Saturday's Notebook: Radio silence is not in NASCAR's future
By: By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kurt Busch shouldn't expect to get his wish anytime soon.
Radio transmissions between drivers, owners, spotters and crew chiefs will continue to be available to NASCAR, media and fans.
Flak over a torrid exchange between Busch and car owner Roger Penske last Sunday at Martinsville -- in which Busch called his owner "dude" -- evoked a familiar refrain on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
"The radio, I always thought, has been a team tool that should be utilized just by the teams," Busch said. "We don't get to hear what the coach says to his offensive and defensive coordinators in the NFL. I don't think that we get to hear what they do in baseball when they call to the bullpen.
"You don't get to hear what they say in the huddle, and what they say in the huddle is pretty animated. Roger and I are on the same page. Martinsville is behind us."
That may be, but NASCAR isn't about to budge when it comes to keeping the airwaves open.
"The more access we can give the fans, that's a part of what made NASCAR what it is, the accessibility of the drivers," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "In my opinion, drivers -- even in the heat of battle -- need to be able to control their emotions. They're driving a racecar around at 200 miles an hour with a bunch of other people.
"NASCAR needs to be able to hear what's going on with the teams during a race, and we've extended that to the fans."
Jeff Gordon is one driver who says he has never had cross words with his car owner, Rick Hendrick, on the team radio.
"I've never screamed at the car owner, I can tell you that," Gordon said. "(But) I think it's intense out there -- it will get the best of you. I lose control many times throughout most races and say things that I wish I hadn't said. Usually, when things are going good, you don't say a whole lot."
Hendrick won't hear Gordon calling him "dude," either.
"I never called him dude -- just boss," Gordon said. "Yes, sir, boss. Whatever you say, boss. 10-4, boss."
BANQUET MOVE RECEIVED WELL
NASCAR's plan to move its Sprint Cup awards banquet from New York City to Las Vegas, starting this year, proved popular among Cup drivers.
"If that happens, I'm all for it," said Tony Stewart. "That definitely fits my style a lot more than New York did. New York is a neat place. It doesn't fit me and my lifestyle, but I think it (Las Vegas) fits us a lot better."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn't care where the banquet is. He's more interested in what happens there. So where would he like to see the end-of-season awards?
"Wherever I can be the champ," Earnhardt said. "It don't matter to me if it was in Nantucket -- I don't care."
NASCAR and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority still have to iron out such details as term of the deal and the specific location of the event, but the parties have reached an agreement in principle to bring the banquet there.
Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, the protagonists in last weekend's shootout at Martinsville, may be ready to stage a reenactment in Sunday's Samsung 500 Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, if practice speeds are any indication.
Johnson and Hamlin tied for the top spot on the speed chart in Saturday's final Cup practice, each running 183.717 mph on their respective fastest laps.
Johnson took advantage of contact between his Chevrolet and Hamlin's Toyota to make the winning pass with 15 laps left at Martinsville. Hamlin said he'd do the same thing if the roles were reversed.
With the two cars running in lockstep during Happy Hour, Hamlin may have an opportunity on Sunday, even though 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway is a far cry from .526-mile Martinsville.