NASCAR Chase Week 1 Recap

It should be all about the racing, but it isn't

9/21/09 in NASCAR   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

So if you were home and watching NASCAR yesterday, you saw the "Old Man", Mark Martin, win in a close race over Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin.  The racing at Loudon was pretty damn good, if I may say so, and accidents were few until the last third of the race.

What was noticeable before the race, however, was the drama.  At this point in the season, it seems asinine to me that some of these teams are behaving like teenagers, or even younger. 

Pat Tryson announced that he is moving from Penske Racing at the end of the season to take over Crew Chief duties for Martin Truex Jr. over at Michael Waltrip Racing.Currently, Pat Tryson is Crew Chief for Kurt Busch, who is in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.  Kurt had an incredible run on Sunday and was a challenge to win the race all day long.  The last couple of accidents on-track worked against Kurt, and he wound up finishing sixth in the race, lining up in 5th in the Championship standings going into Dover.

I have a problem with the way Penske is handling Tryson impending departure.  It was announced a couple of days ago that Tryson has been told he's unwelcome at the shop, except for Tuesdays when the crew meets to recap the weekend.  Oh, wow.  That's going to help Kurt and the 2 team immensely.  Now, before you jump all over me and scream betrayal, let me offer an alternative.  It is critical that Pat and his crew have close contact.  Pat has said he is communicating with his crew via e-mail, and he is allowed at the team headquarters that one day, but it isn't enough.  The brainstorming session they have on Tuesdays will undoubtedly work in giving them ideas on what they can and need to do for the coming race.  I understand that Penske is thinking Tryson is going to steal their ideas or notes on the cars, but come on, are we all 8 years old?

Surely there is a way the Company can allow Tryson to go about his work with Kurt in the Team Garage without barring him from the shop.  They hired him for his expertise.  Pat had no obligation to announce to Penske that he was leaving.  If he were thinking about stealing anything, more than likely he would have kept his plans for 2010 a big secret and gone about his work with Penske in a more covert way.  Surely Penske can make some adjustments to compromise?

Wait, I guess winning a Championship just isn't as important to them as we thought.

Then there's the Kasey Kahne issue.  Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing have announced a merger for 2010. Great.  Wonderful.  Yates is doing a crappy job right now anyway, so the move makes sense, but who's going to be the boss?  That's exactly what Kasey was asking earlier this weekend.  He's also in the Chase, or at least he was.  Some of the people in the engine department at Richard Petty Motorsports have walked off the job.   It seems they feel they are going to be out of a job in 2010 anyway, so this is the way they are protecting themselves.  Okay.  I'm not a team owner or a Head of R&D or anything else, but my way of thinking is, if you don't have enough loyalty to stay where you were hired to complete a season, especially when your driver is in the Chase for the Championship, I don't want you on my team.

Thanks guys, you walked off the job and Kasey's care detonated.  Now he's in 12th place after the first race of the Chase and it is going to take a miracle for him to even come close to winning the Championship.  I say shame on you people who walked off.  I'd like to make your names public and ensure you never work in NASCAR again.

Then there's the trip to New York.  All of the drivers in the top twelve traveled to New York last week and made the rounds of the talk show circuit.  This, in my mind, is one of the stupidest ideas ever.  Yeah, let's take these guys to the big city, traipse them all over town day after day, have them appear on a dozen or so talk shows, embarrass the hell out of themselves in a pie fight, among other things and make sure their minds are anywhere but on the task at hand - winning ten more races.   Absolutely ridiculous.

So, who's to blame for all this dysfunction?  Or is it necessary to find blame?  Maybe not, but instead of focusing on the Chase and all the races it entails, we are, again, looking at the stories that should have no place in the Chase. 

Call me hypocrite because now, instead of giving you an update on the race and the Chase, as I normally would, I too, am focusing on the matters that are aside of the Chase.  Shame on me.

What do you think?  Am I way off base here?  Are these stories really part of the whole thing that is the Chase?  Or should these drivers be permitted to focus on driving and winning?  Or are these the types of adversities that make a driver "tough" and "a winner"?
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

9/22/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

Okay Mike, I get that.  I KNOW all that, it's not news to me.  What I'm choked about is the little kid mentality that lets them act this way, and no, I don't leave a sinking ship. I've been in the position twice in very recent years.  I had signed on to complete a contract, and i completed that contract.  Yes, I did go looking before the contract was done, but I was also very honest and said I had a contract to fulfill.  Second time, I was told my boss was retiring and moving out of country, but I didn't desert him either.  I looked, yes, and I took time away for interviews, with his blessing.  I completed the job, packed away all his stuff and moved on to the next job.  All with the blessing of both the new and the old.  These teams are acting like children.  If you knew your crew chief had stolen ideas from another team and brought them to you, would you trust him implicitely, knowing he could turn around and do the same thing to you?  No.  So why do these teams treat their people as if they will?
And I'm sorry, the pie fight lost me a whole ton of respect for NASCAR and what they expect.  If it was the Victory Junction Gang Camp ASKING for drivers to participate in a pie fight to benefit and entertain the kids there, I'm good with it.  These circumstances?? Sorry, only an embarrassment to the sport.

