NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
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2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
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Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Change is all around. Summer has given way to autumn, which will shortly give way to yet another winter. As November approaches, so, too, does a presidential election driven by the campaign rhetoric of change and better days ahead. Many of us embrace changes because they shake us out of the doldrums of what has become our everyday life. Others worry about the uncertainties that come with a change in routine, a change in the status quo.
NASCAR Nation is rolling through similar changes. Over recent weeks, we’ve been told about revisions to next year’s guidelines for testing and qualifying, and even more recently we were notified that the Top-35 rule had been dropped to make way for a new-and-improved approach to setting the starting grid. Other recent changes involved new rules for the Nationwide Series, as well, where only 40 cars will be allowed to compete in races, down from the current number of 43.
Next season will look decidedly different in NASCAR. New models will take to the track, as will new driver/team combinations. How long will it take until the new Matt Kenseth/Joe Gibbs pairing becomes an afterthought? How about the teaming of Joey Logano/Roger Penske? Such is the nature of the late season – that pivotal time of year when deals are finalized and announced, and when the end of one era signals the advent of another. Media deals, crew chief assignments, rides, and sponsorships all seem to be up for grabs come late October. Change is both inevitable and expected, especially within the uncertain world of motorsports.
We’ve been hearing an awful lot about change lately, and not just from NASCAR Nation. As the aforementioned presidential election winds down (Whew!) to its conclusion on November 6th, the media has been running stories and editorials and features and op-ed pieces about changes (for the good and the not-so-good) in the economy. Car and home sales are up, as are national employment figures, even though the number of hires isn’t rising as quickly as many would like. Requests for building permits are on the increase, as are new home starts and development projects. All of this suggests better times lie ahead for the construction industry.
Despite these changing numbers, there’s still the specter of tax increases hanging over people’s heads. Proposed and impending changes to healthcare, education, foreign policy, and energy production loom on the horizon (as they always do) and still we forge ahead and go about our daily lives. We’ve learned to understand the promise of change, yet part of us is always a bit unsettled about what change might actually bring.
One thing that a career (so far) in cultural studies has taught me is that slow change is usually the most lasting change. Consider the evolution of social movements in the United States of America. Regardless of whether we’re discussing civil rights or women’s rights, both of these socio-economic movements evolved over many years. Quick change typically results in little more than a fad or a trend, and these are short-lived at best. For change to function at its peak level of influence and productivity, it has to take place over a lengthy expanse of time. People need to grow accustomed to changes in order for them to gain widespread acceptance.
So is there enough evidence for us to accept that our nation’s financial picture is improving? We’ve often attributed the slump in NASCAR race attendance and sponsorship deals to the sluggish economy, but now that it looks as though positive changes are occurring (and this is NOT in reference to the impending election), is it safe to assume that NASCAR will rise from the ashes of the Great Recession and re-assert itself as a sports marketing powerhouse capable of drawing large crowds and even larger profits? Are the changes we’re beginning to see driven by changes that have been coming for the past four (or more) years?
Recent events surrounding NASCAR Nation reflect newfound attention to change. Some of the changes have been seemingly minor, as with the resurfacing of tracks like Pocono and Michigan. Such physical changes are long-term since new asphalt brings with it added permanence (consider the length of time that passes between resurfacings).
Kansas Speedway underwent a similar change in surface this season which, when coupled with a hard new tire (as we saw in last weekend’s Cup event), resulted in all kinds of trouble. With nearly one-quarter of the Hollywood Casino 400 being run under caution (24.7% of the event, to be exact), we get the idea that sometimes too much change is perhaps just that: too much. As we’re reminded by Aesop in his fable of The Boy and the Figs, it’s not always wise to attempt too much at once.
Aesop is one of the most famous storytellers in history, although his existence has been questioned for centuries. Like William Shakespeare, some have doubted that one person could have single-handedly created so many memorable and meaningful tales. Academics believe that a slave of either Greek or African origin with a name similar to Aesop’s lived between 620 and 564 BCE, and some histories of that era state that this person was an orator and assistant to the king of Lydia. The legend goes that Aesop was sent on a diplomatic mission to deliver gold to the Greek city of Delphi. According to folklore, upon his arrival, Aesop observed that the people of Delphi were clearly greedy and spoiled, so he refused on principle to hand over the gold. In retaliation, Aesop supposedly was arrested, charged as a criminal, and put to death.
Despite the fact and/or fiction surrounding Aesop, one thing is for certain: the fables credited to his name have entertained and educated audiences since the days of ancient civilization.
So what does a historical figure like Aesop have to do with changes in NASCAR? Certainly his influential tales and the lessons they teach extend beyond the nature of stock car racing. Aesop’s analogies addressed larger topics that were relevant to a broader context. That’s what these fables (at least the ones attributed to his name) were all about, and the lessons these parables taught have become eternal truths – even in regard to the modern-day sport/business/culture of NASCAR.
We all know the story of The Tortoise and the Hare which teaches perhaps the most eternal of all lessons: “slow and steady wins the race”. This may not sound like it pertains to NASCAR, but it does when applied to the inner workings of a team.
We often hear about “chemistry” and how the most successful teams enjoy this seemingly-seamless relationship where communication, cooperation, and comradeship merge to create an organization that thinks and moves as one. Such closeness doesn’t occur overnight; it takes multiple seasons with a consistent roster of participants for an organization to achieve such a level of efficiency. It’s a slow process of growth and adaptation, but the results are worth every bit of the wait. Study the rosters of NASCAR’s most successful organizations and you’ll see how slow-and-steady development has lead those teams to multiple victories and championships.
