Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Heartland: Pushing Through NASCAR’s Press Conference Daze About Nothing

Last week I reported, in part, about the press conference held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway that announced another press conference would be forthcoming in a couple of weeks. Oh, that’s right! They also named Ric Flair as the Honorary All-Star Race Director for 2009, but that was just a sideshow.

Instead, at the time LMS officials dangled “the carrot of All-Star Race change” in front of a vegetable crazed-media but declined to comment further, presumably to let them stew a bit. After all, no good stew is worth anything if there ain’t a carrot or two involved! Well folks, it hasn’t quite been a couple of weeks, but the carrot has been lowered for the media to chew on, as the All-Star format changes were revealed yesterday.

This year’s race will still consist of four segments totaling 100 laps. However, Segment 1 will now be a 50-lap event, with a mandatory green-flag pit stop on lap 25 were each team must take four tires – whether they need them or not – presumably to help out the beleaguered Goodyear Tire Company during these tough economic times. At the end of segment 1, the caution flag will be displayed, in case anyone forgot how nicely it matches with Sprint and Sunoco yellow, giving teams the chance to take an optional pit stop if they feel the need.

Segment 2 will then be 20 laps, again with the yellow coming out at the end, presumably to remind these ignorant motorheads that they may once again buy some Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel. Segment 3 will also be 20 laps, at the end of which will be a 10-minute potty break. While the caution flag will NOT be shown at the end of segment 3, crews will be allowed to make normal adjustments to the car. In other words, it’s a 10-minute pit stop. The finishing order of segment 3 will then determine the starting lineup of – you guessed it – segment 4!

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Segment 4 will then be a 10-minute… ’scuse me, 10-LAP shootout… with only green-flag laps counting. The winner will take home a cool $1 million.

And speaking of winners, here is a little known fact about the All-Star Race that may help you clean up with your local bookie; the winner is actually announced months BEFORE the race! In this year’s case, NASCAR announced the 2009 All-Star Race winner on Feb. 4!

“How can that be?” you query. “That would mean the race is fixed or scripted! NASCAR would never do such a thing.”

While I admit I cannot prove it, I will tell you this fact: For the last two years in a row, whichever Sprint Cup Series driver is scheduled to be featured in the East/West Series race at Iowa Speedway the day AFTER the All-Star Race has won it! In 2007, it was Kevin Harvick; in 2008, Kasey Kahne. In Kahne’s case, NASCAR had to do a bit of extra work and rig the fan voting to even get him into the All-Star Race; but even then, they managed to pull it off! Again, I can’t prove it, but there seems to be a pattern developing here!

So, by both the criteria and the fact that Kyle Busch is scheduled to race in Iowa on May 17, get up to the window and put that money down! You can’t lose!

Now, for MORE news on worthless press conferences.

A press conference was held Wednesday to announce that Darlington Raceway generates a $54 million benefit to the economy of South Carolina. After several months of thinking about it, here are some more findings, direct from the press conference, that they came up with.

  • NASCAR events and other activities throughout the year at Darlington Raceway result in $19 million of labor income for workers throughout South Carolina annually, benefiting workers in all sectors of the state’s economy.
  • These activities are also an important source of fiscal revenues. Each year, these activities produce over $7.9 million for federal, state and local governments. Of this total, $3.4 million flow directly to state and local governments.
  • Year-round track operations contribute $30 million annually toward South Carolina’s gross state product. Referred to by economists as “value added,” this is the portion of business revenues that provides compensation to workers and capital income. Value added is also the principle source of income to households and a key measure of Darlington Raceway’s ongoing contributions to the South Carolina economy.

Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? And who do we have to thank for this information? A company called Washington Economics Group Inc. (WEG). But wait, there’s more!

WEG has a press conference scheduled for Thursday to reveal the economic impact of Richmond International Raceway as well! Seems these folks at WEG are not affected by the rest of the country’s bad economy. I mean, these studies can’t be cheap; so who is hiring these guys, and who are they? Here is what the press conference said about WEG:

WEG has been successfully meeting client objectives since 1993 through customized economic and business consulting services for corporations and institutions based in the Americas. WEG is certified by the State of Florida as a Minority Business.

Oh, that explains that! ISC tracks are hiring them to show how useful they (the tracks) are! Did you see that last sentence about WEG? This must all be part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative (of which, a press conference was held to announce that NASCAR is shifting it into high gear this year… again!).

So, along with picking Busch as this year’s All-Star winner, who wants to bet that if I look further, I find even more connections between WEG and ISC/France family?

‘Till next week,

Stay off the wall!

Jeff Meyer

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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