The Road Race to Perdition · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday June 28, 2006
Q: I can't understand why we have to be subjected to this road racing crap twice a year. I realize a lot of people don't find going fast and turning left to be entertaining, but there's a lot of us that do, and for that matter, there's a lot of us that think that's the ONLY racing that's entertaining. Road racers have talent, I know that. I just don't care to see NASCAR cars doing it. The mere fact that Terry Labonte's team almost won it tells you how big a joke it is. Larry Richardson
A: Larry, I'm afraid I'm going to have to call bull on that. Not only do I think road racing is exciting in NASCAR, I don't think there's enough of it. There are still just enough guys who have no clue how to do it well, that it makes race day a little unpredictable. And if NASCAR wants to be known as the true test to find the best driver in American racing, road racing becomes part of the testing process. I agree that circle track racing needs to always dominate the schedule. As for Labonte, I think his results are a testament not only to his talent and smarts, but a damning sign of what second-rate treatment he's gotten from Hendrick this year. He seems much more competitive in Hall of Fame's stuff, even though it's currently borderline.
Q: Is Tony Raines going to be back in the 96? I heard he's not. JJ
A: Roger Staubach said over the weekend that Raines would be evaluated over the course of the second half of the season. I hope he reconsiders. Labonte's finish aside, there's no reason for Staubach to hope for anything more than Top 20 finishes this year. If he seriously is expecting better results in 2006, he doesn't really yet know how this sport is run. I just hope he doesn't take it out on Raines.
Q: I hear people talk about adding another road course or two, but I'm not familiar with other road courses in the U.S. Where would they run? Jackin' Jill
A: Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta are the two mentioned most often, although there are disturbing rumors out there that Road Atlanta's future is threatened by development. I like the racing at Mid-Ohio, but I think other tracks are more fan friendly from a viewing standpoint. An underrated track is Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, and there's always the course at Sebring. But the best racetrack you've never heard of is Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. (http://www.barbermotorsports.com/) It was built with sightlines in mind, and from some viewing areas you can see four straightaways simultaneously. The trick would be to get NASCAR to award the state of Alabama with a third race, which is unlikely. Still, Barber gets my vote, hands down.
Q: I wonder here if anybody has heard of this: http://www.thetracksuit.info/. The Kentucky Speedway and this company Cintas are suing NASCAR to get a Nextel race for themselves. Sounds pretty shady, especially when you find out Cintas is a partner with NASCAR. What's the story here? NSP
A: Not sure what the real story is there, NSP. There are two sides to every story and I agree with parts of both on this Kentucky Speedway vs. NASCAR thing. First of all, when NASCAR is telling you not to build a track in a certain area if you want to get a race, and you build it there anyway, it's pretty much your fault when you don't get the race. I think it's wrong for one business (in this case, Kentucky Speedway) to force its will on another business (NASCAR). NASCAR has to be free to run its affairs the way it wants to, to some degree. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable with NASCAR also owning tracks. I think that's a conflict of interest for them and could lead to a possible monopoly. I would like to see NASCAR be made to divest its interest in tracks, since its agreements with those tracks can't possibly be considered equal in spirit to the agreements with independent operators. But I don't think Kentucky Speedway should be allowed to bully its way into getting a date. As for Cintas' role in this, I think we should be careful not to demonize them until the full story comes out.
Q: What was Tony Stewart thinking running into Boris Said? I guess they just have to take out Boris to keep him from showing up the Cup regulars. RightSaidHeadFred
A: I love Boris Said because he's good for Cup, but he wasn't completely the victim Sunday. He tangled with Robby Gordon a couple of times and he's been known in the past to “chrome horn” his way through people at Infineon and Watkins Glen. Either the road course “ringers” aren't familiar enough with the big Cup cars, or they're driving like they have nothing to lose, but too often they border on recklessness. Of course, isn't that part of what NASCAR is about?
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