The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Rain, Re-signing, and Relationships by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday May 30, 2013

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NASCAR Mailbox: Rain, Re-signing, and Relationships

Summer Bedgood · Thursday May 30, 2013


So, do you have satellite or … cable?

NASCAR spectators have not had a great year considering that we’ve now had two races where fans had to go to the hospital because of something that happened on track. This time, a cable (or, more specifically, a rope) fell onto a speedway and into the grandstands, where it was whipped around like a lasso before the caution flag came out for repairs. In that 30 seconds, the wire injured 10 fans, sending three of them to the hospital.

While everyone turned out OK, it was instantly archived as one of those races we’ll look back on at the season-ending banquet and go, “Hey, remember THAT?”

In all seriousness, I’m glad everyone turned out to be alright. After watching the video from the point of view of the fans in the grandstands, I realized how bad it could have been. I still stand by my original assessment, though that I believe it to be a freak accident and that FOX doesn’t deserve some of the criticism they’ve gotten. I’d still like to see the camera back in action next season when FOX returns to the broadcast booth. For now, I just hope they find some answers as to what happened very soon.

Now, on to your questions:

Why doesn’t every racetrack use the Air Titan? I thought the new system was supposed to be in use across the board, but they didn’t use it in Charlotte during the All-Star Race and I didn’t see it there at all over the last couple of weeks. – Lynne

Each individual track has to pay for the Air Titan, and Brian France said in a press conference that many tracks have decided not to use it because of the cost associated. It is a Catch-22 situation for NASCAR, because tracks won’t use it because they’ve never seen it in action yet they’ve never seen it in action because no one wants to pay for it. The general consensus is that the Air Titan did its job well during the 24 hours of Talladega a few weeks ago, but it appears that still wasn’t enough of an audition for owners to overrule the old fashioned way of using the jet dryers. It’s cheaper.

So I think it’s going to be a slow, steady integration of the Air Titan going forward. Sometimes you’ll see it, sometimes you won’t unless NASCAR pays for it to be a part of every track they race on. Not the best answer, but I’m sure we can all be thankful that we don’t have anyone old-fashioned enough to drag some tires behind a truck in hopes of drying a weather-worn oval.

Then again, let’s not give Bruton Smith anymore zany ideas.

Did I really read that Richard Childress Racing re-signed Paul Menard on for three more years? Why not give that ride to someone with REAL talent? – Ryan

Technically it was Menards, Paul Menard’s sponsor (and father’s company) that signed on for three more years, but that’s as good as a contract as anything for Menard.

Some may question why Richard Childress would re-sign Paul Menard for three more seasons. Sponsorship? Consistency? Brickyard 400 win? The answer lies within the ‘Nardburns.

As far as your second question, anyone with built-in sponsorship is all but guaranteed a ride at this point. Though there are exceptions that we’ve seen in recent years — John Wes Townley and Steve Wallace, to name a couple — Menard is actually not a terrible investment considering he actually doesn’t tear up equipment.

Stop laughing, I’m serious. Let’s go back to Townley and Wallace. If you’re like me and like to chat with other race fans during the race, either on social media or in Internet chatrooms, there was usually some sort of over/under bet that was placed on when, not if, either one of them would cause a caution.

You don’t have that dynamic with Menard. While he’s obviously far from the most talented driver in the field, he’s usually pretty good about finishing the races unscathed. In 12 races, he hasn’t had one DNF and has finished on the lead lap in 10 of them.

Last year, he had only one DNF in the entire season and finished on the lead lap in 24 of the 36 events.

I agree with the fact that Menard isn’t the most talented racecar driver, but RCR isn’t losing any money on him, either. As long as Menards is willing to shell out the dough for him to be on the racetrack, Childress should continue providing the opportunity. In fact, you could argue that the consistency of Menard being in good equipment for as long as he has makes him a better driver.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to see someone more talented in the car; the Dillon brothers are waiting in the wings. But, you play with the cards your dealt, and the extra cash could help Childress with his grandsons over the long-term. I’d say Menard has been dealt a pretty good hand, done the best he could with it, and because of that there’s no reason for anyone to change things.