One driver who seems poised to win his first-ever Sprint Cup title is Clint Bowyer, who was at the center of perhaps the most interesting storyline to come out of Kansas last weekend. The media reminded us that Bowyer was – at this time one year ago – celebrating his new deal with Michael Waltrip Racing. The proverbial prodigal son from nearby Emporia had returned to announce that he would drive MWR’s No. 15 Five-Hour Energy Toyota in 2012, an announcement that had been months in the making.
Bowyer’s situation in 2011 is now ancient history: his dismissal from Richard Childress Racing due to a lack of necessary sponsorship leading to an uncertain future in an ever-struggling economy. Good rides were nearly impossible to find, even for a driver with Bowyer’s talent. Signing with MWR meant taking a huge chance on a new team with no sponsorship. Waltrip envisioned a bright future for Bowyer – a vision that grew a little brighter once Bowyer was able to bring some corporate funding to the table. The deal was made, a contract was signed, and all fingers were crossed as the 2012 season approached.
If the plight of Clint Bowyer over 2011 and 2012 was a fable, it might match the plot of Aesop’s The Bat and the Weasels, the story of a bat who outwits hungry weasels on separate occasions by convincing them that he is not what he appears to be (he tells one weasel that he’s a mouse, and tells the other that he’s a bird – the bat escapes with his life both times). The moral of this fable is “turn events to your best advantage”, and that’s what Bowyer did amidst a struggling economy.
Bowyer’s story could also fall under the lesson taught by Aesop’s fable of The Frogs Who Wished for a King, the tale of a pond full of frogs who wanted a ruler, but who didn’t really need one. Their ill-reasoned demands resulted in a king who made their lives terrible, prompting the moral of “before you ask for a change, make sure the change will make your life better”.
With four races to go, and Bowyer sitting fourth in points (25 out of the lead) with a career-high three wins for the year (so far), it appears as though the changes he made during 2011 have resulted in a better life during 2012. No one should feel so desperate that they can afford to make hasty decisions.
If being steady results in success, maybe this year’s Sprint Cup championship is not entirely out of Clint Bowyer’s reach.
NASCAR, in its own right, has been making decisions and undergoing changes in light of recent events. Many of these changes are intended to improve competition by giving the fans what they’ve wanted for some time (like a return to more liberal testing, the return of Friday qualifying, and dropping the much-maligned Top-35 rule, for example). Others have been precipitated by developments that challenge the sport’s position within “mainstream” popular culture (like the adoption of more rigorous criteria for diagnosing and treating concussions and encouraging social media to bring stock car racing to a younger and more technology-focused audience).
Such changes have been, I’m guessing, rather difficult for NASCAR executives to swallow. The sanctioning body has never comfortable with allowing folks outside the business/family to call the shots and influence decisions, yet it appears that this is the path that Brian France is taking.
Maybe Brian should put a collection of Aesop’s fables in the executive break room at NASCAR headquarters in Florida. Everyone could then read the parable about The Mice and the Weasels – a story about field mice who named themselves to be army generals and decided to show their importance by wearing tall feathers on their heads that symbolized their authority. The only problem was that the feathers were so big that the mice couldn’t reach the safety of their nest, so they were eaten by weasels. The moral of the story teaches us that “leadership often comes with its own set of problems”.
So here’s NASCAR dealing with debacles at Daytona and Talladega and Kansas and too much rain and exploding jet-dryers and too many cautions and tandem drafting and too high speeds and maybe not enough cautions and too many wrecks and not enough competitive races and issues with fuel mileage and Kurt Busch and AJ Allmendinger and Junior missing two Chase races and lousy TV ratings and mediocre attendance numbers and too many commercials and rising costs and….
Yeah. I’m thinking that Brian France knows a little too much about leadership and its own set of problems. Maybe all those recent changes will do him some good….
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On a positive note, let me say that a championship win by Clint Bowyer would be well received. He seems to be a decent guy with his head on squarely. Definitely nice to see.
Now, on a less positive note; the changes in Nascar and declining attendance. Lets look at declining attendance first. We can all see the vast numbers of empty seats at every Sprint Cup race, but blaming that all on a bad economy is, in my opinion, wrong. If what I have read here is correct, Nascar’s TV ratings have also declined this year. Think about it: if all those people who used to attend a race stayed home for economic reasons, it seems to me that they would all be watching their favorite sport on TV. Apparently that is not the case, they are out raking leaves, or watching baseball or football or going for a ride. So attendance AND viewership are both declining. Why? I dont think theres much mystery there. The races are boring. The chase format
Here’s a silly example: assume a ten event chase. I win nine events so my max points are 423. I DNF the tenth but I led one lap so I get a total of 424 Points.You finished second in all ten (driver XXX won the tenth)so you get 420 points plus you led one lap in each..total 430. You are the champion and I am not.(I’m ignoring most laps led points) Does that seem like an equitable result? Hardly; its simply not worth going for wins in Nascar. Increase the bonus for first to 25 points and watch out! My point is simply that Nascar events are going to continue to be boring despite the tweaks about grilles, and body shapes and qualifying until first place is worth racing for and 65% of the season stops being a pre-season.
Most folks have NO IDEA what’s about to happen in this country. I don’t blame anybody for not wanting to know because it’s not good. But you better start planning for it now.
And Nascar, like any other business, will have to change as well. Talladega, one of the pillars of nascar, has seen it’s attendance slowly decline. Wait until people find out they will have even LESS money than they already have.
Which Sprint Cup Series Drivers will have the Most DNQs in 2013?