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.
Connect with Mike!
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.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
I’m getting a little dizzy here. NASCAR normally moves forward with glacial process when it comes to rule changes that at times make evolution look hasty. They’ll hold study groups and meetings, generate a ton of internal memos, send up a few trial balloons in the garage while maintaining plausible deniability, and then finally issue an earth-shattering decision that, yes indeed, the lug studs on the Cup cars are going to be a few millimeters longer this year. If you look at the time that elapsed between Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona (which had been preceded the previous season by the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper) and the rules change that mandated the common sense rule to require head and neck restraints, you’ll get a good idea of how the system usually works. In fact, it was only the death of Blaise Alexander in that Charlotte ARCA race that finally forced NASCAR’s hand.
The speed with which the new side by side restart rules were adopted after fans expressed interest in the format after the All-Star race was stunning. The jungle drums are loud this week that NASCAR is going to implement new rules to reduce the horsepower in Cup cars sooner rather than later, trying to improve the quality of racing to woo back disenfranchised fans.
Then of course there’s this week’s stunning announcement that NASCAR is doing a dramatic about face and embracing Internet writers, or at least some portion of the Internet writers who report on the sport. NASCAR’s relationship, even with the mainstream media, outside the chosen ones, the NASCAR network partners, has always been a little prickly. You might recall Brian France sending Monte Dutton, one of the sport’s most popular, if controversial writers, a love note wishing him well in his new career though in fact Monte had expressed no interest in changing careers (other than this recent musical gig of his which came after the fact.) The implications of that note were pretty clear and meant as a warning shot to others in the sport.
My how the landscape has changed. In this economy several papers that were bastions of race reportage for decades suddenly released their beat writers who traveled race to race and replaced their columns with AP news releases. Some of those papers decided with the interest in Cup racing dwindling, they might as well run the scores from church league bowling tournaments in place of the former race coverage.
Most industries are struggling in this economy, but the newspaper industry has been driven to its knees by the twin blows of reduced advertising income and competition from the Internet. There’s an immediacy to the Internet that print papers can’t rival. If a major story breaks newspapers can’t report it until the next print edition, but the breaking story can appear on Internet in minutes. The best papers have adjusted to the new reality and built strong Internet sites of their own. The Detroit Free Press recently went mainly online in a struggle to survive. The face of the medium is changing and changing rapidly in a way it hasn’t since the dawn of television signaled the end of the radio soap operas and serials.
In the face of change NASCAR has announced they are forming the “NASCAR Citizen’s Journalist Media Corps.” Like I said Sunday, the name is so Orwellian that it send shivers up my spine. Those Internet scribes, the spiritual heirs of the lonely pamphleteers with their ink-stained hands, will be “embraced with open arms” and “given the very same access as the traditional media” according to NASCAR’s press release on the topic. NASCAR isn’t throwing open the gates to the Barbarians though. The decision on who is in and who is out is based on “professionalism, reporting, commentary and use of social networking tools.” (There was no mention if spelling and neatness also count.)
If I’m a cynic, it’s a cynicism based on experience and some battles lost. NASCAR initially reacted to Internet reporting on their sport with all the ardor of Fidel Castro embracing free enterprise. While NASCAR says the “Internet” is a “new” technology, it is in fact more than a decade old. I’ve been doing this gig for 13 years now in some form or another after convincing my boss at a small (and I mean miniscule) racing newspaper that we needed an Internet presence. His initial reaction can be summed up as “Hell, we aren’t making any money doing this anyway. Sure, let’s lose money in a new way.” Understand in that era the three “staff” members of the paper were sitting around in a two-room office next to a church where they handled snakes waiting to see if a check arrived in time to keep us in business.
The “Born On” date of the NASCAR Internet is generally considered to be 1996 when Jayski’s Silly Season page was born. A hard working, tech-savvy guy from the Jersey shore started his small webpage trying to figure out what was going on with Lake Speed. Jay is a friend of mine so I know he’ll be embarrassed when I say that Jay is to Internet NASCAR coverage what another resident of the Jersey shore who started out small, Bruce Springsteen, is to rock and roll.
Eventually Jay, working out of the bedroom in his folks’ home started including links to other articles on the Internet related to the sport on his page, including mine. I recall my boss getting giddy and falling out of his chair when he saw the hits on our obscure website growing by the hundreds an hour after struggling to draw one hundred readers a week. And so a new cottage industry was born.
