Monday , January 26 2015
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Amy Henderson

NASCAR Simply Heading In the Wrong Direction This Weekend

NASCAR is heading in the wrong direction. No (for once) I don't mean in general, I mean that literally. As the Busch and Nextel Cup Series both head for California Speedway this weekend they're going the wrong way. They're heading west when they should be heading south. I touched on NASCAR's abandonment of its history in my column last week. The subject should be of much greater concern than NASCAR seems to want to admit. Labor Day weekend was, until 2004, the weekend of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. It's not just that Darlington is the oldest superspeedway in the United States; it's that the Southern 500 was once the oldest race in NASCAR; older than the Daytona 500. In fact, NASCAR once had a bonus program for any driver who could win three of its four most coveted races-the Daytona 500 (the most prestigious race), the Coca-Cola 600 (the longest race), the summer race at Talladega (the fastest race) and the Southern 500 (the oldest race). The feat was only accomplished twice in over ten years on the books-once by Bill Elliott and once by Jeff Gordon. Both accomplished it at Darlington. Read More »

Ten Things I Hate About You, NASCAR

There has been a lot of talk this season about NASCAR's declining ratings, and if fewer TV viewers are a valid indicator, the sport's declining popularity. Fans say they just don't care as much as they used to, that the races aren't as exciting, and that the television coverage is sub par. NASCAR blames anyone they can-except themselves. The sad part is, NASCAR either had the opportunity to fix many of the things that fans have cited as reasons for leaving and refused, or whistled innocently and pointed the finger anywhere but at themselves. Thinking about what the real problems in the sport today are, and how easily they can/could have been fixed, makes me really wonder what is going on in the heads of the powers that be. Not that NASCAR has done anything to make us think they actually care about the fans, but sometimes it seems as though they only keep some things in place to save face and not look stupid. What exactly is wrong with NASCAR today? Well, that could take all night, but here are my top picks, in no particular order. 1. *Inconsistency in enforcing the rules.* Contrary to reports of sightings at Roswell and the Enchanted Forest, the rulebook does, in fact, exist. Read More »

Breaking the Rules Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

Just when you thought it was safe to go out of the house… NASCAR goes and does it again. The "it" in question is the decision to make an arbitrary call with no regard to the rulebook or precedent set in previous years or weeks. Within a seven-day stretch, NASCAR made a strong statement about what it means for a driver to be on probation and then completely ignored it when the issue came up in competition. Following an on-track incident at the Busch Series race in Montreal last week, NASCAR placed Robby Gordon on probation. In itself, the action was both warranted and consistent with past incidents. However, what followed was not. In their press release, NASCAR noted that should Gordon partake in any other rules infraction "that is deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to stock car racing or to NASCAR, or is disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event, he will be suspended indefinitely from NASCAR." I mistakenly took that to mean that a driver in violation of a NASCAR-imposed probation would receive heavy punishment. Obviously, I was wrong. Read More »

Gordon won AGAIN?! And Is Dale Earnhardt Junior Going to Be Any Good? It was Ten years Ago…

It's been an interesting summer for a race fan. The world tilted on its axis when Dale Junior announced he was leaving Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and practically jumped out of orbit and headed for the Sun when he announced he was going to Hendrick Motorsports; a decision that for many fans was akin to Luke Skywalker saying, "Sure, Darth-I mean Dad, I'll join the dark side. The good guys aren't really much fun." In some respects the point standings look like they did ten years ago, with Jeff Gordon running away with the lead. The cast of characters in the rest of the Top 10 has changed significantly-only Jeff Burton was even in the Nextel Cup Series then. Read More »

Kyle Busch and the Five Amazing Mentors: A Tale of Speed and Impertinence

Since his outburst about teamwork, or the lack thereof, at Daytona earlier this month, Kyle Busch has been under a microscope that is already on high power as he searches for a new ride for 2008 and beyond. He's been called a whiner, immature and spoiled. His comments were looked at as childish and jealous. Whatever the reasons for his comments or Busch's personality shortcomings, it was brought up that nobody at Hendrick Motorsports has ever taken Busch under his wing. Kyle Busch has never had a mentor, they exclaimed! How could he possibly know better? Read More »

A Sunday Without Racing?! Whatever Shall I Do?

