Race Weekend Central

Guns, Retirees Up Front And Faulty Restarts: What's Wrong With This Picture?

So Jimmie Johnson is still miffed two days after getting smoked on a restart by Carl Edwards. I think JJ’s reaction reeks of sour grapes, considering that the No. 48 has had its share of questionable calls in the inspection area during the past 11 seasons and five championships. That being said, I’ve never really understood the restart rules anyway. Lines on wall, cones jammed in a fence, a restart area, a start/finish line, can’t pass a guy unless it’s on the right before the start/finish line, leader has to get to the line first, but what if he’s slow or spins his tires….enough already. You have a guy with a green flag, standing in a thing called THE STARTER’S STAND. Have him wave the flag and the race starts. If that doesn’t work, use the caution lights. When they go out, it’s go time – just like in Formula One. Last I checked, they don’t seem to have an issue at their races with knowing when to accelerate.

Much was made in NASCAR circles of Mark Martin winning the pole at 54 years of age at Phoenix last weekend.

<div style=\"float:right; width:320px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15507.jpg\" width=\"320\" height=\"200\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Chances at some point Martin's holding that Coors Light Award and it says 2020? Umm… would you bet against it at this point?</p></div>

Typically, something like that would be front page news and something that captures the public’s attention to rally around. However, considering the fact that Martin has been doing it with regularity, ever since breaking decade number five, it’s become kind of expected. Check back in six years or so after he wins the Coca-Cola 600 at 60; by then, he should become a national phenomenon. Also, just throwing it out here – don’t be shocked if he wins the pole or the race at Las Vegas. In fact, I’d put money on one or the other. Or both.

Perhaps the first casualties of the re-branding of SPEED to FOX Sports 1, will be the loss of Sunday night staples Wind Tunnel and SPEED Center. As much as we are a NASCAR-centric site, nation, and fans, I have always looked forward and enjoyed the comprehensive motorsports coverage afforded by both of these programs. Yes, I am one of those degenerates who get up at 5:00am on a Sunday to watch Formula One – or stays up until 3:00am to watch the races from Asia and Australia. You won’t see World Superbike highlights on Sports Center, and good luck getting any in-depth post-race analysis on IndyCar or NHRA in a timely fashion.

Whatever the outcome, please, for the love of God and all that is holy: No more Unique Whips. No more Pinks. No more Pass Time. Enough.

Social media was all atwitter Tuesday, when it was revealed that the National Rifle Association will be the title sponsor of the Sprint Cup race there on April, 13th. How could NASCAR do this?! I mean, the controversy of such a group, whose membership helps to promote firearms education, safety, and uh, protect the amendment that was deemed important enough to be ranked No. 2 when the country was founded, and…hmm…I guess that’s it. Again, it was a pretty transparent attempt by certain media outlets and their members to make a stink over something that is essentially a non-issue. Call it a slow news day, deflection attention from the sequester, or trying to gin up support for something that the majority of Americans oppose, it’s a question nobody asked, and even fewer truly care about.

The argument against it is silly to begin with. I mean, it’s at Texas Motor Speedway, where you get a shotgun for winning the pole, and a pair of single-action .45 Long Colt revolvers to fire blanks into the air. Petitions were gaining momentum a couple of months back to secede, and Texas typically does the opposite of what the rest of the country does – and is probably why it’s one of the few financially stable states in the union. On the flip side of the coin, would these same critics be up in arms of Planned Parenthood was sponsoring a race? Or GLAD?

FBI statistics show there were nearly 20 million background checks in 2012 – that’s a rather large audience of potential new members, many of whom may not be very familiar with the safe handling of firearms. The NRA has seen record spikes in membership – up over 300,000 since the first of the year. If they have the ability to sponsor a race and help promote the sport (those purses don’t come out of thin air – or Federal funding), as well as their cause, so be it. Besides, let’s be honest: the few who threaten to not attend or not watch weren’t going to anyway.

<div style=\"float:right; width:360px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15508.jpg\" width=\"320\" height=\"236\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">What do you mean the NRA is sponsoring a NASCAR race?! How could we ever break such a redneck southern stereotype?!!</p></div>

Some think it does nothing but reinforce the stereotype of NASCAR fans as a bunch of rednecks, with gun racks and pickup trucks. This has been the same battle we’ve been fighting since Donnie, Cale, and Bobby were mud wrestling at Daytona in 1979 in front of the entire snowbound East Coast. As much as NASCAR has tried to lure the casual fan in with doing whatever it can to disguise it to look like the NFL with headers the last decade, there is a core group that has kept things afloat, and the reason why it’s still relevant. The same ones who stand for the National Anthem, salute the military and law enforcement, go nuts for the fly-by, and represent the core of American values. As far as I can tell, it’s about as perfect of a sponsor as we’re ever going to have in the sport. Except of course maybe Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, and RJ Reynolds, and Winston.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; who would’ve imagined such diverse items would ever be so irrevocably linked in our time…

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About the author

Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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