The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Days of NASCAR Thunder and the MWR NAPA Blunder by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday September 26, 2013

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NASCAR Mailbox: Days of NASCAR Thunder and the MWR NAPA Blunder

Summer Bedgood · Thursday September 26, 2013


My goodness … are we there already?

We say it every year and each season seems to go by faster. A lot happens between January 1st and September 26th, but do you realize that we are already less than three months away from Christmas? And 2014 is just right around the corner? There aren’t many more pastimes that will speed time along more than NASCAR, which lasts from February to November in what is a marathon for almost any professional sports league. Daytona to Homestead goes fast, though, despite the fact that it lasts almost the entire calendar year.

Christmas and New Year’s don’t scare me, though. After all, those are generally happy times with family that includes a break from the daily to-dos of being a NASCAR writer.

What really knocked my socks off was seeing Daytona International Speedway announce their Preseason Thunder dates for next year. Sure, I was interested in the news that the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series would be added to the testing schedule, but my first thought was, “Gosh, that’s coming up that quickly?!” January ninth will be here soon, but that means going through an entire off-season first.

Yes I know we have eight more races, Homestead, a banquet and, oh yeah, the holidays to endure before then. But we all know that all of those things will fly by so quickly and, before we know it, we’ll be crowning the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Time flies. Cherish it.

Now onto your questions:

”I’ve seen a lot of sponsors announcements lately, even though the stuff from Richmond is still being talked about. Like Jimmy John’s going with Kevin Harvick to SHR and Quicken Loans going with Ryan Newman to RCR. Is it possible that these sponsors still see the value of NASCAR despite what happened?” Josh

Of course they do, or they wouldn’t be signing on with these drivers.

I think the only thing about Richmond that might have scared sponsors is the fact that NASCAR removed a team from the Chase. That’s one reason 5-Hour Energy is publicly waffling about coming back to Michael Waltrip Racing (though the fact that they have been the recipient of such bad publicity probably plays a role too). It has to be unsettling to sponsors, who shell out millions of dollars a year, to see NASCAR unapologetically remove a team from Chase when there is so much money on the line there.

Cheating or no cheating, this is a business decision, and it would have concerned me if my company was on a racecar.

With that said, I think they also know that the Richmond circumstances were unprecedented, which means that NASCAR’s reaction had to be dramatic. They had to make a statement. For Jimmy John’s, Quicken Loans, Capterpillar, Outback Steakhouse—all of these sponsors that have been making announcements recently—they see the value in NASCAR and more than likely recognize that what happened in Richmond was an extreme circumstance.

Richmond put a dent in NASCAR, but that in and of itself won’t be the death of it.

”I saw an article on the LA Times that there is a NASCAR movie being made. What do you know about it?” Candice

Actually I found out about it the same way you did, though I do know that Neal Edelstein is the person who is potentially working on it in conjunction with Universal Studios.

From what I understand, though, it’s not being made right now. There is no name, no actors, and a plot-line that really hasn’t been developed yet.

Interestingly enough, the movie was initially pitched by NASCAR VP Zane Stoddard and is part of the plan by NASCAR to widen their fan base over the next five years. They think a movie will help bring more people to the sport.

Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, though I’m skeptical. I just think that widening the fan base extends to more than just getting people in the doors. They have to like what they see, too, and that’s where NASCAR is struggling.

”I really think Martin Truex Jr. should take NAPA to Furniture Row Racing. At least there he won’t be the victim of something he didn’t even do!!!! …Please tell me he’s at least leaving them?” David

Well, I can’t tell that to you, though some of his recent comments suggest he doesn’t necessarily want to stay.

The problem with your NAPA theory, though, is that NAPA might not even stay in the sport. Forget following Truex anywhere. They might want out entirely considering how much their name has been dragged through the mud on this one. Add Truex to that, actually, since he was the beneficiary of all that Richmond controversy.

Truex needs to be careful, though. Richmond aside, MWR has blossomed into a very competitive race team week in and week out, with Truex behind the wheel from the very beginning. It would seem foolish to jump ship now and head to a race team that is still largely considered an underdog, with or without NAPA on board.

NAPA might want to separate themselves from Truex, too. It doesn’t matter what either of them do from here on out. That is how they will be remembered if they stick together, which I don’t think is something that either of them want.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Truex leave MWR, but I would be surprised to see NAPA follow him anywhere. That seems to be the kind of situation everyone wants to remove themselves from.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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09/26/2013 12:00 PM

Darrell Waltrip gave an interview to 104.5 The Zone out of Nashville, TN speaking on “Spingate” and Gordon as the 13th chase driver. Download the podcast off the website. Pretty interesting.

09/26/2013 03:44 PM

sorry but I’ve declared my life a no waltrip zone. I don’t care what DW has to say.

Another NASCAR movie? Gee, didn’t they do enough with Talladega Nights to make the sport look bad?

Summer, the mistake NASCAR made was removing the WRONG driver from the chase, it should have been Bowyer.

09/26/2013 05:15 PM

Another NASCAR movie? It could not be anywhere near as bad a joke as Talladega Nights was. Could it?

I don’t know why Hollywood cannot make a decent NASCAR movie. “Thunder in Carolina”, “RedLine 7000”, “Fireball 500”, “Thunder Alley” (the one with Fabian, a movie that almost rivals Talladega Nights as the worst NASCAR movie ever), “Stroker Ace”, which Burt Renolds should have known better, as he was part owner of a NASCAR team at the time, and then another complete turkey, Days of Thunder, with one of the worst actors in Hollywood (some guy who’s last name is Cruise) were all terrible and didn’t do NASCAR any favors as a sport. The biggest problem is the mindset of NASCAR, in that, NASCAS has to get the idea out of its head that it is entertainment. NASCAR is a sport! Unfortunately, until Brian France is gone, this won’t change, and NASCAR will continue the downward spiral into oblivion. Sad really! Too bad Ronny Howard wouldn’t take on the project. I hear “Rush” actually treats Formula One with some respect. Whoever is going to do this NASCAR movie should take notes!

Fed Up
09/26/2013 06:33 PM

Ditto on comments from Jersey Girl on DW. I don’t read his Fox column on Jayski either.

Breaking news on the new
Hollywood production. Main characters will be Helton and France. Sequel to Dumb and Dumber.

09/26/2013 10:02 PM

Count me in on the “No Waltrip Zone” God those two are imbeciles.

09/26/2013 10:30 PM

I agree with jerseygirl, the wrong guy was removed from the chase. They at least should’ve started CB in 13th. I think he’s heading there anyway.

Had MW/MWR had a better executed plan, they may have gotten away with it. I am still surprised that MW hasn’t fired Ty Norris, the mastermind. Makes me think MW was in on this the whole time.

@ Fed Up, The movie will be Lindsay Lohan reprising her role from Herbie Fully Loaded to Herbie After Rehab.

@ Summer, good column. :)

09/27/2013 12:33 PM

Summer, you hit the nail right on the head. No matter what Nascar tries to do to get people to watch the sport, no matter what demographic, if the product sucks, people will still not watch it.