Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under Uncategorized
The following is a review of how I did predicting the results following the postponed Glen Cup race. I am going to update the comment on my picks on the original post with a critique of how I did. The original post will be followed by comments in parentheses The original post went as follows:
As I sit down to compose this blog just two days now to go before the running of the “Heluva Good Cheese Dips At The Glen” (Hey, I truly believe that the race sponsor is a great partner but this a race event name is one that I still have a hard time wrapping my arms around (then again I and many others still call it the “Bud at the Glen” every so often). Having said that, it’s now time for me to try to predict those who have solid shots to win this weekend’s Glen NASCAR event…and some that don’t.(I still believe the event name is still “cheesy”. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!!!)
• Tony Stewart, who really needs to score a victory in the 2011 season to solidify a top 10 points finish by Richmond, has to be considered the prohibitive favorite in this race. Although he is the current overall race winner at the Glen (with 5 Glen trophies in his display case), his current winless streak has to be a source of frustration for him and his team. This event and the upcoming Richmond race presents two great opportunities for the #14 organization to knock down the much needed boost that a Victory Lane visit always provides…)(An off-road excursion into the grass in the late going in the inner loop relegated him to a 27th place finish which severely damaged his points standing in the Chase via that ill-timed incident…
• Last year’s winner Juan Pablo Montoya always seems to have the upper hand going into both road courses—and, of course, INDY, even though he has yet to win there. At the Glen, history is NOT on his side since back-to-back wins are rare here (only Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin have done it in the Cup Series). As the COT race car has only been racing a few years, there’s no real data to support any real conclusions. Suffice it to say that going back-to-back as a winner at any track is a pretty difficult thing to do. Even so, JPM is a solid contender…(Montoya was a serious threat early in the race but his run showed virtually nothing like the dominance displayed in last year’s victory…
The rest of the field could produce a surprise winner; some of the most likely drivers who could get it done include: • Kyle Busch…Don’t snicker; he won both road course races in 2008. Given his intensity in any race he competes in, he’s definitely one to watch! (He was a factor in the late going as usual but an uncharacteristic mistake on the final restart took him out of the lead–and the win!!!
• Jimmie Johnson, who benefitted from the big mistake made last year at Infineon by Marcos Ambrose (who is also another one to watch with 3 NNS wins in a row @ WGI)(Oviously I nailed this one as Ambrose showed the same gritty performance similar to his 3 consecutive NNS wins at the Glen in in previous years. Too bad that a deal fell through to give him a ride in the Saturday NNS race…but once again Johnson couldn’t “build something together” with crew chief Chad Knaus to construct a win…)
• Jeff Gordon, who only trails Stewart by one in the overall wins department could definitely be in the mix. And don’t forget his two wins earlier this season…(Jeff had a descent chance in this one: he led a few laps and was a serious contender the entire race…)
• Kurt Busch…Yep, that’s what I said! In a Nationwide Zippo 200 race few years back he outdueled Robby Gordon for the win (no slouch himself.) Remember, KuBu also won at Infineon earlier this year(which no one seems to believe provide much useful info regarding setups for the two tracks in these cars; that is, of course, until brother KyBu did it!). The #22 team also seems to be on a roll right now; Ever hear of the word “momentum”???(The “momentum” was there alright, taking him right to the inner loop wall after a blown tire made him a mere passenger endured by in a hard hit into the rail…)
Now, let’s move on to the dark horses…
• Jamie MacMurray who, along with many others, desperately NEEDS a win right now…I know what you’re thinking; he’s never scored a road course victory. But check his stats at the Glen! He has had many good runs here…(Never a factor in this race!!!)
• Mark Martin, who practically OWNED this track in the early running of NASCAR at the Glen; there would be no better place for Mark to get his next victory (if there’s still one win left in the tank, it could come here…)(Ummm NO!!!)
• Canadian standout and former perennial favorite Ron Fellows, whose winning performances in the old Busch & Craftsman Truck races caught the attention of the late, great Dale Earnhardt, Sr.—If he could get into a competitive ride fielded by a strong team, his life-long dream could be achieved…Does he even have a ride in the Cup Series this weekend—or at all???(Update–he has a ride with Tommy Baldwin this weekend.)There has been some Nationwide stuff here & there but he would have to drive for a Chevy team because of his close association with the nameplate in his native country. He has been so successful in racing in Team Corvette that a “Ron Fellows Edition” of the car was made to honor his achievements in his outstanding sports car career…(Tommy Baldwin is trying hard to field a competitive car week in and week out but his equipment couldn’t allow Fellows to drive anywhere near this potentialhe front of the pack…)
• The same can be “said” for the ever-so-popular road course “ringer” with an interesting, always entertaining group of cult-like self-titled “Said Heads”– fans whose idol is road course champion Boris Said, although he has probably already had his best shot at it in previous events…(Boris was never a serious playerin the race until his aggressive driving on the last lap was the major contributing factor in a last lap melee totally trashing the cars if both David Ragan and David Reutimann to head to the garage area via flatbeds. Except for some sports races I’ve witnessed over the years, I don’t ever remember a stock car flip over once and landing on all four wheels, like the #00 did following the incident, especially in the turn 2 area of the track leading into the esses…but after the race, Boris was being Boris and had some bad things to say on-camera complaints about Greg Biffle, apparently resulting from a mix of former run-ins and both driver’s dissatisfaction with each other in the late going which prompted them to be the perfect example of “Boys, have at it” decree we have seen to date…)
Another REALLY dark horse is Andy Lally in the #71 TRG car; he “sports” an impressive road racing resume not only in America but on the international stage as well…(Once again,weak equipment spoiled Andy’s chance so he was also a “non-factor”
Paul Menard, who recently won at INDYt and “cut his teeth” by running successfully on road courses before getting into big, heavy stock cars…(he did generate sparks late in the race just past the exit of the resulting in a frightening fire just after the carousel turn…)
• A.J. Allmendinger (another driver seeking a first win in the series; I think it would be great if it comes this weekend…(It was looking good for the “Dinger” early as he surged to the front, until a nudge from behind going into the inner loop took him on the grass–and out of contention…)
• Carl Edwards (who surprised me and many others with a win in the Nationwide Series on the famous Road America circuit last year; besides, he has a points lead to protect which just might spur him to be “up on the wheel” for this one…)(Never posed a serious threat in this one, but managed to salvage a good finish which cemented his place in the Chase…)
• Not to seem like I’m getting on the Dale Jr. bandwagon but he HAS won at the Glen before, albeit in the former Busch Series…(He had glints of glamour in the later stages of the race, resulting in another top ten finish allowing him to guard his shot of making the chase…)
Other notables not very likely to score a victory in this race include:
• Jeff Burton (his team is on a downward spiral this year for no apparent reason)(A complete “swing-and a miss” on this one as Burton had his best finish to date, a 4th place run!!!)
