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It seems that everywhere I look everyone is in a rage about Matt Kenseth being parked after the wreck towards the end of the Hollywood Casinos 400 at Kansas last weekend.  There seems to be much confusion over WHY did they park him when NASCAR seems to look the other way when other drivers seem to regularly have seven men over the wall during a pitstop and not get penalized.

I am going to say right here and right now- I totally agree with NASCAR’s call. Does it suck for Matt Kenseth? Hell yes. I am not saying that it doesn’t. I am not saying that I don’t like Matt Kenseth. When they showed the crew working on Matt Kenseth’s car I said WAIT I THINK I SEE SEVEN MEN over the wall.  I said this BEFORE they mentioned it on the national broadcast, before they put up the graphic where they super imposed a number over each crew member. The seventh man- whomever he was actually called attention to himself because he hesitated, sat back down on the wall and then decided to go back towards the car.  This hesitation is what drew my eye to him in the first place. It’s like he knew he wasn’t suppose to be over the wall but he just couldn’t help himself.

The thing that most people don’t seem to be understanding is that Matt Kenseth wasn’t making a pit stop at this point. He was pulling into his pit to repair crash damage, thus putting him and his team on the 5 minute clock.  When the cars come in for crash damage the rules clearly state that only 6 men can be over the wall at any one time to assist in the repair of the vehicle or the car is automatically done for the day. Why? They explained it on the national broadcast…because without this rule the crew chiefs could send 10 people over the wall to help fix the car and gladly take the penalty. They even stated on the national broadcast that this was a rule that the OWNERS asked for- not NASCAR. That was something I didn’t know.

A regular six person pit stop performed by Brad Keselowski’s crew at Kansas Speedway. (photo source: 352494Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

During a regular pit stop six members are allowed over the wall to service the car and teams CAN have a seventh man who comes across the wall to service the DRIVER. What that means is that the seventh man is there to pull a tear off, give water or ice to the driver, etc.  This is during a pit stop NOT during the 5 minute crash damage clock.  The penalty for too many men over the wall is end of the longest line or a pass through (I think).  Even IF Matt Kenseth had been performing a regular pitstop and not on the crash damage clock they would have at the least seen a penalty. Why? Because the seventh man wasn’t servicing the driver with a sawsall in his hand- which video clearly shows.

I do not understand why this is unclear. Matt Kenseth wasn’t on a regular pit stop he was on the crash damage clock. The seventh man over the wall wasn’t there to service the driver he clearly had a sawsall in his hand and when he decided to go to the can he went right to the wheel well- not to pull a tear off or give the driver water.  Yes it totally ruined his play off hopes and yes that sucks but there is the rule there for a reason. There is a clear difference between being on a pit stop and being on the playoff clock. I am sure the person who ruined the playoff hopes for his driver feels terrible. This is not a new rule- it was quite clear by crew chief Jason Radcliffe’s comments he understood the rule.  Play-off’s require everyone to be on the top of their game- and one person who either wasn’t paying attention or just really thought he could slide past the rule made a mistake and at this point in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series play-off’s mistakes mean mean the difference between making a cut off and falling below the cut.

Phoenix, AZ  November 2015 (Photo Source: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP/Harold Hinson)

So- I usually write the “Loose Lugnuts posts” in what is a mostly stream of conscious session on Wednesday night and schedule them to publish on Thursday morning or afternoon- but here it is Monday evening and I am getting a jump start on it because I am going to be traveling and won’t have time to write it up on Wednesday night so I am going to schedule a few while I am gone. Also I realized that I forgot to mention a couple of things in my race report on Monday that I totally spaced on- but will do just fine here. So without further ado here is what has been rolling around my brain like lugnuts rolling around a pitstall after a green flag pit stop during the championship race:

1. Because of the lengthy rain delay in Phoenix- my dad didn’t get to see the F35 flyover that he was so looking forward to watching. While it is not the first flyover the elusive F35 Lightning II has done at a sporting event- it is the first ever at a NASCAR event and my dad is an aviation fan.  He was bummed out. I know the flyover happened (Thanks to someone I follow on Instagram) but you would think that since one of the two jets was carrying a Jeff Gordon Raceway flag you would thank they would have made a bigger hoopla out of it.

(Photo Source: Martin Truex Jr Official Facebook)

2. I watched a heck of a lot of the rain delay coverage that came out of Phoenix last weekend. More than I probably should have. But one thing I didn’t hear mentioned was who Elijah Aschbrenner was and why his name was above the passenger door on Martin Truex Jr’s car at the track. As a matter of fact very little was mentioned about it at all and I think that is a shame.  Elijah was a pediatric cancer patient that was not just part of Martin and Sherry’s Catwalk for a Cause fashion show that raised money for pediatric cancer but he was known and wished well by many many many NASCAR fans and teams. Other drivers such as Kasey Kahne ran special yellow ribbons with Elijah’s likeness on them on their cars during the race as well.  Elijah fought Epitheliod Sarcoma like a hero but earned his angel wings on November 10th.  Here is a wonderful story about Elijah that NASCAR’s Holly Cain did it’s just a shame that they didn’t mention him (or mention him more) during the hours and hours of rain delay coverage.