I seriously just saw a headline that talked about the ride home with “Stenica”……. I mean, really??? What’s next, a play by play on how they kiss? Nobody cares!!! Please pass this on to your fellow media members. I’m sick of hearing about their relationship. It won’t last anyway. – Trish

I share this sentiment, but the numbers of clicks these stories get do not. They wouldn’t be written up and posted if that weren’t the case. The common misconception is that the media drives the conversation, but that’s not true. The conversation drives the media, and for some reason people care about this “power couple.”

I know it’s a part of our culture to watch celebrity couples and keep up with the, er, ups and downs of the relationship. It’s not a pastime I’ve enjoyed and I don’t read smuck magazines because I simply don’t care.

I never thought, though, that something like this relationship would ever seep into my area of coverage. I mean, sure, eventually wives and girlfriends of drivers would make it into special feature stories on drivers’ personal lives, but it was never to the point of tabloid fodder. Nobody talked about the silent rides home, the fights behind the motor coaches or, really, anything. It was only a story if someone, usually the drivers decided to make it a story, and the only time that happened was with a wedding or a baby. That, to me is the way it should be.

Pictured: Lady racecar driver and fellow competitor who keeps crashing into her.

However, this stuff is mind-numbing. It’s not just the occasional playful stories that might be somewhat enjoyable. This stuff is the personal, National Enquirer-type headlines that talk about the negative, nasty parts that piece together every single relationship in existence.

Yes, I understand why it’s a story and I understand the fascination with competitors dating off the track. At the same time, I don’t understand the desire to consume news about every little thing about this couple – or any celebrity couple for that matter. I hate having to even pay attention as a media member. It’s a part of our culture that I just cannot stand and wish it would simply go away.

Sadly, they’re just into the early dating stages and this story has only begun to tell itself. Oh, boy I can’t wait…

Now … my question to the readers: Do you care about the personal lives of the drivers or do you agree with Trish’s point of view?

Connect with Summer!

Contact Summer Bedgood

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


©2000 - 2008 Summer Bedgood and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

05/30/2013 09:47 AM

I’m telling you…keep an eye out for the Danica sex tape scandal. All this stuff is for sponsors and money. That’s more important than winning races.

Any questions as to why NW and truck series drivers can’t move up? Trevor Bayne won the 500 and can’t get the sweet rides for example.

05/30/2013 11:11 AM

I agree with Trish. The focus on this relationship by the NASCAR media has reached the height of silliness.

Focus on the racing. Every race we go to the Patrick-Stenhouse thing is overhyped. As the Wheel Turns or the WWE, not much difference.

Bill B
05/30/2013 12:39 PM

The fact that stories that are tabloid fodder gain more and more traction and internet “hits” is indicative of the battle going on right now between fans. No one realizes it but there are two factions of fans. Those that want NASCAR to border on reality television and those that want it to operate like a true sport.
True sports fans realize that some weeks there won’t be a close finish, one team will win by a landslide or, in the case of motorsports, the race might end under caution. The other factions want any contrivance – wave arounds, GWC, lucky dogs, double file restarts and yes, personal business that has nothing to do with racing (I’ll call them soap opera stories) – that make it more interesting for them to watch and gossip about after the race.

05/30/2013 01:59 PM

Bravo, Bill B!

Jeff Gluck had a link on Jayski for his story in USA Today about Stenica.
I didn’t click on it 1) because I don’t care and 2) because I didn’t want to add to the click total on that article.

05/30/2013 03:50 PM

Danica will be gone in a few years after she works the NASCAR gig for all its worth. Then again she could win the Daytona 500, Darlington, Indy,move to Hollywood be on the soaps for a couple of years then to DC and run against Hillary for president in 2020. I would not mind a president who looks good in a bikini neither would Putin of Russia. Meanwhile Stenhouse Jr after following Miss D around like a puppy dog will be reduced to playing Off Broadway out doing Brandos’ role yelling “Stella! Stella!” 4 times a week.

05/30/2013 08:06 PM

Longest running joke in motorsports. Brian France using the excuse “the tracks dont want it, or, the tracks think its too expensive”. Excuse me, ISC (the business arm of Nascar) owns most of the tracks.So you’re really saying you dont want to spend the money.