• Same thing goes for teammate Clint Bowyer...(Got this one right as Bowyer must have forgotten to eat his “Cheerios” before the start of the postponed race…)
• The other RCR team driver, Kevin Harvick (despite his ’06 win at the Glen and also 3 Cup wins this season, I still feel it would be hard to imagine win #4 coming here. Just too much inconsistency up to this point…)((although he looked like he was going to put on another “Where did he come from?” finish in the latter stages, he quickly faded, probably preferring to “grab some Buds” following the event…)
• The afore mentioned Robby Gordon; his driving prowess is willing but his inferior equipment is not. Regardless, he is likely to put on a great show anyway, since he absolutely LOVES road courses (don’t forget his win in an RCR car here many years ago…)(Another one I got right: Robby looked like he was lost in an off-road race and never seriously threatened for race for the win…)
• Matt Kenseth (even though he has two wins this year, he’s never done well @ WGI and it is highly unlikely the next one could come here…) (Kenseth kept his dislike for the track intact; with pit stop sequences only allowing him to have a “shot”–pun intended,..
• Roush-Fenway teammates Greg Biffle (who has had a disastrous season up to this point…) and David Ragan (who probably salvaged his dismal career this year through a long-awaited first win but don’t expect him to find victory lane at this race…)(Jack Roush had to file a claim for bad”logistics” as David’s car was “delivered” to a trash heap; althouh not of Ragan’s own doing while Biffle’s only shining moment was his participation the previously mentioned post-race dust-up with Boris Said…)
More dark horse candidates can be found in the rest of the field; since this season has seen so many first-time and surprise winners, I wouldn’t be shocked if some other unexpected new face ends up with the Sunoco checkered flag….(Hey look, this prediction was vague enough to hit the mark but I didn’t go out very far on a limb anyway!!!)
Never thought that Brad Keselowski had a chance to savor some “Miller Lights” generated by an awesome, gritty performance which should dispel forever any doubts about his toughness and commitment to his team…(What a pleasant surprise as I,too, thought he was out of contention going into the race…)
Regardless of what happens at the Glen this year, many fans will DEFINITELY win since have they will have a whole new perspective, watching the great racing from newly-constructed grandstands for all three race series at the Glen this weekend (Grand-Am, Nationwide and Sprint Cup…)(A no-brainer here, as even the hard-core TV fans who, like everyone else, had to wait a day to experience another entertaining Cup road race.
But the heavy hits endured by many drivers during the race turned out to be a PR nightmare following the race, casting a dark shadow over the other wise gem of a race. Nearly all the drivers released from the infielde care voiced their displeasure on the lack of “Safer Barriers” that have never been installed on the possibility of a potentially dangerous situation for the drivers in “heavy impact” areas around the track.Nevertheless,I have only one thing to say to the “anti-road course Sprint Cup stock car races–(“Build a bridge and get over it…)
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under Uncategorized
Just over halfway through their schedule each year, NASCAR’s teams, fans, media and drivers “shift gears” to focus squarely on its two road racing events. The first is held at Infineon Raceway in California. Just like some other tracks in the series, the facility has had many names over the years, such as Sears Point and Sonoma. Thankfully, for us here in Upstate New York, the second race is run at Watkins Glen International, located outside an otherwise sleepy little village in the Empire State. Interestingly, both have similarities such as a rich history and worldwide reputation in the sports car world, operating near thriving historic vineyards and both feature many challenging turns along with elevation changes. Although there remain many sports car purists and die-hard NASCAR fans who hold an opinion that stock cars should not be run on anything but an oval, the sanctioning body decided that “the best drivers in the world” should be able to turn both left and right on tracks that run races in a clockwise direction, another major difference. Even members of the media sometimes added their sharp opinions to the swordfight (including the late David Poole who rattled his anti-sentiment saber right up to his death in April 2009.) But lo and behold, NASCAR effectively “neutered” both courses. The Glen was designed and built in 1956 and was originally a 2.35 mile layout, extended to its now familiar 3.377 mile traditional road racing circuit events since an ambitious 1971 upgrade and expansion project, incorporating 11 turns but when NASCAR revisited the track in 1986 for the first time since 1964, it was decided to revert back to the closer-to-the-original length of 2.45 miles. Infineon’s race ran the original 2.52 mile course in 1989 but was shortened to the current 1.9 mile configuration in a 1998 project moving the original dragstrip to a separate location (At first, it was utilized as the “main straightaway”). Back in the day, it was considered a matter of a relatively safer way to race the bigger, heavier cars with less stress on them as well, all in an effort to provide good racing in the series at these locations. (I must admit I originally “drank the Kool-Aid” as well, falsely believing in that original thinking process). Over these 15 years since NASCAR races were back at the Glen, I have personally heard many fans “wondering IF” the annual August action ever could or would be held on the longer course. I used to say “probably not” which is like saying “never”…but we all know the old three word saying. Once it was announced the Mobil One oil “Seat Swap” between two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton,was to be held at the Glen, I also wondered if the longer course would be used for the event. When it was made official through the respective press releases that, indeed, the cars would utilize the longer layout incorporating the “Boot” extension, many fans’ dreams became reality, even though it was only an exhibition. Similarly, the Glen’s loyal Formula 1 fans were elated beyond belief that any F1 car ran on the track at speed around the track as they had for so many years (20 to be exact) from 1961 to 1980. In an eerie coincidence again, almost 20 years later, those fans were treated to an event which brought back years of memories—and hopes of the F1 faithful (although to be technically correct, one could watch the actual F1 cars which created the original romance among the track, the cars and the fans at any of the “vintage” races ever held at the facility and believe it or not, there is a division for real, although long-since retired stock cars which also run the long course in those races). I am now among those calling for the change. Recently Watkins Glen President, Michael Printup announced he is lobbying NASCAR to run the longer distance) The march of the stock cars’ technological advances, along with the honing of road race skills of the current crop of NASCAR drivers has made it time for the challenges of the longer Glen layout, especially after watching the Nationwide Series cars compete on another historic road racing site, Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, last year. Teams test on the even longer Virginia International Raceway. Well, shoot, if they make ‘em run on both of those, there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t race at “The Soul of American Road Racing” –on its “REAL” road race course” distance! Go L-O-N-G!!!
