Up first is Nascar, where the Sprint Cup Series is coming off a weekend at Martinsville that saw Jimmie Johnson drive away from the field and dominate the STP Gas Booster 500. Johnson led 346 of the 500 laps and was never really seriously challenged on his way to his 2nd win of the year and 62nd of his career.
What were your thoughts on the STP Gas Booster 500?
Jennifer - I thought it was a great race, no major accidents. You still had the banging and beating and except for Kurt Busch's car catching on fire, not a bunch of excitement. I am starting to think they could knock those short track races to 300 laps and it would still be a good race. 500 laps? A bit too long.
Debi - I thoroughly enjoyed the race. The cars were able to pass each other and race hard. The tires played a factor, again, meaning pit strategy had to come into play. The weather changed, meaning again pit strategy was important. Thankfully, the only on-track incident of concern was Kurt Busch's fire, but he got it out with the on-board extinguisher, very smart of him, considering the entire car was on fire and he was trying to get out. I was also impressed beyond words at his maturity in the after incident interview. Although he said they are struggling to put things together, running around 20th, he also said they will keep working on things.
Eric - Don't have any really. Due to baseball and the IndyCar race, I watched very little of it
Scott - Although a bit long and at times, "boring", I enjoyed the race. These short track races really have zero to do with the new car and are solely based on which drivers are good on short tracks. The races themselves are exciting for me because I grew up on short track racing in this area. With Denny Hamlin out due to injury, I think Jimmie Johnson was hands down the favorite to win this race so it really was no surprise that he was able to dominate and win. I was impressed with Mark Martin's effort in Hamlin's seat given his displeasure for racing at Martinsville. I was also impressed with Danica Patrick and her ability to give herself relatively clean and come home with a top 12 finish.
One of the things I noticed in this past weekend's race was the announcers use of team racing, something we don't hear about a lot in Nascar outside of restrictor plate racing. We saw a handful of drivers working together in helping one another stay on the bottom of the track but at the same time, there were a couple of "issues", Tony Stewart/Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr/Jimmie Johnson, where eyebrows were raised within the Fox announcers of team racing.
What are your thoughts on team racing? At what point in a race should it be less about the team and more about the driver?
Jennifer - I understand the concept of it but in all honesty, rarely have I seen it used. On the super speedways, very few times have teammates qualified close enough for it to be a factor. You always hear about so and so looking for a "draft partner" or a "pit stop" partner. The driver should always be going for the win, in my opinion. It's like: if Jimmie wins the race do the other Hendrick guys get a share of the glory or money? Nope... it's good for the owner and the driver (singular)
Debi - Team racing should only come into place when restrictor plate racing. Everyone needs a buddy on the track then, and I think teammates should help each other out, if possible. Other than that, they call it a race for a reason. Checkers or wreckers.
Eric - I'm not sure what you're referring to in this context. I know team orders is my least favorite part of F1 and anything of that sort anywhere else is just odious.
Scott - I must admit, I was surprised to see the FOX announcers make more of the incident with Junior and Jimmie Johnson then what it was. Sure, Johnson could have waited for Junior to turn his car around so he wouldn't go a lap down but was it really that big of a deal? For me, I don't mind team racing when it comes to helping one another out on and even off the track. I do have a problem with the concept though when it comes to F1. Never should a driver's only job be to help another driver on his team win a race. Like Jenn said, the driver should always be going for the win.
As we get closer to the 1/4 point of the season, outside of the usual suspects, which drivers have you been impressed with the most so far in 2013? Which drivers have you expected more from?
Jennifer - Impressed with Kasey Kahne. Of course Tony Stewart is at the top of my list for drivers I expected more from. I am thinking it is time for him to decide if he wants to be a Nascar driver. He is spread all over the place and needs to reign in some of his activities outside of Nascar. I understand that he loves to race but with the new car and his so far awful season, it's time to get to business. Kevin Harvick, probably just because he is a favorite but I really thought he was going to do something this year. I know there is a lot of racing left but my gut says the window is closing. Austin Dillon, honestly thought he would be higher up the ladder by know.
