The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Wednesday Nights, Sprint Cars, and Rookie Egos by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday August 22, 2013

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NASCAR Mailbox: Wednesday Nights, Sprint Cars, and Rookie Egos

Summer Bedgood · Thursday August 22, 2013

 

As a media member, I live for breaking news. I don’t care if it’s silly season driver swaps or a driver taking a swing at their teammate post-race. If it’s newsworthy, I want to know about it and I want to be a part of it.

However, there is such a thing as overload and I think last Monday might have been it. Though the big news of the day was that Tony Stewart was out of the car for the rest of the season, the following plethora of news bits that came out afterwards about who would replace him was a whirlwind.

Still, it’s not hard to keep up with one driver out, a driver comes in from another team to replace him, and a different driver will fill in for him. Even I can follow a chain of events like that.

However, on the same day, it was announced that Ty Dillon would be running the full Nationwide Series schedule in 2014 with a new sponsor, Juan Pablo Montoya is likely going to race in IndyCar next year, Kurt Busch was offered a deal at Stewart Haas Racing and, sadly, Floyd Ganassi (father of Chip) passed away. May he rest in peace.

Now, granted, not all of this came in the form of press releases. A couple were granted as anonymous tips or exclusive interviews with other media outlets. Still, that’s a lot of news!

I’m not complaining, though. While I did mention last week that news often overshadows the racing—and I still feel that way—I don’t have a problem with doing the work itself. There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with trying to get the story up as fast as possible (after tweeting it out to all my followers, of course). That’s just with one story. I couldn’t tell you how many tabs I had open at one time this week and I think my typing speed doubled over the last couple of days.

It was thrilling, but I hope next time we have a rush of headlines like that, at least it’s about something that happened in the actual race.

Now on to your questions:

“I love the mid-week races like last night’s Truck race. The Eldora mid-week special was awesome too. Is there a possibility that we’ll have more races like this over the next few years?” Teddie

Well I guess anything is possible, but I’m a little surprised that NASCAR even moved up to three!

I don’t know if you were talking specifically about the Truck Series or if NASCAR was planning on running more mid-week races in either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series, but I would caution that getting your hopes up about them adding any more in any series may wind up in disappointment.

Night racing was all the rage a decade ago, and as quickly as it was new and unique – it was overdone and over-saturated. Special events like the mid-week Mudsummer Classic at Eldora should remain just that – a special event all its own.

First of all, one of the main reasons the trucks run Wednesday night is because the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series are running Friday and Saturday night. It’s not a typical Friday, Saturday, Sunday weekend like other racing triple-headers. So we have an opportunity for NASCAR to have a prime time race where it will still make some sense.

The Eldora weekend was, well, special. Yes, they could have done it Friday night; there was no conflict with either of the other two series. Both were at Indianapolis and running during the day on Saturday and Sunday. But the Prelude to the Dream was usually done on a Wednesday night and, by now, it was just tradition.

The reason that they will—and ultimately should—keep the mid-week races to a minimum, though, are that they are unique. If they start to add too many, they begin to lose their luster and it can be tough to maintain a prime-time audience when there are usually a multitude of other choices out there. The goal is to constantly attract new race fans, and it would become difficult to do that with too many mid-week races.

It’s something they can get away with in the Truck Series because it is a lower tier form of racing, so I wouldn’t expect the higher-ups to move the concept to either Nationwide or Sprint Cup.

“I saw where Tony Stewart is planning on racing sprint cars again when he heals up. Does he not care enough about his team to realize that it’s in his best interest to stop?” Darren

Oh, come on now. Stewart could just as easily crash his street car on the drive back home from his race shop.

Stewart has been in dozens of sprint car crashes in his life, and rarely has he ever been injured let alone so badly that he had to sit out for a big chunk of the season. Statistically, the odds are in his favor to keep racing.

As far as his team (and I’m sure you’re wondering, his sponsors), first of all it really doesn’t matter because he’s the boss. Second, I guarantee you he is racing with a blessing from his team and, at the very least, some understanding from his sponsor. Mobil 1 was sponsoring the car that he crashed, so obviously it wasn’t an issue before and I guarantee you they are getting plenty of publicity from all of the goings on at that No. 14 team in the first place. Both Mark Martin and Austin Dillon are professional sponsor shills so the sponsors won’t go unmentioned or unnoticed, which means they have no reason to worry.

And they know that just as well as I do. Plus, despite Stewart’s absence from the car, soda cookies will still be on your TV screens every weekend.

The Sprint Cup Series is littered with drivers who progressed too quickly from Nationwide to the Sprint Cup Series. Kyle Larson would be wise to heed the mistakes of those before him, like Casey Atwood.

“I saw where Kyle Larson told Sporting News that he thinks he could handle the Sprint Cup Series just fine. Of all the people who have given their opinion on the subject, isn’t Larson himself the most qualified person to give it? If Larson says he’s ready, he’s ready!” Robert

Right, because when you had a crush on that girl in middle school and said you were going to marry her someday, you were clearly qualified to make that statement because it’s your life.

Obviously Larson would think he’s ready for the Sprint Cup Series. No driver in his right mind would say, “Oh yeah the Cup Series? Nah, I’m not sure I’m ready to do that just yet. Give it a couple of years.”

They might think that’s a logical and smart career path, but they aren’t going to shoot down the opportunity if it is proposed to them and they certainly aren’t going to send the message to potential team owners that even you don’t think you’re ready.

What Larson did in saying what he did is he put the ball in Ganassi’s court. Had Larson told SN, “No, I think I need more Nationwide Series experience”, Ganassi might have found another driver. Now, Ganassi can make the determination as to whether or not he thinks Larson is ready to up.

News flash: He’s not. He hasn’t even won in Nationwide yet, and even Joey Logano—a driver many point to as proof that Larson shouldn’t be moved up too quickly—was dominant in the Nationwide Series before/when he did get moved up to the Cup Series. Larson has been impressive in several races this season, but isn’t a weekly contender let alone championship worthy.

I don’t know what Ganassi will do. I wish I did. I don’t think even they know for sure what is going to happen yet. But I think if all parties are being honest with themselves, Larson needs some more experience right where he is.

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Carl D.
08/22/2013 01:18 PM
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Summer…

Spot on about Larson. There seems to be tendency for fans and some in the media to see a driver with above-average talent and a few positive results and they just can’t wait to see them in a top-tier cup ride beating the crap out of everyone else. It just doesn’t happen that way. Talent has to be nurtured, and there is no substitute for experience. Kyle Larson isn’t ready for cup yet and he won’t be come next February. And thanks for reminding readers that for every Tony Stewart, there’s a Casey Atwood. In fact, there’s probably several of them.

GinaV24
08/22/2013 01:52 PM
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I agree with Carl’s take on moving up too soon. Look at what happened with Logano just recently — far better IMO to get more experience in Nationwide or trucks and then move up, rather than jump into a ride and fail at it. How does that help a driver develop and draw in the fans?

Dan
08/22/2013 08:22 PM
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So does anyone know what Casey Atwood is doing?

Oraine
08/23/2013 01:37 PM
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Hello

I really enjoyed browsing around on your site today and I wanted to reach out and see if I could contribute a article.

It’s about how to get better MPG in your car. May I send it over?

Looking forward to speaking with your either way.

Kind regards,

Annie
08/24/2013 01:07 AM
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Logano is no Atwood, not by a long shot..As for this push for Larson, why???? So you the very people that pumped him up can tear him down?