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« Johnson’s fifth, Keselowski’s flight and Gordon’s fists made 2010 memorable | Main | What does 2011 hold for Johnson, Edwards, Gordon and Earnhardt? »

Junior’s failings, Delana’s firesuit and Bowyer’s fines made 2010 memorable

By admin | December 29, 2010

By Richard Allen

 

NASCAR 2010 had a number of memorable moments to occur throughout the course of the season. Here is the second of two partial lists of the happenings I remember from this past year. This listing is in no particular order.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fails to win- 2010 proved to be yet another disappointing season for Junior and his legion of fans. For the second year in a row the sport’s most popular driver went winless and failed to make the Chase for the Championship.

Crew chief, car owner, pit crew, and the driver himself received criticism from fans and detractors alike. In the end, crew chief Lance McGrew was replaced at season’s end by former Jeff Gordon pit boss Steve Letarte.

2010 was just another year to pass by with this driver, his team and everyone else involved not living up to the expectations when Junior moved to Hendrick Motorsports. In 2011, he will turn 37 years old which means the number of chances for adding to his win total and scoring a championship are dwindling.

Johnson’s pit crew gets dumped- The fall race in Texas proved to be one of the most entertaining of the year for a variety of reasons. However, one of the most intriguing stories to come from that race was the benching of Jimmie Johnson’s pit crew in favor of Jeff Gordon’s after the #24 car fell out of the race.

At the time, it seemed as though the move was made out of desperation, but in the end, crew chief Chad Knaus was proven right. Seemingly unfazed, Johnson went on to claim his fifth consecutive title with the new crew in his pit box for the remainder of the season.

Shake up at Hendrick Motorsports- Looking back in a few years, the biggest story of 2010 might have occurred after the season concluded. Rick Hendrick shuffled crew chiefs and other personnel around his garages in an attempt to bring the ‘other three’ teams up to par with the standards set by Johnson’s #48 bunch. This move will either prove to be right or wrong but only time will tell. In a few years we may be labeling Hendrick as genius or foolish.

TV ratings and empty grandstands- After successive years of lower television ratings and decreased attendance it would have seemed as though NASCAR might be set for an up year simply because the comparisons from the previous year were so low. However, that proved not to be the case. The majority of races run in 2010 were contested before smaller crowds at the track and fewer folks in their living rooms. The lesser number of people paying attention to this sport left a memorable impression, especially considering there were empty seats in places such as Bristol, Charlotte and Talladega.

Who wears the fire suit in the Harvick family?- After a Sprint Cup race in Pocono, Joey Logano decided he had had enough of Kevin Harvick’s aggressive driving style and decided to confront his rival on pit road after the event. However, scores of pit crew members and NASCAR officials prevented the drivers from getting within reach of each other. That, however, did not keep Logano from delivering a stinging verbal jab when interviewed later.

“It’s probably not his fault, Logano said. “His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do, so it’s probably not his fault.” He was referring to the fact that Delana Harvick wears a fire suit while watching races from the pit area.

Bowyer busted at New Hampshire- After the first Chase for the Championship race in New Hampshire it looked as if Clint Bowyer and his Richard Childress Racing team had established themselves as title contenders. However, his car was later taken to NASCAR’s tech facility and deemed to be outside the allowable body settings.

Bowyer went from contender to out of contention in an instant when NASCAR handed down stiff penalties that included fines, suspensions and the loss of points. With the 150 points added back to his total, Bowyer would have finished 5th in the final standings rather than 10th.

Those are a few of the happenings from this past NASCAR season I considered among the most memorable. If you haven’t done so already check out part one of my memorable moments list by clicking on the link in the left hand column of this page. Please feel free to add your own memorable moments in the comments section of either column.

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One Response to “Junior’s failings, Delana’s firesuit and Bowyer’s fines made 2010 memorable”

  1. Marybeth Says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Rich, Brody Jones did an article; On Pit Road: Has the Time Come for JG to leave HMS? Brody Jones 12/19/10. The following are my comments to him suing quotes from his article. MW

    Brody, I am impressed with the sound common sense approach you have taken. The following are outtakes from an article by Carol Einarsson. I raised the same question but was shot down. Keep up the good work! :) Marybeth Wallick
    Race Journal Online: “I Was Just Wonderin’…: Red Bull, Moonshine, and NASCAR Advertising By Carol Einarsson | 12/10/2010 racejournalonline.com
    I wonder if Jimmie Johnson’s success has changed Jeff Gordon’s long-term goals. Does Jeff have a new challenge to beat Jimmie’s number of championships, or will this continuing string of championships serve to defeat the racing pioneer’s hope for more titles?”
    To which I said:
    “Marybeth 12/10/2010 6:43 pm (5) One wonders if JG wouldn’t like to go to another owner to try for his 5th, but of course he can’t.”
    To which mikeyfan replied:
    “mikeyfan 12/10/2010 8:46 pm (6) Marybeth: Maybe ONE wonders that, but No ONE else does.”