Debi - I'm honestly not surprised at anyone other than the Stewart Haas group, and impressed? Well, Matt Kenseth, for sure. Move to a new team is what he needed to rejuvenate himself. He's doing great, and I'm glad to see it.
Eric - If Michael Waltrip Racing now counts as a top tier team, then the highest placed driver in the points that's not part of a top team is Jamie McMurray at 13th. On the same vein, what is happening to Juan Pablo Montoya this year? It's been a disaster this far and I don't know why. As a whole, Montoya doesn't have to prove anything in regards to his talent and his accomplishments, but those that only care about Nascar are to going to say he sucks, which is wrong. However, I don't know if he is doing something wrong, if the team is doing something wrong or if they have just been unlucky. Also, I've noticed that Childress isn't doing well so far this year, save Paul Menard of all people, and obviously it has been a tough year for Stewart-Haas so far. Six races is still a relatively small sample size obviously but the threat of a lost year is growing.
Scott - Definitely been impressed with Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski. I know Keselowski is the defending series champion but I still wasn't completely sold on him. He's made the successful switch to Ford and has actually gotten better IMO. I think this Jimmie Johnson/Brad Keselowski showdown could go on for many more years. When it comes to the drivers I expected more from, Tony Stewart is the first name that pops in my head. He seems distracted and has obviously been extremely frustrated so far with what has gone on this season. Martin Truex Jr is another name we've heard very little from so far this year. Like Eric said, 6 races is a small sample size but last year's entry in the Chase has to seem like an eternity ago.
2013 has brought us some new on and off again feuds. Give me your top 3 all time stock car feuds?
Jennifer -1) Cale Yarborough - Donnie & Bobbie Allison "79 Daytona 500" 2) Bill Elliott - Dale Earnhardt Sr "the pass in the grass" 3) Kevin Harvick - Greg Biffle
Debi - Meh. The "feuds" are the media's way to try to get viewers. When you have two relatively immature people like Logano and Hamlin, that's not a feud, it's a school yard disagreement. Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon was rather entertaining, but the "feuds" are Dale Sr and just about anyone else he ever pissed off. He was friends off-track with most everyone he ever had a "feud" with. He understood, on track, it was checkers or wreckers (I know, twice I've used that) and did what he felt he needed to do, but he separated the on-track from the off-track.
Eric - me vs. the sanctioning body
Scott - Rusty Wallace/Darrell Waltrip (1989 All-Star Race)
Kurt Busch/Tony Stewart (2007)
Kyle Busch/Kevin Harvick (2011)
This weekend, the Nascar Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas and given the sponsor (NRA), there could be a bit more controversy coming Nascar's way.
We've already heard that our own Eric will be boycotting the race, do you expect any other problems or off the track issues or will this be just another primetime race?
Jennifer - Honestly, only if the media makes it a big deal. When it was announced the NRA was sponsoring the race there was a little scuttlebutt, but not as much as I personally thought there would be considering Newtown was still fresh in people's minds. This is Texas and if there is one thing I have learned living here the past few years, they really are a state unto themselves.
Debi - I rarely pay attention to the sponsor of a race anyway, so makes no difference to me. I have, in the past, owned my own rifle and hunted for food. I don't know what the rules/laws/regulations are in the US pertaining to gun ownership, and don't care. i just want to watch racing at Texas.
Eric - I doubt there will be much controversy because frankly, it wasn't a surprise when it was announced. All I'll say is anyone claiming there is no politics involved is being disingenous, as this is a political organization. They have a right to pay for the sponsorship, and Nascar and Texas Motor Speedway have the right to accept. However, I have the right to not watch, and I am exercising that right.
Scott - I really don't expect much off the track stuff. The announcement coming around the time the Newtown massacre was what originally drove people to complain in the first place. I agree with Jennifer, as long as the media doesn't make a big issue of it, I doubt most Nascar fans will even really care who is sponsoring this weekend's race.