The Frontstretch: "Our" NASCAR? Nice Try, Brian by Kurt Smith -- Friday April 11, 2008

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"Our" NASCAR? Nice Try, Brian

Kurt Smith · Friday April 11, 2008


Prior to the start of the 2008 NASCAR season, Brian France held his annual "state of the sport" press conference. In his announcements, to the surprise of some accustomed to the sport's general arrogance about criticism, he admitted that some hardcore fans had been driven away from the sport. He also stated that NASCAR had experienced all the change it could stand for a while and was going to reach out to fans that had been alienated.

This was followed by two commercials that have been airing regularly during each race this season. One proclaims the sport to be "Your NASCAR—My NASCAR—Our NASCAR"; another shows classic moments from the 1960s through today with Matchbox 20's "How Far We've Come" playing in the background, an obvious attempt to show one long uninterrupted string of excitement through the years.

The commercials deliberately focus on the sport's tradition and history. They remind us that in every era of NASCAR, there have been great finishes, great victory celebrations, and great rivalries.

When I say "nice try", it isn't meant to be sarcastic or critical. It is actually meant as a compliment. NASCAR had at least finally noticed that their unwelcome innovations in recent years have been Chasing (pun intended) traditional fans away from the sport. For recognizing that, they truly do deserve credit. That is a step in the right direction for an institution that appeared to be forgetting everything that had made it great.

But ultimately, a full force marketing campaign and any number of speeches isn't going to undo the damage done to NASCAR's old school fan base during the Brian France era.

In 2003, there were six races in the Carolinas each year. That number was cut in half in just two years. Classic tracks in classic NASCAR country have been forsaken in favor of humdrum, uninteresting speedways elsewhere that bear little to no character or distinction. Most egregiously, the Labor Day race in Darlington, a tradition for more than half a century, was moved unceremoniously to Auto Club Speedway, to the great chagrin of fans everywhere but in southern California.

Even an all-out ad blitz can't have a conciliatory gesture type of effect that moving the Labor Day race back to Darlington could. And it would hardly be a bad business decision. No offense intended to the hardy crowd that attended and stayed for the debacle at Auto Club Speedway this February, but Fontana has performed badly on every level, and Darlington has been repaved and lights have been added. Yet this is not even close to being under consideration by people who clearly put sizable emphasis on the bottom line. Why not? They can keep two California races if they must. Just try giving Labor Day back to the Lady in Black.

In 2004, NASCAR fans had a playoff system that rewards mediocrity and punishes achievement shoved down their throats despite their strong objections. Despite the fact that most people were perfectly fine with how Matt Kenseth won the title in 2003, NASCAR now simply hands out free points (or takes earned points away, however you look at it) after 26 races and then resumes the racing. Other than 10 measly points for a win (the equivalent of 2-3 spots on the racetrack), there is zero reward for performance during the first 26 races. In fact, the worse a Top 12 team has performed, the more they benefit.

The Chase was so well thought out that it only took three years to see the need to tweak it, and last year NASCAR admitted that they may need to fix it again when Jeff Gordon had a 300+ points lead completely wiped out. Who could have predicted that would happen?

It only took three years for Brian France to revamp NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship.

In addition to being a contrived method of ensuring that more fans' favorite drivers will have a shot at the title, no matter how deserving they may be, the Chase has brought about more of the "points racing" that Dale Earnhardt's fans in particular would despise. This has been especially apparent at the Bristol night race the last three seasons. Drivers take no chances and do no fighting for positions in a venue once revered for its carnage. It is quite an achievement to turn a Bristol night race into a bore.

In 2007, the current car was ushered in, touted as safer, less expensive, more competitive; you name it, the new car was going to be better than the old one in every way. But so far it has failed to live up to its promise in any way. The drivers' opinions may not matter compared to what fans think of the racing, but it is obvious that the current car is extremely difficult to drive in the best of conditions. It is hard to imagine how safety features of a car's design can constantly be praised, when even the best ones on a particular day seem about to crash every other lap.

With the new car's universal template, the differences between manufacturers are essentially nonexistent. Joe Gibbs Racing runs just as well in Toyotas as they did in Chevrolets. Roush Fenway Racing has a clear advantage on intermediate tracks with Fords, a manufacturer with whom no other team seems to run very well.

A car with little adjustment capability—combined with severe penalties usually associated with endangering a crew member for any team that dares step minutely out of the mandated tolerances—is a far cry from the run-what-ya-brung stock cars of old. Fans don't want NASCAR to go back to those days necessarily, but there is a reason that more people watch NASCAR than watched IROC races.

