Happy Hour: Putting a bow on 2013

Throughout the week during the season, you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. Right? Oh who are we kidding, this is NASCAR. No one is ever happy.

But the season's over. Insert a sad face here. The pipeline will still be open, however, and shoot us an email or connect on Twitter and we'll keep the conversation going.

Happy Hour this week is going to be a mix of random thoughts, some letters, some questions, etc. It's like a freestyle rap version of a blog post. This is going to be a long one, so settle in, grab a cold drink, and let's do this.

- I'm not the only one that thinks the 2013 season was a morass of "meh," right? Nate Ryan of USA Today agrees with me in this excellent column here, and I do think the absence of Tony Stewart and relative absences of Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski from competitiveness played a huge rule.

- I wrote Sunday after the race that Denny Hamlin's mojo was back. It wasn't visibly evident -- I think the jubilation was more from relief than swagger -- but you could tell how huge that win was for the team. I know this may sound crazy, but you could make a case that the win Sunday at Homestead was more important for Denny Hamlin than the championship was for Jimmie Johnson.

- We'll cover this more in our reviews, but how would you rate the season of Danica Patrick this year? And with that grade, I have one (impossible request). Please grade her without the attention that she garners. Now, I'm not saying that Patrick had an "A" or "B" season, but far too often do many, many, many fans attach the attention to her performance. Attention doesn't equal expectations -- did anyone predict Patrick would win a race or make the Chase?

- Driver reviews start next week. There's a fun theme -- I think -- that they'll all take. Hopefully I can live down to your expectations.

- Sam Hornish Jr. was so close to winning the Nationwide title, and without a ride so far for next season, that would have been quite the conundrum. From champion to virtually rideless is very uncommon. I expect Hornish to get a ride when all is said and done and it could be with a competitive team. On that note, let's hit this letter:

With the 2013 season coming to a close and the 48 team winning another championship, I want to call shenanigans on NASCAR and the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. I'm a race fan and the way those last 20 or so laps in the Nationwide race were run, just ridiculous. It throws even more fuel on the fire that NASCAR fixes races. It's not something I tend to believe but it can certainly bring up the point about not counting caution laps with X amount to go.

What really bothers me though is that while Austin was dropping like a rock on old tires his brother Ty was able to pull along side him. He promptly fell off the pace, fell in line behind him and hold up traffic by blocking and taking away corner exit lines. If I'm not mistaken, after the whole Boywer/Richmond incident there was a new rule implemented saying drivers must race to 100% of their potential at all times. Only one car was able to get by Dillon on those last couple laps, advantage of teammates and family, but clearly in violation of that rule and certainly manipulated the outcome of the race/championship.

I'm sure there is no radio evidence or team orders involved, this was purely a Ty decision when he learned where he was in relation to his brother but still, it deserves looking at as the TV broadcasters barely discussed it as it happened. Nothing will be done or said about it, just one more fact to add to Kevin's rant, and dirty race tactics. Congrats on winning a championship with out winning a race.
- Brian

Jay Busbee and I were talking about that on Sunday, but it was noticeable that Ty Dillon backed off the pace when he got near Austin. And hell, that's the reactionary thing to do. You're not going to want to mess up your brother's title chances.

That's where the ugliness of the "100 percent" rule comes in. How the heck do you judge off of that? And there are and have been many times where a team fields a start and park car for the simple sake of a higher finish floor for another car.

In regards to the final caution, there's no way around it. NASCAR messed up and I truly believe that with hindsight being 20/20, the red flag comes out. Does it change the title? Who knows.

I understand what NASCAR VP Robin Pemberton said about trying to get the track ready only to find something else that wasn't ready at the one-to-go sign. Where the crash happened is right where the cars accelerate to take the green flag. However, NASCAR should have red flagged the race no matter what, even if they originally thought it'd be a quick cleanup. With so much riding on the line, it's better safe than sorry. Given the circumstances that presented themselves, NASCAR I'm sure is sorry.

I can't help but have been more than a little irritated with NASCAR's handling of the last caution in the Nationwide race.I am fans of both Hornish and Dillon, but I think NASCAR inadvertently cost Hornish the title. That last caution lasted way longer than needed and only benefited Dillon. There is no telling what could have happened had the race been red flag when they realized the oil was more of an issue. I'm not like most conspiracy theorists and think NASCAR did it to help Dillon, but they need to look at cautions. They created the Green/White/Checkered to send fans home happy. Should they look into a rule that would give the race an automatic red flag after X amount of laps?
- Scott

This is something that I could get behind. Any caution inside 20 laps gets a red flag for cleanup and then 2-3 laps for pit stops and wavearounds and we're back racing. That wouldn't impact fuel mileage racing (teams would be stopping anyway) nor would it impact strategy too much either. I'd also be for discussing a revocation of the provision that a green-white-checker finish is final on a caution on the final lap.

Hi Jay and Nick,
Did I call it or what? OK I was off a little with my prediction that Johnson would reveal his true form after going 666.
- William

In June, William predicted 66 wins for Jimmie Johnson as he drove to his sixth championship. Guess what? Jimmie has 66 wins and that sixth championship. However, William also predicted that Johnson would be unable to fit inside the Gen-6 after revealing his true form and he and Chad would be forced to leave NASCAR.

That's not happening, Vader-haters.

Oh, I like this one a lot. I thought about this all afternoon, and I'm going to say the Menard family. Why?

Well, first, Menards is closed on Thanksgiving, so there's no danger of anyone getting called into work. Secondly, it's a billion dollar company, so no dish is off-limits. Think of the awesomeness you can buy and make with that much money for Thanksgiving?

Third, this could be some interesting dinner conversation after we've all been drinking enough to bring it up, and fourth, you could build whatever you want. Thanksgiving on a brand new patio that's heated and has solar lights with a grill and full kitchen outside? No problem, Menards will have it installed for you.

Dressing. It's not even close. There's no other time of year when you have dressing, and so it's time to go all out for Thanksgiving. And the homemade kind, with white bread, lots of butter, the works. Full spread.

For dessert? Cracker pie. It took me until a few years ago to discover the greatness of Cracker Pie, but it's overtaken Pumpkin as my favorite Thanksgiving pie. Yahoo Search it. It's easy and delicious. You won't want to share.

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