Toni Montgomery · Friday April 22, 2005
Here we are almost a quarter of the way through the season and I haven’t checked in with a Busch Series fan’s favorite weekly show, Speed’s NBS 24/7. I very much enjoyed the show last year and was happy that it returned this season. Now after the first few months, while I still tune in every week, I’m not enjoying it as much as I did last year.
The show is done exactly the same way as before, so what could be making it seem so different? Well, there are several things actually. First, there are only two teams appearing this season because Akins Motorsports did not return this year. Team co-owner Doug Stringer tried to keep a good atmosphere around his team and did little things to keep the job fun which added a lot of light moments to the show. Also, the man who quickly became the crewman star, Mark Schmuck, was a member of that team. Their absence leaves a little bit of a hole in the show.
Second, FitzBradshaw Racing and Braun Racing have returned but there seems to be some difference in the way the teams relate to each other. All three were competitive with each other last year but it always seemed to be a friendly rivalry. The teams talked and gave each other little digs but it all seemed to be done in a spirit of fun. Perhaps the change in the relationship also has a little to do with the missing Akins Motorsports team, but there may be more to it.
Relations between Braun and FitzBradshaw became a little strained late last season due to some ugliness in David Stremme’s move from Braun to FitzBradshaw. While Braun seems happy enough with his new driver choice, maybe there is still some bad blood there that is creating a rift in the flow of NBS 24/7.
Things remain status quo at FitzBradshaw. It’s often a light attitude thanks to the personalities of team co-owner Terry Bradshaw, a frequent cutup, and driver Tim Fedewa, who rarely seems to take himself too seriously. New driver David Stremme is quietly fitting in and seems to get along well with his teammate, with the possible exception of a blowup after Stremme took himself and Fedewa out of the race at Nashville. That issue was resolved immediately in a closed door session, a rare private moment where NBS 24/7 cameras did not venture.
There is also the proper amount of seriousness, mostly on the part of Armando Fitz, who ends up dealing with most of the problems and rarely seems happy after a race. Who could blame him? After several years of Busch competition, it’s fair to say his teams are still not performing up to the level he believes they should. Fedewa’s team had a revolving door for crew chiefs last year and might be on the same roller coaster again this year so that’s one cause for concern. In addition there were some transmission issues, an ailment common among Busch teams this year so far, that held both teams back and left them with some poor finishes starting out the season that didn‘t necessarily reflect their performance accurately.
As for Braun Racing, here we come to perhaps the biggest difference from last year. Here goes what I’m sure you could guess was coming. Braun Racing is now Camp Hmiel as Shane and his brother have moved in. It is actually quite amazing to see how much a driver sets the tone for a whole team. This barely seems like the same organization as last year. I understand that a team needs to support its driver in order to succeed but it’s almost eerie how those team members seem to have altered their personalities to match Hmiel’s.
Habitual readers already know how I feel about Shane Hmiel so personally, for me as a viewer, while the other things I mentioned contribute, I think Hmiel’s presence is the number one reason I am not enjoying NBS 24/7 as much. For one thing there is the language. Yes it’s beeped out and no I’m not all that hyper about language. I’d rather not admit to the things I let fly when provoked and normally it doesn’t offend me to hear it, but it’s the frequency. Neither Shane nor his brother seem able to get out a complete sentence without including an obscenity somewhere, especially on race day. Those obscenities are usually F-bombs. Do we give them credit for not playing around and going straight for the worst of the worst?
I know it’s a high pressure situation and most of the drivers do it, but viewers from last year like myself have to have noticed we didn’t hear the constant beeping last year that we are hearing this season. When I am hearing more beeps and seeing more #$%* on the subtitle than I am words, it gets on my nerves and I start to have a problem with it.
It’s not only the words he uses but also the way he talks about other teams and drivers. It’s not a secret anymore that Hmiel has little respect for others on the track, but more than that, he just doesn’t impress me as a very nice person. Laugh at me if you will, but rudeness is among my pet peeves so I find it a turnoff to hear Hmiel trashing another team or driver. I’ll give you that Hmiel is entitled to his opinions just like anyone else and he doesn’t have to like anyone he’s around, but there is a difference between simply stating that dislike (like I am doing now) and being rude about it. I know he’s not the only driver who behaves that way but I don’t recall saying I cared much for the others who do it either. And they say we Yankees have bad manners…
Watching this past week’s show I suddenly heard Ricky Rudd’s voice in my head while watching Shane react to the FitzBradshaw team’s pleasure over his Bristol troubles. Rudd wasn’t referring to Hmiel at the time but I could hear him saying “I don’t know what he was saying, he just has that little yap yap mouth.”
At this point I’m actually hoping Hmiel will move on to Cup. If he did, he wouldn’t be taking up time on my show. Yap yap.
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