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 swim team season, and if you've got kids, that means you're going to big four-hour neighborhood meets. I train my kids to work sponsor mentions (Yahoo! Sports, of course) into regular conversation and put their opponents into the wall, which really doesn't go over too well with the other teams. But I recommend against trying tandem racing in the pool. And for heaven's sake, don't try interviewing my kids right after they finish the race. Those are some foul-mouthed munchkins. Say, that reminds me of something ... let's do a roundup of KuBu responses, shall we? DJ, give me a beat ...
I am a Kurt Busch fan. [After last fall] I decided to stick with the driver, thinking he was smart enough to keep his cool, and maybe contend for a win or so. Come to find out, he is the same Kurt. Now that he is out of Pocono for the weekend, is it cool to change drivers midseason now? (Rickie Hodges, Norfolk, VA)
James Finch certainly seems to think so. And if the owner of Phoenix Racing, who's currently writing Kurt's checks, is willing to make a change if Busch doesn't shape up, why shouldn't fans? I say disaffected Kurt fans should start rooting for Trevor Bayne. It'll be a wondrous change for all involved.
Jay, what are the odds that Kurt Busch gets fired before the end of the season? (Michael George Koltuniak)
Vegas sets the line at 3-1. But if Kurt plays his cards right, he could bet on his own firing, get himself fired, and cash in. Money!
Why do you who don't do, get to control those few that can? Reporters are the vultures of all who produce. (Alan)
I had to get out the industrial-strength grammar cleaner for a few of these emails. If the media was REALLY as evil as some of you seem to think, I'd let you hang yourselves with your own start-and-park spelling. Anyway, here's a thought to all of you who hate the media so much: don't watch/read/listen. We're all biased vultures, so why do you want to spend any time with us? Just drive to each race yourself, buy tickets and lodging, and observe what's happening on-track. Shouldn't cost you more than about $100,000 a year. Per person. No problem, right? Not when the alternative is, you know, reading/watching and then forming your OWN opinion.
Mr. Busch needs to remember to think twice before stepping outside the box. It's ugly mob rules. Not worth the trouble! Media, please stop provoking. Treat others as you want to be treated. (Troy)
This was a common thread, that the media somehow "provoked" Kurt Busch. Let's break this one down, shall we?
1. If a driver can't handle being simply asked questions, even "provocative" ones, without losing his mind, it might be time for him to consider an alternative line of work ... one where he's not paid a ton of money to drive a car in a circle.
2. Busch is in this predicament because of his own actions. Nobody else's. And in December, he took responsibility for that and promised to conduct himself more professionally. That seems to have been lost in the rush to defend Kurt.
3. Sporting News' Bob Pockrass asked a question in a professional manner and, like so many before him, got back a smarmy, sarcastic answer. Let's apply "treat others as you want to be treated" equally, shall we?
4. It's funny how drivers love the media when they want us around to promote their latest sponsor initiative/charity event, but then slag the media as "tabloid" when the off-track stories don't break their way. Just, you know, an observation.
5. The media didn't fire Kurt Busch twice from Chase-level teams. And the media didn't GET Kurt fired. Another observation.
You should have a mic stuck in your face after you drive home from the race. Leave the drivers alone and report on the crap NASCAR puts them through. You must be a Dem. Only half the story! (James Liptrap)
Leave the drivers alone? Really? Not sure their sponsors would like that. And if you're looking for someone to "report on the crap" of NASCAR, few can match Pockrass, FYI. Man ... talk about telling only "half the story." (Also, let's be honest: both sides have their problems telling the whole story. But NO MORE POLITICS.)
One other thing: NASCAR holds the top-five drivers after each race to do on-track interviews. It wasn't like Pockrass ambushed Kurt. And even if he did, the burden is on the driver to act like a professional. If a member of the media is REALLY being unprofessional, go on Twitter and call 'em out. Make it public. There are those in the NASCAR media pool who would gleefully jump on one of their own if it meant getting in better with the drivers. But be specific. Hurt feelings are not evidence.
