Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Coverage Talks About Who We Want to Hear About

Top 10 for the Hollywood Casino 400: Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Carl Edwards…wait. Who was that in 7th? Ryan Blaney?


Somehow the Wood Bros. No. 21 managed to land a very nice conclusion to the race this week. While I’m not super surprised that the second generation driver ended up with the Chasers, this one-off does give us a talking point after a cookie-cutter race.


Usually at this point in October, NASCAR Nation is wholly focused on the play-offs. Where we had sixteen teams a couple weeks ago, now we’re down to landing our laser sights on twelve. Nobody talks about anyone else. It’s like now that we’ve got a name for the end of season insanity, the media is incapable of listing the entire field on the tickers. However, I challenge you to watch a YouTube of the Spring Martinsville race and find more mentions of the bottom half of the field than what we can anticipate at Talladega next week. That’s it, argue all you like, but we know it’s true.


Let’s run through the bottom ten finishers from the Kansas race: Landon Cassill, JJ Yeley, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Will Kimmel III, Reed Sorenson, Jeb Burton, David Gilliland, Tony Stewart, and Michael Annett.


Well, Dillon and Bowyer wrecked out, and Tony Stewart struggled as usual with his No. 14. Otherwise, can you actually admit to knowing how the remainder of the bottom feeders’ season has run? Do you care? While Jeb Burton is enjoying similar coverage and general success akin to Ryan Blaney due to their parentage, the other six drivers kind of live in the anonymity of the bottom half of the Sprint Cup field. Minor media will score exclusive interviews with them simply because FOX and NBC are not hunting them down. Otherwise, fans don’t hear about them…and that’s due to the fact their teams are not competitive with the cream of the crop.


That is the way of the world. It’s not a conspiracy of the commentators in the suits. We love winners. The fans want to hear stories of triumph, and the struggle to knock the king of the mountain down. We are unimpressed by those that are average. If our pre-race show was filled with human interest stories of those who generally fall below the radar, we’d be tuning out even more than we already do. There’s no thrill of victory or the agony of defeat if the only goal for the day was simply making it to the end.


It wasn’t so long ago that the fans were hammering on their disappointment of the start and park teams–those who elected to show up on race day, run a couple laps, park, and then collect the paycheck required to do it all again the following week. Now, the bitch is that NASCAR doesn’t pay enough attention to the teams whose sole goal is to avoid a trip to the R&D center when they’re the first ones in the garage. When you look at it that way, I’m actually pretty glad that the glare of the media center isn’t focused on the also-rans.


The math hasn’t changed in over fifty years of NASCAR. When you put forty cars on the field, there are only about half of them that are capable of winning on any given Sunday. It’s even more likely the end result will only include one out of the Top 10 points position holders.


It’s nice that we spend time scouring the entire entry list for those that are on their way up the ladder, or perhaps slipping back down. It speaks of an interest in the sport we love and those that invest their lives in it, even if they aren’t grabbing all the trophies. However, there ought to be a reality check when we’re wondering why the Sunday coverage doesn’t seem to appreciate all of it.   We are tuning in for one big reason. Who is going to win? Let’s not expect that time will be spent avoiding the question of the day.


Sonya’s Scrapbook

2009 Aaron’s 499


May there never be a time where we are following the status of an injured fan years later. Hold on to your hats, Talladega is up next!



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