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From the Marbles

Happy Hour: Will we see a rookie revolution in 2013?

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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Needs more cowboy hat. (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 or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

This week, I'm on the golf beat, covering Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the rest at the FedExCup. (Don't know what the FedExCup -- yes, all one word -- is? Read my preview here. Trust me, you'll enjoy it.) Anyway, this gives me the opportunity to run one of my favorite Onion articles ever: "Confused NASCAR driver runs over 30 golfers in attempt to win the FedExCup." No bueno, Denny.

One more programming note: if you enjoy this silliness, tune in every Monday for my new all-sports column Case Of The Mondays. We treat every sport there with the same reverence we treat NASCAR here.

All right, enough with the previews. Let's get to your letters.

I'm not sure when Jeff Burton's contract runs out, but I have to think CAT is not happy with the Senator, much the same way Home Depot forced JGR's hand. Given that Harvick and Menard are solid in the RCR camp, do you think it's likely Austin or both of the Dillon boys makes the leap next year? Both have shown pretty good skills in the Nationwide series.

Next year may bring a pretty good rookie crop for a change.

Jeff "The Real Slim Sarge" Smith
Wherabouts Classified

Agreed. Between Stenhouse, the Dillon boys and ol' whatsername, we've got some interesting new blood coming into the Sprint Cup series in coming months. I don't want to begin to speculate on sponsor-driver relations, but I will say that Burton is an absolute sponsor's dream for the demographic CAT wants to hit, and he's signed through 2013. Much better fit than, say, Zest and Matt Kenseth or Bass Pro Shops and Jamie McMurray. Those two should've switched, you ask me.

To answer your question directly: I can't see either Dillon making a big splash next year, but they'll get the equivalent of a September callup, much the same way Stenhouse is getting this year. Come 2016, we're going to have a whole new bunch of cats in the Chase...hopefully.

____________________

If the rumors are true, and Kurt Busch joins RCR, how will that work out with two alpha-males on the same team? Harvick is the predominant personality on that team, with a history of confrontation, being short- tempered, and some (minor) violence. Kurt has the same (more extreme) history. Can the two actually work together on the same team, or will there be drama between the two as they fight to be the top dog of their team?

— Dayna B.
California

We make it our policy not to comment on rumoHA HA WHO ARE WE KIDDING? Look, I flat-out love this rumor. LOVE it. I love it so much I don't even want to bother with verifying that it's made up out of spare tires and bullcrap, because I just want it to live on forever. Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick on the same team? Are you kidding me? I'd love to see that happen, mainly because I think Kurt is a better driver than Kevin and Happy would go insane if he got upstaged in his own team. (RCR has shot this one down, alas. Too bad.)

That said, I don't know what becomes of Kurt. He's simmered down quite a bit in the last few weeks, and while he's had a few radio blowups, he's apparently kept the support of his team around him. Will talent win out over temper? We'll find out soon enough.

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So what becomes of AJ Allmendinger and his 'indefinite ban' of what, 60 days?? Lost his ride and I'm sure lots of dough along with a question mark over his lack of sense. But, he took a pretty big hit for this to be expunged in less than 60 days?

Sam Hornish should get the ride to do the Nationwide race and Indy 500 next year since Penske bailed on him in favor of Joey. And now AJ too!

— Old School

There's this assumption that "indefinite" should have meant "forever and a day," but "indefinite" (which has to be one of NASCAR's favorite words, along with "debris in Turn Two") can mean four years or four minutes. The impression I get is that Allmendinger made a phenomenally stupid move, did everything he could to get right with NASCAR as soon as he could, and they held up their end of the bargain. You're right, it does seem like he paid a heavy price for such a short term, but I think he set himself up well for the future: he's proven (hopefully) that he's gotten scared straight, and that he can live up to his word when he's screwed up.

Dinger doesn't have that many options, and he's got some heavy competition for the seats that may open. I wonder if he'll give open-wheel a shot. Regardless, you've got to hope for the best for a guy who seems to have straightened things out.

