Monday, September 30, 2013

NASCAR Rolls On

AAA 400


Whew, it was a relief to see Jimmie close the points gap with Matt Kenseth and climb up to number 2 in the standings. Matt, Jimmie and Kyle seem to be running away with the Chase right now but I'm not letting myself get too comfortable, not as long as Talladega is looming out there on the horizon. Good old 'Dega can throw all our leaders' points into a blender and hit "puree". Since they tend to be running together so often, if the Big One hits near them it could easily take out one or two or all three. That could let some guys back in the hunt and maybe that would be a good thing for the eventual suspense quotient of the Chase.

Of course, Jimmie's continued domination of Dover brought the conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. You know, don't you, that Jeff blocked for Jimmie and that Junior let him win and that NASCAR threw the caution because Clint was the only one who could make it on fuel? Blah, blah, blah. It doesn't matter what they say. We JJ fans have already resigned ourselves to waiting until Jimmie goes into the Hall of Fame to see him get the credit he deserves for being one of the all-time great race car drivers. 

I was glad to hear that 5-Hour Energy is staying with Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing. I think what MWR did was wrong. It was probably a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Nevertheless, NASCAR doesn't need to be losing any sponsors and it can't afford to lose any viable teams either. Michael Waltrip is the youngest of the owners of the top echelon teams. Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush, Richard Childress and Roger Penske won't be around forever and we need young passionate team owners to support the sport (even if their passion to win gets the best of them sometimes). 

And another thing about this whole affair: I hate the way Tweeters react to situations instantaneously without thinking about long-term consequences. Everyone who has a Twitter account now thinks he or she is a dictator.

I heard a rumor that NAPA is going to stay with Martin Truex, Jr and I really hope that's true. Martin was an innocent third party who took the worst hit of all. He got screwed and I hope he ends up walking away with NAPA's $$$. 

My biggest piss-off this week was with Fox. After telling us that losing SPEED would have no effect at all on our NASCAR coverage, they cut the Race Hub to half an hour and spin a roulette wheel to decide when to put it on, they put Saturday's practices as well as a Nationwide race on Fox Sports 2 which I (and many others) don't, and can't, get. I can understand how ESPN treats us NASCAR fans like a red-headed step-child. They are bailing after this year and maybe they've been planning to do that for a while, so what we they care if we feel cheated? But Fox is picking up more races. I'd think NASCAR fans would be important to them but evidently not.

Speaking of SPEED, Steve Byrnes, my favorite of all their commentators, is on medical leave and the word is that he has cancer. I certainly wish him well and hope he's back next year. He's Mr Personality Plus of the Fox/SPEED bunch.

And, finally, Nationwide is going to drop its sponsorship of the Nationwide series next year to put their money in Cup. I wish some sponsor would step up who sees the value in actually appreciating a developmental series for what it is, a place where new stars get to shine and not one where Cup teams and drivers come down to raid the series for the money and the trophies. 

I don't mind Cup drivers driving for smaller Nationwide teams. Their input can be invaluable to teams trying to grow and competing against them is great training for new drivers.  I don't mind Cup drivers driving for their own teams. If they are willing to invest in starting a new Nationwide team and take a personal interest in helping to bring it up to a higher level, that's a good thing. I don't mind drivers who have lost their Cup rides, like Eliot Sadler and Brian Vickers, dropping down to run Nationwide stuff full-time. But I hate it when the Kyle Busch's and Joey Logano's and Brad Keselowski's race for the wins with, essentially, their Cup teams. I try to pretend they aren't even there. I try to tell myself that Kyle Larson won the Nationwide race last week but it doesn't work very well when I see Joey or Kyle celebrating in Victory Lane like they pulled off a great achievement.

Problem is, I don't know how to fix it and evidently, no one else does either. Maybe if NASCAR simply did away with owners' championships in Nationwide or whatever it will be next year, Penske and Gibbs would give it up.

So next week is Kansas. I expect more of the same in the Chase. Our top three are all good there, heck, they're all good everywhere. That's why they're the top three.