From the Marbles - NASCAR

Happy Hour: When is it time to find a new favorite driver?

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.

You done with your Christmas shopping yet? Yeah, me neither. I get a total rush out of going to the mall, which is problematic because pretty much everyone else I know hates it and tells me about this thing called the "Internet" where you can do all your shopping. So I end up going to the mall by myself and sitting amid the Christmas carols and fake snow until somebody calls security on me. It's a holiday tradition.

Now, to your letters. Away we go...

This has been a rough week. I have been a Kurt Busch fan since he burst into Cup a decade ago. Knowing that the best car he could get into right now is the Golden Corral car that Dave Blaney likes to crash, I have decided to set a tournament to pick a new favorite driver. I have decided that it will either be a Ford or Brad K. I am wondering if you could ask the Yahoo! NASCAR world to help me out! Thanks!

Rickie
Norfolk, Va.

Rickie brings up an excellent question. When is it time to pull the plug on your driver fandom? Some fans, of course, will follow their driver right up to the gates of Hell (even though said driver would probably skid right past said gates on his first pass). Others are more capricious, ditching their own underperformer in lieu of someone running better. (Woe to those who got on the 48 train this year at long last.)

But Rickie's got himself (herself?) an interesting dilemma. Rickie's driver has shotgunned himself right out of the top ranks of the sport. Where should Rickie's loyalty lie now? Should he stick with Kurt even through the down times, or has Kurt cost himself a fan too?

Let's throw this one open to the crowd. Friends, Rickie is now on the market. Make your best case to get him on your squad. And teams/drivers who are reading this, make your play as well. We'll get Rickie hooked up with someone new, pronto.

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For the last two years, I have seen Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick, among others, throwing their water bottles out of their car windows. The camera has caught this several times and I keep bringing it up to NASCAR in the form of an email and yet have never seen any response. To me, this could purposely cause a caution when a driver needs one, or become a safety concern, but nobody seems to want to acknowledge that it even happens, the camera doesn't lie. So, thought I would bring this to your attention and see if you all have any concerns about this subject.

Bob Williamson
Westland, Mich.

Sorry, Bob, but I don't have any concerns about a two-ounce water bottle causing a caution for a 3,400-pound race car. I know there are all the jokes about hot dog wrapper cautions (usually made by us), but the truth is that a water bottle thrown from a car spends less time on the track than Joe Nemechek (zing!).

 

That's not to say that drivers don't occasionally throw garbage out of the car in an attempt to cause a caution, the most famous example being Robby Gordon allegedly slinging some roll-bar foam. But the lightweight bottle isn't going to cause any damage, and it's probably better to have it out of the car than rolling around inside. Plus, with most drivers now sporting cameras inside their cars, it's not like they can sneak it out of the car with no one noticing.

And, as Paul Menard showed in Richmond, there are much more effective ways of causing cautions when needed.

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With Red Bull Racing shutting down operations, there are two open spots in the top 35 provisional qualifying lineup. How will NASCAR fill those slots? If memory serves me correct (or it may not) the last time this happened the spot was opened up to the highest bidder. Or will they do some other method to fill them?

Chuck
AKA WisHawk during racechat

General consensus among the Yahoo! NASCAR braintrust is that the spots would go to a team that merges with Red Bull, otherwise the 36th and 37th spots get the nod. NASCAR has indicated that you "cannot" "buy" "points" (and no, my quotation button did not stick just there). In short, as with so much in NASCAR bureaucracy, the rules are hard and fast on this, except when they aren't.

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I was wondering why they bother to put on stickers that mimic the headlights & taillights of regular cars. Does it help the spotters or is there some other technical-ish reason? Seems like some sponsor would have figured out a way to use that space unless they really needed them there. Just curious.. .

Robin H.
Dallas, Texas

Well, two reasons for the stickers. First, obviously, real headlights and taillights would shatter under even the most routine of bumps — like, say, a minivan with those stupid-ass reindeer antlers and Rudolph nose backing into my car at the mall. I saw you, lady! And you're going to be paying my holly jolly deductible soon! But I digress.

Mainly, it's aesthetic. A NASCAR car is just one big shell. But to preserve the illusion that these are "stock" cars (I know, I know, stop laughing) the headlights and brake lights remain. Now, if they'd just bring back those silver-naked-lady mudflaps ...

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Jay, I have heard several people say that Kurt Busch should replace Joey Logano in the #20 car. My question: why on earth would Joe or JD want to deal with both Kurt and Kyle? I would think that Kyle alone is more than enough of a headache. I realize that they both win races but I find it hard to believe in this case that double the pleasure (in victory lane) is double the fun (in the NASCAR hauler). Just my thoughts on the matter.

Jen
Maine

Clever! Yeah, I've got to figure that if JGR was mad enough at Kyle to sit him, they're not going to take on the headache of another Busch bro. These guys aren't exactly the Mannings, you know.

I know we'll have plenty of time to discuss this in the new year, but it's going to be really fascinating to watch the Kurt Busch saga. The guy is at the absolute bottom of his career when he's at the peak of his skills. And he's in a prison of his own making. The question of whether he can let himself out is going to make for some great theater. Where's HBO with a 24/7 show when you need 'em?

 

Next up: we've asked for your YouTube videos, NASCAR or not. This week, Chris Fox brings us a dude playing Metallica on cello in four-part harmony:

My boy there has a little trouble on the higher notes of the solos, but it's not like I have room to talk. At least he didn't saw right through the strings during the "Darkness! Imprisoning me!" part. And I'm going to slip a benjamin to the string quartet at the next wedding I attend and get them to play this. (Send your best vids along too.)

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Where do you think the 24 team will finish next season? Jeff Gordon had great cars in the Chase this year, but also had some absolutely terrible luck. Only mechanical failures of the year happened in the Chase, ran out of fuel, was involved in wrecks ... he had a few cars that could have won some races (Loudon before fuel cell issue and Kansas before engine problems), and he and Alan were on fire during the summer stretch. I think their second year together will be much better.

—Aaron

I agree with you, I think Gordon had everything go wrong at exactly the wrong time. Still, as we saw, you couldn't afford even one serious mistake in the Chase this year. That's what concerns me about Gordon's chances, that the bar's been raised so high that he can't afford any lapses, and he's not the overwhelmingly technically proficient driver he was in his youth. (Restarts come to mind.) Still, if you have a Chase where one guy doesn't win half the damn races and/or one guy doesn't average better than a fifth place finish, the door remains open. I predict a Chase berth, but a Cup? Not willing to go that far yet.

And finally, today in spam ...

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We have an open position in our team , and we are looking for qualified individuals to become mystery shoppers. If you are interested in working with us please download the attached file containing the registration form and more information about the position.

"Security? Security? We have a man in aisle 7 defacing the Jimmie Johnson t-shirts and calling himself a 'Mystery F#*%ing Shopper ... Yes, bring the Taser. Bring two."

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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