Race Weekend Central

Four Burning Questions: The End of Print, The Future of Bayne, And JJ In Victory Lane?

*What’s the deal with National Speed Sport News?*

In a wonderful press release sent out yesterday, the motorsports leader in journalism for as long as most fans have been alive has printed its last edition. National Speed Sport News has long been one of the most respected publications across the board and is considered by many, including myself, to be the pinnacle of motorsports journalism. But this is a sign of the times. Print publications have struggled to survive in the age of the Internet, and it seems as if NSSN is the most recent casualty.

“This is one of the saddest days of my life,” said National Speed Sport News Publisher Corinne Economaki. “The sluggish economy has made it too difficult to continue publication and no matter how I try to make the numbers work – and believe me I have tried – it is just not feasible to keep the business going. For 76 years, since August 1934 when my father Chris sold copies of the first issue at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in northern New Jersey, to today, as I oversee the very last copy printed, this paper has been an integral part of my family.”

The online version of the newspaper will still be updated, but that doesn’t soften the blow of knowing that the March 23rd print edition will be its last. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, gets their news online these days. Heck, I do to. But there’s a certain character to print publications. Sure we can get our motorsports news on Jayski as news breaks, and that has its own place, but publications like National Speed Sport News and writers like Chris Economaki need to be read in print. It’s like the New York Times only having an online edition, or laying in bed and reading a great novel…on your tablet. It just doesn’t have the same feeling.

As a writer, and as a person who enjoys grabbing his newspaper and reading it every morning, I hope and pray that there will never be a day where newspapers cease to exist. It’s a shame National Speed Sport News has fallen victim of the times, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last.

*Is Trevor Bayne REALLY not running the All-Star race?*

Though the sponsor dollars are not yet there, expect a concentrated effort by both NASCAR and the Wood Brothers over the coming months to secure the dollars for Trevor Bayne to be there when the lights shine on NASCAR’s all-star event.

As of now, no. But do I believe it…no. Bayne became eligible for the event by winning the Daytona 500, but it seems at least for the moment he won’t have the opportunity to follow it up with an All-Star win in the same season. Team co-owner Eddie Wood said in a piece by FoxSports, “We weren’t planning on going to the Open anyway,” he said. “Naturally, we’re in it, but we weren’t going to run it. If you’re going to spend money, you’re going to run points races.”

It’s a perfectly logical explanation and you can’t blame the tightly budgeted team for its decision. But there’s still some time between now and the All-Star race. There’s plenty of time for a sponsor to hop aboard, and trust me that NASCAR would love nothing more than to have the driver that they clearly market as part of the future of the sport in the primetime event. And Wood didn’t exactly shut the door on the idea either:

“If a sponsorship deal shows up, we can go do it,” Wood said. “There’s still time. It’s simple enough to do. But as of now, we’re not going. As things are right now, the first race we’re not planning to run is Richmond. We won’t go to Dover or the All-Star race, either. The schedule we have is all we got.”

I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I’ll put my money on Bayne being there.

*Should fans expect another snoozer this weekend?*

A number of fans were again upset with the racing at the “new” Bristol one week ago, and many expect the same when the Cup Series heads to Fontana this weekend. Infamous for fuel mileage races and what has been rather lackluster racing in years past, Fontana is under pressure to put on a show this weekend in front of what is expected to again be a less than impressive crowd one week after the first sign of falling TV ratings after Bristol.

Call it a hunch, but don’t be surprised to see a better than expected race this weekend. I hear from a lot of fans, and from what I’ve heard expectations are not high. Fontana can produce some exciting racing in spurts given its high speeds and multiple lanes, and under the right circumstances could make for a good finish. It will certainly have its dull moments, but I have a feeling we’ll see a decent race this weekend.

*Can Jimmie Johnson get win No. 1 on the season this weekend?*

It’s amazing how quiet Jimmie Johnson has been this season, yet he still has two third place finishes in four starts and sits seventh in points. On the heels of a solid third place showing at Bristol, Johnson now heads to one of his favorite tracks where he will likely be considered the favorite. There aren’t may tracks where Johnson doesn’t excel, but Fontana is one of his best. In 16 starts he has completed EVERY SINGLE lap and only finished outside of the top 10 four times. Of those four non-top 10s, his worst finish is 16th. On top of all that he has finished outside of the top 3 just once in his last eight starts and has a career average finish of fifth.

Want to bet against that? I don’t. The five-time defending champion will be in the mix Sunday, and I don’t think anybody would be surprised to see him in victory lane.

“Contact Mike Lovecchio”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14358/

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