The new industry wasn’t met with open arms, either by NASCAR or by our in-print brethren with their degrees in journalism in many instances. The first assault on the frontier outpost was the now infamous “Circle R” note we all got back in the day. NASCAR was insisting that if we were to use the name NASCAR we follow it with the circled R trademark that indicated those six letters were a registered trademark. The problem is even the lawyer who sent the letter couldn’t figure out what set of keys one had to use on a keyboard to make that circled R appear after the word NASCAR. (I knew it at one time and used it once a column as a sarcastic response to the edict but have long since forgotten it.)
Despite threats of lawsuits most of us just ignored the stupidity of it all. However most sites did include the required disclaimer that that particular site was not the official site of NASCAR on the Internet and readers should click on a link to go to NASCAR.com for the officially vetted propaganda of the day. I begged my boss at the time, Derek of Speedworld, not to include that burdensome verbiage. I wanted NASCAR to sue us. I had ACLU lawyers lined up to defend us pro bono. Eventually the battle ended with no causalities, though there was a lot of sniping from each side. Hell, I once ran the vanity plate “CRCLER” on my Thunderbird.
Then there was the whole Article Four boondoggle in which NASCAR said they owned rights to photos and reportage created at the track. That one was authored by Brian France himself back in the day. It too went over by a lead balloon with the NMPA (which only began admitting Internet writers this season) firing the fatal shots, but the Internet writers providing covering fire.
On a more personal note, I had that whole mess with R1 which I won’t recount here. It put me out of a job, but like a bad penny I keep coming back. I’ve made my peace with the fellow that pulled the trigger, but it still boggles my mind NASCAR’s sister company, the ISC, bought a website just to get me fired.
But let’s get back to the whole standards of admission to the NASCAR tree house more commonly known as the press box for Internet types; professionalism, reporting, commentary and use of social networking tools.
The difference between reporting and commentary should be pretty easy to understand. Reporting, as in recounts of the race, is reminding fans of what happened in the race they just watched. On this lap this happened and on that lap that happened and as a result Driver X won the race. Reporting also involves regurgitating in some semi-coherent fashion the press agents and car manufacturer’s press releases after the race as if you were sitting on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lap as he offered up his latest bon-bons on how to lose a race. At its most extreme, it involves staying awake through the race winner’s post-race interview in the press box, offering platitudes to his sponsors and carefully, if quickly, crafted quotes prepared by his PR guy or gal.
Commentary is a different animal all together. It involves seeing trends through a thicket of trees to see the forest as a whole, adding your analysis of those trends and putting it into some sort of semi-coherent fashion based on your understanding of the sport in such a fashion it informs, entertains, amuses or alarms your readers. Done well, reporting or commentating is an asset to race fans, though as a commentator, I prefer the latter to the former.
“Use of social networking tools” is a bit harder for me to understand. It seems to mean that that NASCAR wants writers who text message or tweet their readers during races. I still don’t own a cell phone and have never text messaged or tweeted a single individual. I don’t have a Facebook page and I don’t know MySpace from outer space. I’m still getting used to this email thing.
It’s the “professionalism” requirement that truly worries me. Based on my experiences with NASCAR officials, “professionalism” equates to parroting the corporate line, or at least masking your dissent in such a way that it makes your output so bland it can be ignored or easily digested by the simple-minded. Any departure from the party line is seen as unprofessional. That’s the same sort of mindset the governments of the USSR, China, Cuba and North Korea have adopted.
To effectively wield a big stick, one must also offer a carrot. In this case what is being offered to the Internet media as a carrot is full and free access to the garage area, which is denied to most fans. But the stick is there as well. If NASCAR doesn’t like what you have to say after your time in the garage, you get the stick and the carrots get taken away. That’s the sort of threat that could turn some members of the media corps into whores.
I remember the first weekend I was headed to the track with full media credentials. I was practically giddy with excitement. I was finally going to get my peak behind the curtain. I was going to be in the press box. I was going to be handed a sheaf of press releases to let me know what the drivers thought after the race. And I was finally going to interview Dale Earnhardt (Senior not Junior) on why he was in an apparent slump. As I’d learn, no, Little Grasshopper, you’re not going to get ten minutes one on one with the Intimidator despite your press pass. He only talks to the big dogs and you are still a pup. If you’re lucky the nice Chevy PR lady will hand you an official press release of how he felt after the race and if you report it verbatim, perhaps one day you’ll get to ask Dale a question in a post race press conference.
