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Old Timey RacinDeals

March 22nd, 2010

WEEK OFF: Since NASCAR had a spring break last week, I decided to take one as well (at least from this blog).

OLD TIMERS: I tuned in to see the last 20 or so laps of the old timer’s race at Bristol on Saturday. The concept of the race is interesting, but the reality of it is that some drivers are too old to be in it. Think about it: their reflexes are not what they used to be, but they’re still going 120 mph around the track… in late model cars. Despite what the announcers said about “how safe” the cars are, both drivers that were involved in that late-race wreck were knocked out, and it’s a wonder neither of them were killed. Put them in Legends cars at Charlotte and let them have at it, or put them in retired Cup cars with smaller engines so they can have the benefit of truly safer cars, or make them take a reflex test before they can drive in it.

SPOILER ISSUES: No, this isn’t about NASCAR going back to spoilers in the Cup series. This about ESPN interviewing the winner of the Grand National race during the red flag period of the old timers’ race. I had just started watching the race on my DVR and saw the promo for the old timers’ race, so I decided to stop watching it and watch the old timers’ race. Then ESPN interviews the winner of the Grand National race, and that left me with no reason to watch it. Thanks ESPN. I guess you don’t understand that a lot of folks have better things to do on a Saturday than sit in front of a TV watching a race. I watch races on my own time, not yours.

THE FEUD: Everyone’s been talking about Brad and Carl’s feud. Most of the talk seems to be centered around how Brad deserved what he got because he has a “reputation” for wrecking people. You’re kidding, right? He deserved a cheap shot by a driver who only came back on the track to wreck him? <sarcasm> NASCAR put Edwards on double secret probation for three races, so I’m sure that got his attention and he’ll never do it again </sarcasm>. Maybe Keselowski has wrecked a lot of people; I don’t know. But it reminds me of when Ernie Irvin came on the scene and got the same kind of reputation. He finally saw the error of his ways and apologized to everyone at a drivers’ meeting. Or when Kyle Busch moved to NASCAR, he wrecked everything but the pace car. Or even someone named Carl Edwards, who also wrecked his share of people when he started. The point is, racing contact is one thing, but intentionally assaulting someone is something completely different.

BRISTOL: I’ll have to say I liked the Cup race more than I thought I would, even with Johnson’s win.  There were enough lead changes to keep the race interesting, and no one was able to get the lead and run away with it. That’s all I ask as a fan.

Wreckin’ RacinDeals

March 8th, 2010

THE 800 POUND GORILLA: You can’t really comment on Sunday’s race without talking about the boneheaded move that Carl Edwards made when he intentionally wrecked a competitor. Edwards basically caused the first wreck by moving down on Keselowski, and then had the gall to blame it on Keselowski. So to get back at him, Edwards, well over 150 laps down, turned right into Keselowski, who was running in the top ten at the time, and caused Keselowski to crash, hitting the top of the car on the outside wall. It’s amazing that Keselowski wasn’t seriously injured or killed. At the very least, NASCAR needs to give Edwards the weekend of Bristol off so he can think about what he did.

LAPS-DOWN DRIVERS: That brings up another point: should a driver who can no longer make up any laps be allowed to stay on the track? Edwards premeditated attack on Keselowski would not have been possible if NASCAR had a rule that prevented drivers back on the track if there’s no way they can make up any laps on their next competitor.

AN EXCITING FINISH (NOT): Edwards also robbed the fans of an exciting finish in the making. It was evident that Montoya was going to challenge Kurt Busch for the win, but Edwards idiocy quashed that.

HEY, JACK, HERE’S THE BILL FOR MY CAR: Penske and the 7 or so teams who wrecked after the first green/white/checkers should send Jack Roush and Carl Edwards the bill for the repair of their cars.

EXCITEMENT: The Atlanta race was definitely better than the Las Vegas race. While a leader would get out ahead by a couple of seconds, he couldn’t stay there.  The cars behind would gradually reel him in, and pretty soon there was a challenge for the lead.