Also in 2007, fans witnessed a poorly written exclusivity agreement with their title sponsor resulting in an ugly and expensive lawsuit involving a sponsor of one of the most popular drivers in the sport. One can hardly manage something worse than NASCAR managed the Sprint/AT&T issue…and one can only manage it so poorly by being out of touch with typical fans.

It's not that NASCAR has never had legal problems, but more than anything, the Sprint/AT&T debacle demonstrated the high expectations that go with lots of zeroes on contracts. Instead of keeping the matter out of court and compromising—and recognizing for the future that this sort of thing is always going to be a problem with exclusivity agreements—NASCAR made Sprint look like dictators and AT&T look like victims. Sprint and NASCAR both could have been spared a great deal of trouble and bad PR had they just let AT&T sponsor the #31 for the remainder of the "grandfathered" agreement.

Instead NASCAR severely underestimated the order of race fan loyalty—to the driver first, the driver's sponsor second, the driver's team third, and the series title sponsor and NASCAR itself a very distant last. That order is not new. You can bet that many Jeff Burton fans—or maybe even just fans in general disgusted by the whole mess—switched their cell service to AT&T had they been using Sprint. Sprint's stock dropped 60 percent in 2007. Their sales have plummeted to the point where AT&T could say without reservation that they just might be sticking around. They could have just asked a few fans what they thought.

NASCAR's television broadcasts remain lacking. There are still too many commercials, too many meaningless asides needlessly taking the viewer away from the action, and too many production toys like the gopher cam and the draft track. Fans watched in big numbers before Digger came along and before ESPN explained the draft to them every week. Their only desire has always been to just see racing. To be sure, Fox's coverage has improved this season…but ESPN/ABC's coverage last season could have made any network look masterful at it.

The list doesn't quite end there. There has also been a growing inconsistency in recent years with the timing of yellow flags, from throwing it for a piece of foam rubber on the track to not throwing it while a dozen cars are wrecking. The new green-white-checkered overtime, instituted to ensure a green flag finish, often results in overzealous drivers wrecking and dangerously lingering in harm's way as officials try to finish under green. A new rule giving a driver his lap back for being the first car a lap down enabled a driver to make up five laps in a single race, without having to actually race for any of them.

Even with all of this, racing has still had great moments in the last few years. Kevin Harvick edging Mark Martin by inches to win at Daytona, while a car crossed the finish line upside down and on fire. Jeff Gordon paying tribute to Dale Earnhardt at Phoenix. Kurt Busch pushing teammate Ryan Newman to a win at this year's 500. Jeff Burton sliding into an improbable win at Bristol. Jimmie Johnson overtaking Matt Kenseth at Texas. Carl Edwards' victory backflip anywhere.

But since the rise of the cookie-cutter tracks, the Chase, the Car of Tomorrow, the rule of money in sponsorship, some truly atrocious broadcasts, inconsistent yellow flags, and many other things, the NASCAR fans who cheered for Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and ol' DW are still reeling watching the current product on their televisions today. The sport will change and evolve enough without it being forced by leadership trying to legislate more excitement, and the perception that the sport was consistently disregarding the loyal, hardcore fans in favor of the casual, fair-weather ones is what the Winston crowd resented the most.

NASCAR and Brian France have a long way to go. The ratings were up for the first five races of 2008, but attendance continues to plummet, at least from any fan's view of the stands that they are allowed to see. Martinsville and Texas actually covered the seats on whole sections to hide that no one was sitting there. It may be that the old school fans aren't willing to part with their money anymore for an institution that for many years seemed to show them little to no respect. A struggling economy is not an excuse. NASCAR had been recession-proof in the past, at least before tickets were priced at the "milk it" level.

The ad campaign really is a good start, but it's not "our" NASCAR as long as "we" have to pay for a ticket. It's indisputably Brian France's NASCAR, and he and his kingdom still have to earn "our" support.

Kurt's Shorts In The Dry Heat Of Phoenix

  • One year ago at this track, Jeff Gordon tied Dale Earnhardt on the all-time wins list, and paid tribute to the Intimidator by carrying a "3" flag around the track. Some Earnhardt fans resented that, as if it were an "in your face" gesture…from someone who was friends with Earnhardt, did business with him, and who bends over backwards to not come off as cocky in every interview. It's always something with that guy.
  • Tony Stewart is usually pretty darn good in the desert, even if he hasn't won since 1999. But Gibbs had the new car hooked up last year, and Smoke has probably not forgotten how he was somewhat denied a win here last year. Watch that Home Depot No. 20 Saturday night.
  • While I still think Jeremy Mayfield could have been given more of a chance, I get why Haas put Johnny Sauter in the car. They need to get back into the Top 35 and he does very well at Phoenix for some reason. But they let him go once before, and one wonders if they soon remember why.

