Race Weekend Central

DONT — USE Frontstretch Fan Q&A: Pit Crew Challenge, Hall of Fame Nominees, and the NRA

Who says NASCAR isn’t filled with good old boys anymore? Look, I’m not big on things like fishing, hunting, or anything involving the term “mudding”. I enjoy country music and NASCAR and that’s about as far as my southern blood runs. Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I’m a tad less inclined to peel the dead, festering skin from the body of an animal I’ve just eviscerated with an AK-47 .. or whatever. I don’t know anything about that kind of thing. I also don’t find holding a slimy, scaly sorry excuse for a living animal known as a fish for “sport.” (Shivers). If I’m going to be on the lake, it’s going to be on a Seadoo or tubing behind a boat. You know …. Something fun.

However, it doesn’t appear that everyone else in NASCAR is that way, including one Clint Bowyer. Because, as I found out recently, Bowyer was on an episode of the A&E show “Duck Dynasty”. Now, I’ve never watched that show or had any interest in it. I don’t understand the appeal, and don’t wish to. But I’ve heard a lot from fans about how “good ol’ boys” aren’t in NASCAR anymore, and that the personalities the sport was built on don’t exist anymore. We’re too worried about fancy, pancy west-coasters who come in and shine up the sport.

HAH! Yeah right. You need look to further than Bowyer’s appearance and real enjoyment of the show to see that there is still a very real redneck heartbeat rippling through the very core of the sport. You can take the sport out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the sport.

Now, onto your questions.

I heard that the pit crew challenge was cancelled for this year. Why?! That is the pit crew’s only time to shine all year long and I can’t believe NASCAR would take that opportunity from them. Johnny

Unfortunately, the All-Star Pit Crew Challenge was cancelled due to lack of sponsorship. Yes, Sprint has sponsored the event for the last few years, but when they decided to begin sponsoring the Sprint Unlimited at the beginning of the season, it left nothing in the bank for the pit crew challenge.

NASCAR has said that they’ve been trying since the beginning of the year to get some sponsorship for the event, but haven’t been able to. I believe them because it’s such a popular event, but I can’t imagine any companies outside of NASCAR would be interested. And any company already inside of NASCAR is probably already very invested in the sport as it is.

The good news is that I don’t perceive this to be a long-term loss. If fans are loud enough about wanting this back as a fixture of the All-Star race weekend, I believe another sponsor will see the value in that and find a way to bring it back. Honestly, I think it’d be great to see Budweiser take over since they aren’t sponsoring the now Unlimited (previously “shootout) at the beginning of the year. I don’t know that it would go over that well since the pit crew challenge was supposed to be a very family oriented event. Then again, I think it would be better to have an event sponsored by an alcoholic beverage than none at all.

Basically, those of you who still want this around, keep pressuring NASCAR and other sponsors to get involved. With it being such a staple in the year, I can’t imagine it will stay away for long.

“I know that the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees were announced today but couldn’t watch because I was busy. Who were the nominees and were they good choices?” Cassie

Well 20 of the nominees are the same as last year. The five newest are Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty, Larry Phillips, Bruton Smith, and Rex White.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to form an opinion on the quality of nominees because there are so many deserving and qualified people who should go in. Even though this is (already!) the fifth class to be inducted, they are still playing catch-up from almost 70 years of NASCAR history. There is no shortage of individuals to choose from and no one will ever feel like their hero received the nod soon enough. Honestly, the Hall is not in a good place no matter what they do.

Honestly, I think any of the five inductees will be incredibly deserving and will have some amazing stories to tell. We’ll probably cry, laugh, and celebrate right along with them. And every class thereafter will be the same. Seriously, people, why can’t we just enjoy a good time rather than bickering about who deserves what the most? They are all deserving and will all receive their recognition in due time.

“Summer, I’m really tired of reading about political topics on Frontstretch, especially when it comes to the NRA. I watch racing to escape politics, not for it to be a part. Why can’t you leave well enough alone?” Mike

Because it’s not that simple. The NRA sponsoring the Texas race was controversial especially in terms of the ongoing national debate about gun rights/responsibility/restrictions.

Now, I’ll also say I didn’t write either of the opinions on the website about the sponsorship and I won’t give my opinion out of respect for those who are just sick and tired of hearing about it. But our job as media members is not only to cover the news, but to drive the conversation. We discuss what is relevant, and this is a discussion that is most certainly relevant, especially this weekend. We can’t ignore the overriding storylines because people aren’t comfortable discussing them.

It’s not fair to sit here and say “I don’t watch racing to talk about politics” when this is a very frigid political debate right now. You can’t tell me Eddie Gossage and the folks at TMS weren’t very well aware of that, and that the NRA wasn’t making a very deliberate move to generate this very discussion with a base that is generally on their side.

On the other side of things, I know where you’re coming form. I physically cringed when I saw that NRA was going to be sponsoring this race because I knew this sort of thing would happen. It’s a debate I’m frankly sick of having not because I don’t think it’s important but because of the irrationality, vitriol, and complete childlike behavior on both sides of the argument. No one knows how to be civil. The last place I wanted that to come was into NASCAR.

But it’s here. And if you’re reading our website, you care about the sport. If it impacts the sport, we cover it. It’s as simple as that.

We appreciate all of you as readers, however, and appreciate your feedback.

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