Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Kyle Larson Charges from a Lap Down to Win Eldora

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 21, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXXI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today, Sprint Cup and XFINITY teams are parking their haulers and loading in at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  After last night's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby, today should be fairly quiet.  If anything of note breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Kyle Larson Brushes Off Penalty for Eldora Truck Win

On Wednesday night, Kyle Larson charged back from a lap down after cutting his right rear tire and passed Bobby Pierce on lap 120.  From there, he held off Christopher Bell to win the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby.  Rico Abreu was third, followed by Jake Griffin and Tyler Reddick.  Read more

Matt Kenseth Docked 15 Points Following Loudon Win

Prior to the action at Eldora, NASCAR released their weekly penalty report.  Matt Kenseth's team was hit with a P3 penalty due to a toe violation found in the post-race laser inspection.  As a result, Kenseth and the team were docked 25 points each, while Jason Ratcliff was fined $25,000.  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
Potts on Carl Haas and Taking Wins Away for Flunking Inspection
Potts' Shots
by John Potts

I was very sorry to hear about the passing of Carl Haas a week or so back.

I'm not going to try to tell you that Mr. Has and I were good friends. Far from it. We were acquaintances, but I had a lot of respect for the guy and what he accomplished, and he always called me by my first name from the first time we met.

That initial meeting came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in the 80s, when I was News Director at Indianapolis Raceway Park.  My son and I went out to IMS for a Saturday qualifying day, and were enjoying ourselves walking through the garage area – meeting friends, etc.

Suddenly, there's an announcement on the pit/garage PA system: "Will the driver of the Indianapolis Raceway Park mini-van please report to the van right away?"

All kinds of thoughts. Was it on fire?

Turned out I had parked in a spot that was reserved, but wasn't marked as such.  It was in a spot right outside the Newman-Haas hospitality tent, and Mr. Haas was standing there waiting for us.

I figured we were in for a rump-chewing, but he stuck his hand out to shake with both of us and said, "Hi, I'm Carl Haas, thanks for answering the page."

We were in his spot, and he wanted to put his new state of the art automobile in there. I don't even remember what kind of car it was, but he was VERY proud of it and showed us all around it.

He said, "Move the van and come inside. Have a beer and we'll talk some more."

We sat down at a table next to Mario and Michael Andretti, and he brought us a couple of Budweisers (of course), and sat down with us.  He wanted to know all about what was happening at IRP, asking how I like the different types of racing we had going on.

I told him I loved it, and he seemed particularly happy that I was becoming more and more interested in SCCA road racing.

From then on, whenever we crossed paths, he wanted to know how things were going "out there at IRP."

A few years later, we had an IMSA race scheduled, and a Regional SCCA event also on the card. We applied to make that SCCA meet a National, but the application was turned  down.

One of the board members with the SCCA Indy Region told me it was Mr. Haas' decision that it be a Regional. He said, "I don't know if you're familiar with Carl Haas, but in our organization he is known as a man of considerable horsepower."

I could understand that.

That same week, I was out on the property getting something done, when the office called me on the radio and told me I had an important phone call.

I hustled back, and it turned out that Mr. Haas had left a message for me, asking me to call him back.

When I did, he told me he thought he owed me an explanation as to why our request to change the event to a National was turned down. He pointed out that we had a scheduled National coming up in a couple of weeks.

"A lot of these people already have their schedules set," he told me, "and we felt we didn't want to force them to change. You know a lot of them are running for National points."

Also, he said, "Believe me, you're going to have your hands full with the IMSA race (a night  race on Saturday followed by a race on Sunday), and you don't need your paddock cluttered up with more cars than you need."

He was right, of course, and I was very grateful that he had called me. I thought it showed a lot of class.

Might not be much of an "old friend" story, but I'll always remember him fondly.
Wednesday was the 47th anniversary of the day that the astronauts landed on the moon. Like most folks, I remember where I was at the time of the landing. Naturally, it had to do with a race.

I was sitting in my car at Clay City Speedway in Kentucky, waiting for the gates to open. Listened to the landing on the radio, flagged the race, and then made it back to my mother's house in Louisville to see them climb out of the capsule.

Next topic – Matt Kenseth's car found illegal after the New Hampshire race. Points and/or cash penalties likely to follow.  (Editor's Note: Potts submitted the article prior to NASCAR assessing the P3 penalty, 15 point penalty and $25,000 fine mentioned above).
Suffice it to say they won't take the victory away from him. They never do.

