Goodness, there has been a lot of breaking news this week, hasn’t there? Austin Dillon is replacing Tony Stewart. Brian Vickers will be a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver next season. Juan Pablo Montoya is out at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover the race weekend at Watkins Glen.
Remember when Silly Season used to be over the offseason, making an otherwise quiet couple of months something to keep fans engaged? Now, silly season is yearlong and drivers normally announce that they are leaving a team and where they will be racing the next year over the course of the season.
It creates conversation, sure, but by Wednesday we were already done talking about the race. Instead, it was about Stewart’s replacement and whether or not NASCAR could possibly go on without Juan Pablo Montoya.
Ok, so maybe I exaggerated a little bit there. Still, though, the musical cars game that is played in NASCAR tends to distract us all from the reason we’re all here in the first place: racing. Yes, drivers switching teams do have relevance on track and it’s much more interesting when Driver X crashes in a contract year than when he spins randomly in qualifying.
However, is that really the point? Do we really enjoy gossiping more about who hates who on pit road than watching the cars divebomb into turn three on the last lap? It sometimes feels like the former receives more excitement than the latter.
And don’t you Grumpy Gusses say it’s totally the media’s fault either. Sure we write the headlines and talk about it ourselves, but you still click the links. You still read the and engage with us on social media. It’s why we keep talking about it. Look, I’m just as guilty of any at getting sucked into silly season speculation as opposed to discussing the on-track competition. It’s easy to do.
But, man, we’re all here for the racing. Can’t we just focus on that for a while?
Oh, wait hold that thought …. I have to finish my piece about where Montoya will race next yar.
Now, onto your questions:
“I know Austin Dillon probably thinks he’s getting a great opportunity to drive for Tony Stewart with this deal, but I read he’s missing qualifying to do this. Has he forgotten that he still has a championship to win?” Candice
I think Dillon sees this as a “short term loss, long term gain” situation. His ultimate goal is the Sprint Cup Series, and I think he’d prefer some laps in a Sprint Cup car than participate in a non-points paying on-track part of the weekend in Mid-Ohio.
The only issue I have with that is the fact that road course racing is not by any means a track where qualifying doesn’t matter. Though the Nationwide Series cars aren’t nearly as aero sensitive as the Sprint Cup cars, and road courses aren’t as prone to that type of issue anyway, the layout of road courses make passing in a stock car inherently more difficult. I don’t have to know a lot about Mid-Ohio to know that this will likely be the case this weekend.
However, if Richard Childress Racing, Stewart Haas Racing, and all of the sponsors involved are ok with it, I don’t see any real reason for it to be a big deal to the rest of us.
“Summer, you criticize fans all of the time for complaining too much. So, did you see the video with Humpy Wheeler? He says the same things we are!! Are you really going to tell HIM he’s wrong?? PAY ATTENTION!!” Robert
I saw his comments, Robert, yes, and you may be shocked to find out I don’t fully disagree with him. Though I wasn’t a regular NASCAR viewer in the ’90s, I know enough about the history of the sport to know that the popularity of the sport soared in the 90s and, to an extent, the early 2000s. Everything was looking up in the sport at that time.
He said that everyone saw the sport as too “country” (redneck, basically) and that many thought the sport needed to be cultured and more relatable to the everyday American, and went on to say that those people were wrong.
I agree with him. Though I know that, as a business, your goal is to reach and appeal to as many people as possible, there is something to be said about reaching out to your base. Sometimes certain products appeal to certain demographics more than others, and stock car racing just happens to appeal to a Southern white male audience more than anyone else. It doesn’t make it racist, stupid, or white trash. It’s just that, for whatever reason, it’s appealed to those kinds of people. But because NASCAR stuck with them and didn’t care what the rest of the world thought, it grew in popularity and more people gained interest. Now, I know NASCAR fans of different genders, ethnicities, and from all around the country—even around the world!
They screwed up when they tried to go further and made their base feel like they weren’t important anymore. In other words, when NASCAR grew, they changed in order to try and keep those fans who were giving it another look.
It would be like the hip hop music industry going to play in front of a Starbuck’s to bring in the white girl crowd. It just doesn’t work.
Now, where I get critical with the fans is when the constant bitching in spite of a good product continues. People complain incessantly about the chase, but it’s given us some great championship battles that would have otherwise sucked. Jimmie Johnson wins the 2013 championship this year, no matter what, without the Chase. It’s already over and there are still 14 races left. Heck, it was over way before that, but it’s certainly over now.
The 2011 championship wouldn’t have come down to a tie on the last lap of the race without the Chase. Last year’s championship had its moments.
The Chase has its flaws. I’ll admit that. But you take what you can get, and the fact is the product it has created has been heads and shoulders above what it had been before then in some cases.
Also, calling every single race boring or flipping out when Jimmie Johnson wins gets old too. That’s where my criticism comes from, not that NASCAR has tried to get away from its core fan base. I agree with that part completely.
In other words, I thought Humpy Wheeler was right and I loved his ideas about more points for winning and passing. I’ve expressed similar ideas before, and I’d love to see Wheeler in a leadership role in NASCAR to bring some of these ideas to fruition.
However, saying I’m not paying attention is ignorant. I enjoy the races because I look for reasons to enjoy them. Sometimes it feels like fans look for a reason to complain.
“What is Mark Martin doing next year now that Vickers has his ride?” Jeannie
Michael Waltrip Racing never said whether or not Mark Martin would be with the organization next year, though Waltrip did say during the Vickers announcement that they still wanted him to be a part of the company.
I haven’t heard Martin say he’s ready to hang up his helmet just yet, though, so another part-time schedule wouldn’t be surprising. I’m not sure if it will be with MWR or not, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see MWR pull another sponsorship miracle out of a hat. I know Waltrip wants to run the Daytona 500 and is looking for sponsorship there, so perhaps he and Martin will share a ride next season.
Then again, maybe Martin has another offer from somebody. I can’t imagine with who, but stranger things have happened in this sport.
Rest assured, though, Martin isn’t done with racing until he says so. And he hasn’t. All signs point to Martin being a part of NASCAR in some capacity for a while now.
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