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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Helmet throws, passion, and going in the other direction. Literally.

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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Tony Stewart with the perfect form. (AP)

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. Right? Oh who are we kidding, this is NASCAR. No one is ever happy.

Recovering from Wednesday night's Truck race? If that's not an endorsement for more weeknight races, then nothing is. I think mid-week races could be used two-fold. First, in the summertime, there's no competition outside of baseball and reruns, so a summer weeknight race would do well I believe. Second, in the fall, it could be positioned as a way to avoid football. Let's try it with the Nationwide Series first.

Let's get to the topics, shall we?

What I find interesting is that in a NASCAR commercial they show a driver throwing his helmet at another car….BUT, in real life they would be fined for it.
BUT, it’s okay for a commercial to promote NASCAR.
- Wayne

I'm intrigued that Wayne is under the impression that NASCAR fined Tony Stewart for his helmet throw last year. Do some NASCAR fans automatically expect fines for something deemed out of line no matter what now? If so, that's not the fault of the fans.

We continue on with the same theme...

I've watched NASCAR since 1997. I remember the good ole days when drivers actually had a personality about everything, whether it be about the tracks, drivers, or the race itself. With NASCAR fining everybody for their opinions is actually hurting the sport more than helping it, especially when they fined Hamlin this year for his opinion on the Gen 6 car. My wife and I were discussing about retaliations in the sport. Granted we don't condone what Kyle did to Hornaday at Texas two or three years ago, but drivers should be allowed to bump someone out of the way and be the "BULLY" without being penalized anymore. On to the points system, NASCAR needs to scrap this chase. Drivers are coasting every week, especially those that are in danger of missing the chase, i.e. Gordon, Kahne, Newman. Drivers are no longer going for wins and being aggressive anymore and that is hurting the sport cause drivers need to push the issue. Keselowski not racing Kyle harder at Watkins Glen is not how the sport should be. What happened to the time where you had Labonte and Earnhardt racing tough to the line at Atlanta or Gordon and Harvick at Atlanta in 01 or Craven and Kurt grinding on each other at Darlington for the closest finish in NASCAR history? If NASCAR fixes the sport where drivers can be vocal and do what they do without penalization except in real dangerous situations, then the sport would be popular again. Not this 3 man race for the wins this year that Johnson, Kenseth, and Kyle are doing. I wanna see the chase scraped and the old points system back in place where its from Daytona to Homestead with the 43 point system. You would have better racing than you would today.
- Matthew

While Keselowski did what he did for his Chase chances, wouldn't his finish last year with Busch and Ambrose at Watkins Glen go into the category of the three races you mentioned above, Matthew?

I'm not sure how the Chase can be lumped into the same issue as feeling that drivers can't speak their minds. Given the points situation this year and the Jimmie-fatigue that many in the fanbase have, a significant majority of NASCAR fans would want a Chase this season.

And I also don't think for an instant that other drivers are laying back knowing that the Chase is coming. Does it affect decision making when gambling -- see Kes the last two weeks -- yes, it does. But that's a different animal.

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I grew up riding my go-cart in the back yard dreaming I was racing against Petty and Pearson, yes I am old now. I lost interest in NASCAR for many years, the straw that broke me was when Rusty Wallace and the 2 went from Ford to I believe Pontiac and kept the same cars. How could a Ford morph into a Pontiac? What alchemy! Anyway I enjoy a race now and again, but generally find them a bit boring. I seem to remember the days when the cars more reasonably represented American automobiles, when the 426 Hemi competed against the 427 Side-Oiler and you had to be able to buy that car with that engine. Dealerships with Superbirds and Daytonas and Torino Talladegas were cool places! Alas those days are forever history!

While in the Charlotte infield prior to the fall race recently I was struck by an epiphany as I watched a courtesy car make laps around the track at a decent pace, tires squealing, but going clockwise. Yes, right hand turns.

These days the engines of most of the top tier cars appear to be fairly identical. In fact the differences between the Chevy, Ford, and Toyota engines seems to be a well guarded secret, if these differences exist at all. It occurs to me that chassis setup on these oval cars has become so finely tuned that the real secret to racing today is matching the chassis to the driver and to the specific conditions of that particular day. Clearly some teams are better at that than others, but we now discuss tracks as being 'suited' to certain teams and drivers.

Road course races have become much more entertaining, particularly since the 'regular' drivers now embrace a right hander every now and again as evidence of their skill. Imagine, if you will, a mile-and-a-half oval where the field reversed direction at halftime. The dynamic of the chassis stagger would require that the car no longer go left on its own, but rather that it run straight. Imagine how different the racing would be turning left in a car that would later be required to turn right! What if we varied the number of clockwise verses counter clockwise turns, announcing only at the last minute the actual number of each. Speeds would reduce dramatically I think, but the racing and the passing would be fabulous! I also think the need for restrictor plates vanishes. I think the racing improves, and the abilities of these talented people are better demonstrated.

I know it sounds crazy, but think about it. The more I have the more I like the idea!
- Doug

An out of the box idea! I like it, Doug. It could be a new twist on the old Truck Series halftime format and a track version of inverting the field. There'd be some new strategy too -- do you set your car up to be good both directions or not as good in the first half and really good to turn right in the second half? I like it a lot, though it won't happen.

After watching the Grand-Am race in-person this weekend, I'm even more on board with the idea of adding a roval to a track's second Cup date of the season. It'd be a good compromise between a road course and oval, and wouldn't take a date away from an existing track that has the infrastructure to host a road course race.

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Could you enlighten me on how race winnings are determined and divided? For instance, how did Jeff Gordon in 36th win the same amount as AJ Allmendinger in 10th at Watkins Glen? There must be a formula – just curious
- Pete

It's a complicated answer, Pete, but it depends on the number of contingency programs a team is in, sponsor money and where a team finishes. It's a complicated formula that's different for every team, and is definitely not indicative of a team's performance, especially at the Cup level. I'm completely in favor of removing prize money from the box score altogether -- or explaining why it's the number it is -- because of how varied it can be.

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I really like the Nationwide series without the Cup Drivers. It seems like Cup guys, they just take off and take the lead and keep it. Its exciting when the Nationwide Series Drivers can run against each other. Better racing. I don't think Cup Drivers should be allowed in Nationwide Series at all.
-Deb

Another idea I can get behind, but it's not going to happen. Does something need to be tweaked to make sure Nationwide drivers have more of a chance at making it to victory lane? Absolutely. I stick by what I said last week.

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