truck race

truck race

Get ready because the rant is about to begin with everything that is being written on the internet over the last couple of days. Before we get to some of the useless information that is out there, congratulations to Marcos Ambrose for winning last week’s NASCAR Nationwide Race at Watkins Glen, Juan Pablo Montoya for winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Watkins Glen, and Dario Franchitti for winning the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio.

Everyone is still in an uproar that NASCAR is about to go belly up and will no longer be a sanctioning body within the next couple of years. Now, anything can happen and this could happen as well. I am a believer that this is not going to happen. I even saw an article written that said that lower income blue collar workers finally woke up and decided not to spend their money on going to see NASCAR races. This could even be true, but I would bet this is not the case. My guess is that these folks just do not have the money to travel and see the races, this includes even if it is a short day drive and back to the track.

So what is wrong with NASCAR and people not going to the races or watching on television in the numbers they use to. It is true that many of the casual fans are turned off by the change in cars and the changes to the Chase for Sprint Cup. If you cannot turn on a game, or in our discussion here a race, and immediately understand the rules you are not going to watch. The racing and emotions that use to be prevalent are no longer there. It truly is just cars going in circles. You can turn on the last 10 to 15 laps and find out who won. You can then tune into one of the 427 daily episodes of SportsCenter on ESPN to see any of the action you missed during the race, or what people really want to see replays of, wrecks.

I see two other reasons why people are not showing up to the track and watching the races on TV. The first reason is the Evil Empire (A.K.A. Jimmie Johnson). The Evil Empire has won the last four Sprint Cups. This is a feat in sport that should be celebrated, and I actually tip my cap to the Evil Empire. Hands down the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowes Chevrolet has been the class of the Cup Series. Although Evil Empire collects wins like aluminum can collectors along the highway, this ultimately hurts the sport.

This directly leads into reason number two why people have tuned NASCAR out. The reason you are wondering is Dale Earnhardt Jr. It is no surprise that Jr. is the most popular driver in the sport today. People want to go see Dale run a competitive race and have a chance to win. The problem has become the fact the Dale is an overrated driver. He is in the best equipment that can be put out on the track. Dale also no longer gets huge amounts of broadcast time. Think about baseball for a second. Who do the national carries of baseball show on their featured games of the week? You guessed it, the teams that are winning. NASCAR broadcasts are no different. The popular names get some time, but the guys up front consistently get the most time on camera. Since Jr. is the main draw, since he runs mediocre at best, why would people sacrifice their hard earned money (which they have little of these days) to go see their favorite driver run at the back of the pack? Simple, they don’t. Also, they won’t invest three to four hours of their day off to watch him run at the back of the pack. I am a Cubs fan and they are out of the race for the playoffs this year. Guess what, I am not investing my time watching the Cubs on TV.

So what about the schedule now? We were told during the Brickyard 400 weekend that there would be drastic changes to the schedule. From what has come out in the news this week, I have to say that the changes are less than drastic. We all knew that Atlanta and California were probably going to lose one of their two Cup dates. We have found out this is actually the truth. We all knew that Kentucky was going to be added to the schedule, which has also become true. Finally, we all pretty much knew that Kansas City was going to get a second date on the schedule. Ho hum for the major changes coming to the schedule.

To me these are not major changes to the schedule. These were needed changes to the schedule. Hopefully Kansas City will not have the same problem other tracks have faced when they got their second date, loss of attendance to their original date and struggle to fill seats on the new date.

What did I hope for? I was hoping a major jumble of the order of the races. I was also hoping for around three to four new tracks being added to the Chase. I am also hoping that maybe a rotation would be established to change out the tracks in the Chase each year. Based on the reports, it seems only one track is being added to the Chase, Chicagoland.

With Chicagoland being added to the Chase, the hawks swooped in and immediately railroaded on the decision that attendance will not be improved at the track. The reasons for lack of attendance are going to the Bears, Cubs, and White Sox. It is the early part of the football season and baseball pennant races are in full swing. Now this is a true statement, and it should be considered. The fact is that is true of all of the track locations the Sprint Cup Series visits. Although there will be a small percentage of fans who will give up tickets to the race to go to other events locally, the seats are not going to be completely empty.

Finally on the schedule and attendance, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Brickyard 400 continue to be shown as the race that was. There is no doubting or arguing that the attendance this year sucked. It is the flash point of all the talk that NASCAR is going to close up shop. What is not talked about in these writings and discussions is two years ago. Two years ago the race was run in roughly 10 lap sprints due to a tire issue. The word from NASCAR and the speedway on this issue, well the fans still got to see the race and sorry. It was a slap in the face to the fans. It became very clear to the loyal Brickyard 400 ticket holders that money was most important, and the competition and fan experience took a backseat to the powers that be. To me, the Brickyard 400 has still not recovered from those events two years ago. Keep in mind also that fans in the Midwest can travel to a number of tracks and see a race where they can see the majority, if not the entire, track from their seat. Indianapolis does not offer a seat where this is possible. Let’s face up to the fact as well that stock car racing at Indianapolis is not the best racing on the circuit. Better racing can be seen at other tracks. What does Indy have to fall back on though, nostalgia. The place has been there forever and the Brickyard 400 is supposed to be a crown jewel on the circuit. With the right marketing and fan experiences, the Brickyard 400 will begin to see a rise in attendance. Will it ever be back to the glory days? Ask me again in about five years.

Michigan for the Second Time, Her Danicaship

The Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series head to Michigan for the weekend. Michigan is a fun track to watch on TV. The drivers can take their car on multiple grooves to allow the car to work at its best. I look for a race with long green flag runs with someone hitting the setup early and running away. What happens in these situations though? That car running good early will come back to the pack by the end of the race. Also look for fuel mileage to be a big deal as well. The cars that get the best mileage are usually there at the end battling for the checkered flag.

We also get the treat of Her Danciaship (A.K.A. Danica Patrick) jumping back into a NASCAR Nationwide Series car. Remember that last time she ran in the series at Chicago that she actually finished the race. I have the feeling that she will have plenty of room to run at Michigan and will keep the car clean for the entire race. I see a finish of around 27 to 30 for Her Danicaship at the end of the day. What will she say when she gets out of the car? “Got a lot of experience today and kept the car clean”. The Go Daddy music will start playing the background and she will flip her hair and show off the huge diamonds in her ears from there. You get the picture. Keep in mind as well that they will interview her first and longer than the actual race winner.

So who will run up front in the Sprint Cup Series? I am going to go with Greg Biffle for the win this week. He had a great run at Pocono when he took the win. I think he has some momentum and it will carry over this week. Jeff Gordon, new father for the second time, will also have a strong run. Gordon just continues to be strong every week without winning a race. If the Evil Empire continues to run the way he has over the last few weeks, look for Gordon and Kevin Harvick to battle for the championship in the Chase with consistent strong runs. The sleeper of the week is going to be Elliot Saddler. I do not really know why, but I think he is going to have a good run. Now that I said that, he will probably blow up the engine on lap 27.

Have a great week and enjoy the races! Be sure to tell a friend about! We appreciate you stopping by!

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