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under Uncategorized
As of May 10,the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season has featured two first-time winners, a TV ratings increase (kind of misleading since they had nowhere else to go but up!), a couple of good ol’ fashioned feuds, a points system that finally makes sense; these are the ingredients responsible for a far more exciting start of a racing season which has the potential of being one of the best in NASCAR’s history, at least through roughly a third the way through the 2011 season.
The highlights include:
- A storybook ending to the sanctioning body’s premier event, the Daytona 500 which included a new fresh face (no, make that a baby-faced) winner in Victory Lane, providing a perfect storyline mix of a young unknown ascending to the pinnacle event of the sport in his very first try,creating a return to the event winners circle of one of most storied teams in the sport,(Wood Brothers Racing’s familiar #21),all at once capturing the imagination, intrigue and interest of fans, media and the smiling faces of those charged with the many facets of the business areas of the sport.
- The newly renovated points system, which seems to be a perfect marriage of rewarding wins, while still allowing those who finish consistently to have a chance at the “Chase”. It has also provided a weekly “shake-up” of driver points from one race to the next, providing no clear-cut view of how the championship might end, thereby adding to the interest and supposed drama.
- Not one, but two driver feuds proving that the recently adopted mantra of “boys, have at it” works, at least for the time being. The first major incident involved heretofore unknown simmering on-track disagreements between “mild-mannered” Ryan Newman and Colombian-born, multi-racing disciplines driver Juan Pablo Montoya (whose competitive blood runs so thick, he might develop CAD (coronary artery disease). Yes, I’m using melodrama here but stay with me. This “undercard” set the stage for the “Main Event” just one race later involving two of NASCAR’s “Bad Boys”: Kevin Harvick (whose recent performance seemed to make people forget he had previously been known as a another driver with a fiery temper: anyone remember the 2003 Richmond ruckus involving Ricky Rudd on pit road following the race? Somehow, he had been able to ditch the distinction of being a bad guy), at least until a post-race punch at Darlington thrown in Kyle Busch’s direction may have changed all that. So, we now have the potential of boiling-over bouts involving the “black hat” wearing, yet race-winning Busch whose caustic comments and sarcastic statements have incurred the wrath of fans and other drivers alike(he also had a Richmond run-in with fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2008). The start of the 2011 season seemed to bear witness to a “kindler, gentler” Kyle which was attributed by most to his off-season marriage to his fiancé, Samantha combined with a probable “sit down” with team owner Joe Gibbs. Geez, that sure didn’t last long! With both wives “tweeting” from trackside, loyal, tech savvy fans also expected a war of words between the two ladies, which up to now hasn’t happened. But if such a thing DOES happen, WATCH OUT for a soap opera scenario to develop, much to the delight of media moguls who will pounce on it like circling vultures looking for lunch. Unfortunately, NASCAR has a huge problem on their hands, in my opinion. Trying to placate fans who believed their beloved heroes had become too polished and/or afraid to criticize the sanctioning bodies, sponsors and, let’s face it, even race hard on the track along with what decision they can come up with which would balance the ”have at it, boys” atmosphere without compromising the safety of officials, crewmembers or even other drivers; in other words when a line is drawn and how to deal with it when someone crosses it. (NASCAR responded two days later with “slaps on the wrists” $25,000 fines for both drivers and a finger pointing with a wink in the form of a 4 race probation. BIG DEAL!!!
- Yet another first-time race winner in the person of relatively unknown Regan Smith, which should make Upstate New York race fans proud but probably won’t. Although he was born and raised in Cato NY (a “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it-location” with a population is just over 4,000), even though many upstate NY race fans use one of its main thoroughfares, State Route 370, as a shortcut between Sodus and Syracuse to get to many small racetracks in the region.) Smith’s family packed up and moved to North Carolina to help further his racing potential, even though he was only 4 years old at the time. His racing skills were alleged to be very apparent even at that age racing karts, so the story goes. He has driven for a Denver Colorado-based small team, Furniture Row Racing, whose distance from the mecca of NASCAR in the Charlotte North Carolina area should seemingly put them at a disadvantage, even though they lease engines from Hendrick and their cars come from Richard Childress. Even so, the construction of the cars takes place in a shop roughly 1/3 the size of the bigger teams. Obviously, they have huge logistics problem when racing the entire schedule this year. The team was a perfect example of a “start and park team” early in their existence which allowed them to keep building the team towards the success that was just recently achieved at Darlington. Too bad the disagreements featured in the “Kyle and Kevin” show will overshadow the small team’s huge accomplishment…
- Rules Changes to pit road, specifically as it pertains to other big changes: ethanol fuel mix and the development of a new refueling system which is “self-ventilating”, eliminating the need of a “catch-can man” thereby increasing safety since one less crewmember is needed over the wall to service the car during pit stops…
- A new track on the schedule in the form of Kentucky Speedway, which lobbied for a Cup race after hosting truck races for many years. In addition to normal practice and qualifying sessions, A Goodyear tire testing session will help the teams with setups for a track no one has raced on in a Cup car. Another wrinkle in the weekend schedule there provides testing by the teams on the new-for-2012 mandate of fuel injection. Add to that the pruning of less successful events from the schedule has also helped the viability of the series. Remember this, the series is also in a contract year for the TV package. Whether the recently adopted changes helps in the continuation of the broadcasts remains to be seen…
So far, the ingredients of the best season of in series history is in place. If it stays this way, the “Chase” championship will be one to watch!
