What to Watch for this Weekend:

March 25, 2011
by Lee

The weekend is nearly upon us, and for the first time this year we get to see both NASCAR and the IZOD IndyCar series on the track. A busy weekend of racing at two very different tracks awaits the racing enthusiast. IndyCar visits St. Petersburg on the street circuit featuring 1.8 miles of twists and turns. NASCAR is on the Left Coast in California at the Auto Club Speedway which features a 2 mile D Shaped oval.

If you are looking to catch the IndyCar race, tune into ABC at 12:30 PM Eastern on Sunday to see the race. The first practice was completed this morning on the track and Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field with a lap just over 1:04 for a speed of 101.023 MPH. The birthday girl (Herdanicaship AKA Danica Patrick) clocked in at 1:05 for a speed of 99.046 MPH good for 19th on the speed chart. The royal majesty of racing is going to need to find some speed in her Dallara if she plans on being anywhere in contention on Sunday.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will get its practice underway later this afternoon. If you are looking to catch the big boys in action on Sunday, be sure to tune to Fox at 3:00 PM Eastern. California generally gives us some good side by side racing with cars running from the top to the bottom of the track. If a driver’s car is not working to their particular liking, multiple grooves allow for a search to get the right feeling in the car until the next pit stop.

Something I did not touch on in my article for earlier this week that I would like to take a moment to address from the NASCAR Nationwide Series. NASCAR has to somehow figure out a way to address the start and park situation. In case you are unfamiliar with start and park, here is a quick explanation. A team brings a car to the track and qualifies for the race. Once qualified and the race begins, the driver runs a couple of laps and brings the car into the garage and their day is done. These are underfunded teams who are simply looking for a paycheck without the worry of damaging the car in an on track incident.

I know the debate can go either way on this particular topic. It is my opinion that this cheapens the experience for the fans and takes away from the event itself. These teams come to the track with one purpose in mind. The goal is to setup the car to have one or two fast laps to get in the show. Teams who have shown up to give it their all may be bumped from the show and not get a chance to race because the start and park team concentrated on one lap. The team going home may have put their effort into practicing the car to run the full length of the race.

Last week Jennifer Jo Cobb did the extraordinary feat of walking away from her ride in the Nationwide Series race after her car owner informed her 10 minutes before the race that the car was going to be start and park. Cobb indicated in interviews that this was not part of her agreement to drive the car. I applaud her for making this bold move. If the plan had to been to start and park the car and she knew it all along, then shame on her for making a mockery of what her owner wanted. Based on what I saw, she was upset that was the direction the owner wanted to go, and it appeared she had no idea that was going to be the plan.

So what should NASCAR do about the start and park problem? I really do not have an answer for it. The only thing I can think of is that a race team does not get paid for being in the race if they cannot prove there is something wrong with the car that keeps it from competing on the track. A lot of inspection and effort would be needed by NASCAR to ensure this was the case. How do you really prove as well that the car does not have an electrical problem or something like that? Drivers could also refuse to participate with teams that plan start and park operations. At the same time I realize they need a paycheck and may be depending on the money that comes in by being one of these drivers.

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Thanks for stopping by www.troubleinturntwo.com, and enjoy the races this weekend. Be sure to stop by when the races are done for a recap of each event.

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