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Trading Paint: Final turn

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This is without question the most difficult edition of Trading Paint that I've ever had to write.

The reason: After 4½ years of wonderful bantering and posturing back and forth with loyal Yahoo! Sports readers, this is the final edition of one of stock car racing's most popular mailbags.

I promise a "goodbye" column sometime in the coming week, but for now, I just want to thank all of the loyal Trading Paint readers for some of the most enjoyable moments not only during my time at Yahoo!, but my entire career.

Even with the tough times that are gripping the country, particularly the media field, I hope to surface soon at some other venue. For now, feel free to email me at motorsportwriter@msn.com.

It's been a blast and I look forward to bringing my weekly mailbag back to life soon at my next outpost. Until then, thank you for all your outstanding support – yes, even those that didn't agree with me.

By the way, in all the hundreds of emails I've received already about my departure from Yahoo!, only one has been negative – and of course it was from a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan. Go figure. Unfortunately, it had far too many expletives to print.

So, strap on your seatbelt, adjust your head-and-neck restraint device and let's fire up one last edition of Trading Paint for old time's sake:

SIGNING OFF

Mr. Bonkowski: I guess I missed something because you could have knocked me over with the breeze of a red flag when I read in last week's Trading Paint that you are leaving Yahoo! I wish you the best and please know that when I find out where you are going, I will follow your writings religiously, as your opinions, while not always shared, are usually right on the money. Happy holidays to you and yours, and please know out of respect for your writings and, not to mention, entertainment, I've made a donation to Victory Junction in your name. Best of luck, sir. You will be missed at Yahoo!

Ross Jackson
Longview, Texas

Thank you so much for the kind words, Ross. But even more, thank you for your kind donation in my name to Victory Junction. I couldn't think of a better charity, or going-away present. You made my day. Thank you!


Hi Jerry! I read your columns religiously every week and really enjoy your comments and exchanges with the others who have written in. I'm deeply disappointed to find out that you will no longer be covering NASCAR for Yahoo! Sports and I'm wondering if there's anything we can do as fans of yours to help keep you around? I don't know what I'll do next season without my weekly dose of Trading Paint. It's hard enough to get through the offseason without much NASCAR coverage and your continued articles are what keep me coming back to Yahoo! even when the season is over with.

Anyone else in for starting an online "Keep Jerry" petition? Best of luck in your new endeavors and please let us know where we can catch up with you in the future, as I know your column, no matter the sport, will be both thoughtful and insightful. Happy holidays, Jerry. We're gonna miss you!

John Hodgson
Shakopee, Minn.

A "Keep Jerry" petition is quite flattering, John. I understand why Yahoo! made the move it did; it was strictly a business decision and I harbor no ill will. Happy holidays to you and all the other loyal readers of Trading Paint. I'll miss you just as much!


Dang, Jerry, where in the world are you going? I've written you several times over the years and you have answered several of them online. Don't tell anybody I said this but I will miss your column. I didn't always agree with you but I always realize that everyone has a right to their opinion. Good luck in whatever endeavor you head to; this Robby Gordon fan will miss your columns. Best wishes!

Robert Isaacs
Lowgap, N.C.


Thank you! I am a newer fan to NASCAR and love it. I fought my father and brother tooth and nail as they tried to bring me into the fold. I caved and went to my first race two years ago at Pocono and even before the green flag waved I was hooked. My dad and I have never been closer and I have surpassed my brother in knowledge of and excitement for the sport. I learned everything I know from your column. Please find a way to continue sharing your expertise – I need it!

Chip Mechler
Ashland, Mass.

That's me, the full-service columnist that not only writes about racing, but also helps to bring families together. Trust me, Chip, even if I have to start my own website – something I am seriously considering – you have not heard the last from me. You and others will soon get their regular fix once again, I promise.


Jerry, I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you for all of your columns and each week's Trading Paint. Those have truly been among the highlights of my week and are something I absolutely look forward to. Your passion for NASCAR and all it stands for are plain in your writing, and I admire the open and honest way you write. Thank you so very much for everything and best wishes for the future, wherever it may take you.

Amanda Dorrough
Carson City, Nev.

Boy, you sure know how to make a chubby, middle-aged guy blush, don't you, Amanda? But seriously, thank you for the kind words.


I'm saddened to learn that you are leaving. You are my favorite columnist here at Yahoo! Sports. I always look forward to Trading Paint every week, and now I will be suffering severe Bonkowski withdrawal. Your comments have always seemed pretty much on the mark and I appreciate how you don't mince words, either with Trading Paint or in your articles. And I can find at least one of your responses in Trading Paint that brings a smile to my face, if not an outright belly laugh. I will miss you and Yahoo! Sports won't be the same without you. I wish you luck in the future in whatever you may do.

Cathy Collins
Holts Summit, Mo.