I keep thinking there's a race on Sunday. Yes, logically, I KNOW the Nextel Cup Series is off this week, but my brain is in denial or something. There's a Busch Series race Saturday night, and I'll be keeping tabs on that one, but Sunday seems a little empty. Not, mind you, that I don't have anything to do. OK, the truth is, I didn't make any plans for Sunday because I'd forgotten about the week off (and I should be grateful because it's the last one of the season on the Nextel Cup side) and face it, most of my family and friends know better than to drag me off on a Sunday. So…I'm going to take a look at all the things I can get done on Sunday-and the reality. Read More »

Dragged A Jeff Gordon Beanie Around Lately?: A Reality Check

You know the guy (heck, maybe you ARE the guy). He parades around the track with the little Jeff Gordon doll in the noose dragging behind, just hoping someone will kick it around. He (or she) boos Tony Stewart vehemently during driver intros. He calls Jimmie Johnson all kinds of unprintable things that have nothing to do with his racing ability. He is pretty vocal about whether Jack Roush is well, a nice guy or not. He has already decided that he will no longer be a Junior fan because Junior is going to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. There is a small but vocal group of race fans who seem to have more fun hating one driver or another than they do cheering for the drivers they _do_ like. They appear to attend races with the singular goal of booing a driver (or a select group). In fact, they boo louder than they ever cheer-at least until the guy they were booing gets in a crash. If-heaven forbid!-the guy they were booing actually wins-they shower him with beer cans, many with a good portion of the beer still inside. At Indy last year when Johnson climbed from his car to retrieve the checkered flag he'd dropped-a few cans were aimed at him-no helmet, no car. Those people are race fans? Read More »

Best of: Holding a Pretty Wheel – Hate the 48? It’s Totally Undeserved

In the weeks since this year's Nextel Cup championship was decided in favor of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, I've heard a lot of people complain about him. The reasons why are as diverse as the crowd of Manhattanites currently welcoming the world's fastest growing sport on wheels for the yearly awards banquet. Some people say Johnson cheats (Get over it; the team served the penalty NASCAR assessed - if you don't like it, complain about the rules). Others say he's too politically correct. He's too much like Jeff Gordon. He wins too much (bet Johnson doesn't care if you don't like that, either - if you compete at anything, you know there is no such thing as "winning too much." He's had everything handed to him. He's too perfect, too unemotional. Read More »

Your Only Job is Fairness: An Open Letter to NASCAR

Dear Brian, Mike, John, and the rest of the people in position to make up rules as you go along: I know your jobs aren't easy. I probably wouldn't want any of them. I'm a school teacher, though, so I know a thing or two about being fair. Fairness isn't about convenience. It isn't about making an example of someone, and it isn't about proving a point. Fairness is about applying the rules to _everyone in the same manner_. I thought you had been trying to do just that this year. After all, you came down hard on teams with aerodynamic alterations at Daytona. After all, you told everyone that you would penalize offenders with violations on the Car of Tomorrow, and you did. When the No. 8 car was found to have an illegal wing angle after qualifying you punished them according to your previous statement. After all, they had tampered with the COT in competition (qualifying, even the sham it has become with the top-35 rule, _is still competition_, make no mistake about it) and they had been warned. Read More »

WARNING! Invisible Debris Is Hazardous To Your Health!

There is a danger lurking in the shadows at your local NASCAR track. It's more dangerous than a flipping, burning racecar. It's more insidious than a soaked tire. It's scarier than Jimmy Spencer in a Speedo. It's...Invisible Debris! Yes, race fans, Invisible Debris is everywhere! It could be lurking in Turn One, ready to devour an innocent tire. It might be on the apron in Turn Four, waiting to jump into the racing groove and wreak havoc when we least expect. It could even be on a straightaway, biding its time, waiting to maim an innocent racecar. Obviously, NASCAR must take the road of caution when dealing with such a hideous beast. After all, it could strike at any moment, rendering a race "exciting" and "a close battle" on the track. Yes indeed, NASCAR had better be cautious with this hideous threat! Read More »