And that's it for Happy Hour this week. Welcome to the desert.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

04/11/2008 07:36 AM


Nothing more need be said about this great piece of writing!

J Furjanic
04/11/2008 07:47 AM

Well said. The only thing you missed was the top 35 lock in. Go fast or go home. I truly believe that the top 35 lock in is the first step to a 44 car field filled by 11 four car franchise owners.

I’m one old school fan that will ONLY pay to see the Trucks in person.

04/11/2008 08:30 AM

Great story! However, you could have summed all the problems right where they belong…Baby Brian France! He is the basis for ALL that ails nascrap. But, like the oil companies being responsible for all that ails America, everyone talks about the little things. Is it because Baby Brian, like big oil, everyone is afraid of?

04/11/2008 08:57 AM

I guarantee you that Sprint/Nextel would love to get out of their contract of sponsorship of Nascar, due to their business woes they have experienced in the last year or so. This is going to continue, in no small part due to the backlash of Nascar fans who are unhappy with the series since they took over from Winston. There will never be continuity of sponsorship of Nascar like when Winston was there, due to many factors, Brian France and the almighty dollar being a couple of them. I also guarantee you that Nascar will have another sponsor even if Sprint/Nextel happens to make it to the end of their contract. In a strange twist of irony, wouldn’t it be fitting that we will be watching AT&T Cup racing in a few years – never say never!

04/11/2008 09:03 AM

Great article.‘Brain’ France courted the MTV
crowd,and now that demographic is leaving for The Next Big Thing.
As an ‘old-school’ fan,I realized something was very wrong when,upon entering the ‘dega infield a few yrs back,I was handed ‘The Nascar Guide For Infield Etiquette’ authored by New York lawyers.How’s your NEW! IMPROVED! Nascar workin’ now,Mr. France? As if you give a damn,as long as you have a private jet to fly your paychecks to your bank.

Ken in Va.
04/11/2008 09:35 AM

From the looks of it, the top 35 may not be an issue much longer. If a few more sponsorless cars drop out, NA$CAR will be looking for field fillers to complete the field.

04/11/2008 10:03 AM

I was NA$CAR when NA$CAR wasn’t cool. On any given Sunday you couldn’t pry me from the TV. I used to attend 8 races a year. That meant several thousand miles of driving, hours of camping in all kinds of weather, and having the time of my life with my racing buddies. Now, 2 maybe 3 races, and they are smash and dash. I watch “at” the TV now while I do laundry, cleaning and the likes. All the things you mentioned are a product of taking a sport and turning it into a big business. I hate to think it, but one day that big business will slip and fall if the current trends don’t stop. You can only run off so many core fans. It’s a shame that it’s taken this long for Brian to see that. But then again desperate men do desperate things. He should try and listen a bit better to the fans and what they want from “their” NA$CAR.

Gerry Blachley
04/11/2008 11:16 AM

There is no nascar it was gone long before Benny died, when the real NASCAR was running races, there was flair, a smell, a look, not now. I have hundreds of races recored before all the commercials that are live and I can tell you it just better racing, than the banking bunch thinks is racing, OH but here I am wrong they call it a show

04/11/2008 12:53 PM

>>It may be that the old school fans aren’t willing to part with their money anymore for an institution that for many years seemed to show them little to no respect.<<

Very well said, Kurt.

Not all of NA$CAR’s decisions have been bad. But through it all, the BZF era has been characterised by outright contempt for the people who made his family fabulously wealthy. Even the speech to start this year was a slap in the face. The Brian may have finally acknowledged the elephant on the other end of the coach, but his “no more changes right now” came as a slap in the face. How about changing a few things back?