BRISTOL: Bristol is up next, and I’m probably in the minority on this when I say that I’m not really looking forward to it. I’m not sure why people think the Bristol races are so great. NASCAR is starting way too many cars for that size track. Maybe there’ll be a dozen start-and-parkers who’ll pull off after a couple of laps.

Lost Wages RacinDeals

March 1st, 2010

GRAND NATIONAL OOPS: I completely forgot about the Grand National race on Saturday until after it had already started. When I did tune in, it was just in time to see Danica crash out. So I was spared the endless Danica updates the rest of the race.

BIFFLE KUDOS: Good on you, Greg Biffle, for buying a short track to keep it running. I wish that were an option for the Fairgrounds Speedway here in Nashville, but short-sited elitist leaders are trying to get rid of racing as fast as they’re running off the music tourism industry.

ANOTHER SNOOZER: Two snoozers in a row for NASCAR. Too bad that yellow light didn’t malfunction more often.

CROWD CONTROL: Those stands sure did look pretty full during the Cup race. But then I looked closer and it seems that in the first 10 or 15 rows of one section, the seats were painted random colors to appear as if someone was sitting in it. I guess that’s one way to do it.

THAT’S IT: Normally I’d try to come up with several more of these little RacinDeals, but there’s just nothing worth my time. Maybe Atlanta next week will give us one of those close finishes again.

California RacinDeals

February 22nd, 2010

SERIES SPONSORS: I don’t get paid to mention the names of the sponsors of the top three NASCAR touring series (for any FTC types out there). So I’ll be referring to them as the “Cup” series, the “Grand National” series, and the “Truck” series. Now if those sponsors want to throw some money my way… Oh, that applies to speedways too.

WHERE’S DANICA?: I watched the whole Grand National race on Saturday,  and not once did the announcers update us on where Danica Patrick was running. Not once! No, not once, but about 30 times it seemed. I have to agree with Kyle Busch on this one: she hasn’t done  anything to garner that kind of attention, other than being female. And it’s really kind of sexist if you ask me. I thought it was very interesting that the ESPN announcers quickly tried to lower expectations for Danica by telling us how other Indy Car drivers did in their races at California Speedway. They didn’t give us any context, just finish positions (would have been nice to know if any of those drivers led or was taken out in a wreck not their fault).

START TIMES: I’ve seen ads on Speed touting the  consistent start times for Cup races. Apparently Fox doesn’t expect its viewers to know the difference between when a race starts and when coverage starts. The TV listings showed the race starting at 2:00 pm, when in fact it actually started at 3:00 pm (actual green flag was closer to 3:15 pm). Fox needs to separate their pre-race coverage from the actual race coverage. I nearly wasted a whole hour of DVR recording time because of their fake start time.

YAWN: Wake me when the race is over. If ever there was a race that indicated a need for competition cautions, that was it. And the Grand National race would have been the same except for the green/white/checker finish.

IS DIGGER WITH DANICA?: I noticed a lack of the stupid cartoon “Digger” during the first half of the race. And in the second half, they only showed the cartoon during caution laps. Maybe they finally got the message that people didn’t want a cartoon taking up half the screen when they were racing.

NO, LITTLE E IS WITH DANICA: Was last week a fluke for the 88 team? Are they back to their back-marker ways? Is he regretting leaving his dad’s team now?

THE PACE CAR: I wonder if NASCAR had to install one of those ignition cut-off switches in the pace car?

Daytona Week Racindeals

February 15th, 2010

DANICA WHO?: Watched the Danica Patrick Nationwide Race on Saturday. I think some guy named Stewart won, but the race was dominated by Danica Patrick.

Look: I don’t have anything against Danica Patrick. I hope she’s successful in NASCAR. But you know and I know that she wouldn’t be getting 1/10th the attention she’s getting if she was ugly (or a guy). She’s an above average IndyCar driver who’s managed to get one victory in all her IndyCar starts. And with a field of only about 20 cars, it’s pretty easy to get top tens.  I’d be more impressed with her move to NASCAR if she’s won a championship or two. Heck, when Dario Franchitti moved to NASCAR in 2008, he’d already won an IndyCar championship and a few races. I daresay that he got nowhere near the publicity in his whole NASCAR career than Patrick has gotten in two stock car races.

