher for these guys to clear to get more attention, but them's the breaks.
Finally, an insult that comes from someone who may not follow football very much:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the Eli Manning of NASCAR, if his last name wasn't Earnhardt, no one would be following the 134-race loser.
Would that be two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning? Misfire, my friend. You should have gone with Cooper Manning, the one who didn't play football. Next time.
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 email@example.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!
- Danica Patrick
- Jimmie Johnson