NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Driven to the Past: Some Thoughts Before Going Into Hibernation…

Since I voiced the opinion a couple of weeks back that NASCAR should consider going back to stock-bodied cars, I think it behooves me to comment on the introduction of the new Nationwide Series car.

They’ve definitely taken a step in the right direction. The cars they tested look much more like those you see on the street than their upscale CoT counterparts.

No doubt they were working on this long before I and others put forth the idea that the CoT’s chassis with all its safety modifications could be put under a stock-appearing body, but it makes me feel like they’re headed the right way.

And I love the idea of working with a spoiler instead of a wing. As others have noted, none of NASCAR’s “approved” body styles comes that way. Maybe none have spoilers either, but they’ve been with us in stock car racing a little longer.

I suppose a return to bias-ply tires would be asking for too much “Driven to the Past.”

We can only hope that this trend continues and that it will help put the driver back into the equation, as it was in the days we remember.

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Speaking of those days we remember, I was impressed with Mike Neff’s commentary on the possible retirement of Sterling Marlin.

Sterling is one of my favorite characters, and maybe I’ve followed him because I remember his father, the late Coo Coo Marlin.

I recall once one of the ESPN crew telling me that Sterling had approached the announcers and asked that his name be pronounced correctly.

They asked for clarification, and his response was classic.

“Sterlin’ – Just like it’s spelled, S-T-E-R-L-I-N-G. Sterlin’.”

One of Mike’s quotes from Sterling echoed something all of us OF types have felt for some time.

He remarked, “The sport has changed. It’s not much fun anymore.”

Too bad we might be losing one of the guys who has made it a little fun nowadays, even if it’s just by listening to him.

A frequent poster on one of the internet racing chat boards I frequent says, “If Sterling Marlin and Ward Burton are the only drivers you can understand, you might be a redneck.”

I suppose you could add Bootie Barker and the Sadler brothers to that list.

One year in the week of our Busch race at IRP, our receptionist came back to my office and said there was someone out front who she thought wanted to talk to me, but she didn’t understand him very well.

I asked if she could understand his name, and she said, “I’m not sure, something like ‘Wad Button’.”

No doubt at all who it was.

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As an old PR guy, something’s been bothering me about the way the commentators and reports describe the two top NASCAR series.

Not that I care, but it seems to me that the Sprint people should be a little concerned about it.

Back in the day, it was “Busch Series” and “Winston Cup.” Cars were described as a “Busch car” or “Winston Cup car.”

Now it’s “Nationwide car” or “Cup car.” Been that way since Winston left and Nextel came in.

I have a feeling NASCAR should be a little concerned about this, too, if they really want to see the sponsor mentioned more. Isn’t identification and association the primary idea?

I understand that dropping “Cup” from the title and saying “Sprint Series” would create some reference to a completely different type of racing. “Sprint car” would bring an image with a car that doesn’t have fenders.

Got to be some way if they really want to do something.

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With the NASCAR season now coming to an anticlimactic end, this is the last regular Driven to the Past until February. I want to thank Tom Bowles and the Frontstretch editors for giving me this opportunity, and the readers for caring, particularly those who have been so kind in their comments.

Those who want to wake me up can try by emailing my winter cave at indybigjohn@roadrunner.com.

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