1. Dollars to Doughnuts
When an NBC producer handed Daniel Suarez a box of doughnuts and asked him to pass them out to fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, it was a fun, lighthearted piece with a likeable rookie driver. But a few weeks later, it cost Suarez a sponsor.
Subway, which had completed three races of a four-race deal to sponsor Suarez in the No. 19 this season, dropped the fourth race (Talladega in October) after seeing the segment. Why? The box of doughnuts was from Dunkin’ Donuts, which also sells breakfast sandwiches.
Because Subway sells breakfast sandwiches, it considers the other company a direct competitor. Apparently it expected Suarez to refuse to carry the doughnut box or ask for a blank one or something of the like. It seems pretty obvious that there was no ill intent at all by Suarez.
The move backfired on the company, though. It comes across as greedy and petty, and fans were quick to let the company know that. Check out the replies to this Tweet from Subway today; pretty funny stuff.
Dunkin’ Donuts has a golden opportunity to get the upper hand here, too by picking up the race that Subway dropped over the print on a box that had little to do with the segment at all.
2. Oh, wait, there really was debris
I’m still scratching my head over NASCAR losing its mind over Landon Cassill’s reports of debris at what would have been a very opportune moment for the driver. Cassill is far from the first driver to report debris, real or imagined, when he would benefit from a caution. He’s unlikely to be the last, though if NASCAR intends to call the crew chief of every driver who does it to the hauler after the race, it might put a damper on things. Or there will be a lot of crew chiefs hanging out in the NASCAR hauler.
The kicker here is that there was actually debris, and the caution waved just a few laps later. But even if there wasn’t, it seems like a strange choice of things for NASCAR to take exception to. It comes across as favoritism, or lack thereof, because it’s such a common occurrence. I can’t recall NASCAR having that reaction in the past. It seemed out of place and uncalled for.
Hopefully the sanctioning body at least apologized when the real debris showed up.
3. All that work, virtually erased
Most readers know by now that I’m not a fan of a playoff system in NASCAR. This year illustrates perfectly why that is: Martin Truex, Jr. has had a dominant season, with over a 100-point lead with 11 events to go, two full races’ worth of padding. While the playoff points he’s earned will carry with him and are enough to assure him passage to Homestead, one mistake, one bad pit stop, one mechanical failure and everything he’s worked for goes away.
Remember 2016? Jimmie Johnson didn’t have the car to take the title that day, but one mistake between Joey Logano and Carl Edwards and suddenly it was Johnson’s title to win. It’s not that he didn’t earn the title in the closing laps by capitalizing on the circumstances, because he did. It’s that the system sets that up… and loves it. Unless Truex absolutely implodes in the next 11 races, it will feel a bit cheap if anyone else carries home that new (and surprisingly not too tacky) Monster trophy.
4. Gee, thanks for the ride, Pop-pop
My first thought when Ty Dillon, GEICO and Germain Racing announced a contract extension was “Does Richard Childress have any more grandkids lying around who want a ride?” If he does, that extension might not mean much. I mean, the last guy had just signed one, too.
5. The way the cookie-cutter crumbles
Many of this year’s most exciting races have come on short tracks or road courses. While I’m not sold on the addition of a “roval,” or infield road course combined with most of the Charlotte oval, I think it’s a step in the right direction. But then what do we get?
Another race at Las Vegas, a race that was taken from a unique one-mile track. NASCAR had the opportunity to stand up for fans and tell its track partners that if they want to move races to 1.5-mile or larger ovals, they must come from 1.5-mile or larger ovals and not from tracks that produce a different kind of racing. Such a rule would protect Darlington, the short tracks and the road courses that give fans the best shows. It could encourage track owners to invest in buying or building short tracks.
Also, if you want to increase fan interest in the XFINITY and Truck series, take them far away from those bigger tracks and back to the regional short circuits. The racing would be as good as it gets, the Cup drivers would be out of the picture, and the fans would see some of the sports roots. It’s time.