Aloha, Jerry. Hope you have the chance to read this, but I wanted to thank you for creating a diehard fan. Without your column, a new fan like myself would be lost. I have used your column more than once in my classroom to show how people can disagree and remain civilized about it, and generated enough interest that there are a few more fans out there because of it. I am sorry (or shocked) to hear you will not be back. I hope the best for you and wanted you to know that you will be missed by us all. Mahalo. P.S.: Next time you get to Hawaii, drop me a line and I will point you in the right direction for some food that will "broke da mouth" and places that will let you rediscover paradise.

Kevin Brennan
Las Vegas

And a hearty mahalo right back at you, Kevin. I'll take you up on that offer when the time comes for my family and me to return to the Islands. And you're right, it is paradise.


A big thank you from your loyal Canadian fans, Jerry. We appreciated your recognition of the fan base in Canada (including your humorous references to hockey) and the numerous notes from Canadians that you have posted in your Trading Paint column. If you get the chance, you should take in the IRL race in Edmonton in July. The setting is beautiful and the drivers love it, just a great show overall. All the best from your loyal Canadian contingent.

Brian Boytang
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Funny you should mention the IRL race in your town, Brian. If one of the things I'm working on comes through, that race is on my tentative 2009 dance card. If I make it up that way, I'll be sure to say "how you doing, eh?"


I want to thank you for the great column that you've put up week in and week out. I've enjoyed seeing not only your opinion, but other people's opinions on the happenings in NASCAR. I'm headed to Kuwait early next year and will not have the opportunity to watch Mark Martin make his run for the title. I truly appreciate everything that you've brought to the table and will miss seeing your columns on Yahoo!

James Gerity
Germantown, Md.

Thank you for your words, James. They really mean a lot to me. Now, please, stay safe overseas and come back to the U.S. safe and sound. If we're both lucky, you'll return just in time to see Martin crowned the 2009 Sprint Cup champion.


BACK ON TRACK

What do you think might happen with NASCAR because of our economy? Big automakers talking about bankruptcy and Honda pulling out of Formula One racing; We might see the old days when you built your stock car in a garage and went racing on the weekend. If the Big 4 pull out of racing, there will be nothing left.

Jim Macaulay
Phillipsburg, N.J.

NASCAR will certainly be impacted if any of the auto manufacturers drop their support. But there have been several times over NASCAR's 60 years that manufacturers dropped out of the sport, only to return several few years later. Look at Dodge: it went away for 20 years before returning in 2001. The new-style Cup car is so identical and interchangeable that it can be called a Dodge one minute and, presto change-o, a Ford a few minutes later.

By the way, I came across an interesting note the other day: while NASCAR has lost over 1,000 jobs among teams in its top three series, the Indy Racing League is proudly proclaiming "we're still hiring," meaning the economic downturn is not affecting it as drastically as stock car racing. Frankly, given how many countless fans have become disillusioned with NASCAR racing over the last few years, I predict you'll see a major rebound for the IRL and open-wheel racing in 2009.


Why in some races are the drivers allowed to drop down over the inside line and in others they are not? Why doesn't NASCAR make it uniform? Too many rules means less racing; yellow flag laps should not count as laps because they are not racing!

Gary Jenkins
Moab, Utah

Only at Daytona and Talladega is it illegal to pass under the yellow line. Every other track allows passing under the (bottom) white line. And I agree with you that yellow flag laps should not count. Thanks for writing, Gary.


Smartest guy in NASCAR is Ray Evernham. He's going to run a dirt track, getting back to the basics. It won't be long until we see Cousin Carl, Smoke, Rowdy and the others of the NASCAR world back at the dirt tracks full-time. As the stock market makes a huge correction, it's time NASCAR makes a correction as well. Time to cut some races and stop being so greedy. Formula One only runs 17 or so races; that is why it has appeal it does. It's not on all the time. NASCAR is like watching the NBA regular season: worthless and boring.

Todd Swift
Genoa City, Wis.


My dad was a Earnhardt fan, first Senior and then Junior. I am a Jimmie Johnson fan and that was a cause for a constant debate. After every race there was a phone call from my daddy, or me calling him, to brag on our favorite driver. I lost my daddy on Nov. 20, and when the green flag waves at Daytona on Feb. 15, it will be with a heavy heart, knowing there won't be a phone call afterward. I read your column every week and he always wanted to know what you had to say. NASCAR has lost a devoted fan and me a wonderful father.

Donna Rowland
Blair, Okla.

I couldn't think of a better way to end my final Trading Paint than with your touching letter, Donna. First off, my deepest condolences to you and your family. Your father sounded like a great man, and the world is a better place to have had him in it. Please take consolation in knowing he's in a better place, probably talking racing with Dale Sr. right now and telling him about the great daughter he has.


Well, that's it, folks, it's been great. I hope to see you all soon in another place, where we can once again talk about the thing we all love so much: stock car racing. As loyal Trading Paint reader Kevin Brennan of Las Vegas and Hawaii likes to say, I'll leave you with a word that not only means both goodbye and hello, but also until we meet again: "Aloha."

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