    Here are my thoughts on some quotes from your article:
    “…he’s done so well that Rick Hendrick signed him to a life-time contract.” Or is that to keep a grip on JG as the 5 year contract is to keep Jr. from being competitive against JJ somewhere else…?
    “…the fact he hasn’t won has been seemingly mitigated by circumstances not of his own doing (namely questionable pit strategy, engine failures, or crashes.).” Jr. has had that problem. I have come to count on that if Jr. is doing well at the end of a race, the last pit stop is going to screw something up.
    “…has suddenly found himself relegated to something of second-banana status, almost as if his team has become the research and development team for Hendrick Motorsports.” Jr. has been that right along. As long as he had Darien Grubb on his pit box, Jr. did well. Darien had no problem interpreting Jr.’s feedback if beomg 2nd in points in the summer of 2008 in the COT is an indicator. The 25/88 car has always been the r&d car and will continue to be in the new garage. It will just be easier for Chad to give them their set-ups to test for JJ.
    “…he has seemed to be so unhappy this year that one can’t help but wonder if perhaps the time has come for Jeff to fly the coop on Rick Hendrick,” I have been saying over & over that Jr. will not run competitively again until he is out of and away from Rick.
    “Plus, as the typical racer’s ego is known to do, losing like this has to be eating away at Jeff Gordon. He knows he can’t have too many more seasons like this or he will quickly become irrelevant in the NASCAR landscape in terms of being consistently competitive…. At 39 years old, he still has at least four or five good seasons left in him. The question is does Jeff want to continue in his lesser role at Hendrick or does he want to be the top guy in an organization again?” I have read articles August, Carol Fitzgerald and Mike Bianchi, to name 2 have both had articles saying the Jr. needs to retire for that good of Nascar & that he is irrevelent. Seems like a pattern here.
    “…he has to be wondering if it’s really worth staying on at Hendrick Motorsports if the best he can hope for is just cracking the top 10?” Still r&d for JJ…? As Jr. will be in the new garage, it will just be more convenient for Chad. On Pit Road: Has the Time Come for JG to leave HMS? Brody Jones 12/19

    Brody, &, “and co-owns the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson.” which keeps JG tied in. I have read that before Jr. signed the contract with Rick, Rick insisted that he gets half of JRM, which keeps Jr. tied in. If Jr. leaves Rick when his term is up, the 5 yrs. instead of the usual 3 yrs., he loses JRM, maybe it is gone no matter what Jr. does. Somehow Jr.’s family have convinced him that he has to keep them employed so that they can keep a roof over their heads & feed their family, that they are not normal responsible adults who can that for themselves. So if Jr. leaves Rick, all of his family ends up unemployed. Rick isn’t evil, he just a good businessman…right…? This set up for JRM is nothing like what Richard Childress has done for Kevin Harvick. Richard did everything he could to help Kevin get started, with no interest in it himself, helped him to be independent competition. I wonder what a ’shrink’ would say about these 2 very different styles of conducting ones life…? Jr. must feel as if he has been trapped in a web, a snare, & JG must feel somewhat the same. Rick also has Tony Stewart tied in with Haas. Is that so that they cannot run as competition against JJ & spoil JJ’s run of championships…? Is Rick’s goal to get more championships than Earnhardt’s & Petty’s…?, so Rick feels that he has to keep the best competition tied up…? 12/20 On Pit Road. 5:35 am

    Brody, …ditto that for Mark Martin. Mark was running competitively at DEI & would have been competition for JJ. Rick knows JJ is not the best driver out there. So the next year Mark is driving for Rick. The first year Mark runs very well, the 2nd yr. it is right downhill. Funny how that pattern works. I have read that Jr. was bullied in middle-school. I believe that same thing is going on right now at HMS, history being repeated. 12/20 On Pit Road Brody Jones. 6:35 am

    Brody, So…all of this brings me to the point I have made before. All of this changing ccs and garage spaces at HMS is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I believe that it will not really change anything, & as long as they are in Rick’s control, none of them will be allowed to compete successfully against JJ. I believe that Rick simply will not allow it. JJ is to set the records for Rick & the others have to be kept out of the way. In think that with all things being equal Jr. is a better driver than JJ. JG cannot get 5 if JJ is to set the records for Rick. I believe that JG is simply too old to get all of the records Rick wants, so it has to be JJ. 12/20 9:35 Brody Jones

    Brody, Quite simply, I believe that Jr. being able to run competitively against JJ scares Rick, so that cannot happen. It may be allowed to look like, as JG did part of this year, or as Jr. did in 2008 before Grubb was pulled off his pit box in Sept., but in the end, it will not be real. Can you image Rick pulling Chad off of JJ’s pit box in Sept….? 9:55

    Brody, I may not be the smartest, but I like things to make sense. And this is the only way I can make sense of what is going on at HMS & in Nascar. I believe that both of the Bill France’s insisted on competition on the track, that they put that first. I do not believe that that is what is going on now & that Nascar ratings are tumbling because of it. 10:15