Happy Hour: No more top 35s, and the best driver in NASCAR

Jay Busbee

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: you write us at nascarmail@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face. Today, we're talking shorter races, Junior and Kyle love, and NASCAR relegation. Away we go!

One of the changes I would have liked to see in the off season is the [guaranteed starts for the] top 35 in the points system. If a team is not good enough in a given weekend to make a race, then let their sponsors deal with them. That way everyone has to work just as hard as the next to make a race.

— Stan
Beaufort, S.C.


I love that idea, but it'll never happen. No sponsor is going to want to throw out the cash to sponsor a car with the chance that it might not run on Sunday. No network is going to want to broadcast with the chance that the best drivers might not make it. (See: Denny Hamlin's unexpected crash in the qualifying on Sunday.) It's not a meritocracy, true, but it's also not going to change.


Hey Jay, who is the best pure driver in the sport, the one driver that can win regardless of who is on the pit box? This includes Nationwide, Trucks, Cup, even the Mods.

Danny Clark

If you're talking solely NASCAR, I'm going with Kyle Busch. The guy has shown that he can win every time he shows up at the track in the lower divisions, and in Sprint Cup, more often than not he's the one who beats himself. If you expand it out to all motorsports, I'd have to go with either Tony Stewart orsurprise pickRobby Gordon. Gordon could drive a grocery store shopping cart to a decent finish; problem is, most of his cars haven't been much more than a shopping cart. And Stewart will manhandle anything that moves. (Cars too! Zing!)

But, yeah, pound for pound you've gotta go with Kyle.

More follows.

Shorter races: I really think that the sponsors that have paid the way would be offended and screwed. They would lose valuable air time. The drivers loved all the [air]time they could get when when they needed it to come up through the ranks, but now that they made it, they just want the money and the glory and to get back on the bus ... It's not a drag race! It's an endurance and skill race. I think if you don't want to spend your time on the track, find another profession.
Brian Gebo

The "shorter races" argument is kicking up righteously. I don't think it's that people want to work less, it's that people want viewers to stick around longer. On another note, a 500-mile-long drag race would be awesome.

Hello Jay, I can always tell when NASCAR's season is about to start. After all, there's so much fuss over Mrs. Sports Media Darling, Auto Racing Division. But why all the fuss in the first place, Jay?

Is it because of Mrs. Almost-Should've-Could've-Would've's finish in the minor league level Nationwide 2010 standings (43rd)? Or how about her 2010 record (0-30)? Or Mrs. 1-110's overall record (1-110)? Maybe it's the number of times Mrs. Lapped-52-times was lapped (52...surprise!)?

Oh, and, you know, I can't wait to see, you know, and, you know, hear her first post-race interview. After all, you know, there's two words she says, you know, over and over again. You know what I mean? You know, I think you know now.

Rob Durkee

Well, that was ... thorough. Although I'm still not sure who he was talking about.

Re. Junior's troubles: Totally agree and can't argue with stats, Junior needs to get back on track. Having the Earnhardt name carries a lot of weight, but I do think WHEN he gets his stride we will see a Reborn Junior, Hang in there Junior Nation.

K.L. in Cali

Good to see there are some Junior fans still out there keeping the faith. You folks do realize that once Junior wins a race, the argument will be that he hasn't won a Cup, right? And then once he wins a Cup, the argument will be that he won't win seven? It's like a fight with your significant other ... the finish line is always moving farther and farther away.

This is not to be disrespectful to the Earnhardt legacy but I have a question. If I remember correctly, within and year or two after Richard Petty retired, NASCAR told his Team that the #43 needed to get back out on the track or that they (NASCAR) would lease it to another Team. If this is true, why is RCR not required to put the #3 back on the track? If the number has been retired, why are others not being retired?

Steve
Kansas City

I'm not sure about the Petty aspect of that story, but bear in mind the key difference here: Petty walked away from his number. NASCAR does still own the number, and it's not retired (Austin Dillon runs it in trucks), but the powers-that-be have recognized that putting that number back out in the pool would instantly doom whichever poor bastard got tagged with it. It'll be back in Sprint Cup one day, Richard Childress has said as much, but it'll take a special driver to be able to handle the burden of running under it.

Hey Jay, I'm tired of all the Junior bashing. What about Burton, 18 Wins since 1993?? He has good equipment, he always has, really. How about Newman, 14 wins since '01? Or Biffle, 16 wins since '02? I like all those guys, including 88. Junior is my favorite. But I have faced it that he is not as good as his dad. He is a good driver though, he has numbers that compete with these guys. Shouldn't they be bashed some too?

Luke

The Burton/Biffle/Newman argument has been posed several times. Here's the thing, though: it's not good enough for the son of a legend to just run with the pack; he's got to run ahead of it. More importantly, all of those guys have wins since Junior's last one. Junior hasn't proven he can run well in the Car of Tomorrow, and until he does, you can trot out all the statistics you want (Earnhardt has more wins than Richard Petty since 2001!) but the on-track truth wins out.

I'm an old, old NASCAR fan from the '50s, and I love to watch drivers drive "stock" cars ... So here's my take. Go out to the local car dealerships and buy 50 "stock" cars from Ford, Chevy, Dodge, etc. Have safety stuff installed and all the same size tires, and weld the hoods shut. Draw names from a hat as to the car they will drive, and finally have them drive on the infield course without the back field chicane. I would pay to watch this!

—Dan


As would I, Dan. Especially if they snuck a minivan or two in the mix.

Hey there! Just wondering what your thoughts are on RCR adding a fourth team to their roster. I myself am not too happy considering how it went a couple of year ago when it was tried. Needless to say, I'm not exactly thrilled about the driver that's been picked for that fourth team. I mean, really? Paul Menard? I'm pretty sure Wolverine hasn't won a race in a looooooong time. I guess having a sponsor in tow really will get you places.

—Nikki aka @EMTnoodle

You answered your own question. Sponsor dollars scream. Menard had a good early 2010, but it remains to be seen if he can translate that success to a full season. Perhaps with RCR's backing, he can come up big, but the last time RCR went to four cars, with Casey Mears, it didn't go so well.

On bigger tracks, why not allow more then 43 cars? For the tracks that can handle more cars safely, then why not allow 45, 48, 50 cars to race the race? I know there will be more pit-box sharing, but I bet if you go to a team and say "We can guarantee more cars in the race, but you will have to share the pit box" - they will most likely jump at the chance at a more guaranteed chance to be in the race (since more cars in - less likely they will not have to qualify on speed.) And with the new point system,
just award everyone 43 and lower 1 point each.
—Michael Coan

This is another idea that I love in theory, but in practice, sharing pit boxes would be suicidal. As for having 50+ cars on the track, it might go a little something like this:

And finally, an exciting new business opportunity ...


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Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we've found a new NASCAR sponsor! Get Scott Speed on the phone!

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 nascarmail@yahoogroups.com, or hit us up on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We'll make you famous!