Happy Hour: Talking about Martinsville’s 12th place finisher

You know the drill. 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.

From the slowest track in NASCAR to one of the fastest we go. And while talking about Danica Patrick may be (ok, is) tiresome to many of you, it has to be better than talking about the miniscule chance that a feud will be renewed, right?

How come Danica, finishing 12th , received less money than any of the other drivers in the top 26?

Prize money in NASCAR is determined by a myriad of factors including contingency money and career accomplishments. And sometimes those two factors go hand in hand. One thing's for certain, however: don't judge a driver's performance by the money listed in the box score.


I was really impressed with Danica’s M’Ville run. With that, and her competitive runs at road courses last year, it appears to me that she has a strong command of how to drive the cars at tracks that require hard braking. Is that something she would have learned in Indycar driving all the road/street courses? I did chuckle at the “rookie” comparisons people made, noting how Kyle Busch, Johnson, Junior, etc., did so much worse on their rookie runs. I’m not sure that is a good barometer – they were really young as rookies and were just learning how to race in top competition. Danica is a 31 year old rookie – she has maturity to help her navigate these more smartly.

All that said, what she did at Martinsville was far more impressive to me than what she did at Daytona. I was impressed that in one lap, she passed Menard and Junior, and flat outraced her boss for position towards the end. I believe Tony Gibson when he says her feedback is outstanding. Las Vegas aside, she drastically improves her car as the race goes on. I think her conservative style of racing is well suited for Sprint Cup races – long races where patience and saving your stuff gets you the best result. It’s no accident that the Indy 500 was always her very best race in Indycar.

That is a long winded way of saying that her strong critics should definitely keep an open mind about what she may accomplish in her Sprint Cup career. When all is said and done, and she retires from racing, I think Sprint Cup will be where she got her best career results
-Sue B

Yes, I heard, but funny thing. I have Danica added to my newsfeed. I started pulling for her for the same reason I started pulling for Gordon in the 90s - all the hate from NASCAR. And the mysogyny in this case. Anyway, I have her on my newsfeed. And odd thing is, she finished 12, which is widely reported, but the number of articles on her is down by I would guesstimate more than half. Usually there is a steady stream of articles and this week it is a trickle. Curious.

Back to the discusson on Red Byron, I think I was put off by the Ted Williams reference. Satchel Paige might have been a better reference. I grew up near Boston, and besides flying 5 years in WWII, Williams also flew 3 years in Korea and lost 8 years out of his prime. At that, he still hit the triple crown twice and is the last batter to hit for 400 for a season. And 4-500 homers - I don't memorize statistics. Lifetime 300 hitter. Even with the lost time, he has the stats for the HOF. Not sure he was a good analogy
- Dean

Was Danica's performance at Martinsville more impressive than her performance at Daytona? I lean to yes, given her prior experience at Daytona and her lack of experience at Martinsville and also because the car plays a bigger role at Daytona than it does at Martinsville.

Sure, you're going to have the critics that will say her performance was a fluke because she took the wavearound twice in a row to get back on the lead lap and get that finish, but if you're doing that, you also have to immediately discount Mark Martin's 10th place finish too.

As far as the Martinsville attention not matching that of Daytona's, I think the easy answer to that is because it's Martinsville, and that was Daytona. Everything at the Daytona 500 can tend to be overstated and given the week between qualifying and the race, there was plenty of time for media attention on Florida.

And regarding Red Byron, I knew the analogy wasn't perfect, but Ted Williams is one of the most famous American athletes ever, so he'd be at least a good reference point. I made sure to note that NASCAR wasn't around yet when WWII happened, but NASCAR or no NASCAR, that was still a significant portion of Byron's career that we'll never know about, much like Williams'.


I have 2 things that are bothering me this week! 1. Why is JPM still in CUP? I mean he is one of the WORST drivers week in and week out! This week even the likes of Gilliland, Stremme, and even Danica were better than that guy and he is in top equipment! He needs to get off the pot and let guys like Elliot S and Hornish Jr get up there and do what is supposed to be done...RACE and not be a speed bump for other BETTER drivers. 2. What was up with the restarts from the JGR boyz? For at least 5 restarts Busch and Kenseth INTENTIONALLY started on the non preferred line(Outside) so that they could hold up the preferred line(Inside) and let his teammate in?!? Noticed the announcers didnt have much to say about it of course! I listened to the in car radios and just about all the drivers affected by their antics were pretty PO'ed! I think that NASCAR should look at that the same way as they looked at Rocket trying to bring out a caution! Oh and BTW...once again FOX outdid themselves with the abundance of commecials, always gettin the cautions and race lead changes during commercial and of course the INCESSANT gab of the Waltrip Bros! NASCAR needs to listen to its fans like they say they do!

Let's talk about Montoya first. Martinsville was bad luck as a cut tire ruined his day and he never recovered. That's pretty hard to blame on him, no? And he also had bad luck at Daytona too, getting caught up in the early crash with Kahne, Stewart and Harvick.

That said, he has not performed well otherwise this year, and the margin of error to blame it on the team may be getting smaller if Jamie McMurray stays in the top 15 going into the summer. While Montoya may be a contender for a win or two each year, especially at Sonoma at Watkins Glen, I think future Chase contention is unrealistic.

Now on to the Gibbs cars: the leader is the only car to choose which line to start in, and everyone else must follow the odd to the inside and even to the outside restart formation. Therefore, the if the JGR cars were 1-2, the leader would get to pick the outside or inside line and the second place car would take the other spot.

While they did start 1-2 on a few restarts, there was absolutely nothing wrong with what they did on those restarts when the car on the outside slipped to the inside. At a track like Martinsville where track position is so important, why should you risk hanging your teammate out to dry if it's not in the final laps of the race? Teammates swap spots all the time at restrictor plate tracks (and even other tracks) so that they can each get a bonus point for leading a lap.

Now if Busch and Kenseth had been battling for the lead late and JD Gibbs told Busch to not pass Kenseth or vice versa, then we'd be opening up a can of Formula 1 worms.


Larry Phillips nominated before Alan Kuwicki is just WRONG!

You know what the most baffling omission is? Ray Evernham. As the Wood brothers revolutionized pit stops before him, Everham modernized them and was the driving force for how the current pit crew is comprised and constructed. Not to mention he was a pretty good crew chief on that ol' No. 24 machine.

Boy, Kulwicki's case to be on the list is tricky. His historic 1992 championship win over Bill Elliott will forever be cemented in NASCAR lore, but he only had five wins and two top 10 points finishes in his career. Yes, his career was tragically cut short in 1993, but of drivers who were competing in 1992, 15 of them ended up with more career wins than Kulwicki, including Kyle Petty (8) and Ernie Irvan (10). Does his case for inclusion change knowing that his statistics ultimately don't stack up favorably to drivers of his era? Or does that title and the fact that Kulwicki likely had 5-7 more productive years behind the wheel override that?

Larry Phillips' inclusion on the list is likely because of the local track influence on the Hall of Fame voting panel, as Phillips has five weekly touring series championships. But given the other names on the nomination list, it will likely be a while before he gets in.

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