IN THE BOOTH: ESPN has to have the worst announcers in the booth of any of the networks. Keep Dale Jarrett and replace Petree and the other guy. Bring back Bob Jenkins, please! Buddy Baker would be good to get back into the booth too.

WILL THE REAL START TIME PLEASE STAND UP: Speaking of ESPN, they had the start time of the Nationwide race at noon my time. I didn’t find that out until about 12:40. I ran downstairs thinking I’d missed the first 30 or so laps, only to find out that I’d only missed one green flag lap and they were under caution on lap four. So I didn’t really miss anything. Maybe ESPN didn’t get the memo to distinguish between the pre-race show and the race coverage. They should have said “pre-race show starts at noon, and race coverage begins at 12:30”.

And Fox wasn’t any better. I had the 500 set to record on my DVR, and the start time that Fox had was an hour earlier than the actual race. I know they want to get people to watch their pre-race shows, but I’m just not interested anymore. Ten years ago, yeah. But not today. And I don’t appreciate being tricked into watching it… and I just fast-forwarded past all that junk anyway.

MAKING THE RACE: I wish they would go back to the old method of selecting the starting field for the 500. With thirty-five guaranteed spots, it takes the drama out of the qualifying races. But I guess NASCAR got tired of some of their big names not making the race.

THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE: As far as the 500 itself goes, it was probably one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while. I’ll admit that I was wrong in predicting that NASCAR would chicken out on the larger restrictor plate, and I’m glad they stuck with the bigger one. Good to see another Roush refugee do good. And Little Earnhardt brought back memories of the fall 2000 Talladega race, his dad’s last win, with his move from 10th to 2nd.

LETTING THE DRIVERS DRIVE: I’m sure the NASCAR brass has broken their arms patting themselves on the back for “putting it back in the drivers’ hands”. But it never should have been taken out of their hands to begin with.

WAITER, THERE’S A HOLE IN MY TRACK: The Daytona track management should be embarrassed. Their “we’ll be racing in 10 minutes” turned into 100 minutes, and then they used the wrong patching material and had to stop the race again. There’s no excuse for that, at all. If I’d been at the race in person I’d have wanted some of my money back.

DANICA, PART DEUX: Next week is California Speedway, or whatever they’re calling it now. The Danica show will be on Saturday, and the Cup teams will run Sunday.

Daytona So Far

February 8th, 2010

After the first weekend of stock car activity at Daytona, there were a few big news stories that came out.

The big news (as expected) is Danica Patrick. She ran in the 80-lap ARCA race and finished a respectable 6th. But she was nearly overshadowed by one of the other 5 women in the field, Alli Owens, who used some pit strategy and ran in third for most of the last half of the race, while Danica was recovering from a trip through the infield grass.

Now we hear that Patrick will be running in the Nationwide race Saturday. I personally think it’s a big mistake. The Nationwide Series is not ARCA. Where you might have only had two or three good drivers in the ARCA race, a lot of the Cup drivers will be in the Nationwide race, so the level of competition will be orders of magnitude higher.  I just hope that the reporters  give her the attention she deserves, and no more.

Is Junior back? He qualified on the outside pole for the 500 and only he and his teammate, Mark Martin, have guaranteed starting positions. The rest of the field will have to sort themselves out in one of the two qualifying races on Thursday. Obviously, it’s too early to tell if Little Earnhardt is back, but starting up front certainly helps.

Getting back to the ARCA race for a minute, I really liked the way Darrell Waltrip and Phil Parsons worked together in the booth. It was much less “frantic” than when Larry McReynolds is in there. Larry Mac is a good pit reporter; why doesn’t Fox hire Parsons and put McReynolds in the pits?

