Rules reaction, Hamlin's injury, Kahne's future and more mail
The Media Tour may be over, but the NASCAR hype Concert Tour 2010 has just begun. Armed with more positivity than fellow Florida native
But were the rousing speeches, incessant smiles, and promised tweaks to the Cup car enough to make you want to head back to the track? Only you can let us know by being part of the SI mailbag. As always, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter at NASCARBowles.
We'll start with one initial reaction to last week's landslide of adjustments, which included the elimination of bumpdrafting penalties at Daytona along with the change from a wing to a spoiler on the Cup car in late March ...
I think you're a little overboard in your assessment, Henry. (Calling men like
Here's the one thing that intrigues me with drivers of this generation, though. According to sources, NASCAR was initially poised to eliminate the controversial yellow-line rule at Daytona and Talladega, restricting where drivers can pass and allowing them, in essence, to do whatever they wanted. But it was actually the drivers themselves who rebelled in closed-door meetings, insisting on its retention for "their own good." They feel the line keeps them from making daring moves that could cause the "Big Ones" notorious for wrecking half the field at those tracks.
Ten years ago, that wouldn't have happened. Led by
It's a tricky balance, promoting safety while maintaining the risk involved in the sport. Check out the X Games, for example, where rally racing has become one of the more popular events.
Don't get me wrong; I don't want these men, many of whom I know personally, to end up dead because of some stupid move on the track. But the sport can't just be cars driving on the highway, either. Who sits on a hill and watches that? Guts are crucial to racing's success, and even under the safest circumstances I hope drivers don't forget there will always be an element of risk involved when they go 200 miles an hour. After all, the risks they take become part of why the fans come to watch.
Ah, the conspiracy theory. One of the most popular trends in sports these days, right up there with
That doesn't sound like a firing to me. Yes, John was an advocate of the Car of Tomorrow, but he's also not the one who came up with the design. Its struggles didn't cost him the job, nor did
"Be as fair and consistent with every competitor that you can," Darby said when asked how the new director should be. "And be a great listener."
Everyone I've talked to has verified he was all that and more, and no one seems to openly dislike him in the Cup garage. Sometimes, people just want to move on and do other things. I think it's that simple in Darby's case.
It all depends on the first two months of the season. For Kahne to have any chance of staying with RPM, they'll need to prove that their merger with Yates has put him in a better position to win a title for 2010 and beyond. It's clear that Roush is taking an integral role in the development of the program, which he hopes to turn into their answer for Stewart-Haas over at Hendrick. (I saw him having lunch with crew chief
If Kahne starts off strong (say, with a win and a handful of top 5s in the first two months), there's an outside shot that he'll sign on
Here's the lone problem for Kahne in free agency: who's going to have a spot for him?
No matter what, expect Kahne to command big bucks in this market. He's easily the biggest free agent we'll have unless Busch or
Inside the car, it's hard to say. The people I've talked to who have had this injury tell me it won't be that painful, especially since Hamlin has still got two weeks to heal. (By the way, for those who thought surgery was an option, he would have likely missed the first three races, making him a longshot for the Chase. In a contract year, that's not how you start off.) While drivers are athletes (in my opinion), how hard will it be to press on the clutch?
"No matter what people may think," he Tweeted this week. "This injury will not stop me from being a contender this year."
I agree . . . sort of. Where I really think it will hurt him is off the track. Basketball is his passion, the biggest physical and emotional outlet he has. As someone whose confidence goes up and down like the tide, what's he going to do for stress relief the next time he's got two DNFs in a row? Athletes need to be at their peak both mentally and physically to succeed, and it's imperative that Hamlin finds another hobby that interests him to keep the self-esteem up at all times.