Well that was fast. For a racing series, speed is usually a good thing. In this case, well, maybe the speed that NASCAR showed this week is maybe not such a good thing. The matter here is NASCAR’s decision to change how it adjudicates penalties for the laser inspections and lug nuts. This move is a conflated one and comes on the heels of NASCAR stating last week that they would be holding the Chase drivers to rules that may make it difficult for drivers to advance.
Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both failed post race inspections after the race at Chicagoland which brought the recent rule mandates into question. When NASCAR then decided that Truex would still automatically advance even with the penalty, it challenged the very system they had been trying to craft. Johnson would have also suffered in a way that would have dropped him in the standings and made advancing difficult.
But wait a minute, the rules seem a bit draconian now, maybe they should be changed. The governing body has now decided that the tolerances involved with the laser inspection allow for a tad more leeway and both Truex and Johnson will face no punishment. That the tolerances may have been too tight to begin with, changing the rules parameters once the Chase has started looks silly.
It seems like NASCAR is making up the rules as they go along, and for a sport that often gets called out for being like professional wrestling, this move just adds to that element. That’s not to say that NASCAR shouldn’t have or enforce their rules but it would be better if once they developed them that they stuck with them or didn’t find loopholes in how they penalize those who break them.
Oh well, it is what it is. On the positive side, at least the caution that caused ‘overtime’ in the Cup race was legitimate rather than some phantom piece of debris.
Happiness Is…New Hampshire. In many respects, New Hampshire Motor Speedway does little to inspire fans. The flat one-miler doesn’t have the high speeds that can bring excitement and the track is wide enough that drivers aren’t forced to tangle like that often do at Bristol or Martinsville. So what’s there to be happy about?
The very reasons that make the racing at NHMS are some that should make this weekend’s races a welcome sight. For those in the truck series, the drivers know they have to start things off as best as they can – there’s only 7 races after all. For the Cup drivers, well, this race is the one, barring a win, that positions them to either fall out of the Chase or move on to the next round. That makes for two races featuring drivers with different mindsets all at a track where they can get away…but only so far. Throw in the drivers who didn’t make their respective chases and are still out to prove something and the races become wonderful hodge-podges of action on a track where drivers have shown retaliatory tendencies before. No reason to count out NHMS as being one of the more interesting stops.
Happiness Is…Ratings. This past weekend’s Cup race at Chicagoland became the latest race of the season to take the prize as being the lowest rated of the season. This title may be one that the races battle for throughout the rest of the season. (It’s an interesting storyline, though let’s hope it’s not more dramatic than the championships.) As summer begins to waft away like the ethanol exhaust fumes, NASCAR faces one of its toughest battles for viewership with NCAA football and the NFL getting into their seasons. A precipitous decline in the ratings is not unusual.
But guess what? Ratings are also down for the NFL. That’s right. Viewership for the marquee games, ie Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night football, have all seen drops in their numbers. There may be a number of factors involved, star QBs out (or suspended), bad matchups, or flag protests(?), but it is still surprising that the TV monolith known as the NFL can suffer. In the wake of such news, it should be recognized that perhaps the all sports are susceptible to dips and maybe NASCAR isn’t so different.
Happiness Is…Big Money. There are rumors floating in the ether that Apple is looking to either form an alliance with McLaren or take them over. The rumor is an interesting one and, if it has any truthfulness, is probably linked with Apple’s desire to continue working its way into being involved in the auto market. It also would give Apple a point of entry into Formula 1, where technology is the premium. Apple’s interest comes at a time when Liberty Media has begun its takeover of F1 to the figure of roughly $9.3 billion, for a 35% stake in the sport and controlling interest. That’s a lot of wine and cheese.
These moves bring about questions regarding NASCAR and IndyCar. Yes, F1 is a global force, but how come neither of the American racing series are able to attract a homegrown company like Apple. Part of the answer would seem to be technology but the other aspect may rest with the concept of appeal to the greatest number, a very utilitarian and businesslike approach to investment. With the naming rights to the Cup series still unknown, F1 is proving to be an interesting counterbalance to NASCAR. The interesting question is: how much would NASCAR be worth if it ever went on the market?
About the author
As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.
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