___________________

This can't possibly be what the guys in charge of NASCAR want as far as promoting their sport and growing the audience. This race was so boring that, I a die hard NASCAR fan changed channels to watch the Browns-Bengals game! Mile-and-a-half cookie cutter tracks made sense in the '90s when the speeds and RPMs were not so high. The cars are so well made now that the top teams don't have engine failures like they did twenty or thirty years ago. My idea: expand restrictor plates to the mile and halfs. Bunch the field up and have actual side-by-side racing, see some passing on the track instead of wins just because one pit crew is a few tenths of a second faster than another team.

— Francis

Restrictor plates at mile-and-a-halfs? Good heavens, Francis, you'll have people coming to your door with torches and pitchforks. You have hit on a point, though: technology has outstripped the tracks' capacity to contain it. It's no longer a question of if you'll make it to the end of the race. Which is why I have an audacious proposal. Instead of shortening races, let's lengthen 'em! Who wouldn't watch the Daytona 5000? Why not run 10,000 laps around Bristol? You could watch the start of the race, go to college, get married, have a couple kids, and take them to the finish!

Anyway, I get your pain. But until someone steps up and constructs a new short track and gets it on the schedule, we're stuck with the cookie-cutters. And they're crappy cookies, too, like those peanut-butter ones with fork crisscrosses. Those suck.

____________________

Here is an idea: take the last-place Chase guy and throw him out each week, and see which three are left at the end for the Homestead race. Then compare that to what the real results are and you might wonder just how much WINS count for against the mulligan factor. So keep a week by week tally and take it from there. I myself like wins, but those come-from-behind performances are really great.

— Steve T.
GO # 88

I think we did this last year, and Carl Edwards ended up winning. Smoke got eliminated early on. So let's give it a go. Mr. Gordon, please exit the stage and collect your prize. We need a name for this particular competition. "Last Man Driving"? Come up with something better. Of course, in reality it wouldn't go anywhere because of sponsor concerns, but we don't live in reality here.

Finally, we got a great letter that just begs to be run in its entirety. Editing would only destroy the flow of this beauty:

___________________

WOW! here I am living in Pittsburgh, actually born here lived here for most of my life except for 2 years in Oklahoma(army) and 8 years in southwest Florida. I became a slight fan of NASCAR in the mid 80's and dabled a bit until the KIDD came about started watching it when i could get it in PGH then i went to the first Brickyard and WOW i was hooked and jumped on rooting for Jeff! But i was still a die hard Steelers fan and watched them like religion until!!!! one sunday in septtember while living in San Carlos Park on the west coast of florida I decied to goto the local watering hole The San Carlos Lounge to watch the steelers cause they were finally on tv and i didnt have to watch a Miami or a Tampa game so as i make my way to the bar I notice all 8 TVs on the nascar race I belive it was Talledega, so i ask the bartender quietly hey can you put the Steeler game on!!!!!!ooppps!!! it was like i broke every glass in the place it got eiriely quiet almost deafening was the silence (and i use this term with no offence to anyone)this toothless old redneck with a Dale sr hat n Shirt on turns and in a voice as loud as thunder he states Listen here Yankee there aint no G*& damned football on these here TV's until the 3rd week of November and you can walk your yankee ass right outta here with that black and gold bumblbee looking get upo you have on!!!! Wow i was floored but i satyed and watched for a while!! Now living inFla i never missed a daytona 500 or a pepsi 400 at Daytona and made every Miami race while i was there and i goto Richmond evry year for both races! But what kills me is living in Pittsburgh I am again on the wrong side of the fence i cant get NASCAR on any public tv during football season and belive me these yankees up here have no concept of what NASCAR is I am fighting a loseing battle with all the fantasy football people too i play NASCAR fantasy and they just have a good laugh at me and constantly hearing how hard is it to go fast and turn left???? GRRRRR well just to say that this is not the easiest city to be a NASCAR fan !!!!!!

— Sean T Byrnes

Awesome letter, Sean. Anybody else want to give us a rant about where you're from and how little they like NASCAR there? Come on, step up! Tell us how you get your race fix in Europe or Asia or the Indian Ocean or Massachusetts or whatever strange land you live in. Have at it!

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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