Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Penalties Handed Down from Kansas

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 20, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXXVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today is pull-in day for the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series at Talladega Superspeedway.  While the 37 truck teams entered will have opening inspection today, there is no on-track action scheduled.  Regardless, we'll have news for you as it breaks today at Frontstretch.
Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Post-Kansas Penalty Report

Wednesday, NASCAR released their weekly penalty report.  The No. 88 team was hit with a P2 penalty for loose lugnuts, resulting in a $10,000 fine for crew chief Greg Ives.  Otherwise, you had the usual assortment of warnings.  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 soon.
The Critic's Annex: Off Track
by Phil Allaway

Greetings, race fans.  This week, we're covering our first Facebook show in this space.  Yay for New Media!

However, before we go there, there are a couple of TV-related things we must cover.  First, NBC Sports announced that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be making guest appearances in the broadcast booth this Sunday at Talladega and next weekend in Martinsville.  I think you can guess where some of the discussion during his time there is going to go, but we'll see where the commentary goes while he's present.

Second, FOX Sports announced the second season of the Beyond the Wheel series.  If you remember, these are longform features that typically air as part of NASCAR RaceHub.  The first one, "Bonneville 71," which is about the time that Bobby Isaac and the K&K Insurance team took their Dodge to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and set land speed records, premieres next Wednesday.  There are also two more planned: Sueños de NASCAR, about Daniel Suarez and Miracle at Daytona - The Tiny Lund Story about the late Tiny Lund.  Should be interesting to watch.

Now, onto the Facebook presentation.  Tuesday afternoon saw the premiere of FOX Sports' new, somewhat laid back interview show Off Track.  Hosted by Danielle Trotta and Kaitlyn Vincie, the program is designed to go beyond the nuts and bolts to provide a side of drivers that viewers have never seen before.  The show can be found on NASCAR on FOX's Facebook page.  Just scroll down a ways and advance the video to approximately 1:18.

Normally, the whole program would be done completely live with Trotta and Vincie both asking questions.  However, this format was the not the case Tuesday.  Jeff Gordon was be the show's first guest; however, Gordon is a busy chap.  He had time to do the interview last week while Vincie was on vacation and they jumped on it.

This tape delay was fully acknowledged on the show, and I can understand.  When it comes to driver interviews, we can only do them when it fits into the driver's schedule.  In many cases, we can't pitch a time or length.  The length suits the team.  Their desire, of course is that future interviews with Gordon would be done live.  We'll see if that happens.

When the show aired live, viewers had the ability (like on all Facebook live streams) to comment in real time and add emojis.  When you rewatch the show, you can see the comments where they were posted in real time.  I like this capability.  Admittedly, I've never really rewatched Facebook live posts before doing this write-up, but it is a nice touch.

There are two regular segments that air as part of the show as well.  One is Grid Look, where Trotta and Vincie comment on certain looks.  In this case, it meant talking about how fashion-forward Samantha Busch is, the utility of a side braid for Jordan Fish (Denny Hamlin's girlfriend) and Austin Dillon getting his beard shaved off at Dover (via Dillon's Instagram), then growing it back in two weeks.

If that's what this feature is going to be like every week, then I don't know what to think.  I think I'm not the target audience for it.  I don't really want to know about sartorial/hair care choices of drivers' significant others.  However, it's the first episode and the content will likely evolve over time.

The second regular feature is called Inner Circle.  Trotta describes this as " pictures that Kaitlyn and I find during the course of a race weekend that our cameras capture, but you never get to see."

In practice, this translates to videos and/or pictures of drivers unwinding outside of the car.  There was a clip of Chad Knaus playing with one of Jimmie Johnson's kids, for example, a complete role reversal from what we're used to seeing with Knaus.  In my eyes, he's the closest approximation to an NFL coach in NASCAR.  I wouldn't be shocked if he spends at least one night a week in his office, working.  During the races, he's dead serious and not afraid to tear down anyone for actual or perceived slights.

