This is it.
The 2012 NASCAR season is history, and it's time to empty the e-mail mailbag from the last half of the season. Not surprisingly, the hottest topics seemed to be the decision by Dale Earnhardt Jr. to step out of his race car because of a concussion and Jeff Gordon's decision to wreck Clint Bowyer at Phoenix, setting off a wild scene on pit road and in the garage.
But that wasn't all. Here then are some of the best -- and worst -- e-mails of the second half of 2012 and my usual snarky responses to them. Once again, all last names have been removed to protect the innocent -- and the ignorant. Thanks to all for writing in, and to all a good night.
First, let's get right to those who were fuming about the Gordon-Bowyer incident.
I didn't see any mention from any of the writers about the fact that Gordon had been black-flagged and refused to pull off before he ran into Bowyer? That should have merited parking him for about the next six races.
Let's see if you are consistent in any way ...
Last year Kyle Bush took out Ron Hornaday as a "payback" and was suspended and fined for his actions, especially since Ron was in contention for the championship.
NOW ... Jeff Gordon took out Clint Bowyer as a payback and Clint had a chance to come in second in the "Chase" instead of third or fourth, which means, of course, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
IT'S TIME FOR EVEN PUNISHMENT HERE ... TRY TO PROVE THAT YOU ARE NOT PARTIAL!!!
Well, Dennis, I am whole. I am not partial. And who in the heck is Kyle "Bush?"
Now that you have ceased yelling, I will address you and Ted by saying that from the start, I called for Gordon to be parked for at least the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was never going to happen. For one thing, that race marked the 20-year anniversary for Gordon sponsor DuPont being on his No. 24 Chevrolet, and they had a whole lot of big things planned around the event. But it would have been the right thing for NASCAR to do.
*Track Smack:Gordon gets a parking pass
Then again, I called for Carl Edwards to be suspended when he deliberately flipped a young driver named Brad Keselowski at Atlanta a few years back. It didn't happen then, either, so NASCAR can say all they were doing was relying on precedent. The difference when Kyle Busch took out Ron Hornaday in a Camping World Truck Series race at Texas? Busch did it under caution, which was even dumber than what Gordon did, although not by much. (And we should note that Bowyer was able to recover and finish second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup anyway).
Keselowski, by the way, drew some e-mail attention for his profanity-laced tirade following the action at Phoenix.
I know emotions cause strange reactions. But Brad's interview shown live following [the Phoenix] race went unpunished. Dale Jr. said following his fifth win at 'Dega, "S---, that's nothing, my Dad had 10." He was penalized 25 driver points for his use of the very small foul word ... s---.
Brad used the "F" word along with several others. And NASCAR didn't even mention it. Sure a points penalty at this point [with one race left in the season] would hurt his championship chances, but does his violation of FCC Profanity Laws not get punished? NASCAR has tried to make itself a family sport. So when did NASCAR decide that they wouldn't punish anymore? Has our morality changed? Has our Christian faith been so destroyed by the left-wing Liberals that we no longer care?
I guess NASCAR has double standards when it comes to its next best Champion.
I guess I've just been around too many locker rooms or garages through the years to get too worked up about this. My understanding is that the difference was Dale Jr. made his foul-mouthed slip on the live network TV race broadcast, while BK saved his for the post-race interview in the media center, which was picked up via Internet and secondary TV outlets.
Or maybe I'm just a closet left-wing liberal.
*Menzer:Double standard, retaliation anger Keselowski
It certainly should not have cost Keselowski a championship. Agree or not, he was merely speaking his mind. Next time, he should concentrate on doing it a little more cleanly, but let's face it: then sometimes a point isn't made as forcefully. Like it or not, creative cussing can oftentimes drive home a point that otherwise gets lost in a civil discussion.
Speaking of getting lost amidst everything else that was happening at Phoenix, what about how Jeff Burton wrecked Danica Patrick? That moment did not escape more than a few e-mailers.
A good afternoon to you and I hope likes me you enjoyed all the drama that unfolded in yesterday's race. I do have one question though that everyone seems to have missed or ignored: Did Jeff Burton come up the track into Danica Patrick and wreck her or was I imagining it? She seemed to be driving her own line and he just came up and wrecked her. With everything else going on no one focused on Danica [I never thought I would say or hear that], and it just seems funny that no one commented on her accident.
What do you think?
