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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. going for points over wins?

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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.

I'm on U.S. Open duty for Devil Ball this week, so I'll be filling your Twitter feeds with all kinds of wacky golf jokes. (Now you'll know how my golf readers feel when I'm tweeting about Kurt Foxing Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya, Jet Dryer Killer.) Anyway, the U.S. Open is set up to be the toughest test in golf, making pros look like regular joes out there on the course. This is an approach that NASCAR ought to take for one race. Give 'em stock tires to race on. Stick a few passengers in each car. Hell, make 'em race minivans on the highway. I'm all over that! Anyway, come hang at Devil Ball. I treat golf with the same respect and reverence I do our beloved NASCAR. And with that, your letters!

It seems to me that JR is making the chase and would make it anyway whether he finished 8th or 25th. Wouldn't it be better to risk it and go for the win and possibly get bonus points to start the chase, not to mention get everybody off his back for not winning? I just think with the cushion he has and the consistent way he has been running, that 17 points won't make a difference.

Steve Kinzer

I think that way lies madness, Steve. I think Junior did exactly the right thing in pitting, for two reasons. First, he could have fallen as far as fifth in the standings. Second, he specifically said that running out of gas would have upset him for weeks. Say what you will about his mindset, I think it's a fair trade, going points racing to hold onto second place in the standings. And while the Chase appears to be a sure thing, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. If he'd fallen to, say, fifth place, he'd only be about 70 points out of 11th place. Right now? He could skip two races and still be in the top 10. The fuel gamble was just a headache he didn't need. Your mileage, of course, may vary. (Get it? Get it...?)

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Every NASCAR season, I am sad to turn my TV channel to TNT for race coverage for 6 weeks. Each year, I hope that TNT has finally hired TV commentators that know what they are talking about, are entertaining to listen to, and make watching the race exciting like the commentators on ESPN and Fox. However, every year I am completely disappointed. The commentators are HORRIBLE, AWFUL, and just an annoyance to listen to...

Dayna B
California

Dayna went on for another few hundred words after that, but you get the idea. Anyway, no matter which broadcast team is on, the others are better. We hate DW when Fox is on, we loathe Kyle Petty when TNT is on, and we long for the days of Fox and TNT when ESPN is on. We're a whiny bunch.

That said ... TNT absolutely pooched the broadcast on Sunday. They missed not one, not two, but three accidents, they didn't cover pit road effectively, and the announcing acumen left a lot to be desired. I like all three cats in the booth for TNT, but boy ... this was an off week for them. Hopefully they get it together in time for Michigan.

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Well, it seems the boys are aggravated at all the pit road speeding penalties at Pocono. Seems they forgot to pick up the maps showing where the timing sensors were this week. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the pit road speed limit put in to place as a safety measure — and not as another level of competition to see who could speed without getting caught. Here's a novel idea boys, how about just doing the speed limit and quit worrying about where the sensors are. If you ask me, if NASCAR were serious about pit road safety — they would continuously change the location of the sensors and not let the teams get used to where they can speed. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Mike Lang

That's an interesting point, and would certainly place safety over gamesmanship. Problem is, it'd lead to all kinds of conspiracy theories (dammit! there they are again!) if guys were getting dinged with speeding penalties and they didn't know why. Shoot, imagine if, say, a long-suffering driver were to win a race while others were tagged with speeding penalties? Why, that'd be downright unseemly!

Anyway, good idea, but the thought of putting anything more under NASCAR's control without oversight/transparency makes me a little queasy. I think I need a good ol' racing story to cleanse the palate ...

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We were at the Lincoln Speedway in Illinois a few weeks ago and saw Kenny Wallace, Kenny Schrader and Justin Allgaier. Kenny Wallace won the feature, but in his classy fashion said he wished Justin had had a better car. He said he was going to send his crew chief to Justin to get his car handling better for the next night's race in Peoria "because Justin is the best on dirt." He told the crowed he loved us and appreciated us. Schrader was scrappy and we loved watching him. All three signed autographs after the race. It was cool.

Barb

Like so many of you, Barb had multiple topics in her letter (Friends! Don't worry! I don't mind getting multiple emails!), but I thought this one warranted the focus. If you're sick of the Jimmie-Kurt-Junior drama, if you think NASCAR is one big clown show, go find a dirt track in your area. Or, hell, make one. Racing is racing, no matter whether it's multimillion-dollar cars or neighborhood kids on tricycles. Put 'im in the wall, Timmy!

And hey, speaking of clowns ...

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I think Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals (baseball, for those who don't follow stick & ball sports) may have just saved a handful of the more colorful NASCAR drivers millions of dollars, and in at least one case a career, with his brilliant response to a stupid (yes, stupid) reporter's inquiry:  "That's a clown question, bro!"

Kurt Busch, Shrub, Smoke, Kevin Harvick, etc., just add that to your repertoire!  You might have to say it about a million times a weekend, but with what passes for journalism these days, especially in the NASCAR garage, it may be all you are allowed to say!

Nick H.
Ventura, Calif.

Yeah! Yeah! Hey, wait ... what? Screw you, Nick from Ventura!

No, you're actually exactly right. There are ways to disregard dumb questions without getting yourself in trouble. Now, Harper is a known pain in interviews; he makes Kurt Busch look like Trevor Bayne. But you know what? Unlike Busch (and, for that matter, Nick), Harper disregarded the question without going after the questioner. There's a HUGE difference. Still a jerk move, yes, but a jerk move that doesn't get you suspended. (Hey, we all have dumb questions at times. I once fumbled a question to Phil Mickelson and basically ended up asking him how hot it was on this hot day. He looked at me and replied, "Hot." Stupid media.)

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On behalf of NASCAR fans everywhere, I wish to apologize for our ignorance and stupidity. Week after week I become more and more disappointed in our idiotic mailbag questions and the way we are treating you and NASCAR. I mean, really? All of these ridiculous conspiracy theories make me embarrassed to call myself a NASCAR fan. HAVE A LITTLE FAITH, PEOPLE! Am I the only one left who still loves NASCAR? I have defended NASCAR fans my whole life, but I'm done defending us. The way we are acting shows we clearly don't deserve this great sport. Jay, you have handled these questions with dignity and grace, but some of these issues make me sad that you need to address them.

Sean Gossett

Ha! Sean, my friend, do not worry. Takes all kinds to make up a sport, from devotees to utter cranks. Problem is, the cranks tend to yell a lot more than the devotees. But in the end, none of us can impact your enjoyment of what happens on the track if you don't want us to. Find your guy, watch 'em run, and enjoy this kick-ass sport. The rest? Take it or leave it. (Oh, but always stop by Yahoo! Sports. Every single day.)

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!

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