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under Uncategorized
Last year, two-time Daytona 500 winner and eventual NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip was forced to eliminate a promising young driving talent due to lack of sponsorship for Waltrip’s Naionwide Series. His name? Trevor Bayne, the now-famous 2011 winner of the 53rd annual Daytona 500. Bayne’s potential however did not go completely unnoticed in the garage area. Once it became officially announced that he was a “free-agent”, Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush immediately nabbed the Knoxville TN youngster to be a driver for Roush-Fenway’s Nationwide Series efforts. Even then, Roush, (whose nickname is “The Cat in the Hat” due to his trademark straw hat and sly grin that he always wears) could not have imagined that then baby-faced teenager would go on to win the “Great American Race”. Roush , who already has 4 Sprint Cup teams with other relatively young drivers, was faced with a dilemma: where would Bayne fit in the long-term plans of the organization? Obviously, the four drivers(Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, and David Ragan (who recently signed a long-term contract with the organization) aren’t leaving anytime soon; Once again the cagey Roush proved how good his judgment was in spotting promising drivers and finding ways to keep them. In what turned out to be a“perfect storm” of events for Bayne, Roush formulated a plan to retain the services of the youthful newcomer while still providing ever-important “seat-time” as well. A plan was put into place whereby Trevor would continue to drive for Roush while honing his skills, leading to an eventual Cup series ride. Enter the famed Wood Brothers team whose participation started along with the speedway in its inaugural season in 1959, earning multi-time Daytona wins with driving greats like David Pearson, Tiny Lund and Cale Yarborough. Now a part-time team, barely a mirror of its former self, but having a technical alliance with Roush, provided a solution. At Roush’s urging, the storied team would take on the rising young star to replace the veteran Bill Elliott, which proved out to be a great decision for all parties save for Elliott, adding another chapter to the Wood Brother’s success story while providing additional lore to NASCAR and its premiere racing event at their palace-like famed track where every driver aspires to race—and win. Let’s not forget how it well it worked out for Roush, who also possesses a Daytona 500 win with Kenseth! But what an inspiring story! One other tidbit Bayne was a development driver for DEI in 2008 and raced at Adirondack Speedway while competing in the NASCAR Camping World East series. Maybe one of the great ironies of the victory is that “The King” Richard Petty, who was a huge rival in the Cup division vs. the Wood Brothers over the years, is officially listed as the owner of the car due to a strange set of circumstances involving trades of owner points during the off-season. Some believe it was also a huge boost for NASCAR itself, in dire need of a “fresh face”. They now also have a heart warming story to somewhat offset the tragic event of 10 years ago, which like a torn scab began bleeding again for many fans…But, remember the next race at Phoenix will tell a whole new story, one which perhaps will provide a more accurate forecast of the real players for the rest of the season!!!
2010 NASCAR CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP: OVER AFTER DOVER? THE DRIVE IS FOR 5 IS STILL ALIVE BUT IT’S NO GIMME, JIMMIE–CIRCUS TIME!!!
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under Uncategorized
This year’s edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is pretty much what NASCAR hoped every one of them would have been since they created the format back in 2004. Some might say that it is the main reason for the huge amount of interest this year; that is to say, since the previous ones lacked for excitement, this one might SEEM more exciting than it actually is. Regardless of where your opinions stand on either side of that argument, there is no doubt that more attention is being drawn to the series, for a variety of reasons and not all of them generated by the on-track competition either. First of all, there is the quirkiness of how the series awards points in the “regular season”, complete with the justifiable ten bonus points for wining races (which at first glance appears to be a good thing) but it’s kinda hard to explain to the casual race fan or (even to those trying to get interested in the sport, for that matter) how Kevin Harvick leads the points from the first race of the year ALL the way to the last race before the Chase only to have his lead taken away by some strange seeding system for him to now have a shot at the Championship. I know the bonus points for the wins that Hamlin and Johnson earned earlier in the year makes sense to those who regularly follow the series but it’s a hard sell to anyone “on the outside looking in.” Yet, there already have been some compelling moments just in the first two races. Clint Bowyer, who barely clawed his way into the field the previous week and thus, was seeded in last place, won the first race in the Chase at Loudon NH, vaulting him into second place in the points, only to have his win tainted because his car failed post-race inspection; now, Bowyer was again back down in the basement. It touched off a firestorm of negative publicity which eventually turned into a mega-media circus but under this big top; sometimes it was difficult to distinguish the clowns from the ringleaders. One person who ended up being an unwilling “tightrope walker” in all this turned out to be Denny Hamlin—all because he uttered some ill-timed remarks at a press conference held just before the second race at Dover and right after NASCAR took the car to its R&D center for “further evaluation”. Hamlin pointed the finger at the whole RCR organization, pretty much labeling them a bunch of cheaters (and in the process probably set up a Hatfield-McCoy type feud between Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing which just might last a long time.) Hamlin then incurred the wrath of Bowyer’s teammate Kevin Harvick in a repeat performance, of sorts. (Flashback to Richmond VA 2003 when Harvick wore the black hat, went after Virginian “good guy” Ricky Rudd following the race? Now, we have Harvick doing it again, except no one could really blame him this time! The only difference here is the disagreement occurred north of the Mason-Dixon Line, which had no effect on things whatsoever.) Well, Harvick lines up in the first Dover practice session right behind Hamlin, goes out on the track, gives Hamlin a couple of car jabs to express his displeasure with Denny, then things spill over into the garage area where, whaddya know, the two find each other to exchange some heated words with some minor pushing and shoving. Say it isn’t so; a good old fashioned rivalry has been spawned, which is great for the sport, ticket sales and all that, right? So sorry, not this time! Apparently, some genius (probably a guy by the name of Joe Gibbs) decided these two needed to kiss and make up in the middle of the week so we’ll just have to wait for what comes next. So, who was the guy who kept putting his “head in the tiger’s mouth” in this little metaphor? That would be Richard Childress himself, the long-time, well-respected car owner, although no stranger to the glare of the spotlight in more celebrated times, was obviously more uncomfortable having to explain how this could happen in his organization. To help him with this, he hired the knowledgeable (but not too lovely!) assistant, Dr. Charles Manning, an accident reconstruction analyst who obviously conducted several scientific investigations of what he believed happened which, seemed to provide a plausible explanation to many—except the ones who counted most, the folks at NASCAR, who remained steadfast. All this made for great TV, there to provide live coverage and have the tape machines rolling, you know, in case you had to miss it because you (Perish the Thought!) had a real job or life or something like that! Then, the defending and four-consecutive-time champions #48 Lowes Racing Team rebounded from a lousy 25th place Loudon finish to put everyone back on notice that they’re still in this fight. Yes, their “drive for five is still alive”. But there’s more real competition to deal with this time around so it won’t be “cruise and collect”. If the final eight races continue the circus-like atmosphere of the first two, as the Emerson, Lake & Palmer song goes “Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends…See The Show!”
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under 1
If you’re a race fan, especially a fiercely loyal NASCAR fan, one hot-button-topic sure to stir up a long emotion filled conversation ranking right up there with religion and politics these days is the current state of NASCAR’s popularity and why it seems (to a lot of people at least) that the sport is not enjoying even the kind of pop culture awareness that it seemed to have even as recently as a few years ago. As with any similar problem which occurs to anything else ranging from the economy to the BP oil spill, there is no one cause but usually a chain of events, or maybe even maybe many events which, by themselves, cannot be blamed as the sole reason for the problem but when taken together, all add up. Similarly, there is no easy answer, no quick fix, no magic pill (hey this is nothing new–it’s been that way as long as I’ve been alive; probably longer!)