You weren't imagining it. The odd thing was they were captured in a photograph embracing on pit road before the race. And likes you, I did find it funny that for once no one was focusing on Danica, who is in for a rough time of it in 2013 as she moves up to drive full-time in the Sprint Cup Series.
At least that's what I think.
As for the Dale Jr. concussion debate, there were several e-mailers who ripped into me for writing that, yes, while Earnhardt should be commended for eventually stepping forward and doing the right thing by seeking additional medical attention and getting out of the car, he actually should have done it six weeks earlier when he first suspected something was wrong after a crash during a test at Kansas. Still others ripped into me for pointing out that the problem was and still is that no driver -- Earnhardt or any others -- would have admitted a medical issue and voluntarily stepped out of his car if he still had a chance to win a championship.
* Earnhardt Jr. out with concussion | H2H: Will admission affect sport?
But you know what? This may be the last time I do this, so I'm not printing any of those nasty e-mails that disagreed with or entirely misunderstood the points I was attempting to make. Instead, I'll print this one ...
I agree with you all the way Jose'. Competition has been that way from the dawn of time. You are there to win and that takes on a character of its own. It will keep fighting till the smoke clears. It is human nature. It is the way we are programmed. Junior himself proved it.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Plus I like being called Jose' every once in a while.
Guys like Regan Smith enjoy being written about once in a while, too, and not only when they lose a ride. So I appreciated the e-mailer who wrote in to note that I thought Smith, one of the sport's truly great guys, was wronged when he was fired from his ride at Furniture Row Racing and replaced by Kurt Busch, a talented driver who, um, is not really one of the sport's truly great guys.
I was glad to read that you think [Smith] got a raw deal. No one else seems to care what happens to Smith but you. Instead, everyone is writing about Kurt. Sounds similar to what happened to David Reutimann. [Car owner Michael] Waltrup [sic] used him and his famous father and then threw him to the wolves. No one ever mentions his name and the sportscasters don't even show him during a race. I am sure he would do quite well with Waltrup's new cars. Look what he does with the #10, a real pile of garbage. Not to mention that he does not wreck too often. It seems as if NASCAR owners do not have any loyalties.
It's Waltrip, Jerry. Not "Waltrup." And at least Smith landed on his feet, as he'll drive full-time in the Nationwide Series in a highly competitive ride for JR Motorsports next season. And while Reutimann is another of the sport's truly good guys, this professional sport is just like all the others: it's performance-based. So it's kind of hard to bash Michael Waltrip Racing for basically replacing Reutimann with Clint Bowyer, who went on to win three races and finish second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings.
Finally, there was this from an obviously old-school fan ...
Hello Joe ...
I feel I know you although I have never written to you. I am a 72-year-old NASCAR fan and enjoy your commentary! I began to follow NASCAR years ago, when "Fireball" Roberts was driving.
I got hooked.
I am also an Air Force veteran, and that is the reason for my communication. Has anyone considered (or is it possible to place into discussion for consideration) rules in regard to the playing or singing of our National Anthem? I am appalled at some of the renditions that have been sung at various sporting events. It seems as if some performers have no patriotism at all by the way they butcher that revered song. Being a military veteran, I hold the Anthem very dear. Many of my friends and thousands of others gave their lives for our nation and the cause of freedom. I don't know for certain, but I suspect the "Star Spangled Banner" is the most-recognized song in existence, and those that recognize it know what it stands for.
We patriots do not mind youngsters missing a few notes, because we know they are trying. But as for the others -- especially professional entertainers who practically "rewrite" the score each time they perform our Anthem -- we are appalled! It is something we don't like and is disrespectful!
Isn't there a way for those who are in charge of selecting the ones to perform "The Anthem" to require it to be played or sang as it is written? You never hear a military band play it wrong -- at least no on purpose! When the Anthem is performed as written it actually causes "goosebumps" and chills to run up and down the spines of patriotic Americans!
Please see if something can be done. Thank you for your time.
Again, I could not have said it better myself. When it comes to singing our beloved National Anthem, too many seem to want to "make it their own." Hey, you're not on "The Voice" or "American Idol." The simpler, the better.
And I feel as if I've grown to know many readers, too, through the years. Thanks for reading. I leave y'all with one last e-mail, delivered by a fellow Joe (last name withheld but no relation, I swear) regarding a story I wrote accompanied by the headline, "Past failures drive future Keselowski successes."
Good one Joe!
The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.