Weekday races are always weird, if only because we get a ton of people on our raceday chats who are sneaking away from work and trying to keep up with the race. How do you get your NASCAR fix during a rain-delayed workday race? Got a good story? Let us hear it.
Meanwhile, we start with the push of the week, J.J. Yeley's "assistance" to Matt Kenseth on the last lap of Chicagoland, which resulted in Kenseth getting bounced from 8th down to 21st:
First, did Kenseth actually ask Yeley to give him a push back to the finish line? He's been around the sport for more than a decade, so he should be fully aware of the situation involving last lap help. Or is it some weird situation where Yeley's spotter saw a Ford in distress, and told him to give him a push? If that were the case, it would be completely unfair to punish the no. 17 for that mistake.
Also, assuming Kenseth didn't ask for help, what would happen if Yeley were to, say, push Jimmie Johnson to the finish line instead? Jimmie clearly wouldn't ask for help from a Ford, but maybe Yeley would want to help out Roush Fenway in the standings ...
— Corey K.
You're assuming Yeley could catch Jimmie Johnson. Zing! Nah, the likelihood of that even happening is remote, and if Yeley did try something like that, he'd be black-flagged immediately. So, no, that's not a concern for 48 fans.
To answer your first question: no, Kenseth didn't ask for help. It was a case of Yeley just trying to do a good deed for a fellow driver, one that didn't go unpunished. Yeley assumed, as many did, that because two-car pushing is allowed at Daytona and Talladega, and because cars have pushed other cars on caution laps to preserve fuel, it'd be OK in this instance. Reasonable assumption, unfortunate result. Thanks for the help, J.J., but next time, just send a card.
Matt Kenseth made a comment on his Twitter account: "with all the fuel mileage races we've had recently, maybe NASCAR should outlaw pushing of cars at any point in the race." Makes sense to me. Also, do the networks ever re-air the races when they are run on Monday? I heard it was one hell of a finish but I'll never know... Stupid job!
— D. Watts
I'd agree with Kenseth; pushing opens up too many issues, and I don't think it'll be a matter for concern going forward as the tracks age and NASCAR monkeys with the restrictor plate.
And SPEED usually runs replays of every race, though often late at night. Get a different job, though.
It appears that Paul Menard's "unintentional" spin at Richmond is NASCAR's version of "Hack A Shaq!" Shaq could not hit his free throws and Jeff [Gordon] can't get the car moving forward during a restart. Everyone knows that Jeff has had trouble with restarts the last couple of years and if he is leading late in the race, a caution is the last thing he needs or wants. Jeff and his team need to figure out these restarts quick or he has little chance of becoming a Champion for the 5th time.
I like that, but what do we call it? "Burden-a-Gordon"? I always thought the Hack-a-Shaq was the cheapest of cheap (legal) shots, though, just like those football coaches who call time out right before the ball is snapped on a field goal. Play straight up, y'all.
O.K. Jay, after Monday's race, many Chase contenders ran out of gas, with Gordon and Kyle Busch faring the worst, digging themselves a hole. Although we've seen comebacks before (cue JJ in 06, after 39th at Loudon), the question is still posed. Does a bad start tank title hopes?
I love how you didn't even hint at including Denny Hamlin in there. This'll be a topic for the next few weeks, until we get a sense of how the points break down mathematically. There's a much bigger hit for finishing poorly now than there was before, percentage-wise, so consistency may well be the key. And, yes, we could have that dreaded win-the-Chase-without-winning-a-race specter (looking your way, Carl Edwards). You never want your first race to be your mulligan, but that's exactly what's happened for the 18 and the 24 cars.
Next, a response (or, more properly, an echo) of the way that certain fan bases behave:
At Texas Motor Speedway, the 80/20 rule goes like this - 80% of the fans root for Dale Earnhardt Jr. first, and anyone else driving a Chevy second. No other makes are tolerated. They all drink Anheuser-Busch products of some sort. No other brands are allowed. They have every article of Junior gear going all the way back to the year 2000. No other driver's stuff is even considered. So when Matt Kenseth or Carl Edwards wins the race (those DAMN Fords) or, heaven forbid, one of the Busch brothers, who led all but 13 of 334 laps driving a Toyota and a Dodge, you can just imagine the disgust. I mean 80% of the crowd goes home genuinely upset while the rest of us just enjoy the event no matter the outcome. You either have to laugh about it or stay home.
— Ken Hall
I'm always a bit surprised by the depths of NASCAR fandom; I hope that some of these people love their mothers half as much as they love their drivers. Generally, folks, the usual rule in life applies: like who you want, but don't be a (genuine Craftsman or Kobalt) tool about it.
Now, courtesy of the fine folks at Doublemint, here's a photo of a guy who might have a bit of trouble at the TMS campgrounds: Mickey Rosenberry of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was chosen as Kyle Busch's "twin":
If you or someone you know happens to look like a NASCAR driver, by all means send me a photo. But don't send me a picture of your dog's back end and say it looks like Junior.
I'm starting to get sick of races where the same cars keep causing caution flags throughout the race but are still allowed to keep on racing. When I've seen this happen the flow of the race just slows down emensly and it just makes for some more wrecks on the restart slowing down the race even more. I think they need to enforce a three-strike rule, where if you cause a caution three times, you're done for the race. I think it would also lessen the possibly of taking out a car who's going for the win or a chase contender. What are your thoughts on this?
Nice idea, but it's pretty rare that a car causes three cautions without doing something to himself to get himself taken off the track entirely. Caution flags do stink, yeah, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. NASCAR has to be careful not to overregulate to meet the regulations of the overregulation of the previous set of regulations.
Jay, you know how sports figures and fans are often superstitious? For instance, I still blame my otherwise lovely bride for the Yankees' loss in the 2001 World Series on the fact that she sat next to me on the couch in the bottom of the ninth of game 7 and asked, "So are they going to win?"! [Editor's note: AH HAH HAH YOUR YANKEES LOST! I hate the Yankees. Back to Sarge's letter.]
Anyway, I have solved Junior's mid-season woes, and wish to claim my credit in this august blog. Junior placed third at Chicagoland because I was wearing red #8 lounge pants while chatting during the race on Yahoo! with the Jays! You're welcome, Junior. Those lounge pants will be nice and ripe come Homestead.
— Jeff "The Real Sarge" Smith
Everybody might want to give Sarge a wide berth from now through November. Yeesh.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Facebook right here, or hit us up on Twitter at @jaybusbee. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!
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- Matt Kenseth