Why Dale Earnhardt, Jr. matters, kudos for Kenseth, more mail
The smartest thing NASCAR did with its 2010 Sprint Cup schedule was swap the Phoenix and Texas dates in April. Why? With
Could you imagine a Texas race matched up against Woods making his comeback from sex addiction? If you thought ratings were bad against USA-Canada hockey, jAmerica probably wouldn't realize there was a race on until Wednesday of the following week!
Speaking of scandal, it's been a quiet off-week of news following the
We'll start by focusing on NASCAR's other Most Popular Topic these days: Junior.
Bart's referring to
But there's a clear upward trend that has put Earnhardt at least within striking distance of his Hendrick teammates. Now the strongest part of his schedule lies ahead, as 12 of his 18 career Cup wins have come on the next six tracks: Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix, Texas, Talladega, and Richmond.
Last year, it was this stretch that sealed former crew chief
So to answer your questions, the excitement comes from the fact that Junior's simply survived this four-race stretch in one piece. He capitalized on his lone strong point (Daytona), then persevered through three races at intermediate tracks that haven't exactly been his bread and butter as of late. As
If he doesn't? Well, then we can crow about Menard and everybody else. But this is the make-or-break point for the sport's Most Popular Driver ... and that's why he's getting the coverage.
My answer, Jim, is that Kenseth doesn't exactly put himself out there as Mr. Outgoing. Insiders who see him every week know he's got a great sense of humor, and I've always found him to be one of the funnier guys inside the Cup garage. But his sarcastic streak comes with a quiet, introverted personality in public that pales in comparison to the Earnhardt name and legacy. I'm not saying it's fair, but it's reality in a 21st Century where you have to do something outrageous to stand out.
Many people look at Kenseth's championship year as the one that spurred the current Chase format. But how can you blame his knack for consistency any more than Johnson's ho-hum run to four straight titles? All both drivers did was use the rules to their advantage, recognizing that this system rewards a 10th-place finish with no risk rather than tearing a car in two while going for the win. Their conservatism may be boring to some, but if I'm Kenseth, I'd take the trophy over popularity any day. And while he hasn't thrived in the Chase, he can live out his life knowing his title run was so impressive that a whole sport decided to revamp its championship because of how he did it.
And don't be surprised if Kenseth has a surge in popularity this season, especially with the way his team is running under crew chief
Good points, Brenda, but let's play Devil's Advocate: What else is there to try when it comes to beating the No. 48? Yes, motivation is a powerful thing, but Johnson's going to be motivated whether you bump him or not. I'm not saying it's right, but what's that they say about desperate men doing desperate things?
I also think "sending a message" to Johnson is much less likely in the Fall, when any intentional spin might paint NASCAR into a corner. After all, would you want your year-end champ to get his title based on wrecking someone else? But if Johnson's in position to win at Martinsville -- which would give him three of the first six races this season -- chances are he'll have one of his biggest rivals in
That's one of those great ideas, Jim, that will never see that light of day. But can I interest you in some virtual boxing instead? Bristol Motor Speedway invited Keselowski to a special "Fight Night" Wii Boxing competition with
Hilarious. Too bad the speedway can't get Carl to jump in on it all ... but maybe they're afraid those two might come to blows for real.
So smart, in fact, that he scored a 37.5 on the Wonderlic test the NFL uses to evaluate its talent (21 is the average score). How does that compare to other superstars?
There was a poll this week on another site asking which driver fans think will get intentionally spun out next. Who was #1 by a wide margin? "Brad Keselowski: again." So there's definitely a perception issue he'll have to fight going forward. He doesn't plan to change his attitude, which leaves him a bit of a loner inside the Cup garage. That's fine (I like his independent thinking), but if 30 guys want to spin you out, you're not going to escape unless you're faster than everyone else.
And in case you missed his exclusive 1-on-1 with SI,
And now, we'll end with our random question of the week...
Nope! Connecticut born and raised. But make sure you tell the Bowles' down there a big hello from me.