Since this is my blog, I can have any opinion(s) I want to have. Unlike most who blog these days however, I try to warn my readers when I’m about to express one. Plus please remember opinions are, by definition, NOT facts, although I do try to explain why I hold mine (at least most of the time, anyway!) OK, so much for the disclaimer, the way I see things is while right now it is very easy and convenient for most to blame the economy right now, it’s also not very accurate–for many of the same stuff above. Hey, no entity, could have sustained the kind of meteoric rise in popularity and growth over such a short period of time as NASCAR did The negative effects have already been felt and the belt-tightening has begun; how deep and for how long are anybody’s guess! One thing for sure: the recent growth spurt seems to be over ( for now, at least) Just think of it like a star going “supernova”. Plus I also feel that we live in a society of human beings with a short attention span, anyway! Where life is like a computer game (as it has been for most of their existence on this earth) All ya gotta do is just “reboot” or get the “cheat “codes and problem solved. Not to mention all the other competition for “disposable” income which NASCAR now faces from many different entities and not necessarily just other sports, professional or otherwise.
That’s it for my input: I have attempted to set the background as best I could. As always, your opinion may vary. The rest will be stuff I’ve overheard in discussions or even read about this same topic over the last few months, ranging from the serious to the outright(to me any,way) ridiculous! Again, they are just opinions (and some might have been shortened or paraphrased for content;facts and opinions are two different things: thus, you can believe what you want or how many you want…
As with anything else, perception IS fact. If there is a false perception that NASCAR is on the decline, then it MUST be true…AND don’t forget the “snowball” effect or the self perpetuating thing either, once something gets going, it’s hard to control it…or put a stop to it altogether. Similarly, in this day of computers,laptops and netbooks to surf websites, use social networking and utilize cell phones with enough technology packed inside them to actually view the sport, its stats and rumors in the palm of your hand, any information gained from these sources MUST also be true, whether or not they originate from within the sanctioning body itself to make it “official”. Only Jayski.com has successfully made the difficult transition from a fan cult website to a highly respected source of legitimate information–so much so in fact ESPN decided to host it as one of their “intellectual properties” on their own network of other similar sports offerings. Sure, there have been other sites that have tried, but as the old saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
NASCAR took its core fans for granted. those loyal fans who stuck by the sanctioning body through thick and thin have grown disillusioned and disgusted with the direction the sport has gone over the years of the growth and popularity. Ironically, the very things that have helped NASCAR achieve that huge upswing seems to the former faithful to have passed them by and left them in the dust. Today’s economy problems have manifested themselves in the form of higher prices for admission prices, seats, food souvenirs–so much so that it has steadily risen to a height that it is all but nearly impossible for a family to afford attend races today.Many people people also believe those fans have also been forced to accept many changes to “their” favorite sport over a relatively short amount of time like:
The passing of Dale Earnhardt,Sr. It cannot be argued that many fans abandoned the sport altogether when the sport lost its “face” back in 2001. For many (both inside and outside the sport), Earnhardt represented what the sport was all about. Of course, NASCAR had no control over this one. Or did it? One of the many criticisms the sanctioning body received following the tragedy is that it somehow dragged its feet when it came to certain areas of safety. But they forget that “The Man in Black” refused to wear a full-faced helmet and probably would have dismissed many of today’s safety advances as being for “wimps” or some other derogatory term I’d rather not use here! For many, any decline, actual or not, began here…
If they were able to somehow make it through the painful mourning period, many Sr. fans truly wanted to transfer their loyalty to Dale Jr. but when it became apparent that the son would have trouble living up to the legacy, once again the sport suffered along with his lack of performance–which continues to this day. Many now believe Dale Jr. has become the face of the sport today. Despite some well publicized changes including switching teams(to now driving for arguably the best owner in the sport, crew chiefs and sponsors, victories are still hard to come by. If only Jr. could somehow find his way back to victory lane, so they say, NASCAR supposedly would have less to worry about. If it were only that easy!
Earnhardt Sr.,’s death brought about the CoT ( Car of Tomorrow,including which many fans loathed (even though over time it did PROVE to be a much safer design).Even this thing became a chameleon: the original design featured a rear wing which replaced the venerable spoiler only to go with the spoiler again earlier this year). Can we please make up our minds here?
The CoT wasn’t the first to have the problem of identification: in other words, hardly anything in or on a contemporary NASCAR race car resembles any vehicle that can be found today on a showroom floor except for the name. Carburetor technology is long gone, replaced by fuel injection, supercharging and turbocharging.,so the disconnect between the sport’s technology and the car buying public, especially today’s young people, is growing rapidly. No wonder the emphasis is on the “star appeal ” of the drivers themselves. To their credit, the sanctioning body is exploring a changeover to fuel injection in the near future but if it’s anything like the snail’s pace move to unleaded fuel, it might take longer than some people might like. And forget about any kind of ”power adders”. The only “charging” that will be done in NASCAR for the time being will be done on credit cards or battery carts Plus the only blue NOS bottle in the sport you’ll ever see (legally, at least!) is the one that Kyle Busch drinks out of after he wins. But you know what they say about the word “never”!
So much NASCAR TV programming that it is creating coverage of the sport to the point of nauseous supersaturation. Never in my life as a race fan would I have thought I would ever live to see this day! And I’m nowhere near Chris Economacki or Ken Squier’s ages (just as a huge point of clarification here, I have nothing but tons of admiration and respect for both of them. Throughout my announcing career, I had always aspired to come as close to the success that they enjoyed over the years in the profession and although I gave it a good try and put together a decent run, it certainly pales by comparison!) Hell, I remember having to wait for a two-week delayed broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports to watch he Daytona 500( or any other NASCAR event, for that matter, presented in wonderful LD (low-definition) black-and-white just to hear the familiar call of the familiar voice of the late Jim McKay or Bill Fleming calling the race along with Mr. Economacki in the pits and interviewing the lucky winner of the race. Then I also remember the first live broadcast of the 500 on CBS there was no re-broadcast, no YouTube, no IPhone, no IPad, no SmartPhone, no 4G, no 3G, nothin’ like that!