04/11/2008 01:19 PM

I came across this sport on a b&w tv in Pennsylvania back in 1966 on the Wide World of Sports when they would show a 15 minute recap of a race ran months before and was hooked for almost 40 years. Granted this was before i personally saw Speedy Thompson, Fireball Roberts, Johnny Mantz, Fonty Flock, Buck Baker and Herb Thomas race but that was when Bobby Issac, David Pearson, Elmo Langely, Neil Castles, Henley Gray, Buddy Baker, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Tiny Lund, Ed Negre and the list could go on for ever were the stars. I saw racing when they raced in New York, Islip Speedway on Long Island and Trenton Speedway in NJ. I saw the Coke-bottle shaped Plymouths and Dodges run door handle to door handle and bumper to bumper (they actually had them) against the Chevys and Pontiacs and Fords and Mercurys and you could tell every make apart. I followed this before ‘follow the leader’ racing where everything is so aero sensitive that nobody can run up on nobody. It was real to see a driver come out all greasy and sweaty and lip-lock the trophy girl instead of a driver with frosted hair do a 15 minute sponsor speech. I went to races and hated to see them end. When i recently stopped going to races there were times i wish i brought my checkbook to balance. I long for the days of good tv broadcasters instead of Darrell Waltrip going on about Toyota and Hendrick for 4 hours, i actually miss Jackie Stewart saying ‘motorcar’. I want to throw up when i see all this gimmicky nonsense that is passed off as a broadcast. My NA$CAR was when they were proud and not ashamed of the southern heritage behind the sport. Now i see Toyota here with a “billion” dollar racing budget. Through all the years, the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and all the changes i was a diehard fan. In the past 5 years i have and cannot believe what has happened to this sport. This sudden need to appease generations x,y, z and the rest has been a disgrace. Gone are my NA$CAR hats, shirts, cups, tags and emblems. The only way they can make this my NA$CAR again is get rid of Brian France, he’s a spoiled idiot. Get rid of Mike Helton, he’s a puppet. Get rid of John Darby, he’s a clown. Don’t build anymore cookie cutter tracks and instead have tracks with character. Get rid of Toyota. They spent $94 million to buy there way into this sport and will have cost beyond the planet Mars in a matter of years. Get rid of Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip. Larry, Moe and Curly could do a better job and they would be less biased and more impartial and maybe mention some drivers names instead of – gordon, johnson, stewart, harvick, and the same dozen everytime. And last but not least, Darlington shouldn’t have one race, Darlington shouldn’t have two races, Darlington shuold have three races.

Shirley Buttacavoli
04/11/2008 02:55 PM

Good afternoon Kurt and to your “fans” as well.

Thought I’d check out your new home. Just like our days at That’s Racin’ you made your statement clear and to the point.

We have agreed more than once that Lame Brain Brian (LB2) is clueless as to what the long-time LOYAL NASCAR fan wants and deserves. And it didn’t get any better this year, commercial or no commercial.

My first race was the ’74 Firecracker. For many years I attended the 500 and the Firecracker. That is until LB2 and “corporate America” took over.

I’m sure all ticket holders for the Daytona 500 have received their renewal forms for 2009 by now. How much did the cost of your ticket increase? My ticket in Depalma, row 27 went up ANOTHER $5/ticket. It is now $185 PER SEAT. It wasn’t that long ago it was well under $100.

Being part of the unemployment status in Tampa Bay, Florida, I have already sold my tickets to the 500 so I can meet the deadline of April 26, 2008. I had to do so if I wanted to continue to purchase decent seats for the 500 and not purchase the 2 or 3-day package to get above row 10.

The race isn’t for 10 months, but ISC and the France family will have $370 of a Clearwater Police Officer’s money in the bank. (At least it’s not mine this time around!) If NASCAR is so concerned about fans and getting them to the track, they might consider keeping the prices so ONE person could afford to attend their races. I truly don’t know how a “family of 4” can afford to even get there, let alone enjoy themselves when they do.

For those of us who stay home, instead of fighting the traffic and financial cost, we have more than enough shows on radio and television to get our fix. Too bad the television networks seem to forget there is a race at the location they happen to be covering. I don’t even know who to blame this on. The networks need to sell commercials, so they can bring in revenue to cover the cost, just to have the right to show a NASCAR event, not to mention what it takes to actually produce the broadcast.

Enough with my issues – what about the independent teams and what is happening to them? Kenny Schrader is the winningest driver at PIR, and he won’t be there this weekend. I have heard/read numerous reasons as to why BAM Racing was not at Texas and won’t be at Phoenix. But I believe it all comes down to the Almighty Dollar, and the fact that teams like BAM, Petty Enterprises and the Wood Brothers can’t keep up with LB2’s “new NASCAR.”