I think Inner Circle is the better of the two regular features because it truly accomplishes Off Track's true objective: Getting to the other side.  I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes.

In regards to the Gordon interview, it seems like a lot of the viewers didn't realize that it wasn't live, despite Trotta and Vincie explicitly stating that it was taped due to Gordon's schedule.  I feel like that might have disappointed some fans, but it's not FOX Sports' fault that some of them simply weren't paying attention.

Topics of discussion included when Gordon got the call to sub for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  That meant his vacation after the FOX portion of the season ultimately lasted about two weeks, mostly spent in the Hamptons before going off to France.

Despite the light tone of the conversation, the primary topic was the upcoming book Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny, which is an authorized biography of Gordon written by Joe Garner that will be released on Nov. 22 (just after the season ends).  Here, Gordon revealed that he enjoys the first chapter of his book the most and a couple of excerpts are read.

The idea of NASCAR drivers not necessarily getting the mainstream breaks they once did came during the discussion as well, which I find interesting.  A NASCAR driver doing anything entertainment-wise is a rare thing.  It's not everyday that you have Brad Keselowski showing up in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Jeff Gordon on Saturday Night Live or Dale Earnhardt as a cab driver in BASEketball.  Maybe the new Oceans 11-type movie that was filming in Charlotte during NASCAR weekend there a couple of weeks ago could help.

The live guest on the show Tuesday was Camping World Truck Series racer Daniel Hemric.  The topics of discussion here included the upcoming Fred's 250 on Saturday in Alabama and his upcoming wedding to Kenzie Ruston.

Overall, I thought the show was pretty interesting with a variety of topics.  Gordon's notion about how NASCAR is falling out of the mainstream is admittedly a little troubling, though.  I'm sure there are some people that think it's a good thing but I would argue otherwise.  Hemric, meanwhile strikes me as a little nervous for his upcoming wedding and rather sad that his fiancé's driving career has all but stalled after a year spinning the wheels with Rev Racing last year.  He's not nervous in the least about this weekend at Talladega, though.

Trotta and Vincie seem to work quite well together.  They've been sharing the work on NASCAR RaceHub for years and it shows.  This chemistry results in basically watching a couple of close friends host a show together.  Good things are going to come out of it.

The grandmaster plan is to run the show every Tuesday.  We'll see what ultimately ends up happening.  Also, premiering this show in mid-October might not have been the best move.  There's just over a month remaining in the season.  Are they going to do offseason shows?  If so, that could be a great way to help fans tide over the void.  Regardless, I believe that Off Track has true potential.

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 Beside The Rising Tide: Bad Moon Rising

"I've even got [my cell phone's Notes app] set up so that four times a year without my needing to enter anything two rolls of Rolaids are automatically added to that Wednesday's list. That's in preparation for NASCAR's four restrictor plate race weekends. Honestly and without the least bit of exaggeration, plate races cause me enough anxiety that my stomach genuinely does churn and for four weekends a year I know I'm going to be biting my fingernails until some of them bleed." - Matt McLaughlin, on what restrictor plate racing does to him

by Aaron Bearden and Sean Fesko

by Joseph Wolkin

by Beth Lunkenheimer

by Bryan Gable


Q: The 1990 Talladega DieHard 500 ended with Dale Earnhardt walking off with the victory.  Behind him, Jimmy Spencer finished 24th, two laps down with a decidedly secondhand Pontiac after running into trouble on the final lap.  What happened?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  Dale Earnhardt won the 1983 Talladega 500 for his first of what turned out to be ten career victories at the Alabama speed palace.  But what happened immediately after the race?

A: Quite literally, it started to rain almost as soon as the checkered flag fell.  The race started in sunny weather, but the dark clouds rolled in late and opened up during the cool-down lap  Here's a clip of the final seven laps of the race and post-race coverage, including the last-lap pass that Earnhardt put on Darrell Waltrip.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the Sprint Cup Series' Hellmann's 500 while also providing news from Thursday.

We'll have Four Burning Questions for you to think about heading into this weekend's action in Talladega.
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