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(photo source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook Page)

Since the race was on Monday- there seem to be fewer lugnuts pinging around my brain than normal- but here are the few that are pinging around. One gets a little soapboxy…so sorry about that.  Let’s get to them shall we?

1. First and foremost on my mind is Brad Keselowski and his comments about Jeff Gordon in the booth.  According to Sports Nation this is what Brad said:

“They need to get some people that aren’t inbred to the sport and own teams and have internal knowledge, because that is pretty crappy. It is what it is,” Keselowski added, via ESPN. “It’s not that I don’t like Jeff Gordon in the booth, it’s just that you need to have people in the booth that don’t own teams or have commercial interests to the sport, because they say things that are very biased.”

So first thing I am going to address is Brad using the term “inbred” in his statement because I have seen comments from several Jeff Gordon fan’s who have taken extreme offense to that term.  I do not think (and I could be wrong) that brad meant it as an affront to Jeff Gordon- stating that he is inbred.  I think that was just a poor choice of wording on Brad’s part. I think Brad meant it more in the way that one would use the words ingrained or inherent not in the “persons conceived of breeding between two closely related individuals” sort of sense.

However I do not agree with his assertion that Jeff Gordon shouldn’t be announcing in the booth because he is biased because he has a commercial interest in a team on the track. You can NOT tell me that any announcer or reporter for that matter is not biased in some fashion or other. It’s how they deal with that bias. While yes Jeff Gordon is financially involved in a race team on track (in an owner role with Jimmie Johnson’s team) it’s not like he is sitting there jabbering on and on about how great Jimmie is and that is it it. Jeff provides insight into the race from a fairly current driver stand point- he is more familiar with the cars than the other announcers. I appreciate and like his insights above all the other announcers to be frank (although Mike Joy is a close second). I would rather hear the race from the point of view from an announcer/commentator that knows the sport from the inside than have say…an ex-football player who knows nothing about racing sitting up there trying to commentate on what is happening on the track. I am sure that football fans would rather hear their games commentated on by ex-players and coaches than by say…ex tennis players who don’t know the sport. See where I am going with this? Do I want John McEnroe commentate a NASCAR race? Um no, not really. I want to hear about it from someone who knows what it’s like in that car, and who knows what officials are looking at.  It’s not like Jeff Gordon is the one that reported the possible hip check by the jack man on Brad’s car. He was just explaining it and the penalty and comparing it to a similar penalty in Vegas (which I would compare it to as well). They explained it on the MRN broadcast too (for those of us who had to listen instead of watch because of work obligations.  Brad’s not being picked on. Tony’s team got penalized for illegal body modification prior to a race last week at Charlotte- it was why he started at the rear of the field and why his crew chief is now on probation through the end of the year. I really do not understand what Brad’s issue is. Does that mean Dale Jr shouldn’t commentate before the Xfinity race series? It just seems like a pointless complaint. Plus- and I mentioned this on twitter- what does it really matter to Brad since that he is in the car and not listening to the commentary anyway.

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(photo source: Tony Stewart Facebook)

Are you all ready for Talladega? I admit I always fret about Talladega even more than I do about races at Daytona. So this is what has been rolling around in my head like lugnuts during a green flag pitstop:

1. Just a reminder first- Tony will only be taking a few laps at Talladega and then use replacement driver Ty Dillon. The risk of aggravating his back injury in those crazy crashes is just too great. As much as I love seeing Tony back in the car I can’t even express how much of relief that is to me as I have made no secret about how I feel about Talladega and the danger it presents to drivers. It seems this whole relief driver points going to Tony Stewart thing is causing quite a stir – I guess that just shows it’s been a really really long time since a driver has utilized a relief driver in a race.  NASCAR isn’t changing any rule by allowing Tony Stewart to retain the points from his relief driver Ty Dillon. It has been this way since well before the current chase format.  It’s the whole point of a relief driver- that the driver who is sick or injured “tap out” of the race so as to not be a danger to himself or other while another driver takes over.  The whole point of Tony even starting Talladega I would assume is for the points- or else they would likely just have him sit out because that track is dangerous and the likelihood of being caught up in an accident is great- and Tony is still healing from his sand rail accident.

2. This isn’t NASCAR or even racing related. This is human being related and needs to be watched: (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio.com/Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart fans were beyond excited yesterday when the driver announced not just a timeline for his return to his #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro chevy but that he was BACK in his race car effective immediately.  Hours later many of those same fans were outraged that NASCAR turned around and issued Tony Stewart a $35,000 fine for talking about the issue of teams not tightening enough lug nuts during pitstops since NASCAR no longer polices this during a media obligation the day before.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I was ramped up yesterday about Tony receiving that $35,000 fine and I still am. I have NEVER thought a fine was such a, pardon my  language, bullshit fine in my life as a NASCAR fan. One of the many many reasons Tony is my driver is that he has never ever shied away from speaking his mind. Yes it’s gotten him into some hot water from time to time. And sometimes he might not say things in the most diplomatic way but he says them because they need to be said.  Sometimes he says things in the heat of the moment but what driver doesn’t. This was not one of those times.

Now if Tony were to have gone out there and lambasted specific people in NASCAR’s hierarchy regarding this issue I might have understood the fine. But from what I heard and read Tony say about the lug nut issue is that he is mad (I believe his actual words were P.O.’d) because he feels no longer monitoring/requiring the amount of lug nuts tightened is going to get someone hurt.  It’s a safety issue.   At least two other drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Greg Biffle, have made similar complaints as has crew chief Rodney Childers. I don’t see them getting fined. NOR SHOULD THEY. It’s a safety issue that needs to be brought to someone’s attention before a driver or a spectator get injured.  Tony talks about it and he gets fined.

NASCAR came out of the box this season stating what exactly the fine scale would be for drivers who spoke poorly of NASCAR or it’s racing product. I was hopeful that this meant the fines would be more transparent and more evenly distributed than ever before. They have failed on this BIG TIME.  Take for instance Kyle Busch.  Several weeks ago Kyle Busch claims NASCAR is fixing races on his team radio because they threw a yellow flag that he felt could have cost him a possible win in the Xfinity Series – clearly a much more inflammatory statement against NASCAR and it’s racing product and yet he doesn’t get fined (he did get fined that weekend but it was for bailing on post race media obligations post race and not for his statement about races being fixed by the sanctioning body).  There has to be consistency and fairness in the penalties and fining Tony Stewart for bring up lug nuts and safety (a conversation that has been going on since late last year at least) is not something that should be something fine worthy.

It seems that the drivers agree, as the Sprint Cup series driver’s council issued a statement late last night that they didn’t think that the fine was fair and they would be helping pay the fine. This tells me that they feel the same way Tony does so they should all feel the fine pain so to speak.  I hope that this speaks volumes to NASCAR. They have a possible safety issue that they need to seriously consider. Fining drivers for talking about a possible safety issue is like fining a baseball player for considering wearing a helmet when he’s up to bat, or fining a bull rider for wearing a flack jacket during his 8 second ride.  It doesn’t make sense because without the athlete- you don’t have the sport. (more…)