Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.
It's the season finale, and you know what that means: ten more days till Daytona! Or at least it seems that way. We'll be here with you throughout the offseason, so don't fret and keep sending in your questions. For now, we wrap up with a cavalcade of letters about, well, you know. We received more letters on this topic than anything ever, including all the Busch bros. antics, so here's a representative sampling...
Jeff Gordon. Yes, fine him, suspend him, whatever. But taking 25 points away this late in the season is nothing. Probation. Nothing. $100,000. I am sure they made that much selling hats at the team hauler. If NASCAR wants any credibility at all, when they know, and there is conclusive evidence or proof of intent, the offending driver's team should have to pay for the replacement cost for any/all cars his actions cost. So if Jeff took out 5 cars, Hendrick pays a fine equal to the replacement of those 5 cars. Want to make it more on the driver? Then you put the driver on probation for the next 10 races regardless of what season that race is in. So this season would be 1, and then the next 9 of 2013. You also strip him of Champions Provisional for the year and start him from the back of the pack for the first 5 races regardless of qualifying position. I think that would send a message. Have at it, but be prepared for the consequences.
— Brian Williams
Was the penalty [on Gordon] enough? Way too much! His move was so subtle, he could have done a lot worse. NASCAR, wake up! What happened to "have at it boys"? You're in the entertainment business and the way I see it, it was a touchdown!
I'm neither a supporter or hater of either Jeff Gordon or Clint Bowyer, but I have to take Clint's side on what happened Sunday. As an avid race watcher I do not feel that Jeff's assumption that Clint has been racing him in a questionable manner all year is true. There has been hard racing, yes, but that takes place between many drivers over the course of the year. I feel Jeff is just trying to blame someone else for his bad year and the fact that he is no longer the hotshot on the track that he once was. Over the past few years he has taken potshots at several others to cover his career ebbing from what it one was. Even Jimmie Johnson has been the recipient of his ire.
— Joyce Keith
What ever happened to two guys meeting out behind the barn for a good old fashioned meeting of the minds butt-kicking contest? Whoever walks out is the winner. Guess the current crop of drivers just don't have the guts for that kind of thing. Might screw up their next photo shoot or commercial. Every time I see Tony Stewart or Gordon or even Harvick run their mouth it invariably makes me want to reach through the screen and smack them. It is always funny how their pit crew is around to protect them. Where are the Allisons, Earnhardts, Yarboroughs, Waltrips, Bakers and a host of others who settle issues in a heartbeat the old fashioned way? NASCAR should just put up a boxing ring at every event and instead of bringing drivers to the NASCAR hauler, just have them meet in the ring and settle their differences there!
— John Lewis Neatherlin
So from here in the Heartland what Jeff did to Clint looks like a good ole boy just getting even. Jeff loses a mere $100,000 but does he stands to make a bit more 'cause his car (48) finishes the season at worst number two in the standings and maybe his teammate gets the third-place trophy. Admittedly, I am a little biased seeing as how I am from just up the road from Emporia [Bowyer's hometown] but what an opportunity to take one for the team by saying "I was tired of this crap."
— Ozawkie N. G.
All of the shenanigans that happened this weekend are what NASCAR needed! Right or wrong on all of the issues (wrecks, cautions, fines, etc), it brought NASCAR alive and has the fans excited. Let's be honest, the majority of the year has been logging laps and everyone getting along. Let's hope some of the excitement continues into 2013!
— Dayna B.
I went to my first NASCAR race when I was 9 yrs old in 1974. I've never been so disappointed in a truly great driver as I am in Jeff Gordon right now. Completely uncalled for. Took out a championship contender and almost took out the #2. Aggressive racing, yes, but there was a handful of laps to go. Won't be wearing my #24 shirt anytime soon.
— Don Mulder
Whew. There you go. I think we covered the gamut there, right? My take: Gordon should have been suspended. I can understand, in NASCAR's reasoning, why Gordon is racing (no prior history, golden child, etc.) but to me, the black flag and the championship contention for Bowyer outweigh that. Anyway, all done now.
The tragedy of Phoenix is that the high-school stuff between Gordon and Bowyer is taking the place of what should be talked about. And that is the fact that NASCAR, in their never-ending quest for safety, decided to continue the race after Danica Patrick walloped the turn four wall. As she tried to get her car out of the way, NASCAR simply let the race go to completion. Didn't anyone see that there was a crippled car in the way of the oncoming herd?
