Kahne or Harvick? That's a no-brainer
I hate to get on a rant. Well, actually, I kind of like it. But here are a few thoughts that got me on my soapbox this week:
Kahne and Kevin Harvick will be the top free agents in Cup after this year. If you already etched in stone that Harvick-to-Stewart Haas Racing deal for 2011, you might want to pull out the chisel and start over.
Harvick leads the Cup standings after three races with three top-10s and two runner-up finishes. Harvick and team owner Richard Childress were all cuddly this past weekend at a Richard Childress Racing dinner to promote Pennzoil's new product and Harvick's new sponsor, Ultra.
Meanwhile, Kahne ranks 23rd in the standings for Richard Petty Motorsports, and it took a ninth-place finish at Vegas to get there. It's going to take more than ninth-place finishes to keep him.
So why Kahne over Harvick, you ask? Kahne has 11 victories in 219 starts. Harvick has 11 victories in 325 starts.
Harvick is a quality driver who could win the title this year at RCR. But overall, Kahne has done more with less, and he's 5 years younger than Harvick.
Kahne will turn 30 in April. Harvick will turn 35 in December. And Kahne probably would bring the Budweiser sponsorship with him.
The Budweiser folks couldn't find a better team owner rep than Stewart. It takes only a glance to see the man has downed his share of cold ones in his day.
• How many penalties will it take before NASCAR teams figure out that tachometers do not work for judging speed on pit road?
Nine drivers were caught speeding in the pits at Las Vegas. Five were penalized one week earlier at Fontana.
It's time to place speedometers on these cars, RPMs on a tach spike based on throttle pressure. Even with warning lights, which all the tachs have in the Cup cars, it's not accurate enough to judge miles per hour when teams set it up on the cutting edge of legality.
I've heard the argument for years that a speedometer isn't completely accurate, either, but it has to be better than this system, which obviously is a failure.
And another thing: NASCAR can stop giving the teams a 5 mph cushion on the pit-road speed limit. They all set up the tach warning lights to go red at the very edge of the cushion anyway, so why have it?
"You're always trying to push that envelope of that extra 4.99 mph [cushion]," said Kurt Busch, one of the drivers penalized at Las Vegas. "If the limit is 45 [mph], nobody's doing 45. Everybody's doing 49.99."
• Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials announced a sellout for Sunday's race, which is a little misleading because the track no longer sells tickets for some seats.
However, it was an impressive crowd, probably approaching 140,000 spectators. And it makes Auto Club Speedway look awful by comparison. The Fontana, Calif., track was half full at best in its 92,000-seat grandstand one week earlier.
It's 55 miles from L.A. to Fontana. Keep driving another 190 miles, and you can watch the race at Vegas and party at Sin City.
If ACS does keep two Cup races next year (it shouldn't, but it might), NASCAR has to move the early-season race deeper into the schedule. It may be convenient for some teams to race back-to-back near the West Coast, but it's a disaster for ACS to race one week before the Vegas event.
It's like offering someone chopped liver first, but telling him he can have filet mignon if he waits an hour.
• One other positive aspect of the Shelby American race at Vegas was it took less than three hours from start to finish -- 2 hours, 49 minutes and 53 seconds, to be exact.
Perfect. No race needs to be four hours long. Except for the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, no race needs to be 500 miles. Ditto for 500 laps at Bristol and Martinsville.
Everything that happens in 500 miles or 500 laps -- passing up front, mechanical failures, drivers causing accidents, mistakes on pit road and pit strategy -- also happens in 400 miles or 400 laps.
• I'll close with the quote of the week. Not really a rant, but interesting nonetheless. After the victory at Las Vegas on Sunday, team owner Rick Hendrick had a surprising answer to why Jimmie Johnson is so successful.
"Jimmie is the closest thing I've seen to a computer in the car," Hendrick said
And, apparently, no one can beat a laptop in the driver's seat.
Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He is the author of "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated Drivers, Cars, Teams, and Tracks." He can be reached at email@example.com.
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