Happy Hour: Tough crowd

Jay Hart
Yahoo! Sports

Did Tony Stewart really say that the Brickyard 400 was an exciting race?

He must have raided Paula Abdul's medicine cabinet.

Let's get to the mailbag:

Indy on your mind

Hi Jay, How many feet does the NASCAR brass have left to shoot at? It's gotta start looking like the Gettysburg battlefield on the third day. Juan Pablo Montoya winning at Indy would've made great headlines and even though he ain't a fan favorite, the majority would rather see him take a more deserved win then the #48 Hendrick.

NASCAR already screwed the #42 out of a big chunk of points in Phoenix on a bogus pit penalty so even if he was a tad over it, this should've never been called. Not to mention JPM saying he hit his marks and while he's known for a lot things, good and bad, lying, making excuses aren't one of them.

Fernando Vidal

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I'm with you, Fernando, that JPM winning at the Brickyard would have been a great story. Here's the problem with your theory: NASCAR knows it would have been a great story, too.

For me, the question isn't whether or not NASCAR intentionally screwed over Montoya, but rather if it unintentionally did. In other words, was its timing system working correctly?

I trust NASCAR enough that it was.

One more thing: As you mentioned, Montoya claims NASCAR apologized for an earlier speeding penalty at Phoenix. I emailed NASCAR for a clarification on this. Here was the response from NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston: "News to me."

I reluctantly went back to Indianapolis this year after last year's debacle. While the racing was better than last year, there's still something missing. The COT and Indy don't get along well.

The recession isn't the only reason that NASCAR's following is down. My family decided that we'll give our yearly trek to Indianapolis one more try next year; if it turns out to be a snoozefest parade again, we're likely going to move from NASCAR to the Indianapolis 500 IRL race – I really enjoy the track's atmosphere and history.

Craig Huegen
Bartelso, Ill.

This years Brickyard was much better than last, it seems as though there still isn't very much racing going on out there.

Some want to say that Montoya was robbed or that he was the dominant car on Sunday, but I disagree with that. I think the fastest car was the car in front. I know usually that's the way it is supposed to work, but the leader was never passed after the restarts shook out. Mark Martin was not going to pass Johnson unless something happened to the 48 car at the end, and I don't care how many laps were left. Montoya's "dominant car" only rallied to pass one car in the last 20 laps.


Juan Pablo Montoya dominated the Brickyard 400, but he was only able to pass one car after being shuffled back in the pack.


I believe you are on to something when you say that this car is not built to run here. So is there something that NASCAR can do to make it a better race or is this one of things were it is going to take the teams time to figure it out?

Really it appears that which ever team gets their driver out first with four tires and a full tank of gas and clean air is now the car to beat. I would love to see racing at the front of the field at Indy, or maybe we should just race at Raceway Park on Sunday.

Kevin Newby
Tampa, Fla.

Great email, Kevin. You are absolutely right – the fastest car was whichever one had clean air. Unfortunately, I don't think there is any way to make the racing at Indy any better. As long as NASCAR has been going there, it's always been a parade. Stock cars just aren't built for a long, flat track.

Getting to the point

God forbid that anyone with a win should receive an automatic playoff berth. I mean just look at the 2009 Arizona Cardinals. They won the NFC Worst (West) and drove all the way to the Super Bowl and played the mighty Steelers and to top it off they almost won the dang thing. Who do they think they are coming out of nowhere and putting on one of the greatest Super Bowl shows I have ever seen in my 40 years of watching the NFL? It's just not right!

And if Joey Lagano was to put goose bumps down my spine because an underdog talent got into the Chase and won the whole dog gone thing it might cause me to stay awake or tune in more often. Now that would just be awful and almost as much fun as watching NASCAR before restrictor plate racing. We couldn’t have that now could we?

All I gots to say is thank God for Kyle Bush and his craziness or I might switch to watching exciting golf on a Sunday afternoon.

Frank F.
Scottsdale, Ariz.

This is why it's hard being NASCAR, i.e. Brian France and Mike Helton. On the one hand, they have to appease the old school fans who think the Chase is a joke and that consistency needs to be rewarded over a playoff gimmick, while on the other they have fans like Frank wanting to create a rule that puts Joey Logano – there's only one A in there, people – in the playoff for winning one race. I'm not making excuses for NASCAR; I'm just pointing out how Abe Lincoln was right when he said you can please some people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time.

Jay, I am a Mark Martin fan, even more so since he joined the Hendrick stable. However, I think it would be wrong if Martin were "allowed" into the chase without having earned a proper place. And, knowing the type of man Mark Martin is, I think that he would feel slighted if special exception were made for his participation.

Sure, we are talking about, arguably, one of the greats of NASCAR. And I'm talking ALL TIME greats. He is bound for the Hall of Fame without a doubt. Not only is he a fan favorite, he is, again, arguably, the most popular driver in the garage area. I would hate to see NASCAR allow him into the Chase by the number of wins he has this year and not the points.

Such a move would put an asterisk by his name and tarnish his accomplishment should he get into the Chase and go on to win the championship without doing so by the points format.

Mark Martin is a racer's racer. He drives because he loves it. A throwback. And though an old timer, a fresh breath of air in the age of prima donnas in the sport.

Bob David
Marion, Ind.

I was thinking about this the other day: What if Mark were to miss the Chase, then score the most points during the 10-race playoff? It's not an outrageous idea, considering he's still on the bubble to make the Chase, yet has easily been one of the top three drivers of the season so far. If that were to happen, it would only add to an already lengthy list of ways Mark Martin has lost a championship, the most notable so far being in 1990 when he was penalized 46 points for running a carburetor spacer that was too thick only to lost the title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt.

Hey Jay. No criticism intended … Are you a fan of NASCAR or just a reporter? Why do I ask? You actually enjoy a week off from racing?

For me that's like saying I enjoy a weekend of not making love to the wonderful woman with whom I'm in love.

As for qualifying for the Chase with just one win? If that's all it takes to qualify for the playoffs in any sport, then that's just cheesy.

Consistency, hard work, and commitment thru the whole season are the stuff of which real playoff contenders are made. Not the results of just one game. Anyone can win just once with a confluence of the right circumstances. Just because someone wins once does not make them championship material. We need to let this format settle in for a few years and then make adjustments as needed. But for now, I'm seein' some mighty fine racing. Let's leave it alone for awhile.

Wild Bill
San Diego

See what I mean about trying to please everyone? As for enjoying the weekend off, I actually got to spend two straight, work-free days hanging with the woman I love. You can't fault me for that, can you Wild Bill?

This and that

Mr. Hart: I've not chimed in for several weeks, as I'm not one to spout off with unsupported opinions, but I had to write you this week.

1. Mayfield … GO AWAY!!! You've been caught cheating before and whether or not you do or do not abuse drugs, your rep is history, pal. Plus, you have no employees left and not a single person who is reputable is going to sign with you now. No one will ever trust you again due to these allegations, true or not. For your and NASCAR's sake, I hope they are not, but you'd best find a new career. True NASCAR fans, are pretty unforgiving of even a cloud of suspicion. Sad, but true, and a fact of life. I truly wish you the best. The sad part is, I used to be a semi-fan.

2. I missed not having a Cup race last weekend, but the Nationwide guys put on a pretty good show! I'm almost more inclined to follow it than I am the Cup series. Much less drama, much better racing.

Ross Jackson
Longview, Texas

Last call …

Jay, You need to set up some rules for people who write in: Don't smoke crack or be really drunk while writing. I mean, some of the things they say and how they say them. Please!

Pat Daigh
Irvine, Calif.

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