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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Will neutering the Busch boys dull down NASCAR?

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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They were told to sit there by Brian France. / 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 (note new address) or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face. Let's begin with a pressing question:

Won't a NASCAR season where The Busch Brothers are totally PC, only thank their sponsors and the team and behave like choir boys be terrible for NASCAR? Do we really need to see Kurt and Rowdy behaving exactly like Edwards and Johnson?

— Larry from Texas.

This is the flip side of the "Kyle Busch must be stopped / Kurt Busch must be shut up" argument. Let's be honest: most NASCAR drivers, if you hung out with them at a bar, would be more interesting and better conversationalists than any of your friends. But your friends aren't larger-than-life, and that's what NASCAR fans gravitate toward. Your average driver might walk into a room and own it; the larger-than-life ones walk into Daytona and own it.

So here's the question for you: how much are you willing to tolerate from a driver in the name of "personality"? Me, I'm pretty forgiving with on-track incidents and on-radio yammering; I'm not so crazy about, say, driving 128 mph on surface streets. And you?

Next up: more Chase ideas!

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I suggest having a point given for each position for each lap. The leader gets 1 point, second gets 2 and so on down the pack. The winner gets 5 bonus points. ( It might be easier for the "math challenged" to give 43 for first, 42 for 2nd, etc. That is for people who think more is better.)

Logic: Someone who runs in front for the majority of the race and gets taken out near the end by "The Big One" will deserve more points that the driver who runs 25th all day long. There needs to be a premium for front runners. It should be easy to score with today's computer set-ups.

— Dick

That sounds so phenomenally complicated that I'm not sure why NASCAR hasn't done it yet. Think about it: if you give 43 points for first place, and someone goes wire-to-wire, you're talking 21,500 points for one race! That's awesome! Tie a dollar value to each lap and then you'll seriously see some action!

Now, look, I'm just a simple English major and don't know much about math, but wouldn't totaling up the points per lap have the same net effect as the average-finish stat, which we already calculate? By that standard, Edwards owned last season, with an average finish two places better than second-place Kevin Harvick.

Though if NASCAR does come up with a more complicated system, I'm definitely going into the number-crunching side of the industry. Heck with words.

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So Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will run the 6 at the 500. I like the idea, but it got me thinking; would a top-shelf organization like RFR consider running the 6 as a modified start and park to maintain owner points, with a few full races thrown in? Think about it; one or two fuel runs, outlast the other start and parks, and you potentially get a position in the mid or high thirties. That has value, not just for top-35, but for driver development as well.

— Jeff "Sarge" Smith
Statesboro GA

That's not a terrible idea, though it does kind of straddle the fence of elite team/start-and-parkers. Kind of like a high-end steakhouse having a drive-thru window. I'd imagine it's more a matter of resources and preserving the identity of the brand than anything else; better to reroute the money into three good teams than three good ones and one mediocre one. Still, these are changing times in NASCAR, and you might well see big-time teams adapt to these times.

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Video time! One of the best parts of travel is renting cars. One of the worst parts of covering the Daytona 500 is trying to rent a car and getting nothing but a behemoth Mercury Grand Marquis. Yes, I drive to the track in a car not unlike what my grandfather used to drive. But thanks to this video provided by loyal reader Sam Sevr, I can now see many more possibilities for what to do with this rental car (a bit of NSFW language):

I'll be doing burnouts approximately three hours after the checkered flag drops. Meet me at the start-finish line.

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An idea: in the Chase, the lowest finishing driver of the Chasers is eliminated. Think about it: the number one driver, if he finishes lowest, is done. This way we would have an exciting Chase, with No. 1 versus No. 2. And here is a new wrinkle: for the last race, the top two drivers have their points set to zero. it would be a win-or-go-home excitement that people would love. What do you think?

— Mitchell Mauthe

In theory, I love the idea. In practice, it'd be a little harder to implement, simply because of the Vickers Effect: i.e., you never know when someone's going to do something to take out a top Chase competitor. The uncertainty is always a part of racing, yes, but it rarely comes with such a heavy penalty on an entire season. So what this would probably lead to is very tentative racing, rather than very competitive racing.

And yes, I know I gave you guys a homework assignment last week, and several of you came through HUGE, so much so that I'm devoting a separate post to it later this week. But here's another for you: anybody who feels like going through the Chase, race by race, and seeing who would be left standing in an elimination system will get a hearty attaboy/girl and posting right here. Have fun!

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Last year in early Feb. I called Penske racing and talked to a Ms Bonnie. I told her the nas car title in 2011 was Roger Penskes to loose. Numbers NEVER lie. The #12 is bad luck. I would very much like someone to help me write a novel on this. Look at what happened to teams like the 99, 18. And look at RCR. Again its numbers that is the problem. OHHH.. And did I mention Dale Jr ?? Please listen carefully. Dale Jr. Can never win with the #88 and#7. It is against everything his dad ever raced for. Please give me a chance to explain this. One other thing that will shock nas car in 2012... Watch what is to take place with the #48. This will be the top nas car story of 2012. THANKS

— Eddie Hall
Daviston, AL

You know, I'm tempted to write this off as another lunatic letter from a "nas car" fan, but what if Eddie from Alabama is right? What if there is some huge numerological conspiracy in NASCAR that we've all been missing all these years? This could be like a redneck "Da Vinci Code"! It's all been in front of us, all along! [The entire letter is sic'd for illustrative purposes.]

All right, since we're already off the track and deep into the infield, let's close with this one, a reference to me calling myself a dork last week for visiting an art exhibit on New Year's Eve:

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After so many years of looking at the paint jobs on the race cars, I guess I can understand why you might belittle visiting an art exhibit, your sense of aesthetics has probably been fried for a long time. I happen to love racing, but am a professional artist. It might actually be good for NASCAR to start losing its ignorant boozing redneck "culture" but I am not holding my breath on that one. By the way, what I did for New Year's was work on a painting for my new book that will be published in June, and completely enjoyed doing so. But this kind of reader comment will never see the light of day on Happy Hour.

— Lexi Sundell

P.S. Happy New Year anyway.

I love these kinds of comments; daring me to publish something when you're flat-out wrong is a surefire route to publication! But all's good. I dropped a little art-knowledge on Lexi (this is all an act; I'm actually a 65-year-old female college professor) and asked her to send some of her work, and she complied. This one's called "Dancing With The Dew":

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Dancing With The Dew / Lexi Sundell

Wow. That's classy. My readers have talent! Anybody else got any skills? Music? Moviemaking? Hit us up with your work before the season starts.

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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