The Bud Shootout was Saturday night. I have to say, I don’t think it bodes well for the 500. It was another “get out front and no one can pass you” race. Of course, I could be wrong; the teams could have done stuff to those cars for that race that they’d never think about doing for the 500. I hope so.

I have to say that I’m surprised that NASCAR still hasn’t messed with the plates yet. I predicted that they’d go to a smaller plate before the race, and I’m sure they could still do that. I suspect that if too many cars get airborne on Thursday, they’ll change the plate then.

I’m DVR’ing the races on Thursday, so I’m going to have to decide whether to keep up with the race as best I can during the day, or avoid all racing news and be surprised as I watch them when I get home.

Brian France continues to put his own stamp on NASCAR.  He’s done away with (or doing away with) the wing on the Cup cars, replacing it with the spoiler that adorned the cars for decades.

But while giving a nod to the past with the spoiler, he wants to usher in the future by abandoning carburetors and going with fuel injection in 2011. That should be interesting to police.

So, in the spirit of the new NASCAR “populism”, I have some suggestions to improve the sport.

  • Since there are so many empty seats at Talladega and Daytona nowadays, why not just eliminate the first 10 rows and move all those folks back from the track. Then you could eliminate the restrictor plates altogether and not have to worry about a car getting into the fans.
  • Eliminate the stupid “chase” gimmick. Last year, Jimmy Johnson won most of his 7 races in the 10-race Chase. The year before, Kyle Busch won all of his 8 races leading up to the Chase, and had a commanding lead until they reshuffled the points. He ultimately finished in tenth place. The Chase format allows a driver to pretty much coast his way into a championship scenario, and then start really racing in the last ten races. That’s how Johnson has won his last two championships; he’s done enough to stay in the top five all year, and then once the Chase starts, they kick it up a notch. Or, a driver who dominated all season can have a couple of bad races and pretty much end his chances at a championship. If all 36 races had the same level of importance, then a driver wouldn’t be able to coast to a championship, or a couple of bad races wouldn’t hurt him so bad.
  • Stop competing against local tracks. The Saturday night races kill attendance at the local tracks. NASCAR seems to be doing its best to eat its seed corn. Sure, a few high profile drivers have come from the open-wheel ranks, but it generally takes those folks several years to get acclimated (if they ever do) to cars with fenders. You just don’t hear about drivers coming up from the local tracks like you used to. I think that’s because NASCAR has abandoned its roots. Sure, it might be interesting to watch Danica Patrick and see how many cautions she brings out, but I’d much rather see someone like Casey Atwood in that car.
  • Actually enforce the multi-car rule. You’re supposed to only be able to own four teams, but with all the weird deals going on, you have owners like Hendrick who have an interest in teams that are supposedly owned by others (e.g. Stewart/Hass). I’d be happier with a two-car rule per team, which would allow as many as 20 or so owners. Right now the four-car limit also limits the number of owners to around 10. That’s too few.
  • Eliminate the “diversity” program. It’s racist. NASCAR shouldn’t be basing diversity on skin color.

I’m sure I’ll be able to think up a few more changes that NASCAR should make as the season starts, but this’ll do for now.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

January 25th, 2010

I’ve awoken from my long winter’s nap to the news that NASCAR has seen the light and will be making changes to make the racing better in 2010.

Since Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died on the track, NASCAR has made safety their number one priority… to the detriment of the sport. They’ve forced drivers to wear devices attached to their helmets, they’ve put roof-flaps on the cars, they’ve even completely redesigned the car. While it’s great to try to make the sport as safe as possible, in the end, it’s still a dangerous sport.

NASCAR mistook the jump in popularity after Earnhardt’s death as people being actually interested in the sport and becoming fans. What I think really happened is that people tuned in to see who would get killed next.

Before I go too much further, I can see where some might think I’m advocating making the sport more dangerous to the extent that it kills someone so that the popularity goes back up. I’m just stating what I think has happened, not what should happen.

