Happy Hour: Giving credit where it's due

Jay Hart

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There should be no complaints following Sunday night's race at Atlanta. There were 31 lead changes and 13 different leaders, nine of which were legit (not someone staying out under caution to get the five bonus points.) All this at a 1.5-mile track, no less.

An all-around great night for NASCAR.

Now onto the mailbag:

This Bud's for you

Comment on Atlanta: Just wondering if Kahne sent Harvick's teammate, Clint Bowyer, a case of Bud for setting up Kahne's win.

Jed. D. Olvey
Bluffton, Ind.

What happened to Harvick was kind of like coming home to find a strange car in your driveway, then walking inside and seeing your best buddy chilling with your girlfriend. But Harvick handled himself well.

Giving them their due

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are going into the last race before the chase without a single DNF. I don't think it can be put solely on the Hendrick engines, the crews still have to build the cars each week. For a first-year organization, I find this remarkable. Your thoughts?

James Albertsen

I've been saying it for weeks, even if Newman were to miss the Chase the season has already been an overwhelming success for Stewart-Haas Racing. As for the zeros in the DNF column, that's stunning when you consider Newman's had 13 in the past two seasons and Stewart's had seven.

Kudos to Bobby Labonte for finishing 18th at Atlanta and 12 spots ahead of 30th place Erik Darnell. I was tickled to death to see him running in the top 10 for two reasons. One is the philosophy that you should sell your contracts short if someone waves a bigger dollar in your face. The 2nd is to quell some of the discussion about putting good drivers in "also-ran" equipment and seeing how poorly they do. They put a championship driver in a low-funded car and he ran with the big boys.

The car of tomorrow may be blamed for a lot of things, but it IS evening up the playing field. Maybe instead of accusing the equipment of making the cars not pass as much and clump up, they should see it as drivers having to really show their talent to break away instead of relying on the high-dollar car vs. low-dollar car advantage all the time.

Scott Hix
Anderson, S.C.

But if you accept that premise, Scott, then you have to admit Jimmie Johnson is a pretty good race car driver, and we can't have that now, can we? And you're right about Bobby. He showed he's still got some left in the tank.


There are three good reasons why Jimmie Johnson receives as much praise as he does.


Hi Jay, remember back in April, you said Jimmie has lost something and I told you I would write you back in September; well, it’s September. Sooner or later you writers are going to have to rate Jimmie up there with Sr. and Petty and I know you hate to do that, but you will have to. The guy has it all and everyone knows it.

Johnny Finley
Laurens, S.C.

Cleary Johnny isn't a regular on our race-day chats where I'm constantly accused of being a Jimmie homer. To some degree, the chatters may be right. I'm rarely, if ever, critical of Johnson, but not because I'm a homer, but because he doesn't do anything to deserve criticism. The numbers bear that out, though, don't they?

I viewed you and Craven beefing up Johnson and all his laps led, then you do the Tony Stewart isn't up to Johnson level game. Let's view the facts: Johnson has a 22, 24, 30, 31, 33, 36 place finishes. No big deal. 15 top 10's, 9 top 5's, 3 wins. Stewart's: 17, 19, 23, 26, 33, oh the pressure, 18 top 10's, 13 top 5's and 3 wins. Do your homework!!!

Dewayne Godwin
Dell Rapids, S.D.

See, Johnny, I'm a Johnson apologist. I'm also a believer that laps led is the best indicator of speed and speed is a good indicator that you're primed for a title run in a 10-race sprint.

Johnson led the most laps in 2008 and led the second-most (11 fewer than Jeff Gordon) in 2007. Stewart led the most in his 2005 title run.

There are exceptions: Johnson in 2006 (fifth-most laps led) and Kurt Busch in 2004 (sixth most).

I'm not implying that Tony isn't going to make a run at the title. But if he does, it will be because he leads a lot of laps in the Chase. If I'm wrong, I'll own up to it right here.

This and that …

Jay, I see in the blogs and letters people wishing to go back to where the teams race the cars more like the ones in the showroom and not these COT type. I would love to be able to paste in pics of the current "Showroom" stock. It looks like EVERY type of sedan out there from Chevy and Ford to VW, Honda, Mercedes and Acura. All use the basic CoT style body.

It would seem that it's more of a case where the showroom emulates NASCAR rather than NASCAR emulating the showroom. The only thing that I see, as a way to drive the showroom cars in NASCAR, would be to maybe run one exhibition race a year with the "stock" version of each teams' car. Each with comparable horsepower, front wheel drive and all. (but probably not the airbags!) What do you think?

Ken Andersen
Oregon City, Ore.

I think I'd make sure I was driving a Dodge Charger SRT8.

Why does it take 3 to 4 laps during a caution to get back to racing? Even if someone spins out, doesn't hit anything or anyone, they still take 4 laps to get started again.

Vickie M.
Sarasota, Fla.

Sometimes lengthy cautions are for good reason. There could be debris on the track (ie. oil) that you don't see on T.V. With the new double-file restarts, NASCAR has to allow enough time for both lead-lap and lapped-down cars to pit. This takes two laps because they don't pit at the same time under caution. Then, when that's taken care of, there is the mundane task of making sure the field is set correctly. After that, T.V. has to make its quota on commercials, and they'd prefer not to do that under green-flag conditions.

Last call …

Chet from Los Angeles needs to shut his trap. What kind of a name is Chet anyways? Oh I know, one from the west coast.

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