Speaking of TV. some people believe the TV contract has its own issues, like when coverage changes networks throughout the season. This one doesn’t make much sense to me, although I agree that perhaps that maybe just two networks, Fox and the ESPN family of channels, would probably be a good setup, again in my opinion. The cost of the TV package also brought with it its own set of issues like: Did you ever wonder why some some races are not referred to their actual sponsored name on the TV broadcasts?According to the networks, the price of producing the race broadcast have risen to the point to where the networks themselves have found that they too have to sell the race to a sponsor to help defray the exorbitant production price as well as trying to get a significant return on the original investment on the 10-year agreement. Let’s not forget, the contract between NASCAR and their TV partners has never been made public,specifically as to its worth and details(which, up to this point has only been estimated, except for some press releases that have been dangled out there like carrots–TO THEMSELVES!!! Supposedly, as the story goes, the only way the race sponsor is guaranteed to have the race actually called its real “official” name is for the presenting sponsor to pony up more money than what they have already given to the track, in the original race sponsorship agreement; obviously very problematic for the tracks themselves. It was now a tougher sell to a potential race sponsor since there was now no guarantee to get total the TV coverage desired without spending money with two different entities. In their defense, TV doesn’t have it very easy either. Racing of any kind is difficult to show on TV since there are no natural, predictable “breaks” like other sports such as there is baseball innings, football & basketball quarters, soccer/hocker periods, etc. The only opportunities for commercial time comes during caution periods, which is not desirable anymore either as races can be won or lost on pit stops so they are forced to rely on replays. Fans have voted “thumbs down” on the whole side-by-side action/commercial experiment on a split screen, even in today’s wide-screen world! The broadcast contract was so expensive for both sides that neither one of them turned out to be happy once they were in bed with each other!
In stark contrast,how about all the print media outlets that had jumped on the “NASCAR bandwagon” of coverage only to now abandon it? It seems like, except in a few rare examples, the coverage has again been relegated to simple back references, or minor mentions in some sports editor’s column, instead of the front-page importance it once enjoyed…
Media coverage,of all kinds, has put the sport under outside scrutiny it has never faced before. And some negative publicity, especially the well-reported alleged drug scandals and the perception that NASCAR originally had no specific policy in place with which to deal with such issues, put the sanctioning body in the position of having to defend itself, over and over, to a largely ignorant, unsympathetic and unforgiving public…
NASCAR teams have been dependent,(in the so-called modern era at least) on sponsorship, for better or worse. But to many, money seems to have taken too much control of the sport. In all fairness, that statement has probably been used for many years at all levels of racing, from grassroots to professional I’m still not in favor of exclusive sponsorships, like the Sprint vs. every other phone cell provider deal, causing NASCAR a whole bunch of headaches it or its teams just really could have done without. (Yeah, I know, it’s been that way since R.J.Reynolds first brought Winston to the sport but times were drastically different then.) I understand why they exist but I still don’t have to like them. But I’d better get over it and soon. There’s bound to be more, as over the last five years, it seems, the economy presented NASCAR and especially its teams with challenges all their own. As with other businesses, costs have risen and sponsorships have all but dried up. The sanctioning body will have to come up with more and creative ways to find money like the way some of the larger teams have responded to these tougher hardships by luring corporate investors, sometimes from other sports, which have produced some strange and unholy alliance like (gasp!) Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Roush-Fenway(yep, those very same Boston Red Sox folks!) and Gillette-Evernham (which has morphed into current-day Richard Petty Motorsports. The really interesting part of these partnerships is that it is probably a certainty that nobody on their board of directors would ever get their Armani suits dirty by having to change a tire, let alone getting grease underneath their fingernails. At least Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske have spent some time working in a garage before putting on a corporate shirt and tie!
The absolute crazy notion that there can be side-by-side racing AND passing during a race. C’mon, seriously think about that one: you can’t have both!
Too much tinkering with the rules too often; so much so in fact, at one point many doubted the existence of an actual printed rule book anywhere on the planet, let alone in a NASCAR garage. A laundry list of huge dislikes reads like this: “lucky dog”, “debris caution”, “wave around” and “cookie cutter race tracks”. One change most everyone agrees on as being a good one is the “double-file restart”.
You talk about change? The sanctioning body seems hellbent on continuous makeovers to both the points system and the schedule…without anyone actually clamoring for it. What about the constant bickering and litigation with one of its own “partners”, Bruton Smith? Explanation, please???
Leadership. This change was inevitable It didn’t help that it was made shortly after Earnhardt Sr’s death. In fact, that tragedy actually may have hastened the decision a tad. And if “real” fans of NASCAR would have just given Brian France a real chance to prove that he could guide the sport and meet the challenges it faces head on, they would have realized that the only problems he had at the time he “took over” control of the sport were the same ones his father faced when the sport’s leadership was handed to Bill France, Jr. from his father. History was repeating itself…the doubts, the whispers, both from within and outside the sport that perhaps although the obvious choice, that maybe nepotism did not produce the best choice. But there was a huge difference this time and it was significant on many levels. This time the “torch was passed” to a partnership, not to a man and wife, but to a man and his sister who had both grown up in the sport and held important positions within it, not just because the were part of the family; they also earned those positions within the sport and bolstered them by furthering their education on the business side. Think about it: who better to lead the sport now that, like or not, it has become a giant entertainment business in these turbulent economic times? The end result could be an ironic twist of events: while the “core” race fans are steadfast in their resistance to the changes Brian has made or will make on the competitive side of their sport, history may well show, that just like his father before him, that he was the right man for the sport at the right time(with his sister’s help!) But both the challenges and responsibilities are daunting! And let’s not forget NASCAR President Mike Helton, the first person to hold that prestigious position outside the family. He brings more depth to the team as well…
If fans have made it through all this, Jimmie Johnson’s four-straight championships, although historic, have some fans doubting the validity of the Chase format; as if they accepted it to begin with. Unless you bleed 48 blue and silver, you may believe a change is exactly what’s needed here–especially if Chad Knaus and company hoist an unprecedented, hugely historic fifth Sprint Cup at the end of the season…
Some knowledgeable, veteran fans point out that the sport has too many “big” team owners with no easy way for small, start-up teams to gain a strong enough foothold to grow into the sport. Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, Childress, Petty, Penske, and Earnhardt-Ganassi (not necessarily in that order) make up the bulk of all Cup entry lists.
Kyle Busch. I’ve already made my opinion known on this driver in a previous blog. But one thing I have to admit: more fans I talk to dislike him than like him. But when pressed on the subject, they begrudgingly admit that while his driving talent cannot be denied, it’s his apparent disrespectful behavior that rubs them the wrong way. Here again is a delicious twist of irony: if this “bad guy” thing could be milked by NASCAR for all it’s worth, especially if there were a rivalry were to occur like we almost saw bubble up with Kyle and Jr. at Richmond a couple of years ago, empty seats would become a thing of the past again at NASCAR tracks just like the wing on the CoT…
Too many so-called “experts” like this long winded blogger telling ya what he thinks…
I don’t know if you noticed but many of the things enumerated in the list are “double-edged swords” which could cut either way.Like I said at the beginning, like any other BIG problem, there isn’t one specific thing that you could point to as the main culprit here. Taken all together, there can be no doubt of the existence of empty seats at the tracks, sagging TV ratings and declining corporate revenues in a difficult an unforgiving economic climate. The solution(s) may be as numerous as the problems themselves and most will certainly have a major impact on where the sport goes from here.