Hell, even Robby Gordon, who was running so bad that nobody else wanted to talk to him, dissed me when I asked him a legitimate question while he was standing around doing nothing other than preparing to pack up and go home after failing to qualify at Dover. He wanted to know who I wrote for before giving me thirty seconds of his time. I told him I wrote for an Internet site and he told me that he had no time for Internet types. And it’s been game on ever since. Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel or who has unlimited bandwidth at his disposal.
On that ride to the first race (ironically I think it was at Rockingham), my boss Mike Calinoff tried to temper my enthusiasm. He told me something that was going to stick with me for life. He told me that the more access I got to the garage area, the more I learned about the people who ran the sport and the people who made up the sport, the less I was going to like it. You look behind the curtain and you risk learning that the wizards are only mortal men. I was naïve then, I never thought it could happen. It did.
So the chosen ones, the new member of the NASCAR’s Citizen Journalist Corps, I offer this advice, because though I’ve gotten a glimpse of the Promised Land, I won’t be crossing with you. Like Calinoff told me, once you have insider access you will like the sport less, not more. A merry-go-round laden with happy children is a beautiful thing to behold until you get into the inner-workings of the machine and see that it’s all ready to fall apart. You’re mileage may vary. Perhaps you’ll be able to dwell on the positive side, the drivers who take time out of their busy schedule to interact with Make-A-Wish kids over and above the call of duty, and stuff like that. There are a lot of genuinely good folks in the garage area. But when you see the warts, call a strike a strike and be honest in your opinions. The ultimate litmus test isn’t the NASCAR officials who dangle the carrot, but your hard won readers who expect honesty and can sniff out deceit like bloodhounds on the trail of a fugitive. Once you lose your credulity, the most precious gift you have as a writer, it’s like losing your virginity. You can never get it back.
There’s a joke I head a long time ago in the garage area. A rich man arrives at a local tavern and lays the keys to his Ferrari on the bar. He spies a beautiful woman at the bar and asks if she’ll sleep with him for a million dollars. “For a million bucks…well, yeah, I guess I will.” He asks her if she’ll sleep with him for a quarter and she’s offended. “What sort of girl do you think I am?” she huffs indignantly. “Ma’am,” he responds coolly, “We’ve already decided what sort of woman you are. Now we’re just negotiating over the price.”
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Big Balls Matt, remember I have been saying its a show, and how many have to start on the couch, you nailed this one
Matt, I’ve asked several times about your beef with Robby Gordon and never got a response. Thank you for finally laying it out there. I, too, can empathize with the bitterness toward another when they make you feel unimportant. I’ve always read and heard stories of how Robby wasn’t like that. He made everyone feel special. I would probably hold a grudge too. I hope your interaction with him is in the minority.
Thanks for your insight Matt. After ten races of DW and Larry Mac shilling for Toyota, it’s a refreshing change to get “the real story”.
ABSOLUTE GREAT WRITING!
And as far as “Nascar’s Citizens Journalistic Media Corps”?
As you say, the ONLY ones selected will be the exisitng PRO-NA$CRAP writers who write in FEAR of NA$CRAP!
Example, an article by Godwin Kelly from Daytona (now being from Daytona should tell you something about how PRO-NA$CRAP this writer is), anyway the article “Mayfield Out Of His League In Courtroom Battle by Godwin Kelly” I took as a not so veiled threat to Jeremy to give up on his lawsuit as he is not going to win it anyway!
My interpretation of the article is that King Brian got hold of Godwin, and asked him to write an article to try and persuade Jeremy to just go away!
I responded as I generally do, taking NA$CRAP to task for their handling of not only the Mayfield situation, but also the Carl Long fiasco, and how NA$CRAP is cutting their own throats (gee, one can hope right?), ANYWAY, my response was CENSORED by Godwin Kelly and simply not published!
So I am quite sure if NA$CRAP selects writers to be on this “MEDIA CORE”, that NA$CRAP Schill Godwin Kelly will be at the top of the list!
“NASCAR Citizen’s Journalist Media Corps.”…yeah right…Kool-Aide drinkers only need apply. Bet my website writers won’t be accepted. Wait, in fact we haven’t!!! Just got turned down today for a media pass to Infineon. Reason given: too many people in the infield already…at Infineon?
I just started writing on different sites last year, and am glad I ran across this piece.
Thanks for the short version of the internet history regarding NASCAR. You really opened my eyes.
A peek behind the curtain may not be as life changing as some potential writers think . They’ll find the same jealousy , pettiness , vanity , greed , and stupidity that everyone on the supposed inside sees on a daily basis . These new writers will then either get very tired of the above and move on to write about something else , or they will see the sport for what it really is and write from that perspective . Or they’ll become enamoured of the Nascar force fed fairy tale and end up in the marketing department at ISC .