Don’t get me started on the fact that the Nationwide teams had to travel to Texas for practice and qualifying on Thursday, with NOTHING to do on Friday, and then race Saturday. Several of those teams are doing all they can to survive, and that’s the schedule they have to deal with. Oh yeah, they are racing in Phoenix TONIGHT at 9:45 p.m. What’s wrong with that picture? (Too late for me to watch and find out.)

I can complain and wish for the good old days all I want, and so can everyone else. But let’s not forget that when we’re sitting home watching the Subway Fresh Fit 500 on our antique 25” RCA or high dollar HDTV, Kenny and Kyle will be as well, along Awesome Bill if it wasn’t for his championship provisional.

Well done Kurt! Now…..let’s go racin’ boys!!!

04/11/2008 04:39 PM

ANOTHER good one Kurt …Hit the nail right on the head again …Just a shame the king never listens to the court ! only thing the man will understand is MONEY … thats why i wont give them a dime anymore …wont even watch a race live …DVR them and watch next day in ffwd …hurt their ratings – hurt their wallets ! i invite all the other FRANCE haters to join me !

04/11/2008 07:40 PM

Shirley, I understand your frustration at not being able to afford the Daytona 500 tickets, but that price is not out of line at all compared to other local sports in the Tampa Bay area. In fact, it’s a bargain.

I’m certain that if you go to 1/2 of the Bucs home games, you’d be hard pressed to find seats as good as the DePalma seats that you have for $185. In fact, if you split a season ticket for the cheapest nose bleed RayJay tickets, you’d be at $250 for four games. And that’s only if the seat license had already been paid.

And the Rays? Their cheapest 1/2 season plan is $296 for Upper Deck ticket. Not a horrible view, and sure, since it’s the Rays, you’ll be able to make your way down to the field easily by mid-season, but still not less than the race. Add in the $10 parking fee each game and you’re up to Petty Tower tickets.

The Lightning? You’ll have to pay $330 + 7% tax if you can find someone to split them with, but that doesn’t include the oxygen that you’ll want to carry up to those top 5 rows so that you don’t get too short of breath.

Next item is directed at the author: Commercials. No more per hour than any other sporting event or prime time show. Yes, something could happen while the cameras are away at commercial paying for your “seat” at the track, but the alternative would be like in football. Stop the action for a TV time out. That would go over real well. Everyone stops their car every time there is a commercial due to be run, no matter where they are on the track. That would go over great!

Finally, to several of the commenters, “ESPN (CBS, ABC, Road & Track) did it better back in the day!” No, they didn’t. The difference is that the people who hate everything, had to actually pay for a stamp to send a letter to the editor at Winston Cup Scene if they wanted to complain. And then it would probably not be run if it was the same guy over and over again. With the Internet available to everyone, and sites like the Frontstretch that will allow readers to comment virtually uncensored, it’s easy for the ill informed to complain after every single story making it look like every fan is up in arms, when in fact, very few of the fans really care about the CoT, Goodyear, the price of tickets or what Brian France does.

04/11/2008 08:07 PM

Kevin …are ya sure yer last name aint FRANCE? Dont get me wrong SURE not all the fans are so upset fact it seems like its only the ones who been watching for 20 or more years …all the bandwagon fans who decided na$car was cool now DONT KNOW any different – They just know they feel left out on monday if they dont know who did what on what lap !! Find yerself an episode of BACK IN THE DAY on speed and watch a race from back when you were too cool to waste yer sunday.

04/11/2008 08:37 PM

No need. I was there back in the day. I just have a less selective memory of what was actually going on in those races.

And you’re right about the bandwagon fans. Those that came around for NASCAR as a reality series don’t really care about the racing at all. It’s about the soap opera that is running behind the scenes that they are here for. We could have run lawnmowers last season, and it wouldn’t have mattered. All the reality series fans cared about was the DEI story.

I talk to NASCAR viewers all the time in my job and believe me, when it gets right down to it, most don’t care one way or the other what shape car is driven or how they determine the champion. They don’t care that Toyota is in the sport unless they own a Toyota and they don’t care that a certain sponsor left one team for another. They are just casual fans that like watching the cars go round and hearing what the guys in the booth have to say about what’s going on.

They don’t write about what they like or dislike about racing every day on the Internet though, so you’ll never get that point of view unless you look for it.

J. Meyer
04/12/2008 06:11 AM

While I agree with 99.9% of your article, there is ONE point that I do not.

The rebanking of the Bristol night race this last year, DID NOT result in a BORING race.

