Monday, July 09, 2007

We've Got A Giant NASCAR Subplot

The Firecracker 400 weekend boiled up several big subplots in Winston Cup amid the mayhem of wrecks and the shocker of Jamie McMurray's photo-finish win in the most amazing finish in decades. Given how much more attention soap-opera angles of the sport usually get lately, it is fitting that some of these subplots boil up amid hard-nosed racing.

The true giant subplot coming out of the Firecracker is what looks like a burgeoniong feud between Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin. While running 1-2, Hamlin was drilled by Stewart and both crashed, taking a bunch of others with them. Stewart huffily blamed it on Hamlin and publically questioned Hamlin's commitment to being a teammate.

Now the last time a feud boiled into the public like this was when the Bodine brothers' meltdown went public at Indianapolis in 1994. That feud wound up carrying over into both Geoff and Brett Bodine's careers and one can say neither man ever recovered from it, as a slow but steady collapse of their racing careers began in that fateful Saturday in 1994.

Of course Stewart's mouth and abrasiveness have been an issue for years, but they've never left him harmed career-wise. One wonders if this will be different.


The lesser subplot to come out of that wreck was the continuing subplot of Ganassi Racing versus Bobby Labonte. This was the second straight week that the two sides crashed together, and while blame to anyone isn't to be found, there nonetheless seems to be something going on here. Juan Montoya was all over the place in Daytona and made the highlight reels by plowing into Labonte, wiping out a promising rally from the earlier melee with Reed Sorenson.

It reflects the lack of interteam cooperation among the Dodge teams, a lack of cooperation that pushes the Dodge effort back more and more. It also reflects Montoya's steep learning curve on superspeedways, as he's shown so little moxie on them from the beginning.

If this subplot or anything like it contineus at Chicago, then we've got a siutuation here.

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