Aftermath, Daytona: Questions (And Some Answers) Halfway Through The NASCAR Season

DAYTONA BEACH FL - JULY 03: Kevin Harvick driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3 2010 in Daytona Beach Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Eighteen races down, 18 to go. Now that the season is halfway finished, we figured it would be a good time to answer some questions.

Here we go.

Points leader Kevin Harvick just won Daytona. Is he a legitimate threat to win the championship this year?

I'd still put him behind Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and even Kurt Busch. So when you look at it like that, I'd say no.

I'm not hating on Harvick, it's just that in the Chase you have to run up front and win races. And though Harvick has won two restrictor-plate races this year, he had led just 10 laps in the last 11 races prior to Daytona. I don't think that's a winning formula for the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson had his fourth DNF of the season at Daytona! Does that mean the golden horseshoe isn't up his butt now?

That's a question for a licensed physician, not a sportswriter. But if you're asking me whether getting caught up in a Big One at Daytona somehow means Johnson has lost his mojo or been hexed, I'd say that's wishful thinking.

He's still going to win the championship this year. We can get our hopes up to see a new face, but who are we kidding?

The No. 3 car returned to Victory Lane at Daytona with Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel. It was a conspiracy, right?

It's a bit sad that people are so jaded and cynical now that we doubt heartwarming stories when we see them. I cannot be more emphatic on this: IT WAS NOT A NASCAR CONSPIRACY!

Let's say NASCAR had slipped the No. 3 car a bigger restrictor plate than the rest of the field. If Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pulled out of line instead of following Earnhardt Jr. to the finish, the No. 3 car would have been hung out to dry – advantage or not.

But here's what happened: Logano thought about pulling out, but realized (correctly) Stenhouse Jr. would stick with Earnhardt Jr. Both Logano and Stenhouse Jr. badly wanted to win but decided a move at that point would have resulted in many lost positions.

And by the way – if NASCAR was ever going to conspire to help Earnhard Jr., wouldn't they have done it wayyyy before now? Yes.

So forget the conspiracy and just appreciate it for what it was – the kind of special moment that NASCAR has lacked in recent years.

Why is Jeff Gordon so aggressive all of the sudden? He's bumped my favorite driver (insert name here) out of the way and I don't appreciate that.

Gordon is being aggressive because he has to be. Yeah, he's made a couple mistakes, but everyone is more aggressive right now. Drivers know they have to race that way because of the increased intensity on the double-file restarts – because the cars are so even, that's their best opportunity to pass.

And particularly late in races when it's go-time, drivers realize it's "Be aggressive first, apologize later." There's a general lack of respect for each other when everything is on the line, but it's fun for us to watch.

Speaking of my favorite driver (insert name here), why do you hate him so much?

I don't hate any drivers. Sometimes I criticize them for lack of performance (Casey Mears, Danica Patrick, John Wes Townley) or because they are being jerks at the time (Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch), but I don't hate any of them. And I don't root for any of them in particular, either; I just root for good stories to cover.

Where is Kasey Kahne going to drive next year?

I honestly don't know. I really don't. And I don't think Kasey knows, either. Hendrick Motorsports wanted to have everything done and announced over a month ago. I'm 99 percent sure Mark Martin won't leave a year early and Kahne will have to drive for a different team. So who knows? But I'll tell you this: It won't be America's Racing Team (a couple people honestly asked me that).

Why do you keep pointing out that Kyle Busch gets booed? He has lots of fans, you know.

Yeah, I know he has plenty of fans. But when I'm at the track and hear that Busch gets by far the most boos (the haters drown out his fans), and when the crowd roars at the sight of Busch's car crashing out of the race and cheers when his car comes by on a tow truck, I think it's worth noting.

Why did you just write a column asking yourself fake questions? None of these were actual questions from real people!

I'm not sure. I guess I just like typing to myself.

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