NASCAR Fan Q & A · Jess Nicholas · Wednesday August 9, 2006
Q: It wasn't bad enough that the Indy race was boring, but just when it was getting good, NBC decides to force us to watch commercial after commercial. I don't care about Ricky Bobby and his cell phone. Please tell me ESPN is going to be better than this next year! Judge
A: Welcome to corporate America and all the good and the bad that it entails. I, too, thought this was by far the worst example of race coverage this year. In fact, I'm going to go one step beyond that and say that I think this was perhaps the worst piece of race coverage I've ever seen in my life. Remember the days when ESPN would run tape-delayed overseas feeds from Formula One races, and the graphics would be in German or French? That was better than this. I think I'd rather have my eyelids held open a la Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange” and be forced to watch the X Games than have to deal with commercials with 20 laps to go at the Brickyard. Inexcusable.
Q: I don't see what people see in Indianapolis. There's a lot of excitement in the first ten laps and in the last ten laps, but everything in between is just boring. Is it the track or just bad luck? I don't know enough about the cars to say for sure, so I was hoping you could help. Deborah Gillis
A: It's probably more about the track. People don't realize just how unique the place is. It’s 2.5 miles long, with four 90-degree turns, and fairly narrow for stock cars; NASCAR also doesn't race on anything else remotely like it, so there’s nothing to base your setups on. As for the pace of the race, it's the same way when the IRL cars are on the track. The middle of the race in IRL is vast nothingness, usually, and basically the thing to watch is when the last pit stops occur and how the teams set up their fuel strategies. In IRL, the cars have control over the fuel trim, so it's different than the stock car version.
Q: We can't win. On Fox, we get Darrell Waltrip yelling into his microphone like some kind of deranged southern carnival barker. On NBC, we get a parade of commercials, poor camera angles, and poor play-by-play from Bill Weber. I find myself looking forward to ESPN coverage next year, but I'm almost scared that the devil I know is better than the devil I don't know yet. ThRust
A: Well, you know I'm a good shoulder to cry on because I'm often as cynical as some of our readers are. In this case, I'll be at my most cynical and say that NASCAR probably doesn't care as much about the coverage as we do, so don't expect a lot of changes. They simply care about whether their advertisers are happy, and I'd be happy, too, if I got my commercial on with 20 laps to go in a major race. I think NASCAR is counting on its fan base to be made up more of newbie fans who are open to being marketed to, rather than a bunch of racing diehards. And yes, I do see black helicopters.
Q: What the “fringe teams” need to do when they prove uncompetitive in Cup is to drop down to Busch or Trucks or whatever series they can find where their resources allow to put on competitive performances instead of embarrassing ones. Then as they gain know-how, experience, and reputation, they can work their way up the ladder. Better to do what you can do well. M.B. Voelker
A: That's a painful take on it, but you're probably right. Nothing against the folks wrenching on the 4, 32, 49, 61, etc., but maybe it's time to shoot lower. Those really wasting their time in Nextel Cup are the ones who run a partial schedule year in and year out. Boris Said's team appears to be the exception, but he had the good sense to go out and buy a frontline piece of machinery. Plus, he's already announced intentions to go full-time in 2007.
Q: So you're saying they should drop to the Busch series where they will find the same big money teams that they are racing against in the Cup series? As long as you have Roush, Hendrick, D.E.I. and others in there it would be hard for an underfunded team to make a good showing consistently in either series. I know multi-car teams are the fashion, but that, to me, actually goes against what the sport was once all about. Chris2
A: And here's the other side of that same argument. The best point here concerns the infiltration of the Busch Series by the Cup regulars. I'd like to see the following limit put on the Busch Series: If you run 25 or more Cup races in a year, you can't field a team for more than 25 Busch races. Otherwise, no one else ever gets to learn on the job.
Have your own plan for how to make the TV broadcasts better? Think the Indy race was so exciting, you’re still camped out at the track for next year? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your location, and maybe one of our staff members will stop by…or, you can give him your question or comment on the sport, and you may end up in this very space next week!
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