NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Race Fans Are Ticker-ed Off

Ah, it sure was great to have stock cars on the track again in an actual race. Testing was great and all, but there is nothing better than some good competition amongst some of the best drivers in the world. The race was generally well-received by race fans, which was a positive start to a season full of changes. If anything, it bodes well for an exciting Daytona 500, and that’s aside from the fact that the pace car caught on fire.

However, the Sprint Unlimited was hardly the only race this week as the first couple of weeks of February are generally filled with various forms of competition within the Daytona area. One other race that is televised and made available to race fans everywhere is the Daytona “Battle at the Beach”, which showcases drivers from NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Run on Daytona International Speedway’s backstretch on a makeshift short track, it produces some of the best racing we will see all year, regional or otherwise. It puts the spotlight on those who might not otherwise get it and gives anyone who tunes in their money’s worth.

It’s a great reminder to race fans of the roots of this sport. Most importantly, it’s a reminder that there is a future to this sport beyond the current crop of drivers and new round of changes. Many of these drivers are climbing the NASCAR ladder, and are able to showcase their talents because of events like the Battle at the Beach. Even as some doomsday naysayers seem to think that just because they don’t like everything about the sport that somehow it is dying, there is still much interest and many competitors actively trying to break their way into the sport. Aside from the exciting racing, what this race spells for the future is one of the reasons that I was looking so forward to seeing this event again in 2014. I hope it’s a tradition that continues for many more years.

Now onto your questions:

“I’m so excited to have Tony Stewart back! I couldn’t even watch the end of the season last year without him in it. It just wasn’t the same. I know that we fans can’t talk him out of racing in sprint cars again, but are they at least making it safer? I can’t stand the idea of him getting hurt again!” Dalton

Absolutely, and they were a direct reaction to either the wreck that put Stewart out or others that caused the deaths of other drivers. Those changes include three new sets of safety tethers and two driveshaft torque tubes. Stewart sustained a broken leg in a sprint car race at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa when the tube struck his leg as it bounced around during the wreck.

Let’s keep in mind, though, that the injuries and deaths that occurred in sprint car racing were excessive last year, and exceedingly rare. Stewart could run double the sprint car races he did last year and come out completely unscathed without the changes. It was a bad year in general for that form of racing, and you shouldn’t worry about your favorite driver. Racing will always have its risks, but very rarely are the results that negative. There was a time when that sort of year was normal, but that is no longer the case.

”Do you know if there will be a NASCAR game released this year? And if so, when?” Melissa

Speaking of Tony Stewart…

NASCAR 2014 was released on Tuesday, which is the first time that Eutechnyx has released the game prior to the start of the season. Stewart was actually voted by fans to be on the cover of the game, proving that Dale, Jr. fans are not insurmountable when it comes to popularity contests. Honestly, it was one killer cover.

A couple of things about the new game, for those of you who are considering adding it to your collection. First of all, they are adding a free patch to the game to at some point align the game with NASCAR’s new rules. So if you don’t believe those of us who are saying that these changes are going to add a whole new excitement level to the sport, you can try it for yourself before we ever get to the end of the season.

Secondly, Eutechnyx has added a new feature called “NASCAR Challenges”, which places you in the middle of various scenarios from past races and allows you to race them yourselves. No word on whether or not “scratch your arm” is a cheat code in said scenarios.

So, Melissa, no need to mark your calendar. The game is available right now!

“I just wanted to ask what you think of the new timing thing on the screen for Fox Sports. I really hate it. It doesn’t tell how far behind a car is from the one ahead, etc. Are they actually going to use that for the regular races? I sure do hope not. I remember way back that they used to use something like that when NASCAR first was televised. Why go back!!!!!!!!!” Marilyn

Wow. An e-mail from a NASCAR fan saying that they don’t want things the way they were back in the day? It must be the end times.

I tend to agree that I’m not a huge fan of the ticker. The idea of providing more room for racing on the screen sounds like a good idea in theory, but in this case, it’s not an improvement. First of all, this new “box” that Fox Sports has doesn’t provide near the information that the previous ticker did, such as the number of cars on the lead lap or how far back second is from the leader. Even if it took up more space, this is information that fans want to know. Even if it takes up more space, the only information that Fox Sport’s current ticker provides is running order. The previous ticker helped complement the broadcast, though, since the commentators can’t cover every driver at the same time.

With all of the outcry I’ve seen on social media sent directly to Fox Sports 1’s Twitter account, I think it’s fair to say that they will probably change it. NASCAR fans complain about one of things, but the ticker at the top was never one of them. I’m always an advocate for changing things that need to be changed, but this was not one of them and they need to put things back the way they were.

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