My personal feeling is that this policy is an affront to everyone whose car passed post-race inspection.

At every level of this sport, at most tracks, if a car is found to be illegal in post-race inspection, the driver is stripped of the win, points, and cash won.  In horse racing, they call this "taking his number down."

Funny that this applies all the way to the top of stock car racing, and stops there.
I've been told it's because Big Bill France wanted the people to know who won the race before they left the track.

Some other high-profile sports don't feel this way.

Ever notice what happens when a pro golfer signs an incorrect scorecard?

And back in the 1960s, that happened the same week that the Kentucky Derby folks didn't hesitate to take the winner's number down two days after the race when he failed a urine test. (

(Editor's Note: Both instances occurred in 1968.  In April, Tommy Aaron incorrectly credited Robert DiVicenzo with a four instead of a three on the 17th hole in the final round of The Masters.  The screw-up (and DiVicenzo signing the scorecard) resulted in Bob Goalby winning The Masters in regulation instead of having to play an 18-hole playoff the next day.

20 days later, Dancer's Image won the Kentucky Derby, then tested positive for traces of phenylbutazone a couple of days later.  It set off a series of court battles that lasted all the way to 1972.  It is the only time in the history of the Kentucky Derby that the original winner was disqualified.)

I was in the newspaper business at the time and had a great headline ready: "Golfer Signs Away Tourney, Horse Pees Away Derby."

Couldn't get that one past the boss.

John Potts is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch. He can be reached via e-mail at

The Critic's Annex: Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby
by Phil Allaway

For the Camping World Truck Series, the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby is just about the only marquee race on the schedule.  A near sellout with 20,000 chaps in the grandstand and on the hillsides, fireworks, a high truck count and good action.  Couldn't really ask for much more.  Ok, maybe a few places to stay somewhere close to the track so that its realistically possible for someone like me to cover the race. 

In the months leading up to last night's race, a lot of people at Lebanon Valley asked me if I was going to Eldora for both days since the Super DIRTcar Series was serving as the primary support (they had 58 cars come out to attempt to qualify for a 100 lap feature that started 30; Brett Hearn was forced to take a provisional, a rare site indeed).  I chose not to mainly because of the sheer cost involved, the ten hours of driving, the mid-week format which means that I would realistically have to burn four days of vacation to do the event (If you try to do it in three, it means that you would effectively drive all night to Eldora Monday night and get there Tuesday morning and do 16 hours at the track on next to no sleep.  No thanks.) and the fact that IMSA's at Lime Rock Park this weekend (which I am covering for Frontstretch).

While I'll fully admit that I didn't really want to go to Eldora, I was looking forward to the race for multiple reasons.  One was to see the actual racing, while the other was to see what FOX Sports 1 did with said action.

In past years, FOX Sports 1 has gone all out, bringing the "Hollywood Hotel" out to Eldora for a special on-site edition of NCWTS Setup.  That wasn't the case this year. 

However, FOX Sports 1 did bring a special dirt reporter in Kenny Wallace.  Wallace was clearly jacked up for the coverage and brought his A-game.  Since he spends most of his time away from TV at various dirt tracks around the country, Wallace knows a lot of stuff.  He gave viewers some great interviews, great analysis on track conditions and moisture, not to mention some other good things as well.  This is probably the best TV work that Wallace has ever done.  His pure joy was evident all night.  It was probably the best decision that FOX Sports 1 made all night.

The schedule for the race was a bit of a mess.  Time trials ended up going long, which screwed up the schedule at the track and the FOX Sports 1 schedule for the rest of the night.  Speak for Yourself, the new show with Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock, was allowed to run its full one hour length despite starting late, which definitely ticked some people off.  I saw a number of angry tweets about it.  We were lucky to not miss any on-track action, but FOX Sports 1 didn't do a good job of relaying that to viewers on TV.  Sure, if you follow FOX Sports 1 on Twitter like I do, you did see those updates.  However, there was next to nothing on TV.  That's got to change.

The event itself saw a lot of good racing for position and lots of usage of the term "slide job."  The latter is partially explained due to the dirt, but also because of Joey Logano promising to donate $22 per use of term on-air to the Tony Stewart Foundation.  I couldn't tell you how many uses we had.  I counted a little over 30.  Other people on Twitter counted 160 or more.  Regardless, Logano's lighter in the wallet and someone's going to benefit from it.

