Chat with Dr. Jerry Punch
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, NASCAR pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch stops by to take your questions. He will also appear on ESPN2's NASCAR Now Monday at 5 p.m. ET.
Punch joined ESPN in 1984 as both a motorsports and college sports broadcaster. Since 2007, he has worked exclusively on ESPN's NASCAR broadcasts.
Punch worked as a mechanic and driver in high school and college, while also being a walk-on. backup quarterback at North Carolina State. He later graduated from Wake Forest medical school and went on to serve 14 years as the director of emergency room services at a Florida hospital.
Send your questions now and join Punch Monday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:25 PM)
Dr. Jerry Punch will be here at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your NASCAR questions!
Buzzmaster (1:26 PM)
Dr. Punch is here!
khris(new york) [via mobile]
Hey Jerry. Jeff Gordon has been very consistant of late. is he considered a threat in this championship? if not, how can he be?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:31 PM)
Great question. I think he's as big a threat as he's been since his last title. The momentum that he has from Minneapolis and the overall positive attitude on that team would have most people in the garage area thinking that he's a top three finisher in the points, if not one of the favorites to win the title. In my opinion, Jeff's drive for five ends this year with a fifth title.
Hello Doctor. it is obvious that our best cup drivers Kyle, Edwards, Kurt, Jimmie, Denny etc. are in excellent physical condition with exercise and diet. Do you think part of the problem for Junior, Stewart, Harvick, etc. is their lack of physical fitness and poor eating habits? Thank you Doctor.
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:33 PM)
I can't speak specifically to what's happening with Junior and those other guys, but I do think physical fitness, diet and exercise are critical to the success of the people that you mentioned. Late in a race, when the chassi on these new cars becomes a handful after the track becomes slippery and hot, physical fitness pays huge dividends. Look no further than the late laps on Sunday. You saw Carl Edwards drive from back to 7th. Maybe a performance by Carl worthy of a championship this year.
If Keselowski does make the Chase on a wild card spot, do you think he can actually be consistent enough to contend for the championship? Or will making the Chase be more a bragging right for the team?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:35 PM)
That's a great question. Probably one that the team themselves is asking right now. When you consider that Brad was 23rd in the points a race ago and now the odds on favorite to be in the Chase, you have to wonder how ready they are for the Chast. Jimmie Johnson's performance the last 5 years shows you how prepared you need to be for the Chase, Roger Penske and his teams over the years have been very prepared for any challenge, this has to be something new for Brad K. and the team. My feeling is they'll stand strong and do well in the Chase. My guess is no worse than a 7th place finish if they make it. Not sure if they can win the championship due to the exprience level.
Afternoon Jerry, miss you in the booth. With the wild-card position changing, almost, every week is Brad safe or do you think that he'll need another win to secure a Chase birth? And what's with Hamlin's struggles this year? Two sub-par finishes at Pocono and not the greatest spring Richmond.
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:37 PM)
I think two wins are required to get into the Chase as a wild card this year. I think Brad's two wins are safe, providing he stays in the top 20 in points, which could be a challenge with races in Watkins Glen and Bristol. As for Hamlin, the team thinks they are more competitive this year at this point than a year ago, although they don't have the finishes to prove it. A year ago they had five wins to one this year. But remember last year, they barely made it to the Chase as they were 37 points out of 11th. Denny says he thinks these next five races will allow his team to step up and prove they belong. So, apparently, the confidence is still there, but it remains to be seen if they can do it.
As a physician do you have any concerns about any potential for long term damage to Brad Keselowski's ankle due to racing (at Pocono and WG no less) rather than resting it? That can't be good for a break can it?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:39 PM)
It's never good to exercise a broken bone. But with that said, Brad's fracture is considered to be an avulsion fracture, a bone chip pulled away by the ligament. It's best described as a sever ankle sprain with a small boney involvement. With that said, I don't see any long term issues associated with driving on it. Though some drivers may have some arthritis in the feet due to all of the vibrations over the years. However, the low back injury and pelvis may create some long term issues, which could be difficult to handle if he races until he's 50.
Dr. Punch...can you explain a little bit about what they did to get the swelling down in Keselowski's ankle? I have seen less severe swelling not go down as quickly as his did in three days. Did I hear him say they drained the blood out of it? Thanks
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:42 PM)
There was discussion about it being drained, but I'm not privied to the facts regarding that procedure. What I do know is that one Saturday afternoon, after qualifying, I sat with Brad in the garage area and looked at his ankle. It was significantly swollen. I encouraged him to elevate it above his heart to reduce swelling. Heat massage was suggested. When I saw him Sunday morning, the swelling went down quite a bit. According to Brad, he didn't do anything but elevate it and stay off of it. He had no commitments so he was able to stay off of it. That probably helped more than anything.
Joanne (Ft. Myers)
Hello Dr., do you think in the best interest of driver safety that NASCAR should have rules prohibiting these injured drivers like Denny and Brad from racing? Aren't they putting the fans, pit crews and other drivers at risk especially with the way Brad missed his pit stall yesterday?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:44 PM)
NASCAR does have a process and procedure in place if they so choose to use. They make sure drivers are cleared by a NASCAR physician. In Brad's case, they had a doctor look at Brad and cleared him to drive on Sunday. If there were other incapacitating injuries that would become a danger to the driver, they would probably be witheld from the event. In my opinion, there was no danger to themselves or others by having Denny and Brad in the race. They were able to control the pedals, albeit with pain. I've seen many healthy drivers miss pit stalls on race days. I'm not sure we can blame that totally on Brad's feet.
Joe (Troy, NY)
If Biffle leaves Michigan without a win, is his best chance to participate in the chase to wait until next season?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:46 PM)
I don't ever count Greg Biffle out of any race, although Michigan would be a great opportunity for him. In this topsy turvy season where we have seen many drivers and drivers outside of the top 20 winning races, anything goes. Greg Biffle is not having a typical Biffle season. But remember, he is a Roush-Fenway driver and the Fords have been very strong in the races coming up. I would not count him out of the Chase. Even without a win, if he could log top 5 finishes or better in the next few events, getting 10th in the points standings right now would only mean to having to gain 45 points, which is still possible, although not probable.
James (Rochester, NY)
How do you feel about Carl Edwards re-signing with Roush-Fenway Racing?
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:49 PM)
Great move by Carl. The difficulty for Carl was handling his own contract without an agent. Carl needed to listen to all of the options, weigh the pros and cons and, yes, look at the dollars. While the monies being discussed were almost obscene from several other teams, in the end, Carl's decision was based on loyalty and liklihood. The loyalty to stand with the man who gave him a chance in racing and the liklihood of winning a title. That led him to re-signing. I also think it was important for Ford to keep Carl Edwards. Losing Carl Edwards would have been huge for the manufacturer. I think his decision was a good one, which is not a reflection at all on those teams that wanted him to come their way.
Dr. Jerry Punch (1:50 PM)
On behalf of our ESPN NASCAR team, I appreciate the support and loyalty of the NASCAR fans. I firmly believe these next five races will be as wild a race to the Chase as we've ever seen. The new point system and wild card availability will make some teams risk things as they've never done. Stay tuned to what could be a landmark season on ESPN. Thanks.