To the contrary! I’ve been doing the night race for 8 yrs now. Too ACTUALLY SEE THEM RACING 3 WIDE ALL THE WAY AROUND is truly “racing the way it oughta be”.

People have become so accustomed to only ONE line at Bristol, they truly have lost site of what that track used to be!.

It became a ‘wreck/carnage fest’ because there was no way to pass but to punt the guy in front of you.

Now they can truly RACE. (Don’t make me start calling you ‘Kurt Poole’! ;-) )

Kurt Smith
04/12/2008 09:45 AM

Thanks all for reading and commenting and for the compliments. I appreciate the input from all of you. I don’t like to focus on a sore spot too often, but it’s clear that this is something many of us feel passionately about. I can’t respond to everyone individually, but I will address a few points:

Regarding the top 35 rule J Furjanic, it honestly did not cross my mind. Amazing. In fact I will address that rule in a future column, and I will warn here that I’m going to look at it in an impartial way as possible. My gut agrees that it should be the top 43 cars no matter how famous the losers are, but we’ll see.

Max, it is a good point to wonder if Sprint wants out. They’ve probably not gotten their money’s worth, certainly their numbers over the last half of 2007 show that, and maybe a lot of the backlash against NASCAR of late is associated with Nextel’s taking over. Which wouldn’t be fair to them actually, as Johnboy60 pointed out. Busch has bailed, Craftsman is on their way out, and NASCAR took a third of what they were asking for from Nationwide. If that doesn’t raise eyebrows, I don’t know what will.

Copperpossum, it’s like someone becoming a celebrity and leaving his wife of 20 years for the trophy model. Regarding the people that were there long before even I was, especially Mark, I keep thinking about what it must be like for people that have been fans for 30 or even 40 years. My father tells me that the biggest debate baseball fans used to have was whether outfielders should be allowed to leave their gloves on the field when they batted. The suggestion of a DH back then would have been utter heresy. Hating to see a race end…you don’t see many fans saying that these days.

Kevin and Shirley, regarding the ticket prices, I didn’t mean that to come across as being something exclusive to NASCAR. Ticket prices for all sports, and all entertainment events for that matter, have risen drastically beyond the level of inflation. The entertainment industry is the only industry I can think of (except perhaps footwear) where businesses are actually encouraged to rip off their customers. Only in entertainment will the seller find a way to charge the maximum rather than the minimum.

As far as the commercials, even if it is the same amount as, say, a sitcom (the actual number is ever-slightly larger), there is also the 30 seconds when they come back and tell us whose commercials we just saw, as well as the Quaker State desk where guys sit and talk about the race we’re not seeing, the Ford cutaway car, the Visa race break, etc. Those, in my opinion, should all count as commercials too.

I understand where you’re coming from Kevin and I’m not disputing what you’re saying. But a viewer who does not care how a champion is determined is just that…a viewer. An actual fan who lives and breathes the sport might have a different opinion.

Finally, Jeff, re Bristol, I don’t have a problem with the repaving. What bothers me about the night race in particular is the points racing and position protection. There are 20 drivers who have a shot at making the playoffs and aren’t going to risk wrecking, and the other 23 certainly aren’t going to wreck a potential playoff driver. In a sense, Bristol made for a better race when it was just 1/36 of the season and a driver could make up for anything that happened.

Thanks again to everyone else especially those I missed addressing here.

04/13/2008 04:28 PM

I’d like to add one more thing. Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Darrel Waltrip, Terry LaBonte, the late great Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, and several others, never won a dadgum Sprint Cup championship. Some of the older ones won Grand National Championships, the rest won Winston Cups. We’ve only had 2 Sprint Cup champions. I wish people would call it like it is, and quit trying to rewrite history for the sake of the sponsors.

04/13/2008 09:18 PM

“Classic tracks in classic NASCAR country have been forsaken in favor of humdrum, uninteresting speedways elsewhere that bear little to no character or distinction. Most egregiously, the Labor Day race in Darlington, a tradition for more than half a century, was moved unceremoniously to Auto Club Speedway, to the great chagrin of fans everywhere but in southern California.”

AMEN, and AMEN!!!!!

04/13/2008 09:27 PM

NASCAR had been recession-proof in the past, at least before tickets were priced at the “milk it” level.”

AMEN again.

Kevin in SoCal
04/15/2008 01:09 AM

Marc, I demand a recount. We have NO Sprint Cup champions yet, and THREE Nextel Cup Champions (Busch, Stewart, and Johnson).

Contact Kurt Smith