Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Matt Tifft Out Indefinitely Due to Brain Tumor

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jun. 29, 2016
Volume X, Edition CV
What to Watch: Wednesday

- Today is the day that NASCAR releases the weekly Penalty Report.  There are most definitely two guys that will get some treatment from NASCAR: John Wes Townley and Spencer Gallagher.  When the report is released, we'll have a news article for you at Frontstretch.


Wednesday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Matt Tifft Sidelined Due to Brain Tumor

The hits keep on coming for Matt Tifft.  Having just recovered from back issues, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Tifft has been diagnosed with a low-grade glioma in the brain and will need surgery and follow-up rehabilitation.  He will be out indefinitely.  Read more

NASCAR Updates Provisional, Race Eligibility Procedures for Sprint Cup Series

Tuesday, NASCAR announced a couple of changes to general procedure in the Sprint Cup Series going forward.  If a non-Charter team qualifies for the Chase, they will receive provisionals to ensure they're qualified for each of ten postseason events.  Also, if qualifying is rained out, points alone will once again determine the starting grid.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.
Today's Featured Commentary
Changing Times
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell
In the words of the legendary rap group Tag Team:  "I'm taking it back to the old school, 'cause I'm an old fool who's so cool."

Or maybe I'm just getting crusty in my impending golden years….

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm seeing changes in-and-around NASCAR Nation that both excite and incite. Some of the more competitive innovations are "cutting edge" circa 1976. Blades across the rear decks of Sprint Cup cars that harken us back four decades (like the ones we saw at Michigan International Speedway a couple weeks ago) turned racers into skaters as drivers hung on for their dear lives.

Match-lowered spoilers with a new Goodyear tire construction that went from grip one lap to slip the next; suddenly, it's like we're looking out for the No. 3 CRC Chemicals Chevrolet driven by a journeyman hotshoe named Richard Childress. Might Buddy Baker, Coo Coo Marlin, and Lennie Pond be lurking either ahead or behind? Close racing was rarely the rule forty years ago, but that didn't mean wrestling heavy cars with light downforce at high speeds didn't make for some fun Sunday afternoons.

Those of a certain age reminisce about "the good ol' days", and I hear more and more race fans making such comments. Of course, this statement comes from a guy who still carries a book of matches in his car to combat the sluggish playback of an 8-track tape.

As long as I live, I'll never get fully comfortable with digital technologies. It's difficult to say goodbye to the tried-and-true, even if these methods have their faults.

Which is why I quietly dread the upcoming 2017 NASCAR season and accepting the absence of Tony Stewart from behind the wheel of a Cup car. Stewart's gamble on short-pitting and his last lap fenderfest with former JGR teammate Denny Hamlin at Sonoma last weekend was classic Smoke. Tony made sure he fully Foyted Hamlin with one turn to go in order to retake the lead and secure the win.

"Super Tex" was no doubt proud of Stewart's approach to making the Chase….

And it's not that Tony is the last of the NASCAR metal benders; there are still a few curmudgeons in the sport who are willing to push-and-shove in order to eventually hoist a big trophy. The Busch brothers come to mind, as do Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, but there will never be another Smoke.

Maybe that's the way things have to go. There can only be one original of anything. In today's NASCAR, diversity is pretty much linked to the past – what drivers exhibited during the 1970s when Lee Roy Yarbrough and the Allison brothers used to combine stock car racing with an occasional ride in the Indianapolis 500.

For more references to such diversity, see the aforementioned A.J. Foyt, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. The loss of such cross-pollination leads to specialized drivers while robbing motorsports of its penchant for putting the most skilled in the best cars.

I miss the days of Jim Clark and the Wood Brothers at Indy and Dan Gurney sharing the wheel of a Ford with A.J. Foyt at Le Mans.

Part of me also misses the time when racing was more sport and less show business. Those memories have flooded back lately, especially when listening to the singing of the National Anthem at various NASCAR venues.

Since I live in Michigan, I can say that the singing group "Three Men and a Tenor" has something of a popular regional following. They perform concerts and make recordings; that's fine. It's just that their lengthy, jazzy rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" seemed to be more form than function.

The same might be said for the performance we heard at Sonoma last week. While I have nothing against musical theater, I do get edgy when our National Anthem takes about as long as a parade lap around Sears Point.  And it's not just me, either. Check out the faces of drivers and crew members standing along pit road. It's easy to tell when things have gone a bit too far musically.

When it's time to go racing, it's time to go racing. But maybe that's just me rapping as an "old fool" who's too "old school". Call it my opinion, but "Whoomp (There it is)."

That said, it's a good time to drop back into the pack and cool my tires. I'll be visiting with family the next two weeks and this little patch of the Internet will be seen to by my respected colleague Clayton Caldwell. His youthful vim and vigor will bring new ideas and engaging essays.

I'm packing my matchbook for the long trip….

Dr. Mark Howell is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Tom Bowles

compiled by Aaron Bearden
by Dustin Albino

by Amy Henderson
by Aaron Bearden and Matt Stallknecht
as told to Beth Lunkenheimer


Q: The 1987 Pepsi 400 saw Bobby Allison come back from a lap down to win the race.  The race ended with a shootout and a spectacular incident for Ken Schrader.  What happened?

Check back Thursday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Tuesday's Answer:

Q:  In ESPN's first flag-to-flag broadcast from Daytona in 1989, Lake Speed had a huge crash on the backstretch late in the race.  What happened?

A: On a late restart, Speed and Sterling Marlin came together on the backstretch, spinning Speed head-on into the wall.  The force of the hit turned Speed's Bulls-Eye Oldsmobile over multiple times in front of a charging pack of cars.  Derrike Cope, Dave Marcis, Jimmy Spencer and Hut Stricklin were also involved.  The crash can be seen here.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have any news that breaks in the world of NASCAR, plus an additional look at some of the broadcast content from last weekend in the Critic's Annex.

Toni Montgomery returns with her weekly look at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Nitro Shots.
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