Hey, if you have an opinion of your own, wanna have an intelligent debate or just plain argue,toss me an email: email@example.com
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under 1
You know the old saying about oil and water. It’s always been somewhat amusing to me to observe race fans of NASCAR and open wheel racing, obviously two distinctly different forms of motorsports, both with equal amounts of passion and bias toward their own preferred form of competition, can actually agree on one thing: each of them are extremely vocal in their opinion that the big, heavy stock cars don’t belong on a road course. Your traditional dyed-in-the-wool NASCAR fan wants to keep them on the more conventional ovals: like the “bullring” short tracks, the so-called “intermediates” or the superspeedways. Open-wheel fans argue the top-heavy “taxicabs”( hey it’s their derogatory description, not mine) have no place on circuits designed for smaller, lighter, better handling machines. Both sides also contend that there is no such thing as great racing in a NASCAR race held at a road course. Well, this year’s “Helluva Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen” should dispel that notion once and for all.
Since 1987, the NASCAR stop at Watkins Glen International has been and continues to be the Empire State’s largest single-day sporting event. That’s right, bigger than any NY Yankees game, or any games on the schedule of these teams: NY Mets, NY Jets, NY Giants, NY Knicks, NY Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills, Syracuse Orange or any other more traditional “stick-and-ball” sporting event you can come up with. This year’s race featured several laps of hard fought competition between two experienced drivers: eventual winner Juan Pablo Montoya ( a world class competitor with both Formula One and INDY car experience) and Marcos Ambrose (no slouch himself with two championships in his Australian homeland in a series with cars not that much different than NASCAR). These drivers had their own individual story lines coming into the race as well. Two foreign-born drivers, Colombian Montoya, who had gone 113 races since he last did a victory burnout. Marcos had won the Zippo 200 Nationwide Series race the day before, his third straight, which had never been done before and Aussie Ambrose was now trying to do two more things: win his first Sprint Cup race and by doing so getting the “sweep” –winning both the Nationwide and Cup race at the Glen on the same weekend which also had never been done before. Then throw these in as well: 1) it was the track’s 25th consecutive running of a NASCAR Cup race and 2) the safety upgrades made over the off-season which resulted in a dramatic difference to the track that won the approval of officials and drivers alike so you had all the ingredients needed for an unforgettable event to entertain an enormous, enthusiastic crowd.
It played out great on the race broadcast and even more awesome in person, especially if it was your first NASCAR event. If you couldn’t get excited by this one, check your pulse, make out your will and order up the headstone. Montoya’s victory was his second NASCAR win, the other coming on the first road course date on the schedule back at Infineon, 1997. It was also a great win for crew chief Brian Pattie, who has had great success at the Glen in the same capacity with Canadian driver Ron Fellows in both the old NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series. The team needed a huge lift after coming oh-so-close at INDY this year and it’s no secret that Juan and the team wanted to put the debacle behind them. Pattie publicly took the blame for the 4-tire strategy that put Montoya in the position of having to race hard to get back to the front only to crash out late after having an otherwise dominating day early on at the Brickyard. Other frustrations had set in as well by mid-season including the lack of wins on ovals, which seems to bother Montoya more than he outwardly shows. The overblown media attention unfairly given to both this year has only increased the tension–and pressure. When the win on the oval finally happens, which most believe will come sooner rather than later, the lid will finally blow off this pressure cooker. Who knows, the win at the Glen could be the start of a breakout NASCAR streak for Montoya whose name is now among other legendary names who have turned in great performances at the Glen over the years…
How about team owner Chip Ganassi? His unbelievable year as a team owner just marches on as Montoya not only won Sunday’s race at the Glen, Chip’s Grand Am Rolex Daytona Prototype won the Glen Saturday Grand Am Crown Royal 200 race, tying a series record 7 single season wins on their way to a possible successful series title defense. On top of all this, Chip’s INDY Car team driver Dario Franchitti won the Mid-Ohio event on the same weekend as well which prompted one media outlet to nickname the three race victories as the “Chiple”. And don’t forget the first, even bigger trifecta which his teams earned him this year: winning the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, all in the same season, an unbelievable feat which probably won’t be repeated anytime for a long time to come, if ever. But back to that oil and water thing; no matter what your preferred form of racing, one thing you have to find agreement on is that the Glen event lived up to its sponsor’s name: it sure was one Heluva race!
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under 1
It started out as one of my “only-funny-to-me” comments that comes from my warped sense of humor at Black Rock (NY) Speedway back when the Houghs ran the track. I was a guest announcer in the booth with Morgan Colegrove and Kenny Schupp and they graciously allowed me to be the “color” analyst/3rd man in the booth. So, I figured ”What the heck, Let’s have some fun with this stuff” and started letting loose with the puns, jokes and wisecracks. One particular remark was purely “off-the-cuff”; I certainly didn’t think about it very seriously before I said it; it wasn’t like I stayed up all night coming up with it just waiting for the right opportunity to use it. As a matter of fact, once it’s revealed here, most probably won’t find much humor in it at all.
So, What Is It???
