Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.
So I was running low on gas the other day and I tried the Jimmie Johnson solution: turn off the engine and coast, then turn it back on again. FYI: It doesn't work so well in traffic. Now, your letters, starting with the topic du jour:
Urt, Urt, Urt. A lot of us try, and I mean really try, to give you a chance to redeem yourself but it's getting about time to kick you to the curb. This latest deal, roaring through the 39 pits because you were angry, shows me the new attitude is superficial. Like a potential sponsor, I'm going to have to put my money somewhere else. You're an extremely talented driver; just look at how you mowed down the field at last week's Southern 500 with an underfunded team, but you are too much of a liability. I was really hoping to see some real change. How cool would it be to see some great storylines like Phoenix Racing getting a Chase berth? I'm sure writers like Busbee had the whole "phoenix-rising-from-the ashes" story ready in the back of their minds (sorry JayB, no Pulitzer there). What great stuff this would have been. Sorry, Urt, you're fired!
The Kurt Busch saga fascinates me for so many reasons. Have we ever had an athlete in the prime of his career detonating like this? I can't think of anyone; help me out. What Busch's increasingly unhinged rants have shown is that you just cannot trust the guy. He absolutely has a world of talent, but he needed to look at this year as a flat-out internship where anything above finishing half the races constituted a success. Instead, he probably scared away any sponsors or potential new owners with this rant; can you hear it and think there's any chance he changed? At some point, you run out of second chances.
I'm done, man. I'm done watching NASCAR. FOX has ruined it for me. From their five-laps-per-commercial-break average, to the inane and mind-numbing commentary spouting from the GoDaddy-[uh, let's say "cheering" - JB] mouths of DW and Mike Joy, FOX has made NASCAR unwatchable. Danica Patrick isn't compelling to me no matter how many times we're force-fed her story. Besides, how are we supposed to take her seriously as a driver when her main sponsor is carpet bombing the coverage with their terrible commercials and in-race ads (lest I forget her 'respectable' 31st place finish, six laps down).
I'll be at Bristol this fall; at least live racing will always be exciting and DW-free. Now I'll just have to figure out what to do with my free time on Sunday afternoons. Croquet anyone?
I'm a beast at croquet. You're on. But dude, don't give up yet! Fox only has a few more races! Then we're on to TNT and ESPN! I'm not going to weigh in on the relative merits of each broadcast team; everybody's got their own favorites (and some prefer simple silence). I will say that I can understand why people are sick of the Danica coverage … to some extent, it's the NASCAR equivalent of ESPN slobbering all over everything Boston. Might I humbly suggest our raceday chat? It's not a Danica-free zone, but everybody takes shots at everyone. Except for the Orange Cone. That fella's sacred.
In the early days of NASCAR, the sport was just as much a race of endurance as it was speed. The rate of attrition was significantly higher. The technology for building engines and transmissions that could handle the rigors of 500 miles without self destructing on a semi-regular basis wasn't readily available. With better tech and testing, the endurance aspect of the sport is essentially a non-factor. Is it time for NASCAR to consider shortening these races? I'm thinking in the ballpark of 150-mile range for NCWTS, 200-mile range for NWS, and 300-mile range for NSCS. I may be in the minority but I truly believe that these 4+ hour races are as outdated as the carbureted engine or non-synchronous transmission.
—Darrell "Furiousd" Watts
I absolutely agree, and you've hit on a point that has some traction. Why do races have to be 500 miles? Sure, it's a nice round number, but you're right — there's no mechanical or technological reason for the race to be that length any longer. Every car is almost certainly going to make it to the finish in one piece, even those driven by Sam Hornish Jr. and Steve Wallace. Plus, consider the fact that we're living in a much faster-paced world now; attention spans are completely — HEY, GET BACK HERE! I WASN'T DONE TALKING! Anyway, yeah, you can make races shorter for the TV audience while still preserving the hang-out-and-get-drunk-all-day-and-call-in-sick-till-Thursday joy that is attending a race in person.
Before the Nationwide race at Darlington on Friday, the ESPN announcers were talking to Denny Hamlin over the radio. They mentioned talking to the drivers during a green flag run. Apparently they got in trouble for doing that a couple of years ago. That reminded me of a video I found on youtube. This is Tim Richmond during a race in 1986 at North Wilkesboro. Enjoy.
Dude! I lost your name! Send it to me and I'll post it. Anyway, that clip is unbe-freaking-lievable. Richmond is chilling like that under a green flag? He could've given Kurt a few lessons. I bet Tim had his right arm slung over the passenger seat, too. And if he didn't have a passenger seat, he'd probably install one. And bring along a couple stewardesses for the ride.
We'll close with two good letters on the same topic of wrecks vs. clean racing:
I like wrecks during races. I admit it. There is nothing else in NASCAR or any other motor sport that provides the "OMG did you see that?" or "OMG you've got to see the replay of this" moments that wrecks do.
That said, I do not sit around during a race and hope and praying that a wreck will come along. Never will. What I do miss is the competitiveness during the race. The aggressive moves. The bump-and-run moves that do not cause wrecks but are a spike in the action. Passing down the backstretch. Those things, things fans really love, seem to be missing from NASCAR these days. They're rarely seen on the short tracks anymore. About the only races where such aggressive action occurs are the two road races and they only occur at one or two corners each lap.
Most fans do not want more wrecks. We do want aggressive, competitive racing throughout the race not just the final 5 percent of the laps. But, when they do occur, we do love wrecks.
I never heard someone come into work on Monday and say "did you see Stewart pass Jr. on lap 22?" I'm not arguing that it makes us good or bad people...it just makes us people. We like the carnage, we like to share, and we like to share the carnage. Did you ever tell someone a story about your drive home that was exactly like every other drive home? No, but you will tell the story of the day you saw the SUV upside down wrapped around a tree. If you still don't believe me, record a race. Give yourself about 60 minutes to watch it. You'll fast forward through most of it with the intent of watching the last 20 laps. But I'm willing to bet that most people will hit play when the yellow caution light starts flashing just to see what happened. Why? Not because we're bad people, but because it's interesting, different, unpredictable. And that's what we like.
Right on, gents. Here's a solution: award more points for leading at various checkpoints in the race. You award an extra point for leading every 100 miles, you're going to see a lot less backmarking. Artificial? Sure, but it's artifice in the service of good racing, not some manufactured drama like debris that may or may not actually exist.
Another idea: let the drivers race fans' cars. You like Tony Stewart? Prove it. Give him the keys to your minivan and see if he can outdrive Carl Edwards in your buddy's SUV. I'd pay money to see that, and you would too.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!