Dennis Michelsen · Tuesday June 7, 2005
New Television Deal Will Welcome Back ESPN
Anyone who watches Sports Center on ESPN in a semi-regular fashion must have noticed the recent increase in NASCAR coverage. While ESPN has always provided good coverage of NASCAR in the past few years they have not often led with the Nextel Cup race as the top story. Add almost daily features about the sport and it is obvious that ABC/ESPN are likely to replace NBC in the next contract. Mark Martin was even on the morning show “Cold Pizza” the other day being interviewed by a guy that had no clue what NASCAR was all about! Why while NBC be replaced and not FOX? It is rather obvious folks and not just because FOX is likely to have deeper pockets. Fox has teamed up with NASCAR to provide other special NASCAR themed shows as well as becoming partners in Speed Channel. Meanwhile while NBC has promoted the sport very well during their shows they have not developed any other NASCAR themed shows. ESPN has the complete roster of channels that can supplement the weekly races themselves. It wasn’t that long ago that NASCAR bullied the best racing show that ever existed, RPM2Night, off the air. Perhaps with NASCAR returning to the ABC family of channels we will see John Kernan back again! But then again NASCAR might not like losing control of the news.
NASCAR Drug Program Works
This week we have seen a lot of talk demanding a more stringent drug testing policy in NASCAR. The reason of course was the second strike in Shane Hmiel’s career when he tested positive after qualifying at Lowes Motor Speedway. But do we really need a better drug testing policy when the current system worked as it is currently set up? Shane’s fellow competitors and car owners were the ones that asked NASCAR to test Shane based on his recent behavior. It wasn’t just erratic driving or Shane running his mouth off as usual. The garage area does a pretty good job of policing itself and for good reason. If a driver is not at the top of his game people can get killed! Not just his fellow drivers but also pit crew and NASCAR officials are in jeopardy. If a football player plays high the worst that can happen is a fumble. A baseball player might bean someone in the head, which is dangerous, but nothing in comparison to wheeling around a 3400-pound stock car at high speeds! NASCAR’s drug policy did exactly what it was supposed to do…catch an offender. Between 85-90 teams are at the track every week. That’s a lot of eyes and ears to keep the game safe from the inside out! Maybe the only thing that needs some tweaking is the penalty when someone breaks the rules on illegal drugs. Perhaps a minimum suspension of one or two years would be enough to persuade even the dumbest competitor from trying to get away with drug use. Whether your last name is Smith or Hmiel or Petty, the penalty should fit the crime and be severe indeed!
New Problem for New Rules
The new package of rules installed this year has not exactly had the expected affect. The smaller spoiler was supposed to slow down the cars and give us more side-by-side racing. The new gear rules were supposed to take away the advantage of the engine builders on the teams with big pockets. That has also been a failure since two of the teams with the biggest pockets of all have dominated almost every week! Now comes news that drivers will not be shifting this week at Pocono since the new mandated gear ratios at Pocono do not provide an over drive gear. This is likely to turn Pocono into a real fast parade since the cars will be so even otherwise and driver skill shifting gears was often the difference at the unique tri-oval. While I applaud NASCAR for not switching rules every few weeks as they have done in the past, they do need to re-think some of these rules changes for next year. In the meantime it is not too late to mandate different gears at Pocono that would allow shifting.
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