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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: When is a guarantee not a guarantee?

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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Denny Time, with drawn butter. (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 happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

Yeah, we're late this week. Sorry. Anyway, right now in golf there's the Ryder Cup, which I know you probably don't care about but hear me out. It's a team-vs.-team competition. How awesome would that be for NASCAR? Two-on-two battles, head-to-head showdowns? Tell me you wouldn't want to see a 20-lap showdown between Jimmie Johnson/Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin/Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski vs. Kevin Harvick for all the marbles? Make this happen, NASCAR.

Also, update on our Last Chaser Standing competition: Greg Biffle came in last among eligible Chasers last week, so he joins Jeff Gordon on the virtual sidelines.

All right, your letters:

Seriously, why is the media playing up Denny Hamlin's supposed "called shot" so much? If anything, it was a balk at best. He kept saying in all of his interviews heading into the race, that he didn't mean it as a called shot and only meant it like every other driver that says "we'll go get 'em next week." But then after he won, because the media hyped the false intention of the statement, he plays it up like he really did call the shot with his antics after getting out the car and pointing, then swinging.

Either own it or don't, but don't take credit for it after you retracted your call, Denny.

— Nick J
Los Angeles, CA

OK, look, I'm biased here, but is there ANY chance that both drivers and fans won't default to the tired "it's the media's fault!" every time a storyline doesn't play out exactly the way they want? I thought Hamlin not only did a great thing by guaranteeing a win at Loudon, I thought he shot himself in the foot by backing off of it.

Here's the thing that both athletes and fans are realizing, now that they've got instant access via social media: maybe the media does serve a purpose after all. Denny wasn't misquoted when he guaranteed that win; that was straight from his phone to your eyes. Every time an athlete says something dumb/provocative/misguided on Twitter, the whole "the media twists our words" argument gets that much weaker.

But enough Journalistic Whining. Hamlin should've owned the guarantee from the start. Playing it tentative is what people hate about NASCAR these days; what's the harm in talking big at a track where you know you have success?

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After perusing the new schedule I think it would help NASCAR if a few changes were made. Swap Miami with Vegas. Take the second race at Pocono and Michigan and replace them with North Wilkesboro and Rockingham. Last but not least put that shiny new road course at Kansas in the Chase as their second date. I would love to see all the west coast stuff back-to-back as well for logistical reasons for smaller teams, but some concessions have to made.

Matt Lightner

The biggest problem with that scenario is that Vegas is owned by SMI and Homestead by ISC, and no way ISC is giving up that plum season-ending date without some serious compensation. Also, the North Wilkesboro and Rockingham tracks aren't really Sprint Cup-ready (sorry, guys). The Kansas road course is a great idea, but for whatever reason NASCAR is against a road course in the Chase. Nice thoughts, though.

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Did I see the headline right: "Kyle Busch annoyed with lack of TV interviews"? Are you kiddin' me? He can't be serious. "I've had a second-place, third-place, fourth-place, fifth-place and sixth-place finish this year with no drama throughout the race and don't get a TV interview." Think about it, Kyle, if you weren't such a butt-head when the TV people did interview you, maybe if you didn't storm off like a kid who just got his favorite toy taken away, maybe if you didn't just give two-word answers to questions ... I'm just sayin'.

Steve Donovan
Davenport, Iowa

Yeah, that was a bit curious to me too ... to be fair, Kyle has been a lot better in interviews this year, but truth is, he hasn't yet hit that sweet spot of interesting-without-drama; other drivers, like Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, can be engaging even when they've had a bad day. With Kyle, you never know what you're going to get. That's the way it goes, though. There are ways to change that, though, Kyle.

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A NASCAR fan in a "non-NASCAR city" ... that's the story of my life. I'm from Long Island, born and raised. The Island used to have a big racing culture with Islip Speedway and Freeport open as well as the still-operating Riverhead Raceway. But Islip and Freeport are gone. Riverhead is barely surviving. The NY media could care less about racing. If it isn't about Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, David Wright or Derek Jeter, the NY sports media doesn't want to hear about it.

And that is reflected in the culture here now. All I heard from pre-K through 12th grade was the traditional "how can watch cars go in circles?" If I go to a place like Buffalo Wild Wings, I have to ask at least three times to get the race on one of the TVs. Contrast that with the BWW in Charlotte at the Hall of Fame, racing is always on.

Don't get me wrong, I love Long Island (minus how damn expensive the place is to live). But it's very frustrating being a race fan from NY.

Rob
Long Island

What, no Tebow? Keep fightin' the good fight, Rob.

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The mile and a half tracks with long green flag runs have gotten really boring. Tires are reliable. Engines are reliable. Cars are tough and hold up under moderate pounding. The winner is the driver that can best get his 800+ hp down to the pavement. It is a chassis tuner's race and less of a driver's race.

How can we make this more of a driver's race? Oval tracks are so 19th century, when cars raced on horse tracks because the roads weren't fit to race on. How about putting wedge and track bar electric adjusters inside the cars for the drivers to adjust ( or maladjust) as conditions change? Maybe even regular competition restarts to liven things up (which are now called competition cautions). There must be some way put more driver skills and
thrills back in front of the fans.

Ken

Here's what you do: switch the stickers on the cars between qualifying and the race. So Jimmie Johnson might qualify with a rocket and find himself driving a sled. Stephen Leicht might find himself behind the wheel of a winning automobile. Hey, you got a better idea?

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The original Indy 500s went on for 7 or more hours and were an endurance run as well as for flat out speed. Using that as a model, shouldn't someone build a five-mile track and run a 1000-mile race?

Greg Spahr
Head Coach
Cape Fear Fencing Association

As nice as the idea is in theory, the truth is that if you think the Pocono and Michigan races are too long at 400-500 miles, you're going to loathe one that goes on twice that long. Unless it was a thousand miles in a straight line, Cannonball Run-style. Then I'm all over it.

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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