Race Weekend Central

4 Burning Questions: Traffic Troubles & Kurt Busch’s Benevolence

Can Matt Kenseth really move forward and win a championship following his announcement?

Matt Kenseth’s announcement this week that he would be leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season came as a shock to most. After all, he’s been with the team for a large majority of his career and has become synonymous with that No. 17 car. Nevertheless, Kenseth is leaving at the end of the year and in his place will be 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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Matt Kenseth Leaving Roush After 2012, Being Replaced by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Following the announcement, Kenseth conducted a plethora of media interviews. Which is weird because he has media availability this weekend at Kentucky, but whatever.

Anyway, Kenseth has insisted that he is still focused on the championship and winning in his final year with the team. Let’s hope so, since they’re leading the standings right now, but even Kenseth admitted that facing his crew was difficult in Sonoma.

For some reason, Kenseth is using last year’s champion Tony Stewart as reason to believe they are still in it. Since, you know, Stewart knew his crew chief Darian Grubb was leaving at the end of the year. Crew chief leaving vs. driver leaving … totally the same thing.

Stewart, as the driver, knew he’d be around the same group of guys and be a part of the same team. Kenseth, on the other hand, already has a deal in place with another race team. While a crew chief is a crucial part to the team, it’s just not the same thing. When Kenseth himself is saying the situation is uncomfortable, that is all I need to hear to say that we’ll likely be seeing someone else holding the trophy … this year.

Will traffic issues overshadow the race again or did Kentucky learn their lesson?

Those who spent any amount of time in the traffic jam at Kentucky last year are probably simmering with rage at the mere thought of it. What was a fantastic turnout for the debut race at the track turned out to be a nightmare when hundreds of fans were turned away due to lack of parking. For a track that worked so hard to even get a Cup date, it disappointed those who showed up for it.

But … hold up! They’ve fixed it. They promise! A literal multimillion-dollar project by Kentucky Speedway has a completely changed map where parking is concerned. Twenty thousand new parking spots, seven lanes of road heading into the track and expanding exit ramps have all been put in place to eliminate the harrowing backup that even had track personnel showing up late. Man, it sounds like they’ve got this figured out!

Of course, it won’t really help matters if those who were turned away won’t show up this time. But, hey, at least they’re trying!

How long will the current Kurt Busch last?

I swear, Kurt Busch goes through more mood swings than a pregnant woman. No offense, DeLana!

The guy was practically in tears after a tough loss at Sonoma last week, but handled it like a champ and didn’t threaten to beat the “you know what” out of any reporters.

Gosh, what a concept, right? An actual champion of the sport actually acting like one? He was so gentlemanly, in fact, the media felt the need to applaud him at the end of his required post-race press conference. Because he wasn’t a douche. Makes sense.

So, kids, if you’ve been keeping up, it’s OK to be a complete jerk for a while because when you finally wise up, you’ll get rewarded for it!

It’s very possible that Busch learned his lesson with the suspension, but I’ll have to see more than one emotion-laden interview to be convinced of that. Just don’t tell any reporters.

Will fans keep tuning in if broadcasts like last Sunday continue?

If you read my colleague Phil Allaway’s NASCAR TV column, you don’t need me to say any more about it. To be honest, I focus so much on Twitter and the various NASCAR applications when watching from home (RaceView, Racebuddy, etc.) that I hardly notice the broadcast for anything other than replays.

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What I do know is that my Twitter timeline was filled more with complaints about commercials and the quality of the broadcast and because of that I was missing some actual updates.

Honestly, even I have to admit it got excessive. Commercials were every few laps, and though there weren’t many storylines to follow, the ones that did exist typically were ignored.

In a sport that is trying to cater to a younger demographic, constant commercials and limited focus on the actual event isn’t going to cut it. I’m sure that most of NASCAR’s diehard fans will tune into Kentucky regardless of who is broadcasting, but in order to build your base you have to have a watchable product.

Half of that is the on-track racing. Even if they don’t want to hear it, the other half of that is the quality of the broadcast. Let’s hope Saturday night’s event is much better in both departments.

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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