Does NASCAR have favorite sons? Why is this hothead still racing? They come down hard on some and others skate by, is it because NASCAR likes the drama? They need to [expletive] can this guy. (racefanmich)
You think NASCAR is favoring Kurt Busch? There's proof that we all see the world the way we want to. (Yes, NASCAR does like the drama, as long as it doesn't make the sport look too bad. As we've seen, that can be a devil's bargain.)
If stupid people ask stupid questions, they deserve stupid answers and the notion that everyone has to be on best behavior all the time because of a fan with a cell phone is ludicrous. It's almost as if they really, really wanted to get him, and in turn it makes NASCAR look childlike, almost grade-schoolish. (Chris H, St. Louis)
"Stupid people asking stupid questions and getting stupid answers" — sounds like this whole mailbag right here. (I kid! Not all your questions are stupid.)
If I was going to make a list of people who make NASCAR look "childlike and grade-schoolish," it'd probably be different from yours. And yes, there is absolutely no middle ground between "best behavior" and throwing out f-bombs and screaming at everyone around you. That's not a stupid statement at all.
Jay, you must admit that was a stupid question that the reporter asked. All he was trying to do was egg Kurt on. There are some reporters that don't belong in the business. (Jim Lewis)
Bob Pockrass absolutely belongs, and anybody who says differently needs to educate themselves on his work. (I'd actually like to see some legitimate examples of the "unprofessional" and "tabloid" journalism that drivers and fans seem to think is so prevalent in NASCAR. Send me links. Trust me, compared to, say, college football, the journalism in NASCAR is like a gentle backrub to the drivers and teams.)
This whole "stupid question" angle mystifies me. What was stupid about it? In December, Kurt promised to behave better. He was on probation and got challenged, ON THE TRACK, by Allgaier. Pockrass was, in effect, asking Busch how he was handling RACING while under probation. Both Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have mentioned the chilling effect of probation on their on-track style. Despite what Busch (and some fans) seem to think, that's the very DEFINITION of a racing question.
And finally, if he WAS trying to "egg Kurt on," so what? You mean to tell me Busch lacks the self-control to be able to handle a freaking QUESTION? Some of you are giving these drivers less accountability than a dog that's not housebroken. "Dog peed on the rug? IT'S THE RUG'S FAULT FOR BEING THERE!"
We done with this story? Obviously not, but let's move on to something far less controversial ... like Danica Patrick.
People are asking why was Danica Patrick invited to the Prelude to the Dream. They claim she has no business there and that she is unqualified. Let's be serious, this is an exhibition race for a great cause. This is about getting some of the most popular drivers from a variety of disciplines to compete, Saturday night style, for the benefit of fans and more importantly to raise money for charity. If Danica's presence can sell a few more pay-per-view orders or put another few backsides in the stands then she is doing exactly what she and every other driver there was invited to do. If it was purely about the race, then most of the drivers invited would be exchanged for the top dirt late model stars.
Yeah, that Kurt Busch is ... wait, what? That wasn't a Kurt question. Oh. Too bad. Anyway, yeah, I agree with what Bill said about Danica's participation. Far as I'm concerned, she's still got goodwill to burn, based on the eyeballs and revenue she's bringing to NASCAR. At some point, that won't be the case, but if you're begrudging her participating in a charity event, it's probably time to reassess your life.
Wow, negativity left and right today! Let's wrap with a high note. Someone praised ... Pocono? Really? Huh.
I'm tired of people [expletive]ing on Pocono. Big Bill begged Doc Mattioli to take a second race and Doc was very reluctant. And the actual racing is a hell of a lot better than a lot of other tracks. Five-wide on restarts there is awesome. Going to 400 miles is a plus, too. I've been to 10-15 races there and was never disappointed. Maybe it was the naked chicks in the infield! By the way, if you like beer, the area from Long Pond to Williamsport has great microbreweries. Beautiful area, as well.
— Mike Deppen
Naked chicks? Beer? That's not about racing, Mike! Kurt Busch would NOT approve! (Thanks. Good recommendations.)
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!