[Related: Is NASCAR a sport or is it entertainment?]
I'm sick of NASCAR puffing up their chest with safety-first messages, when they clearly were not inclined to put safety first and stop the race. Is the media so concerned about being deprived of access that they are not even talking about this issue?
So, a complicit media talks and talks about the pushin', shovin', and "boys, have at it." All the while NASCAR is thanking God above for Gordon and Bowyer, because of the cover that it gave them.
— Jim Bromwell
I saw several articles focused on the Danica/no-flag issue, actually. The issue wasn't so much that Patrick's car was in the way (it wasn't) as that it was dropping oil on the track. NASCAR officials claimed they couldn't see the oil, and others backed them up on that. But it's a judgment call, and after the debacle that we'd just seen, NASCAR wasn't going to throw a caution for anything short of a thermonuclear strike.
I'm afraid I will be joining that list of "I'll never watch NASCAR again" fans. Well, I'm not going to rant like most of them and I'm not drunk while composing this email. But I am very displeased. I am a long time fan who spends money on the NASCAR industry ... tickets, racing junk (hats, shirts, etc...), and other related items. What's my beef? The same as many. One bad wreck in the Chase and you are out of it. I know that applies to other sports (you lose a game and you're gone) but until NASCAR has a playoff like those sports the comparison doesn't stand. We have the weirdest system and it's broke.
Until NASCAR fixes the problem, they won't get any more of my money. I'll check the news ever once and a while to see if things have changed but otherwise I'm looking for a new sport to waste my money on.
— Tim Palmer
I suggest college football. That sport makes total sense and is so well organized. You'll love it.
I realize the media is always looking for a good story. But I spent all last week (before the Phoenix race) laughing at every article/video/talking head I saw that basically stated the Sprint Cup Championship was over. No one could make up 7 points on JJ. And now (while I laugh more this week) the tide has turned and all those same folks are talking about how it is anything but locked up for BK because "20 points is nothing." I even saw a noted NASCAR reporter state that Jimmie made up 15 points in the final race in 2010 to beat Denny Hamlin. Does he not realize that was the equivalent of 3 positions on the track, and not 20 in today's point system?
— Ken Hall
Uh ... I think he's talking about me. (Well, except for the "noted" and the "reporter" part.) I confess I made that error when discussing the Chase, and I flat-out forgot the points change. Of course, Hamlin fumbled so badly in 2010 that Johnson could've been a thousand points back and still won. (Not really.) Still, I will cop to the fact that I thought, absent a dramatic catastrophe, I thought this was Johnson's Chase to lose. And so did you. But hey, that's why they run the races.
What are you thinking? Clint Bowyer can call people "retards" all he wants, but you don't have to reprint that. It is hate speech. When I was a kid I used to play with Billie Coyle, who has Down's Syndrome. Billie is great guy. People who use these terms cause folks like Billie a great deal of pain.
I expect better from you Jay.
We went back and forth over whether to print the "retard" line and ultimately went with the news value, rather than shock value or indifference. At this point in our society, the "r-word" has not yet ascended to the level of offensiveness of the "n-word", but I can certainly see how plenty of people feel that it has. Dean helpfully sent along a link to a letter a member of the Special Olympics sent Fox News commentator Ann Coulter decrying the use of the "r-word"; I previously wrote about that here. It's well worth reading.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was docked 25 points several years ago for saying _____ ... and not even while mad! Brad Keselowski says every _____ing word in the _ _ _ _ing book during his _____ing interview and calls a half dozen drivers a bunch of _____ing _____holes! Where is his _____ing fine and points deduction?!?! I am not a Johnson fan and would rather see Brad win it, but what is the _____ deal with one being fined and docked and not the other? That is bull _____, and it pisses me off!
— _____hole Frankie in _____ing Virginia
That was _____ing beautiful. Only reason I can think of why Keselowski skated was that the press conference, while freely available online, was not broadcast on television. But oh, his lines were far worse than Junior's. Can you imagine if NASCAR had deducted points from Keselowski? Apocalypse!
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 email@example.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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