Vito Pugliese · Thursday October 3, 2013
Well, looks like my big mouth got absolutely nothing accomplished with regards to the 2014 Sprint Cup Schedule. No-go for Road America, and Bruton Smith seemed to shoot down any notion of The Southern 500 moving back to Labor Day weekend, trading with Atlanta. I mean why would you want to do that, anyway? Next thing you know we’ll be telling surviving WWII Veterans they cannot attend their own memorial, in the autumn of their years. Might still end up with a road course Chase race – I just fear it will be the wrong one.
I’m the biggest road racing honk for NASCAR you’ll find in print (or radio – they won’t let me on TV yet), but I’m just going to throw it out there – if you don’t like it, send it right back: Sonoma sucks in its current configuration. The Chute layout used since 1998 eliminated three passing zones, in an effort to create a “turn” and stick some grandstands in. Yah, great, it’s garbage. Use the standard carrousel course and the proper esses the way God intended, or run Watkins Glen for the Chase. Yeah, I know, “it might rain in October” in October. The cars weigh less now, it’s 2013, use rain tires, Rain-X, and a defogger. You don’t think people would tune in to see that? They’ve paved over all of the places a car used to get stuck, so I don’t really see why not.
If it’s ratings, actions, and a show you’re after, by all means — this is the answer.
Marty Reid was let go as ESPN’s Nationwide Series analyst, following a gaffe at Kentucky Speedway where he called the race for Ryan Blaney a lap before it was over. Two things here: was anybody still watching or cared, and if they’re going to bail after next year what difference does it make? Current racing coverage has issues that extend well beyond Marty’s penchant for gaffes, guffaws, and complete dark-tunnel moments when all thought and synapses just come to a grinding halt. Kind of reminds of watching old Formula One races with Murray Walker of the BBC or Ken Squier in his later years. I’d listen to what they were saying, and desperately wished I was able to see the race they were watching – because it sounded far more entertaining. At least Marty didn’t point out the mile of empty seats lining the frontstretch, that now has the camera operator looking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I predict by the end of the season, we will have witnessed a comeback special that will rival that of Elvis in 1968. It will be the joy of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and social media sights, everywhere. The show that will capture the attention of the racing world might just end up being Kurt Busch, completely losing his $#!+ on the radio after yet another botched pit stop or broken right rear hub on the No. 78. At this point, it’s kind of hard to fault him if he does. He takes what is basically a 15th place, single-car team to The Chase, and when they get there….they run like a 15th-place team, making the same mistakes that nearly cost them the Chase – and likely convinced Busch this wasn’t where he needed to make his home long-term.
When he had his well-documented Hiroshima hemorrhoid flare up at Richmond in 2011, he was taken to task publically for going off on the team over the radio. Okay, fine. But what was the result of that? Suddenly the No. 22 found some speed, was going door to door with the 48, and won the championship a year later. Sure, he wasn’t there to be a part of it, but sometimes you have to cut lunch to get things changed. While is on the way out, I have to think holding it in for the past eight months is going to spill over at some point. I just hope my NASCAR.com app doesn’t crash in the middle of it.
Tony Stewart who is recovering from a badly broken leg in a sprint car crash two months ago, said he will not be getting back into the car until late January or early February of 2014. While his rehab is ahead of schedule, it highlights two things: one, it wasn’t ‘just a broken leg’ – if you’re stuck in the hospital for a week and in bed at home for two more, something pretty violent happened. While not exactly the most disciplined in the form of physical preparation, the enhanced inactivity of his convolesence is going to take a toll strength-wise on Stewart as well. Having secured the services of Mark Martin for the balance of 2013, keeping him on stand-by for the first part of 2014 might prove to be smart move for SHR if Smoke has a set back or isn’t ready by the time Daytona rolls around.
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