9/22/09   |   Bashfulblue   |   7 respect

If tv would leave off some of their coverage it might would be more about racing.....We all know these dirty little because ESPEN talks about and talks about.....

9/22/09   |   realist1961   |   1 respect

There are two sides to every coin.  I don't fault Penske any more than I fault Tryson.  The damage was done to the team once he announced he was leaving.  The focus shifts, crew/team members wonder who will take his place and whether that person will bring in his/her own people.  Of couse, Penske did no better locking him out of the shop, but can you really blame them?  I'd have sent him down the road and put in a guy I know will "bleed" for the team.  As for RPM, the motor issue was pure coincidence.  It's like the talk that Theresa sabotaged Jr's engines.  I think they simply build crappy engines, that's why they are merging with Yates in the first place.  As for people leaving RPM.  Don't we all do that?  Someone says you are going to lose your job at the end of the year, don't you go out and look for one now?  The early bird catches the worm.  As for pies and trying to strum up business....  that's just the way things are.  Obama is even going on late night T.V. trying to sell you something while he should be doing more important things.  You think NASCAR is immune?  At least they are not partying at Mayfield's house.  Part, unfortunately a large part, is sponsorship.  Drivers have to hawk the crap that's displayed on their cars.  One year Tony is eating Subway, the next Burger King.  He'd eat dog food if they paid him $30 million to do it.  A pie?  Why not?  Talk shows?  Sure.. it beats having to talk to some corporate big wig asking them how they go pee during the race.  It is what it is.  Once the engines start, the drivers are focused... well, until they do that stupid "in car" reporting where some stupid fan asks them how they go pee during the race.

9/21/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

GREAT points Andi.  And I'm with you on all of it.  The New York trip is something I'm betting they want to get rid of, cuz, as you say, seeing my fav driver take a pie in the face certiainly isn't goint to make me want to attend a race.I think the trip did them all a disservice.

9/21/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

MarkTheShark wrote:
NASCAR is quickly losing this fan...just like the NBA did 10 years ago.

9/21/09   |   MarkTheShark   |   590 respect

NASCAR is quickly losing this fan...just like the NBA did 10 years ago.

9/21/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

kramer wrote:
Team chemistry is one of the biggest keys, and you're absolutely right when you talk about the 2 issues with the 9 and 2 teams.  Roger Penske has never won a championship in NASCAR, and this year has been by far Kurt's best year in the Blue Deuce.  Pat Tryson announced he was leaving, which was wrong, but so is the way the team is handling the announcement.  2 wrongs don't make a right, and banning Pat from the shop is moronic on Penske's part.  As for the 9 team, I understand some of the folks feel they may be out of a job next year, but instead of pouting about this news, wouldn't you rater stay with RPM and do your best to build the best engines possible for your driver in the Chase?  Wouldn't you want to leave RPM, if your days are numbered, on top of your game knowing you helped your driver win a championship?  I know I certainly would, because by doing that, some other team would take notice and want me to build engines for them.  These 2 teams have taken chemistry and turned it into travesty.

Bravo, thank you Bryan.  I couldn't agree more.  I'm quite heated up by the crap that I see as detrimental to NASCAR.  The popular story is that it is the economy, and that may be the case as well, but stuff like this is far more detrimental to the sport, IMO.

9/21/09   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

(Edited by kramer)

Team chemistry is one of the biggest keys, and you're absolutely right when you talk about the 2 issues with the 9 and 2 teams.  Roger Penske has never won a championship in NASCAR, and this year has been by far Kurt's best year in the Blue Deuce.  Pat Tryson announced he was leaving, which was wrong, but so is the way the team is handling the announcement.  2 wrongs don't make a right, and banning Pat from the shop is moronic on Penske's part.  As for the 9 team, I understand some of the folks feel they may be out of a job next year, but instead of pouting about this news, wouldn't you rater stay with RPM and do your best to build the best engines possible for your driver in the Chase?  Wouldn't you want to leave RPM, if your days are numbered, on top of your game knowing you helped your driver win a championship?  I know I certainly would, because by doing that, some other team would take notice and want me to build engines for them.  These 2 teams have taken chemistry and turned it into travesty.