Happy Hour: Stewart-Haas, Gordon and has NASCAR gone soft?

Throughout the week 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.

We open this week's mailbag with a heavy heart after Thursday afternoon's news of Dick Trickle's death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and if you're unfamiliar with the legend of the man who was never seen without a cigarette and a cup of coffee, read this.

The news of Trickle's passing is certainly a sad and sudden departure from the craziness that's been the Jennifer Jo Cobb and Mike Harmon kerfluffle. Cobb said she didn't want the publicity that came with the incident, but it's important to note that she issued the statement that put the coverage of the incident in motion.

Let's get to the questions, shall we?

Do you think the added stress of taking on a third car team has suffocated the performance of SHR? I've noticed they seem to "recycle their chassis" and "clip" their cars much more often than PRM, RCR, and even FRR? Personal stretched to thin? Lose of Grubb and the HMS connection catching up to them? Did Smoke find some "dead weight" again?
From Tim Flock campgrounds at CMS.
- Ricky Bobby

Allow me to channel my inner baseball nerd for a second: At what point do we determine we have a large enough sample size for an accurate representation and is it causation or correlation. I'm not sure we're there just yet. But we're getting close.

During Danica Patrick's starts last season, TonyStewart had finishes of 16th, 3rd, 25th, 27th, 22nd, 6th, 20th, 5th, 5th and 19th. That's an average finish of 15.8. In the other 26 non-Danica races, his average finish was 12.75. This year, his average finish is 21.1.

That's 21 races. Is that enough to start drawing conclusions? And does the fact that essentially half of those races have been with one car body and half with another factor in? If so, how much? (In case you were wondering, the worst season average finish for Stewart was 14.9 in 2008.)

There's no denying that Stewart-Haas has struggled this season, and if it is related to a third car, well, they're going to have at least three cars for the foreseeable future with Kevin Harvick's arrival in 2014.


Watching Matt Kenseth this year has got me thinking about Jeff Gordon. Their the same age (41) and Jeff has had the more impressive career clearly. Jeff has raced longer but I don't know if they is what is holding him back. Maybe it's Hendrick and the organization he signed a lifetime contract with. Matt moved to a new team and seem revitalized. Maybe next year Kenseth will drop back off, but maybe Gordon needs to find a new organization. But how does he do that when he is already at the best? Should he talk to Childress and consider a move from the 24 to the 29? That would be one heck of a silly season rumor.

Gordon has a lifetime contract with Hendrick Motorsports and would be foolish to look anywhere else. Yes, I know the same could be said for Kenseth at Roush, but there were only two (arguably) better places he could go, and one was Joe Gibbs Racing. The other was Hendrick. Or also known as the two teams that at one point owned the top seven positions late at Darlington Saturday night.

Gordon has nowhere to go. It'd be a lateral move at best to Hendrick or Roush and he's not leaving the Chevrolet camp. While RCR is still a very good team, they're probably fourth at best right now in the pecking order. And besides, if you're one of the people that believes Kurt Busch is headed to RCR in 2014, with Paul Menard close to a contract extension and the Dillons close to the Cup Series, there's not much room there.


Hey Nick, I don't think your Warped Wednesday was warped enough. You actually make some very valid arguments as to why the All Star Race isn't anything special. I'm a big fan of NASCAR and look forward to every race (except maybe Pocono) but the All Star Race really isn't much different than the 600 the following week, just with mandatory cations to keep the field bunched up.

They need to get crazy, take these guys out of their comfort zone. Perhaps incorporate some eliminations at the end of segments or even the last car every lap in the final segment. Eldora is coming up in July for the trucks, why not put these guys on the dirt across the parking lot. Maybe some head to head shootout style bracket racing? How about some cars like the old IROC series where they are all essentially the same, but completely different from the current Gen 6 car?

Show me who is the better driver, not who has the most money, resources, and best strategy.

I will admit that this week's satirical column might have been the closest it's ever been to my true feelings. (Well, I take that back, I did try to make a point with the post about Ryan Newman two weeks ago.) Geoffrey Miller and I were debating the merits of the All-Star Race on the Chrome Horn podcast and it got my brain swirling about it.

I'm not anti-All-Star Race by any stretch of the imagination, but I could do without the forced glitz and glamour and do think the ASR has lost some luster with the glut of night races.

When asked about ASR format tweaks, Mike Helton said that it was because the sanctioning body could make those changes. And I don't mind that sentiment at all. I'd really like it if they extended it and made some changes like the IROC one you mentioned above. As a kid, I adored the IROC Series because it gave Al Unser Jr., my favorite driver in elementary school, the chance to compete against NASCAR drivers in equal cars. Can we get someone like Warren Buffett to finance it and bring it back?


When did NASCAR become such a wussified sport? 10 years ago at Darlington, Kurt and Ricky were beating and banging, practically spinning each other out the last couple of laps coming to the checkers. After the race, Kurt did not go on a whiny rampage about how Ricky was trying to dump him. He was disappointed at not winning but said it was just good hard racing.
Fast forward 10 years and you have Kasey whining that Kyle spun him out costing him a chance at the win. The typical he has wrecked me two weeks in a row blame game ensued.
Why is it that in those 10 short years NASCAR has gone from guys expecting to race hard and be raced hard to drivers complaining that another driver may have made slight contact costing them a win?

I will say that sometimes the unwritten rules of racing can seem perplexing. Like, for example, when, exactly, does it become acceptable to race hard and not give an inch? I think if you asked 43 drivers that question you'd get at least 25 different answers and the most popular one would be "It depends."

I have no problem with Kasey Kahne being frustrated in that situation, however. It had much more to do with the accumulation of events with Kyle Busch rather than that specific incident. Had Kahne not gone spinning off Busch's bumper the week before (for the second time this year), his frustration is likely muted and it's simply chalked up to the close racing Kahne mentioned. Instead, because this was the third incident between the two in 11 races, it's fair to ask what the heck is going on.

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