Looks like a rather slow news week happening in the NASCAR world. Sure, there’s little bits of stuff here and there but nothing that causes one’s ears to perk up. The 2018 Cup schedule is supposedly reaching finality, for example without many of the major changes fans were looking for. Already leaking out is that there won’t be any midweek races, which would have been a radical departure from the norm — but is also a likely harbinger for NASCAR’s decision to stay the course in certain areas.
Oh well, we’re here to focus on the positive side.
So let’s get happy.
Happiness Is…Allegiance. One of the stories ripping its way through Twitter on Wednesday was the announcement that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be racing a car with the Philadelphia Eagles emblazoned on it. Sponsorship dictates what makes its way onto the hood and his car will not be the first with a sports team being ostentatiously displayed. One of the more common occurrences of late is for universities to use the cars as another roving billboard. But a team from the National Football League seems fresh.
What makes the story fun and will surely be part of interview back-and-forth when Earnhardt sports the livery at Pocono is that he is a well-known Washington fan. There’s radio chatter between he and his pti crew of Earnhardt asking how his team is doing, so it seems that they’re not that far from his mind even when driving.
His sponsor, Axalta, is behind the Eagles adorning his car so the whole deal is one of a funny split allegiance between work and play. No doubt Earnhardt will figure out a way to have fun with this paradox which means that for anyone following the sport, the accompanying humor should make for good theater. We all need the lighter moments sometimes.
Happiness Is…Caring. Last week, Pete Pistone tweeted out a funny response to a question posed by the Sirius XM feed. The question focused on what fans cared about with the following five ideas listed: TV Ratings; Car Counts; Start Times; Attendance; and Cost to Teams. Pistone’s response:
No other fan base in professional sports cares about anything remotely close to these subjects but yet it’s dwelled on in NASCAR https://t.co/RrKymo3HyX
— Pete Pistone (@PPistone) March 30, 2017
The question that his response raises is: why? What is it about the sport that the fans are so inherently invested in these topics. Is it because of the lack of changes in other areas – be it driver movement, or changing of the schedule? Does not enough of the sport ‘move’ which makes these topics that much more of a focus?
One could argue that giving such attention to these matters shows how much the fans care. And maybe that’s it. They have felt invested in the sport and disruptions to something that once fostered devotion brings consternation and anger.
Happiness Is…Modification. Last week, Goodyear brought one of its new tires to the show. Racing at Martinsville, a track that hasn’t changed in since President Harding was in office (kidding, of course), little tweaks like tire changes can mean a lot, especially as the new aero package has changed little as far as the on-track product. This week, there’s more change on the horizon.
Texas Motor Speedway recently enjoyed a repaving and along with it came modifications to the track. The key aspect is that the banking in Turns 1 and 2, has been reduced from 24 degrees to 20, with a widening of the track there now hitting 80 feet. While it may not seem like the biggest changes in the world, they are changes nonetheless and should, at least, provide a different element to the racing.
While it’s not like Texas was going to blow up the track and create another Richmond or Martinsville, these alterations are an attempt to improve the racing. For all of the detractors of the sport who have grown tired of the 1.5 mile circuits, these types of changes are the ones that need to be made to give these ‘cookie cutter’ tracks more personality. Will it lead to better racing? Let’s hope. But at least they did something.
Happiness Is…The Other Guys. Whether or not you’re a fan of Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell teaming up in the comedic cop film is of no matter. The other guys here alludes to the fact that while NASCAR will be situating itself in the land of big hats and big hair, IndyCar will be hanging by the beach and Formula 1 will be locating itself in Shanghai.
For both series, the races will be just the second of the season. For IndyCar, racing at Long Beach is one of its staples and a showcase event. The thought of the cars cruising past the fountain always seems to come to mind. For F1, the big question will be whether or not Mercedes returns to form and takes the top spots after being outdone, both in performance and strategy, by Ferrari.
Enjoy the racing.
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