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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Should NASCAR distance itself from wrestling?

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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L-R: Carl Edwards, John Cena's right, John Cena, John Cena's left. / AP

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 (note new address) or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

Dig this! It's our last non-racing week until Thanksgiving! So let's get rolling with some discussion of non-racing racing topics, shall we? Take it away, readers ...

If Daytona is going to get John Cena as the starter, why not go all in? Get Grave Digger as pace car. Let Newt, Mitt and Obama debate whether the halfway purse is really a government handout. Bigfoot can run out on the track with 10 laps left and cause the phantom "bunch the field" late race caution. Have Snooki and Kim Kardashian act as Sprint Cup Girls and get Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy to commentate the race. Heck, Let Maury Povich do postrace interviews with the Busch brothers, and Dr. Phil can interview the runner up.

Can't NASCAR stand on its own two feet? It already has to fight misguided stereotypes. Why add more?

— Brian Hay
@hay_brian
Orange County, Calif.

I get what you're saying here, but let's remember that the Super Bowl just featured an aging glamour icon as its centerpiece ... oh, and Madonna too, who made almost as many headlines as Tom Brady did. Point being: it's not about sports anymore, especially in these big-time events; it's about the spectacle. I don't have a problem with Cena being a part of the festivities, though I get that people want to distance NASCAR from the "fake wrestling" image. (Conspiracy theorists take note: which driver compared NASCAR to the WWE? The same one who just won the championship! They totally co-opted Tony Stewart!)

Now, I will say that I'm with you on the obvious pandering, like Snooki last year at Richmond. But as long as they don't start putting gimmicks behind the wheel, I'm good. (And ... cue the Danica Patrick haters!)

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Sorry to say but I have always (since 1984) belonged to the group that did NOT love Dale Earnhardt. But since Dale Earnhardt Jr. started in Cup, he's seemed to be more his mother's son. A little softer around the edges, so to speak. He had the drive but none of the arrogant "get out of the way, I'm coming through" mentality. That being said, am I the only one to notice that he hasn't been the same since his concussion in Texas (which he covered up) and his flaming crash in the Corvette which he claimed to have had help from his Dad to escape? I do belong to Junior Nation but I'm just saying...

Concerned Mary in Indiana

Take heart, Mary; I don't believe that Junior's wrecks have damaged him beyond repair. I've heard the "fiery Corvette wreck" story before, but that strikes me as more after-the-fact justification than cause-and-effect. What I think we're seeing is that Junior's "softness around the edges," which I don't mean as a criticism, may be part of the difference between him and a championship driver.

Still, check out video from the wreck, from 2004. Pay attention to what the cockpit looks like at about the 1:15 mark:

Sweet heaven. I think I'd walk everywhere in my life after that.

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As a fan of NASCAR for almost 60 years what I would love to see is a race with "stock cars." Have NASCAR buy eight stock cars from the four different manufactures that race in NASCAR and have them basically stock except safety equipment. Assign drivers at random to the cars and race them for a hundred miles and see what happens. It would be even more fun if they were made to race with stock tires, and stock transmissions. And run the infield course like they do in the 24hrs. just before the 500. No pit stops, the car stops it's out of the race. I think the stock tires would really give the fans something great to watch. I don't think any car would last 100 miles today. Could prove me wrong, though.

Dan

I'll do you one better. Give the drivers one hour to go to the nearest dealership, make a deal, get back with the car and drive. Or, hell, have fans volunteer their cars for their favorite driver. Who wouldn't want to see Tony Stewart tooling a minivan around the track, trying to hold off Carl Edwards in a Ford Fiesta?

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With the news that Kansas will be adding a road course in time for the 2013 season, there is now an easy fix to getting a road course in the Chase. At Kansas NASCAR can now run the oval in the Spring and the road course in the Fall. No schedule shuffling or another track losing one of its weekends, and many fans will be happy that there is finally a road course in the Chase. The racing at Kansas has never been that great, so now you have 2 races at the same track but 2 different racing configurations. This would also challenge the drivers as the cars/setups would be completely different. What do you think?

Jim
Sterling, Va.

Works for me. Kansas is already angling for a night race for that second race. Now, the idea of throwing a completely new track into the mix in the Chase would probably make drivers mad enough to throw kittens.

For a more on-the-ground perspective, I asked our Nick Bromberg, a Kansas aficionado, what he thought. "I actually LOVE the idea because I love road racing," he said. (Yes, I can get a quote from Nick in instants. Jealous?) "However, and this is just me thinking out loud, would the Cup cars have an issue going from banking and a couple of banked turns to a bunch of flat ones within the course of a lap? It doesn't seem like much of a road course for a Cup car, honestly ... five to seven turns, depending on what counts as a corner."

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http://media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/sptusnascarmarbles/kansas_speedway_to_repave_reconfigure_and_add_road_course_in_.jpg

Next, in response to my idea from last week of a consolation race for the drivers who didn't make it into the week's race on speed or points ...

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I love the idea, Jay, but I think it would be better taking it one step further. Say 42 cars qualify for the race like the current system, then have the 10-lap opening act, with the winner transferring the main event, kinda like our small local short track racing. I would tune in for the pre-race coverage for once, and maybe watch it live instead of DVR'd. NASCAR needs to do something to spice it up a little, and make fans believe they're not as biased as they seem.

Greg LeJeune
Gladstone, Mich.

Boom. That's it. That's your idea. The only problem I see is logistically; the track is a mess on race day with people going to and fro, hanging out on the pavement to watch the musical act, signing the finish line with Sharpies, or wearing all white and sitting veeeery still against the SAFER barriers. ("This is gonna be the best seat EVER!") Maybe just a foot race? Potato sack? Three-legged with the driver and his crew chief? There's gotta be a way to make this happen.

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I find it amusing that we're talking about Danica using her looks to get into NASCAR. I can't think of a single one of the male drivers who isn't good looking, too. It's what sponsors want. Danica stands out simply because she's the most visible woman at this level. All of the rest of them are selling sex appeal, too, just in a more subtle way. Ask any female fan.

Alex Sargeant
Seattle

Hmm. In the interest of preserving future access and not getting my clock cleaned at Media Day, I'll refrain from providing a rebuttal to your "all the male drivers are good looking" thesis. I will say that while a guy like Carl Edwards doesn't embarrass himself when he runs around shirtless and greased up for magazine shoots (and probably summons up a few confused feelings in some fans while he does so), there are many more drivers whom I'm very happy to see in full-body firesuits, and ONLY full-body firesuits.

Finally, today in spam:

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Мы являемся проверенным посредником ТАОАБО Наша ветка на форуме

Доставка через Владивосток МИНУЯ ТАМОЖНЮ.
КОРОТКИЕ СРОКИ!!!
С уважением Оксана

Somebody keep Ward Burton away from the computer, please.

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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