3. While we are on the topic Martin Truex Jr.’s long time girlfriend Sherry Pollax is battling stage III ovarian cancer as many of you know. She is currently going through once a month maintenance chemo for it.  Well her Chemo session was Monday morning (today).  I can only imagine that she must have been tired- having been in Phoenix so late between it being delayed until all hours, and then I am sure Martin had to do a lot more media than normal after the race considering he made the Final Four.  Go Sherry! (more…)

Tony Stewart at Texas Motor Speedway April 2015. (Photo Source: Tony Stewart Facebook/HHP/Alan Marler)

 

1a. So Matt Kenseth was suspended for two races and put on probation for 6 months (a decision that was upheld by the appeals board I might add but the final appeal is still underway).  As I mentioned I really think that Matt deserved no more than a slap on the wrist because Joey had it coming to him. But suspending Matt for what I can only assume is actions detrimental to stock car racing- is just NASCAR showing how inconsistent they are with their “penalties.” What am I talking about? Well Danica Patrick and David Gilliland have been taking turns turning each other all season (actually according to this article their issues have been going on since 2013) and Danica is docked points and fined (nothing for Gilliland). Why was she not suspended? Oh because Gilliland wasn’t in the running for a championship?  And what about the whole Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski deal from several years ago (2009/2010 here is a video I found on youtube of some of the instances I am thinking about). NASCAR did nothing in these instances.  NASCAR and certain media members make it seem like retaliation never happens ever in this sport. I call foul on their “this is unprecedented” mindset.  So what Matt was laps down when he made contact- I really don’t see why that matters? I still ascertain that Joey Logano KNEW Matt Kenseth wasn’t the happiest of campers with him after Kansas.  Matt chose not to retaliate at Dega which was actually a smart move- that I might have had issues with because that would have been dangerous on so many levels. I still say that this is a veteran driver standing up for himself- saying look you aren’t going to push me around on the track.  It’s very much you get raced how you race others. That’s how it’s always been.

1b. Part of the issue though is this “Chase Elimination format” (which for my regular readers you all know I am already not a fan of). Ricky Craven- whom I almost never agree with- has some interesting things to say about this in regards to this format breeding this mind set (somewhat). I could argue that Joey Logano purposely performed a pit maneuver on Matt Kenseth. Joey was already locked in- Matt Kenseth was fighting for the championship at that moment. Why was Joey not suspended? The penalties do not fit the “crime.” (more…)

(Photo Source: Zimbio/Jonathan Moore/Getty Images North America)

Tony Qualified: 13th, but started 43rd

Tony Finished: 10th

Points: 661 (26th in the points standings)

Wow what a great race for Tony Stewart. I will gladly take that 10th place finish especially after having started in the back.  Tony Stewart qualified 13th at Martinsville but crashed during practice on Saturday and had to go to a backup car which is never a good thing.  What made me sightly disheartened is when I heard that the team had built that car specifically for Martinsvile and that they didn’t think that the backup car would be as good.  After hearing that my mind was pretty much relegated to the fact that likely it would be another race where Tony struggled in the mid-rear of the field and would end up a lap down early on. It’s so easy to get a lap down on the short tracks like Martinsville and Bristol.  That is what I expected anyway. Thankfully it was NOT what happened. (more…)

So as always with race weekends that I actually get to attend in person I like to pull out a couple of my photos because I love them a lot and I like to share them in a separate post. If you are looking for the Sonoma 2015 Racecation post it is here. Here are some favorite photos from Misty and myself: (more…)

Crew getting things done during a pit stop at Bristol. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Official Store Facebook/HHP photo/Alan Marler)

Tony Qualified: 21st

Tony Finished: 6th

Points: 145 points (28th place in the standings)

I honestly came into the race weekend thinking I wouldn’t even get to see a race- that at best I would be stuck at work on Monday morning trying to pay attention to my NASCAR while working using a combination of Twitter, SiriusXM Online and the NASCAR Mobile ap. As a matter of fact- I was so sure that the race wouldn’t even get started that I actually ran to the store- only to check my phone as I was walking into Target to find that the green had flown and the race was on. Figures, I told myself as I rushed around Target picking up this, that and the laundry detergent. At least I have SiriusXM with the NASCAR so I could listen to the race on the way home and not miss much, that is what I told myself anyway.  I didn’t have to worry about it though- I checked my phone again as I was leaving Target only to find that the race had been red flagged and I had plenty of time to get home. (more…)

I just want to take second to THANK everyone for all the support for the last post (the Open Letter To GMA). It was truly overwhelming to see how many of you out there not just felt the same way as I did but shared the link, shared your thoughts (either on the original post, on FaceBook, on twitter)! While I have no doubt that my letter did little in the overall scheme of things- especially judging on the ABC Nightly News coverage this evening, I like to think that us fans banding together at least showed that Tony Stewart fans NASCAR fans are not blind to slanted, biased reporting.  Hopefully it somehow got back to Tony and his people that we support him on a wide scale. Onto the actual post.

I think after the post-race antics last Saturday night, most of the NASCAR world was waiting and watching to see what the NASCAR sanctioning body would dole out.  I know I certainly was. In case that you haven’t heard yet (and I know most of you have) these were the penalties doled out by NASCAR today:

Brad Keselowski was fined $50,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race. Tony Stewart was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the Phoenix race.

I know everyone has thoughts on what should and should NOT have been done with the penalties. I know I certainly do and judging by some of the things I read on social media afterwards my thoughts may not be the most popular ones. So I ask that you approach my thoughts with an open mind- and remember these are MY opinions and nothing more.

What NASCAR Did Right (more…)

Tony Stewart gets serviced on pit road

Tony Stewart’s #14 Bass Pro Chevrolet gets serviced on pit road on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Tony Stewart Facebook Page)

So much for flag-to-flag coverage of the chase races huh?  For all that NASCAR has done building up this new Chase format- building it to be more like traditional playoffs like you see in other series, did they ever have an epic televised coverage fail on Saturday. Did you tune in on Saturday expecting to see the 5th race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint cup? So did I. Were you disappointed to see college football instead? ME TOO! (more…)