Welcome to the first Happy Hour mailbag of 2011! You know how these work: you write us at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face. Today, we're looking at the unsung Kyle Busch, offering some fashion advice for Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans, and unveiling evidence of NASCAR's newest conspiracy. Away we go!
How come the so-called experts all pick Denny, Edwards or Harvick to knock off #48 for the championship in 2011 but not Rowdy Busch? And since Reutimann intentionally wrecked out Rowdy at Kansas, ruining the #18 team's chances of a championship, and Harvick intentionally wrecked out Rowdy at Homestead, we were wondering if you expect Rowdy to get his revenge on Reutimann and Harvick early in the season or if Rowdy will wait until they are leading a race or until he can ruin their shot at the Chase?
— Bart Busch
A fan of Kyle Busch's named Bart ... Busch? Hmm. I sense there's more to the story here. But to address your points: First off, you haven't yet seen what Yahoo! Sports' experts (yes, that's what they call us) have in mind for Kyle this year. Here's the thing with Kyle: He's either running loud and in front, or he's invisible. And if he's running loud and in front, there's a good chance he'll do something stupid to cost himself a shot at a race (or the Chase). He hasn't yet mastered the art of running both quietly and fast, the way Johnson and Carl Edwards do. He got very, very close last year, but as you noted, he tangled with David Reutimann and torpedoed his season.
Now, it's my thinking that the offseason serves as a kind of giant reset button, that everyone enters the new year with the slate wiped clean. It won't take long for feuds to develop, especially when it comes to Kyle. But if everybody carried grudges from year to year, you'd have cars wrecking each other out on the first lap at Daytona.
More letters ...
Track fashion advice for the 2011 season: I know it is cool to walk around in your Dale Jr. gear at the race, but pajama bottoms do not count as pants. If you want to wear Dale Jr. pants, go buy Wranglers.
— Janine in AZ
Around my office, pajama bottoms are known as "business casual."
But this brings up a good point: We want your photos from the track. We want your stories. Seen someone in a particularly awful outfit? Seen the greatest infield tailgate ever? Gotten a closeup look at an angry driver? We want your photos, friends. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do it!
I have a very sensitive question. There must be gay drivers... do you think this topic would ever be addressed, or is it "Don't ask, Don't tell?" ... I don't think gay drivers should be afraid to come out. I think there is a large gay fan base out there that would support any gay driver.
It's interesting – of any sport, NASCAR would seem to be the one, competitively speaking, where a gay participant would have the easiest transition. The drivers don't share locker rooms or (presumably) showers; the concept of "team" is far different in NASCAR than, say, the NBA. That said, while a large gay fan base may support a gay driver, there's also a significant segment of the fan base that would have a very hard time supporting such a driver. We've still got people complaining that stock cars aren't true "stock," and that's a ship that sailed decades ago. NASCAR can symbolize and stand for many things in American culture, but "socially progressive" isn't one of them yet.
Do you like the change in points, and do you think it will be the thing to finally kill cup #6 for Johnson?
The change in points is, mathematically speaking, a non-issue. All it does is penalize drivers more for engine failure or wrecks without compensating them more for wins. However, I do like the wild-card idea for the Chase. I think that'll give tremendous incentive in July and August for borderline drivers to take chances and win their way into the Chase. Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton ...these guys are going to be running all-out for two months straight. It'll be fun to watch.
And the points won't kill cup #6 for Johnson. He'll make the Chase with no problem. If you're going to beat him, you've got to outrun him.
If they want to tweak the points, why not make it a winner-take-all sort of deal, 10 points to win and nothing for the losers? It might just motivate folks to try a little bit harder.
It would, but it could also mean the season's over by September, if one driver happens to go out and win five or six races. I like the idea of giving more points to the winner, but an all-or-nothing approach would leave too many fans with nothing.
Next, here's a disturbingly familiar assessment of the current state of NASCAR. (Ladies, feel free to switch the genders here. It still works.)
NASCAR is like the brunette you met while at your friend's party last weekend. She was cute and kind of interesting and you would like to know more. Then next time you see her, she's changed her hair to blonde because she heard you say something about preferring blondes. She also filled her iPod with Johnny Cash, when that's whats on yours. The girl has no confidence and is desperate for your attention, and you know it. Show up for drinks an hour late, and she's still there. Before you know it, shes picking up lunch and your dry cleaning. All the while, you're living it up because no matter what you ask for, sometimes demand, it will happen. All the while, her friends are telling her not to pander to your needs and just be yourself, because there are many suitors out there that like her for who she is. NASCAR, listen to your girlfriends, be yourself, and they will be lining up to take you out to Chili's for a 2 for $20.
— Cody Milam
Marble Falls, TX
Finally: check it! We've discovered evidence of a new NASCAR conspiracy!
How ironic that the total possible points to the winner of the races for 2011 will be equal to the number on the side of Jimmie Johnson's car! That crazy Brian France, he does have a sense of humor! I think Vader will now have even more reason to dominate every race.
Nice catch, sir. 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, or hit us up on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We'll make you famous!