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Happy Hour: Turning right in Indy

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

One week after this year's Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway sent fans who have attended races there in the past a survey which asked the following question: Would you as a fan of the Brickyard 400 be interested in seeing NASCAR stock cars compete on IMS's road course?

After the tire debacle of 2008, the folks at Indy figured they needed to explore all their options in case the new Cup car wasn't going to work on the 2.-5-mile oval. One of those options was switching the Brickyard 400 to IMS's road course.

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Before going further with the idea, IMS figured it should see if a road race was something Indy fans would be interested in, so they created the survey.

Tires were not an issue in this year's running of the Brickyard, which pretty much put the road-racing idea on ice. However, the survey was already printed and the Indy folks figured why not gauge fan interest anyway.

Results of the survey have not yet been tallied.

So, will the Cup cars ever move to the road course at IMS?

"I would say it's highly unlikely," said Ron Green, director of public relations at IMS. "For us, it's pretty much a dead issue because Goodyear came back with a good tire and we had a great race."

Can't say I agree with that last part – from my perspective, Cup racing at Indy has never been great – but it is interesting to hear how seriously the IMS brass took 2008.

Now, on to the mailbag:

Thoughts from Bristol …

That was Bristol? At times the leader was all by himself, with no cars ahead or behind him. I saw more single file racing than I've ever seen at Bristol. Could the new (COT) cars be affecting the quality of racing here, too?

Of 11 cautions, only one was for your "typical" Bristol pileup, but five were for blown/cut tires! There were three cautions for single car incidents, one for debris, and one for rain.

In addition to the recent re-paving, do you think that the Bristol night race is now too close to the Chase cutoff and that it's affecting the quality (aggressiveness) of races? I literally fell asleep on the floor. I really did.

Liz Thawley
Novato, Calif.

From my perspective, the new car has made it more difficult to pass everywhere. What I find most interesting, however, is your final point. I think you might be on to something here, Liz. While I'm not one of those who thinks Mark Martin raced Kyle Busch too softly, as some have contended, Martin had to give consideration to the points situation in those final few laps. This isn't to say he laid off Busch's bumper because of it, but rather making the Chase made it an easier decision not stir up any trouble. And going forward, this may be more the norm than the exception, which is only going to serve to tone down Bristol.

View photo

The last time Mark Martin won at least four races in one season was 1998.

NOT HAPPY WITH MARK!!! First I don't like the fact that he continues to drive. Second if he truly wants to win then he will not drive the way he has all his life. Bristol was stereotypical Mark Martin. His old ways have not got him a Cup and he barely can make the chase now.

So, with that being said … why didn't he give Kyle a run for his money? Tap him, nudge him something.

Now, I know people will say he was "points racing", but that has not won him a Cup. He needs to stop being such a pushover and be different driver that he has been in order to make his new history.

Silverdale, Wash.

And now for the other side …

I'm not rabid Mark Martin fan, but it was refreshing to see the age old commitment to winning last week. He (or more accurately, his crew chief) has been resoundingly criticized for going for the win, rather than playing the points game and settling for a high enough finish to make the "Chase."

This cuts to the heart of what is wrong with the sport and why it is suffering. Stock car racing was always about WINNING THE RACE, not about the championship. Martin is from that old school and Kyle Busch seems to have learned it as well. Both have led a mini-revival of interest in NASCAR; albeit from two different perspectives.

Dave Smith
Lebanon, Pa.

First off, it must be noted that I received Dave's email after the Michigan race in which Mark Martin ran out of fuel racing for the win. Regardless, these two emails show how one week Martin is criticized for going for the win and not doing the smart thing, which is to race for the points, and not seven days later he's lambasted for doing just the opposite, if that's even what he was doing at Bristol.

While I agree with Brian that Martin has proven in the past that a conservative strategy isn't the way to winning a title – this is exactly why I said prior to the season that he wouldn't win the title – his four wins this season are plenty of evidence for me that he's using a different strategy now.

Not only has Martin won the most races in 2009, he's led more laps than everyone but Jimmie Johnson. So on the whole, I can't figure out where Brian or any of the Martin critics are coming from.

This and that …

Why are the numbers on top of the car opposite the number on the side of the car? It should go the same way so you can see the number from the stands.

New York

For this one, the only guy to go to is Buz McKim, the official historian of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Here's how he explained this:

"The roof numbers were originally located on the four corners of the roof in the old flat, dirt track days. Roof numbers have always been for the benefit of the scorers. When the high-banked tracks began to come on board in the late 1950s, early 60s, the numbers were changed to the center of the roof facing inward because the scorers were located inside the track instead of in the grandstands. As the car went by on the banking, the number was facing the scoring stand.

I would add, William, that having the numbers facing inward actually makes it better for fans in the stands. If you think about it, if they were facing outward, the only time you could read them would be when they are right in front of you.

Hope that answers your question.

Jay – while the head honchos at NASCAR continue to say that nothing's wrong publicly, you can bet they're trying to figure out some answers behind the scenes … it's just that it's never a good idea to dog your product when it's all you've got. To do otherwise is to become the Oakland A's, who have whined about how bad their stadium is for so long that people won't go there even when things are GOOD. Throw in a few down seasons and people don't need to find an excuse not to show up – you've already given it to them.

Jon Melander
Sacramento, Calif.

Last call …

Why do most of the drivers wear sunglasses?

Vernon Fuller
Butner, N.C.

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