"Hey, you in the blue. Come work with me." (Getty Images)
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.
It's Talladega week, one of my most favorite weeks of the year! I love everything about this race, from the on-track action to the infield, and even the watered-down version of Talladega we're seeing these days is better than most other tracks. If you've got a great infield story to share, spill. We want to know!
For now, your letters.
Rick Hendrick has bent over backwards to give Dale Jr. a shot at winning the title (different crew chief, garage, etc.). Do you think if he fails AGAIN, Hendrick will give him Chad Knaus?
— Becky Kemp
Bowling Green, OH
This is perilously close to one of those trolling letters that always fill my inbox — "Hey, Busbee: since Dale Jr. sucks so much, you think he ought to just go to France where he can be sucky among a bunch of other sucks?" But let's be generous today and take it at face value.
For starters, I think Rick Hendrick has to be delighted with how Junior has done so far. The guy finished second in the regular season, for heaven's sake. And while he's not exactly tearing up the Chase, nor are 39 other drivers. I'd consider this season an exceptional success, and a solid building block for the future. So, no, I don't think Hendrick will be replacing anybody on Junior's team, least of all his crew chief. I'd love to see what Knaus does with a different driver, but I've got to think it'd be one of those David Lee Roth-Eddie Van Halen situations where they're amazing together but utter garbage when they're apart.
Did football come over to NASCAR? Is there really a bounty for anyone who wrecks Danica? Sure seems like the guys can't handle her racing with them, especially if it looks like she might have a good run. I have watched many of the times she has been wrecked and yea a few she should have known better but most sure look like the boys can't man up and let her race with them!
Eh, I think we're past the whole "Oooh, Danica's a gurl HOW CAN SHE RACE WHILE SHE'S PUTTIN' ON HER MAKEUP HA HA HA" nonsense by now. The big question at this point is whether she actually can race in the first place, and the consensus still seems to be that while she has SOME talent, she's got a long way to go before she's able to hang at the highest level. Could she at some day? Sure, and she's getting every chance to prove herself. But if she fails, it's not going to be because of some grand conspiracy. Danica brings in tons of new money to NASCAR, and for that reason, she'll be around as long as she wants to be.
I've convinced myself that the racing would be better if NASCAR could find a way to get the cars to sit off the track a couple inches. Let the air underneath the car. This would lower cornering speeds and maybe just maybe get rid of the aero advantage of being out front. Just a thought.
— Hobo Joe
Like most media members, I was an English major in college, so I'm not even going to pretend I have a working knowledge of aerodynamics and automotive engineering. But, yes, the virtues of clean air for drivers tend to make for the most boring races imaginable. The trick, of course, isn't technological, it's moral: just how much manipulation of the engineering should you do to force competition? Anything that frees up standards, I'm all for, because that rewards engineering genius, but then that gives us the very real possibility that somebody will figure out something that wins them ten straight races.
As talented as Kyle and Kurt Busch are, both these guys have still got some learning to do with handling interviews and questions. As we saw at Richmond, it appears whatever niceties Kyle is handing out are because he is being watched closely and "coached." As for Kurt, his comment about being back on a "quality" team doesn't give him points for appreciating all Finch went thru for him over the past few months. A big "thank you for giving me a chance, and I wish your team the best in the future" would have gone a lot further with everyone. I wonder if it sent a chill through the Furniture Row people as a clue to what they may still have to deal with?
— Joyce Keith
We could psychoanalyze all afternoon about why it is that these guys seem to have so much trouble with the media, but what's indisputable is that, more often than not, they create their own problems. Kyle can't be surprised that no one wants to talk to him if he's given them gritted-teeth, just-doing-this-'cause-I-have-to interview quote-bits.
Kurt's a bit more problematic. The guy seems hell-bent on burning every bridge, often while he's still standing on it. He's a fascinating character study, but yes, you have to know exactly what you're in for when you bring him onto your team. But it sure is fun for us to watch.
I might actually be the only NASCAR fan in all of NYC. No, really. I don't think I've ever met another NASCAR fan in the whole city. The first race I ever watched was the 2001 Daytona 500. Seeing DJ urge on Mikey in the last lap totally hooked me. (When I heard later that some guy died in the last lap crash I was sad for him, but didn't get the implications or impact that would have on the sport.) I've been a Waltrip fan ever since. It's been a fun year with two wins and two in the Chase. Go 15, 55, 56!
— John C
I think we have a couple other NASCAR fans in NYC, but yeah, it's always funny seeing NASCAR try to edge its way into the Big Apple. They used to run the cars through the concrete canyons of Manhattan, you'll recall. Now, if that happened anywhere south of Washington, D.C., you'd have crowds losing their minds and glomming onto every driver wherever they walked. But in New York? If any of those surly Yanks even looked up from reading the latest "Headless Body in Topless Bar" story in the Post, they'd just snarl, "Hey! I'm walkin' here, country boy! Take your fancy-colored cars and get the [censored] outta my city! Go Jeter!"
Anyway, keep the faith, John.
Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I loathe road course races. If cars aren't screaming at 175-200 MPH, it's a snooze fest for me. Maybe this is why NASCAR won't use road course tracks in the Chase. They assume it's an automatic tune out for the fans who want speed. What's that famous line in Top Gun...? Oh yeah, "I feel the need... the need for speed!"
— Robert B.
Yeah, but that doesn't explain why Martinsville is in the Chase. I don't like Martinsville for the exact same reasons. To re-use my same comparison, to me it's like watching 43 cars look for a parking space at the mall at Christmas. Road courses, I get it: they can be the same way for some people. Personally, I dig 'em; seeing familiar cars shoot up over hillsides and diving into turns is a pleasant change of pace, like hockey's outdoor Winter Classic. Until we actually have a road course on an actual road, though, I won't be satisfied.
Finally, today in spam ...
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"AJ! Sam! Hey, it's Roger Penske ... No, I'm not calling to offer you your old job back. But I know of a place that's looking for guys like you ... "
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!
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