Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito – A Post Daytona Diatribe

NASCAR has suspended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements for an apparent insensitive remark to a reporter, this past Daytona 500 weekend. Much speculation has centered on this alleged comment, from fans who have been asking things such as “what on earth did he say?” and “who is Jeremy Clements?” Some accounts have to do with accusing Danica Patrick’s team of having cheated to win the pole – and NASCAR being well aware of it. Isn’t accusing your opposition of cheating one of the long-standing traditions of NASCAR, particular on the superspeedways? If that’s the case, Jack Roush probably would have been punted some time ago. What used to be the culture of “Have At It Boys” has already been reduced to PC Policing run amok.

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Danica Patrick’s Daytona 500 was honestly quite impressive. Keep in mind, she’s still a rookie at the Cup level and in its biggest race put it on the pole, kept it straight the entire race, didn’t put a wheel wrong, didn’t cause a massive pile-up (that would be two of the favorites to contend for the Sprint Cup who did that), and didn’t bump draft somebody into a spin. She’s running a full season in new cars, but is on equal footing in a car that’s new to everyone. She also seems a lot more comfortable, relaxed, and not as out of place in her first couple seasons. You can track her comfort level along the same timeline has filing for her divorce I believe. After all, any driver will run quicker after unloading 180lbs of dead weight. Yes, she got her headlight decals sucked off on the final lap, but as Viper told Maverick in _Top Gun_, “Best to save your airplane – and fight another day.” Wait until she posts a top-10 at Bristol, and I bust out some life lessons for you from Rambo: First Blood Part I.

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What was up with 50 Cent – sorry – Actor, Curtis Jackson – going Joe Namath on Erin Andrews before the Daytona 500? Nothing like getting a head turn on national TV. At least he didn’t bust out with his chorus from “Get In My Car”.

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Think the economy has rebounded and everything is back to 2006 awesomeness? Think again. The entry list is down to 43 cars for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k, and only 40 cars are entered for Saturday’s Dollar General 200. Perhaps it’s the long trek out west after having spent a weekend in plate race purgatory for many of the smaller teams. Never understood the schedule or what sadist put this thing together. Don’t go to Homestead or anything where it’s somewhat close and on the way from Daytona. How about you drive as far as physically possible for three times in the next four weeks. Isn’t one of NASCAR’s mantras to help cut the cost for teams – particularly the smaller privateers who keep series such as Nationwide with enough cars to fill the field?

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I know I was on about this last year for a good while, but I am absolutely floored that Dodge bailed on NASCAR. With brand identity being the focus of the Generation 6 car, they had the most honest interpretation of a stock car for stockcar racing – and they quit. AFTER winning the championship no less. Interesting as well, as soon as Dodge left, Chevrolet decided it was suddenly safe to bring the Camaro out to the Nationwide Series. Also, Dodge, feel free to can those awful Dodge Dart commercials. They aren’t smart or funny. They’re irritating. Also, note how everything the Dodge line up used to have to look like the Ram truck; now it looks like the Dart. Don’t make it look like the Challenger or anything. It’s only the most desirable car in your line up.

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Which brings me to my final comment. Somebody start passing the collection plate around, so FOX will stop going to commercial with less than 15 laps to go at restrictor plate races. They did it first during the Sprint Unlimited the Saturday before with eight laps to go. Eight. Awesome. Thanks for that.

All afternoon long it was apparent that nobody was going to do anything until the last 20 laps. The last two practice sessions, less than 20 cars each participated, and drivers had said as much they would wait until the end to actually race – as we have seen in virtually every speedway race the past five years. Knowing this, and seeing the lack of action during the middle portions, would you not take the opportunity to run the one last bank of commercials, and not break away from the race, as the actual race begins to take shape and unfold?

I don’t need to see the GEICO gecko fake crying or the GEICO pig for the 30th time in three hours, or another irritating Dodge Dart commercial. I was actually longing for an old Michael Waltrip NAPA commercial at one point. At least they had the side-bar coverage, but what is supposed to be the Super Bowl of motorsports, it is treated as a speed bump for the same commercials that have been running for the past three hours.

And for the love of God…STOP with the pre-race concert. It sounds terrible. It’s not the Super Bowl halftime show. Stop being something you are not. Like the underground rock band who gets big by being themselves, then goes corporate and tries to be all things to all people, it devolves into instant suck. NASCAR is a lot better at being NASCAR than it is at trying to be the NFL. If only somebody would help communicate the message to them.

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