Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Townley and Gallagher Fined; Daytona Practice Begins

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jun. 30, 2016
Volume X, Edition CVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today is practice day at Daytona International Speedway for both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series.  Expect everyone to go out in the first session, while the second will see roughly half the field (if that) go out in mainly single-car runs.

- In addition, today is the first day of practice at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen's Six Hours weekend.  We'll have recaps later today, in addition to any other news that breaks on Frontstretch.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Fines, But No Suspensions for John Wes Townley, Spencer Gallagher

On Wednesday, NASCAR issued their weekly penalty report.  No graded penalties were issued, but John Wes Townley ($15,000) and Spencer Gallagher ($12,500) were both fined and placed on probation for the rest of 2016 for their roles in Saturday night's physical altercation at Gateway.  Read more

Stewart Friesen to Attempt Truck Debut at Eldora

Area Auto Racing News is reporting that Super DIRTcar Series regular Stewart Friesen will attempt his Camping World Truck Series debut at Eldora Speedway on Jul. 20.  Friesen will race for Halmar Racing, his normal race team in the Super DIRTcar Series.  Read more

Have news for the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Editor's Note: Potts' Shots Will Return Next Week.
The Critic's Annex: Finishing Off Sonoma, Gateway, and FOX's NASCAR Season
by Phil Allaway

Last weekend's broadcasts had two standout stories: the John Wes Townley - Spencer Gallagher scrap and Tony Stewart winning at Sonoma.  I've already covered those two stories in detail on Tuesday at Frontstretch.  I won't really be touching on them here, but I will say this much: I'm on the fence on FOX Sports getting Jim Ross to add his commentary to the fracas.

Yes, it's better than just splicing audio from (insert WWE Pay-Per-View here), but NASCAR has battled for years a stigma that compares them to pro wrestling.  I wouldn't have made the move that quick.  Guess FOX Sports wanted it to go viral.  Also of note, Ross referred to Townley as a "smark," or "smart mark."  That is the sign of someone that would be a big wrestling fan, but also someone who understands the inner workings behind kayfabe (the reality that is being presented).  Interesting.

Also on Saturday night, the primary pre-race feature was a "Where are they now?" piece where Ray Dunlap caught up with Ron Hornaday.  It's been two years since Hornaday raced, but none of that was his fault.  His career prematurely ended due to the Steve Turner - Harry Scott, Jr. business relationship collapsing in 2014.  At the time, Hornaday's No. 30 was shut down despite having full sponsorship for the rest of the season.  It was a real Bush League way to effectively end someone's career, a reason why Hornaday stated that he isn't really retired.  He never did.  People just stopped calling, which is a shame.

Today, Hornaday is building UMP-style Dirt Modifieds (as opposed to the Northeast-style DIRTcar Modifieds that I'm used to covering on a regular basis here in New York) and fielding a car for his grandson.  Hornaday had always been a hands-on racer, so he views this endeavor as getting back to his roots.  I'm happy that he seems to be having fun with this new venture, but that wasn't my biggest takeaway from the piece.

During the conversation with Dunlap, Hornaday revealed that he basically didn't see his own family on a regular basis for something like four years when he first drove for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.  It was something like 1999 before Hornaday moved his family to North Carolina as he was already established out in California.  That must have been an incredibly frustrating experience for Hornaday.  Granted, he was very successful, but very lonely at the same time.  That's probably part of the reason why he was so willing to take people in.

Let's move on to the Cup broadcast from Sunday.  Here, pre-race coverage had a couple of interesting pieces that I did not have time to note.

One of them was a one-on-one segment where Danielle Trotta interviewed Sherry Pollex at a winery.  Here, the discussion was centered upon Pollex's battle with ovarian cancer and a recent decision to ditch her wigs.  Pollex views the latter choice as an empowering move, as to say, "yeah, this is me now, get used to it."

Pollex's entire battle against cancer has been an empowering experience and this piece was no exception.  It was nowhere near as sad as previous interviews with her have been.  Today, she's feeling upbeat and positive.  It shows.

Second, Ryan Blaney took viewers to the Ford Performance Center, where he did some time in the official simulator in order to prepare for Sonoma.  In all honesty, this piece of machinery is impressive.  My understanding is that it costs approximately $3 million but has everything you could possibly want in a testing apparatus.  Definitely not cheap to practice on though....

With last weekend in the books, the FOX season is now over and probably not a minute too soon for some of you.  I have a few concluding thoughts.  One: the cheerleading has to stop now.  It's getting ridiculous and makes the whole sport look bad.  Let Mike Joy do his dang job for once.  He's the play-by-play commentator and by extension, the man in charge of the booth.  Darrell Waltrip needs to stop thinking that he's running the show; in reality, he's not even the most well-known analyst in the booth anymore.  The broadcast is not about you, DW... it's about the racing.

Jeff Gordon did well in his first year working the booth.  However, his Hendrick Motorsports ties are evident throughout his race-long analysis.  If we have another situation like Pocono with the hip checking, what Gordon needs to do is explain how he got his information.  If it comes from Hendrick Motorsports, he has to be transparent about that.  Otherwise, accusations of bias will follow suit.  This issue has been an ongoing problem with the Waltrips for years and Gordon has been tagged by association.  It bites for Gordon, for sure but he has to be a little careful.  Gordon doesn't have to stay away from any topics (other than the ones that FOX Sports mandates) just because Brad Keselowski got upset.

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at
Frontstretch Line of the Week
From Beyond the Cockpit: Austin Wayne Self on Coming Home to Texas

"This one's big; this one's cool! I'm happy because – I've been saying it a lot this weekend – but it's like watching TV and seeing your favorite actor and you get to meet that actor. You hope you love that actor personally as much as you did seeing them on TV. I really love this racetrack; I love everything about it. I was just hoping once I got on there that I still loved it and didn't have a sour taste in my mouth. I ended up loving it; this track's a lot of fun."  - Austin Wayne Self on being able to race at Texas Motor Speedway, a place that has a lot of meaning to him

by Aaron Bearden and Sean Fesko
by Bryan Gable
by Toni Montgomery

by Beth Lunkenheimer

Q: The aforementioned 1987 Pepsi Firecracker 400 saw an important rule change implemented for the race.  What was it?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

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

A: Schrader was in the second position on the last lap when his car began to lose control.  Exiting turn 4, Schrader washed up in front of Dave Marcis (who, had the last caution not flown, would have won the race by a buttload on merit).  This mistake got Schrader loose.  He drifted to the apron, then overcorrected and spun.  The Red Baron Ford rolled over and collected Harry Gant coming to the line.  The crash can be seen here.

Schrader slid across the line to finish seventh with a destroyed Thunderbird.  Afterwards, there was a funny moment in which the safety crew failed to get the window net down.  Schrader proceeded to cuss the safety crew as a result.  Since he had an in-car camera for ABC Sports, that F-bomb actually made the delayed race broadcast unedited.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway.

Sean Fesko, filling in for Zach Catanzareti answers Four Burning Questions heading into this weekend's action in Daytona.
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