Anyway, here are a few of the changes in the Cup Series and what I think about them:

  • Bump-drafting will be allowed again. This was one of those safety over reactions that resulted in one of the most boring races I’ve ever seen. Should make the restrictor plate races more interesting.
  • Larger restrictor plates at Daytona. My prediction is that they’ll be smaller before the actual race. NASCAR will lose its nerve and change them after the qualifying races.
  • Replacing the wing with a spoiler. I’m not so sure about this one. The reasoning is apparently to make the cars easier to drive. Uh, excuse me, but isn’t the ability to drive an ill-handling car part of the sport? How many times did Earnhardt, Sr. take an ill-handling car to victory lane? And it seems to me that they’re missing out on a legitimate safety improvement: they put a hinge on the front-facing side of the wing, and when the car goes backwards, the wing pops up (like the roof flap) and helps keep the car on the ground.
  • The “promotion” of John Darby. Yeah, that was a promotion all right. I think he was made the scapegoat for the lousy competition last year.

NASCAR also announced some changes in the Nationwide and Truck Series.

  • Nationwide teams will be limited to 15 crew members. NASCAR is making a lame attempt at helping teams curtail the costs of running in the series. That just gives the rich teams more money to spend back at the shop. They didn’t really address the real problem with the Nationwide Series, and that’s the 10 or 15 Cup drivers who seem to be in each Nationwide race. In the past, I’ve not really advocated limiting the number of Cup drivers who can run in a Nationwide race, but I’m beginning to change my thinking on that. I do have a couple of ideas that might help though:
    • Make drivers in each series declare what championship they’re going to run for. You want to run all races in the Cup and Nationwide series? Fine, but you can only run for the championship in one of them.
    • Only allow the top three fastest Cup drivers to run in a Nationwide or Truck race. This would apply to Cup drivers in the top 15 in Cup points. That would still allow teams with inexperienced drivers to get the track time in the lower series, while leaving spots open for full-time Nationwide teams.
  • The Truck Series will use double-file restarts. Eh. I don’t think that whole double-file restart thing was as exciting as everyone hoped it would be. I remember when drivers were able to earn their laps back by actually racing for them. That’s no longer the case. Ah well.
  • The Truck Series will go back to traditional pit stops. This was one of the most stupid rules I’ve ever seen, where they couldn’t fuel and change tires on the same stop. Frankly, I wish the Truck Series would go back to its roots: have a 10 minute time out in the middle of the race. That would do more to reduce costs than anything. I remember Bobby Hamilton racing in one of the first Truck races at the Fairgrounds here in Nashville. He had a couple of guys and a small toolbox. That was his pit crew.

I’ll give NASCAR credit, they may have finally realized that people actually want to be entertained while watching a race. I hope the changes make the races more exciting. I guess we’ll see.

The Best Laid Plans…

November 13th, 2009

Well, when I resurrected RacinDeals.com, I’d planned on writing at least weekly about the previous week’s races. But to be honest, there hasn’t been much to write about. NASCAR seems to be in this mode of “we say it’s exciting racing, so there’s nothing to talk about”.

NASCAR must be watching different races. I’ve never seen a more boring race than the Talladega one. Talladega! They’re so afraid that a car is going to get airborne that they basically tell the drivers to stop racing. So, the drivers stop racing and just line up in a long line…. and two cars get airborne anyway.

Ah well. There are just a couple of races left until Jimmie Johnson wins his fourth title. That’s pretty incredible. It’s also dull.

NASCAR has sanitized the sport and taken the life right out of it, and TV ratings and empty seats are showing it.

Mayfield’s Mess

July 2nd, 2009

Wow. A judge has suspended Jeremy Mayfield’s NASCAR suspension. In other words, Mayfield is free to race this weekend, if he can come up with a car.

I’m somewhat surprised, especially with the judge saying that the “harm to Mr. Mayfield significantly outweighs the harm to NASCAR.” Does this judge not realize that an impaired driver going 200 miles per hour is “harmful” to the other drivers?

I mean, shouldn’t the error be on the side of safety?

I honestly hope that Mayfield’s test was a “false positive”.  But if he goes to Daytona and tests positive again, then he might as well hang up his helmet.

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