In case you missed it, Jimmie Johnson is warming up. Enjoy it while it's happening, because when it's over, you might not see anything like it ever again
Now to the mailbag:
Jr. fans didn't say this was it when he came to Hendrick. I said quite LOUDLY Eury should have been left at DEI for a REAL fresh start. I have wanted him gone for a very long time. He has made very publicized mistakes that have sorely cost Jr. and people forget that when Eury Sr. was his crew chief things went pretty good. With Eury Jr. this has not been the case.
Join Happy Hour
The theme of last year was how good the car was to start the race and the last half of the race it went away. That points at Tony!! He made so many bone headed decisions I lost count and don't have time to go over the numerous mistakes here.
Jr. may never be a great driver … who knows?! But he will be much better without Eury!
I actually said something similar to a bunch of NASCAR friends at dinner on Saturday night. It's almost as if Rick Hendrick said, "OK, we tried it your way, now let's try mine."
Listening to Junior on the radio at Dover, there was a definite difference in the tone. Very business like. Still, Junior struggled to get the car working the way he wanted to when it mattered most. That's what Lance McGrew must get out of him.
I like the way the media says Kyle took a jab at Dale Jr. The truth is someone in the media asked Kyle what he thought about the Dale Jr. situation and he said exactly what a lot of people are thinking.
Including Junior, who after saying Kyle has a "chip on his shoulder," said, and I quote, "Like Kyle [Busch] said, most of the people have always been on Tony [Eury] Jr.’s case."
We're quick to criticize drivers for being too vanilla, so I'm not going to get on Kyle's case for being too Rocky Road.
By the way, if there were stock in the prospect of Kyle Busch eventually being one of the sport's most popular drivers, I'd put 100 percent of my 401k in it.
I have to stand up in defense of Junior Nation. Every article written about the Eury ouster treats Junior's fans as if they are a stupid, monolithic mob that thinks Junior can do no wrong and Eury is an idiot. That simply isn't the case. You can see proof of this in polls on Yahoo! Most people say both Eury and Junior share blame here. And more people actually blame Junior alone than they do Eury for the problems.
There is a silent majority of Junior fans out here who are actually very smart people. We don't lay all this at Eury's feet. We know that some of the fault rests with Junior. We're not looking to blame anyone, we just want a new situation for both guys which gives them an opportunity to succeed.
Thank you for your honest article. I have felt for some time that winning the race was not being treated as important as the season championship. As you wrote, I think that has lowered the competitive level of each race. I hope the drivers, teams, and NASCAR will all realize this.
Oak View, Calif.
My suggestion: Give a 100-point bonus to the winner of each race. This will have a broad-reaching impact. First, it will drive drivers to win. Second, it will keep a larger pack of drivers in the playoff hunt as the Chase approaches. And third, it will have a similar impact in the final stages of the Chase. Imagine how much harder Jimmie Johnson would have had to race in last season's finale at Homestead knowing that Carl Edwards was in front, primed to get that 100-point bonus.
THIS AND THAT
Jay, I'm really starting to get tired of the "whiners" in NASCAR. I'll start with Kyle Busch. I was one of the ones that said Hendrick made a mistake by letting him go and I felt he was better than Earnhardt Jr. and he'd get more titles or have a chance at more anyway. It seems if Kyle can't win or gets knocked out of the way he goes ballistic.
To me that takes away from what a great driver he is. It's irritating and I'm starting to dislike the guy.
And why did he have to take a jab at Earnhardt when the man is going through hard times right now with his crew chief getting fired and all?
Next is Tony Stewart. I was rooting for him to win races this year, win a title, and show that a driver-owner can still get it done like Kulwicki did. Then of all the things the race Monday had rain coming and Tony takes offense to a guy knowing rain is coming and is actually racing to win. Come on, does that make any sense at all?
These guys' actions and the way they handle themselves is the way they'll be remembered in the future of how good they were.
Flat Rock, N.C.
Don't you think it is time for Gordon to retire? He has been "done" now for a few years. His heart is no longer in it.
As somewhat of a Gordon fan, it hurts to watch a shadow of Gordon just put in his time and circulate the tracks each week. It is not yet as bad as when Petty hung on for way too long, but it is headed in that direction. Some folks may call me crazy, pointing to the fact that Gordon is #2 in the points. But the fact is that Gordon is no longer himself.
Whereas Junior is measured against his dad's success, Gordon is measured against his own. It's apparently not enough for him to win a race, lead the points for most of the season and lead the series in top fives.
You know Dave, I wondered last year if family life had taken Gordon's focus away from the track, and to some degree it probably has. But I've listened to him enough this season to conclude that he wants to win as badly today as he did 10 years ago.
Gordon is a pro's pro – absolutely the most professional athlete I've ever covered as a journalist. So when you ask me if I think he should retire, the answer is a resounding no.
Here's hoping that a bad back doesn't bring to an end a brilliant career.
Hey Jay, I've asked this a year ago but didn't get a response, or missed it. Why does it take you guys until Wednesday night or Thursday to make your picks for the week?
We don't have the luxury of waiting past the deadline to see who you suggest racing that week. And are y'all limited to the number of times you can use a Driver? I have 3,111 points at this point btw and rarely look at your suggestions since I make my picks early in the week.
Estes Park, Colo.
Well, John, you do have until qualifying (which is usually Friday) to make your selections and we do make our selections on Wednesdays. I do my best to make them as early as possible, but to be honest, you're probably better off not seeing my picks, at least not this year. And here's one piece of advice – if I pick Kyle Busch that week, don't.
Jay, to all these people who hate how Charlotte turned out, might need a reminder of how Dale Sr. won the Daytona 500.
LAST CALL …
Attn: Jay Hart!!! News flash after the town hall meeting: New Jr. rules. If and when Jr. misses his pit, no matter which pit he stops in, it's mandatory they give him 4 Goodyear tires and a tank of Sunoco fuel.
- Kyle Busch