At nearly every oval track I’ve ever attended, I have noticed a phenomenon, one that happens in almost every race, no matter whether if it’s only a heat or a main/feature. As a race fan, I’m sure you’ve seen it too. A driver and car will get in trouble somewhere on the track and they will sit there just long enough to bring the out caution flag. Then, once the yellow does come out, it almost seems like(to me, anyway) some sort of Divine Intervention kicks in and what do you know, the race car somehow fires back up and rejoins the race at the rear of the field. So, my Hamilton Beach blender of a brain pureed this weird twist of humor. I decided to pronounce every driver who sits and and brings out a caution a member of “The Church of The Yellow Flag”, whether it’s done purposely or accidentally. I have since found out that several of my “peers”,–other race track announcers, have picked up my “line” and now have worked it into their announcing repertoire. The ones that I know about are Morgan Colegrove, working now at Woodhull (NY) Raceway, David Buchanan at Dunn-Tire Raceway (NY) Park, Rick Mooney at Holland (NY) International Speedway, Steven Petty at Wyoming County (NY) International Speedway and Rich Vleck, my former co-announcer at Genesee (NY) Speedway, now at Black Rock. And now, the metaphor took another step further because all of these guys have now been “anointed as deacons of the Church”. Now it has become more than humorous–there’s a logo for the “diocese”. Here’s what we came up with:
Then a suggestion was made to have shirts made up. Since I prefer polo(golf)-style shirts, I found a place that would turn out the shirts for a relatively inexpensive price. As a gesture of gratitude and appreciation to these guys for helping to “spread the word”, I have decided to give them all shirts. Now the parish faithful have spoken again: some ”parishioners” have indicated that T-shirts along with the polos should be made available to whoever wants one. Although I’m still a little skeptical that this “Church” has a long way to go in the number of members actually wanting shirts! If anyone really wants one, you can email me with size, color and style preferences to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under 1
At a press co nference held during this year’s 4th of July’s race weekend at Daytona, NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France suggested there may be rules changes in the future, as soon as next season, regarding Cup driver’s participation in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Whenever anyone has asked me for my opinion on the topic in the past, I have always stated that I don’t favor all-out restrictions on these guys running the races, mainly because I believe the biggest problem that the so-called “junior league” is due primarily to the total lack of its own identity, NOT which drivers participate it in it. Plus I believe any kind of driver rules applied just opens up a huge “Pandora’s box” of its own. Allow me to explain further…
A new Nationwide Series car was recently rolled out with a golden opportunity to make the car even more different than just the appearance similarities to their street counterparts. There was a time in the history of this series where the cars had nothing in common with their Cup counterparts. They were powered by six-cylinder engines and built on a much smaller wheelbase chassis. Why not build something like that? I have a possible answer for you: the same people who are complaining so loudly about Cup drivers ’ participation would then whine “but they don’t sound like REAL race cars”. You want further proof that you can never make these people happy? Their other biggest gripe is: “Well, in OTHER sports,(such as the NBA and NFL), players don’t go looking for smaller “league” games in which to participate but in the MLB and NHL, players do “compete”, usually not willingly; it’s mainly due to factors such as injury rehabs, lackluster performances, etc. For me, these comparisons fail miserably since racing IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN DIFFERENT in so many ways than other sports and it is precisely those differences which form the main appeal to its huge fan base and recently its astronomical rise in percentage of popularity that the other sports now only sit back and wish they could equally attain.
The schedule is the other problem and one that is more difficult to solve. The Nationwide Series races have become, on too many of their own race dates, the “support” race for the Cup race at whichever track the bigger one falls on. Taken together with the similarity of the cars, the race tracks(and NASCAR’S) desire to make money on those weekends; also, let’s not forget, it does have contracts with the series sponsor and TV coverage of it, not to mention race track sponsor agreements and economic concerns and let’s face it, most fans REALLY don’t mind getting another chance to see Dale Jr. (or get his autograph) on one of those rare occasions when he runs the smaller series, becomes a really deep hole that even NASCAR might find it difficult to dig itself out of. Here’s more evidence to bolster the evidence: why don’t more Cup teams get involved in the ARCA series? The cars are very similar, in fact, some of them are actual ex-Cup machines that have outlived their usefulness to Cup teams BUT the ARCA schedule is at a different track, usually in a distant locale, the tire supplier is different(so virtually no applicable useful information would transfer over to the Cup race), the purses are smaller and live TV coverage practically non-existent, all of which renders the logistics and economics of such participation problematic and unrewarding.
Furthermore, the “Pandora’s Box” I described earlier goes like this… Just what would be the definition of a Cup driver? One who is currently driving in the Cup series(Pass that kind of rule and Dale Jr.’s recent popular victory at Daytona in the Wrangler #3 would never have happened!)? OK,That brings up another question: part-time or full-time? What about past Cup drivers currently maintaining their driving skills in the Camping World Series like Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner Stacy Compton and Johnny Sauter? They would lose opportunities at furthering their careers and restrict their sole means of supporting themselves and their families. Here’s another double-edged sword for you: the Nationwide Series drivers themselves,(most of them anyway), tell you that they welcome the opportunity to race against the Cup competitors just to see how they ” measure up”. If you have ever participated in any kind of competition, no matter what it was, you know that your own ability level was raised by just trying to succeed against a superior opponent.
Any all-encompassing definition of a Cup driver would include those who raced, for a variety of reasons, in just a very few NASCAR Cup races. Just because they are now semi or fully retired, never met with much success, never gained much national attention or flew underneath the “media radar screen” doesn’t mean they’re not a Cup driver. Depending on the type of rule that would be put in place, Terry Labonte, Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague, Geoff Bodine, Steve Park and many others would not be allowed. Kenny Wallace, who has found a resurrected driving career in the Nationwide Series, would have a major problem!
You just cannot convince me that NASCAR has to make an all-out ban on participation by Cup teams, owners or drivers participation in the Nationwide Series races. These events are, after all, RACES: the team has to be formed, the car has to be built(usually in a garage constructed exclusively for racing purposes), a driver has to be found, the entry blank has to submitted and paid, the car has to be transported to the track, unloaded, inspected, needs to qualify, then competes and with a combination of racing luck, driver savvy and team preparation, just MIGHT find victory lane. While I will concede that some Cup teams and drivers have a decided edge, it’s still not as easy it looks and it’s certainly no guarantee. What I would favor, however, is a way for the sanctioning body to figure out how the Nationwide Series’ driver’s points could be unaffected by Cup driver participation in the races.
If you still insist that something HAS to be done about Cup drivers participation in the Nationwide Series, I would suggest other ways to skin the proverbial cat. Just put the pressure on the team owners and sponsors to discourage and limit such activitie. Remember when Tony Stewart drove for Joe Gibbs and drove in a number of races and types of cars(and uttered those almost now famous words “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission!”), including what was then called Busch Series cars? Then you may also remember some of those victories came in Kevin Harvick team cars, which was probably less problematic when JGR was running Chevys. Once the switch was made to Toyotas, the inevitable conflicts would have been more contentious. Of course, the sponsors themselves could insist that in today’s economic climate, the driver is taking too much of a risk with their money by competing in anything other than Cup level racing. Yet another double edge sword: what sponsor is not going to want the extra exposure, especially if they want to pay for it…or already have?
After proofreading this post I now have a double-edged sword of my own. Anything Mr. France comes up with means I disagree with my boss with my rant here. Never a good thing. Oh well, you know what they say… live by the sword, die by the sword!
Posted by raceannouncer | Filed under 1