This year, NASCAR's made it clear that its new policy of "Let Boys Be Boys" revolves around getting drivers to show emotion on and off the track. Comedy, drama, tears ... anything but political correctness will do.
Their new plan has shown some serious potential. There's just one problem: not everyone wants to play along.
Monday showed the latest example, with two four-time champs banging fenders before choosing to bang heads outside public view. For those who missed it, the actions speak for themselves:
"I am pretty disappointed in how he was racing me today," said Johnson. It looked like a TKO punch towards his car owner was a heartbeat away ... only it wasn't.
"We will get to the bottom of it and sort it out. No need to play it out in the press," Johnson said.
Huh? Settle fights behind closed doors? It's great for the team, but bad for the "We Know Drama" credo NASCAR's trying to promote at every turn.
Sadly, it's the type of conflict we'll only dream about; but that doesn't mean we have to stop discussing it. Remember, you can't join in the fun unless you speak up;
Let's get started with the Gordon/Johnson spat and how it ties into the
Lots to tackle. Let's start with a little education for the new school fans. After dabbling in the sport during the late 1970s,
Before the sport could react, Stacy's tenure ended due to financial problems that left a handful of decimated cars in his wake. But while here, the control Stacy expected in return for financial support was legendary. In 1982, a Stacy-sponsored car,
How does this relate to Kahne, Gordon, and Johnson? Simple: Hendrick not only has future control over the sport's best drivers, but the power to set protocol on how to handle their conflicts. And instead of Stacy's fierce competitive fire, he's determined to make everyone work together for the common good. Take the Gordon-Johnson battle at Texas. Not only will HMS settle that matter internally, but it'll be squashed at once as it goes against the "teamwork" philosophy: individual crews working together as one to produce the best possible outcome for all.
That's my best guess why my inbox was overflowing with emails about Edwards-Keselowski and Gordon-Kenseth, but Gordon-Johnson didn't enact the same response. It's like Democrat vs. Democrat instead of Democrat vs. Republican; doesn't have the same type of ring to it. People within the Hendrick program aren't going to become enemies with each other long-term; it goes against their belief system. Johnson is right when he said for the press not to make too much of the incident, because there's nothing to see.
That's a shame for rivalry seekers. Take Stewart and Gordon as another example. Those two used to be fierce rivals until Stewart came in the Stewart-Haas fold, with his team getting engines and chassis from Hendrick. Now? The duo's buddy-buddy, with Stewart jokingly calling Gordon his "teammate" in almost every interview (a charge HMS adamantly denies). An incident like Monday's, where contact knocked both out of the race, would have incited a major brouhaha in past years. Now? They just talk it out, get ready for the next information-sharing session between the two teams, and move on.
Assuming Kahne lands in an HMS-supported car in 2011, that gives us the potential of eighteen cars on the grid getting engines and chassis from just two men:
Moving on, there's been a lot of venom spewed
Note to Danica: avoid the Buckeye State whenever possible. On a serious note, Bires' firing wasn't designed to give Patrick extra time in the seat. Signed up for a schedule of a dozen starts, that goes unchanged as Earnhardt is using the opening at the No. 88 for Cup veterans (
Some have speculated Danica's on the outs in IndyCar after a rough start (one top-10 finish in four races). But let's not jump the gun just yet. Patrick's strength has always been on oval tracks, and there are four such races ahead -- including May's Indy 500 -- which could right the ship on her season. Considering the "cash cow" she is, there's no way Andretti Autosport is going to let her out of a contract so easily.
As for Bires, he's going to land on his feet somewhere. It's just going to take awhile considering the rides for developing drivers have dried up faster than rain in the Sahara Desert. Too bad Earnhardt didn't give him more of a chance, especially considering his own car owner had patience to put up with him during last year's legendary slump.
First off, let's quash the Kahne-to-Earnhardt's car rumor right now. Not going to happen, folks. Earnhardt is signed through 2012, and Hendrick would have to eat the final two years of his contract. No way Earnhardt leaves until 2011 at the earliest.
As for Eury, Sr., it's true he won a lot of races with NASCAR's Most Popular Driver during five seasons together in Cup. But Eury's made it clear he's done with the Cup Series grind and is far happier working in Nationwide with up-and-coming stars. Even if Hendrick chose to fire
Sorry, Junior fans. Speaking of fantasies...
Aww Ritchie, nice to see someone using their imagination! But considering 'Dinger's spot in the points (23rd) and Elliott's age (55 this year) the only place you'll see that happen is in your dreams.
"A certain someone has sprayed his face with Beard-be-Gone. You can thank me later."