More lip service from NASCAR. We all know that “freedom of speech” will only be tollerated as long as it toes the party line. Good article Matt but anyone that’s been paying attention already knew that (although you had examples to back it up). That is why NASCAR and ISC are looked upon by so many as “The Evil Empire”.
@Laidback Racing… come on Mad Mike you will never get a pass. Your blatant call a spade a spade articles make Matt’s articles look like propaganda supporting NASCAR.
Hold down the “Alt” key and type 0174 on your keypad. :D
As for the “slowness” of NASCAR, I doubt they’d even have the safer barrier either had Indianapolis not just installed them without NASCAR approval. Say what you will about Tony George, but he forced their hand there, in a good way.
I stopped going to nascar.com ages ago because it was clearly nothing more than yet another marketing tool, nothing more. It’s like watching Sadam’s press agent give me an update on the situation; complete B.S.
Another good one Matt.
I wasn’t going to respond, but only after a few paragraphs in and I was thinking about Jayski’s Born on Date before you got to mention it. I jumped on the I-net a few months prior to his BoD and still remember finding his site along with SpeedWorld’s. Two great sites at that cromagnus time of the web. However, at that same time NASCARs site was ok, then through the years it sucked, it went back to being ok, now it blows badly. I hardly ever visit the “mother” site.
I used to think AP writers were held at a higher standard than the local rag penheads. My wake up call was Jr’s first win. I happened to catch an AP article on his first win and it stated …“Dale Earnhardt Jr scared Joe Nemechek out of the way…blah blah…for his first win at Texas”. After tuning in the see that race myself I can tell ya there wasn’t any “scaring” going on. Now I must assume AP writers can’t tell the difference between a stockcar race and a hotdog eating contest. Corps or whores? Gotta be whores. Only because they write whore-able garbage!!!
Being that the sanctioning body does not understand something, particularly something new (ie, technology, culture), they’ve been giving knee-jerk decisions and dumping on it immediately, only to soften up much later. IMO over the last few decades.
to Bill B who wrote
This is Jo Ann and I Hear ya brother…Everyday I look for a “cease and desist” order from NASCAR concerning some of Mikie’s stuff…and that’s why we like him!
Hi Jo Ann, your articles are usually much more positive so I just assumed it was Mike. LOL That’s why I never miss his articles either (or yours).
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I’m not making fun of people telling Matt how to do the trademark symbol, I’m just laughing at the thought that Matt may use the knowledge to get back into NASCAR’s good graces.
No offense intended. Just thought it was funny.
® ® ® that was amusing, Matt
Thank you, Mr. Cloyd
These double file restarts are just another crappy attempt by a crappy management to generate artificial excitement. It won’t work. Everyone is strung out in a single file parade in a couple of laps again anyway. Fix the real problem, the actual on track product. Get rid of the chase so each race is really important again and get rid of the COT p.o.s. so these drivers can actually race side by side and not just battle their own race car all day long. And also get rid of Brian France before it’s too late. Mayfield should demand he take a drug test. He looks more like someone who abuses drugs more than Mayfield does. Sick, arrogant, brainle$$ prick
now now matt…i’ve met robby gordon on numerous occassions and he was great with fans. remember, i sent you his fan club membership info and a personally autographed photo about 6 yrs ago! i knew you’d love it.
ok…..have you received you golden invitation from NA$CAR to be the leading contributor to the NA$CAR Citizen Corp? i know you want to join!
hey, let the idiots bring back “pit bull” and maybe i’ll be interested. i loved that show, eventhough it wasn’t politically correct. i’m sure they’d have plenty of fuel with the sport today.
I recall the R1 fiasco…went looking for your latest article, and not only was it not there, there was no record of you even ever writing an article on that site. Anyways, the day I will believe this “NASCAR® Citizen’s Journalist Media Corps” is actually a valid, and reliable group, is the day Matt joins it. NASCAR® has tried to silence Mr. McLaughlin before, the day they invite him to join them is the day I really, really start planning for the end of the world.
“I recall the R1 fiasco…went looking for your latest article, and not only was it not there, there was no record of you even ever writing an article on that site. “
That’s the last time I went there too. That site became as worthless as NASCAR.com when they sold their soul like that.
Bet Pete Pissed on is a memebr.
For you folks who don’t know, Billy France said Matt was the most dangerous idiot on the internet many years ago.