I loved the on-track action.  Wednesday night's race might have been the best of the four truck races at Eldora to date.  However, I did feel in the dark at times when it came to on-track issues.  For example, Stewart Friesen blew an engine out of sixth, I believe.  That caused a caution and Friesen retired his Halmar International Chevrolet.

It sounds like FOX Sports did some kind of interview with Friesen after he got out of the truck, but no video was ever shown.  That's weak.  Also, there were a number of technical issues with Wallace's microphone.  During Rico Abreu's post-race interview, you could hear Wallace interviewing fourth-place finisher Jake Griffin in his boisterous style.  This happened multiple times during the evening.

Apparently, JR Heffner's issues were solely because he hit a bump and ripped the exhaust pipes off the No. 44.  The pipes flying off were caught on replay, but the booth didn't realize that they were exhaust pipes (they theorized that it was part of the support for the splitter that is normally run in the series, but not at Eldora).  Getting rocked and socked around afterwards probably hurt the truck more than the pipes breaking off.  He probably got penalized just like Kyle Larson for stopping on track and that's why he ended up two laps down.  It's a shame for Heffner, although I think he'll hold his head high at Lebanon Valley Saturday night.  I'll try to get some comments from him this weekend.

Some of the track was covered all that well by cameras, specifically turns 3 and 4.  The regular cameras didn't have a good view of what started the big wreck at the end of segment No. 1.  A static aerial shot was all they had, but it was zoomed out enough that you couldn't make out details.  We saw enough to see that Friesen wiped out and got lucky that he didn't damage the No. 16 more than he did.  Caleb Holman, who apparently was the one to hit him, ended up the loser there.

Post-race coverage was about average.  It should be noted that the race was supposed to be done by 10:30 p.m. and it was already after 11 when the race ended.  We got a few good interviews, in addition to point and result checks before FOX Sports 1 left for MLB Whiparound.  The Griffin interview that I noted earlier?  It didn't make the broadcast.

Sadly, another casualty of the screwed-up schedule was the feature that FOX Sports 1 had been advertising substantially that Kenny Wallace did with Rico Abreu.  I was actually looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, all we ended up getting was what was supposed to be a tease of the feature.  Weak.  I hope FOX Sports uploads that interview to  It should be good.

Overall, while I did enjoy the racing, the telecast was up and down.  Wallace was a definite high point of the broadcast as his enthusiasm was infectious.  However, the overall presentation left a little to be desired and the schedule was a mess.  In the future, FOX Sports 1 should devote more time for the coverage from Eldora.  I missed seeing the practice coverage, which was held on Tuesday evening this year in and around the various Super DIRTcar Series sessions.  Heck, it's a dang Tuesday night in the middle of summer.  Might as well televise that as well.

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 2-Headed Monster: Should Cars That Fail Inspection Keep the Win?

"[NASCAR doesn't take wins away because they] want to make sure it's cut for TV and everything like that.  If they're cheating, they're cheating. They're not the winning car because they're not within the rules."  - Ryan Ellis, on teams that get busted for rules violations after winning races.


by P. Huston Ladner

by Bryan Gable and Sean Fesko

by Bryan Gable
by Toni Montgomery

by Beth Lunkenheimer

by Aaron Bearden

Q: Today, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis' oval has a decent pit road setup for 43 cars where you enter in turn 3 and everyone has a stall.  That wasn't the case in 1990.  What was the pit setup at then-IRP that Busch teams had to deal with?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  The 1995 race weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park was rough on the track's infrastructure.  Just mentioning the weekend gives our own John Potts chills.  What happened at the end of the inaugural Camping World Truck Series race at IRP that year?

A: On the final lap, ASA veteran Gary St. Amant was racing Johnny Benson for second when he brushed against Benson and spun exiting turn 2.  St. Amant spun into the grass and backed into a light pole, knocking it out of commission.  The crash can be seen here.

St. Amant was able to resume and eventually finished 11th.  It stands as his best career finish.  As for the lights, they were repaired in time for the Busch Grand National race the next night.  During that race, Chris Diamond spun and hit the same light pole, knocking the lights out again.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the 23rd visit for the Sprint Cup Series to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Zach Catanzareti returns to answer Four Burning Questions heading into this weekend's action in Indianapolis.
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