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No Cup race this weekend means itʻs time to find other ways to have fun (credit: Nigel Kinrade)

Odds & Ends Around the Track: Trouble in Paradise Edition

Once again NASCAR can’t win for losing! One of the best races of the year as far as on-the-track action got moved to a Monday evening slot. NASCAR reporter Jeff Gluck always runs a YES/NO poll after each race, and I was shocked this race was a 50/50 split.

I have been one of the more outspoken critics of this aero package, yet I saw that it worked well at Michigan International Speedway. We still didn’t have many green flag passes for the lead, but we had many attempts at passes and close racing. Now NASCAR heads into an off week for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on what used to be one of the more popular weekends of the year: the traditonal Father’s Day race at Michigan.

Fans Can Handle the Truth

Rainouts in NASCAR happen, and there is a backup plan for everything. These plans are developed well in advance and usually available for the asking by Thursday before race weekend if you have connections. As a meteorologist, I seldom publish a bad weather forecast because I don’t want to hurt the gate at the track in any small way. But when I saw the weather shaping up for Sunday (June 9) I asked around last Friday morning (June 7) and found out that the make-up time on Monday (June 10) in case of rain was 5 p.m./ET.

But when it came time to call off the race on Sunday afternoon, the television and radio broadcasters told the fans it was because of a bad weather forecast early on Monday. The actual reason was the lack of a television slot on FOX Sports 1 because of the Women’s World Cup.

Once you start lying to your fan base with such indifference, you break trust with your fans. A few brave folks in the media reported this fact to the NASCAR fans at the same time radio and television were passing along a “Three Bear’s Story.” Come on. NASCAR fans can handle the truth that FOX Sports had their hands tied because of a world soccer tournament that only happens once every four years.

Do Traditions Matter

I confess to being old fashioned because the traditions in auto racing still mean something to me. While I am not a very religious person, I appreciate the pre-race prayer from the preacher because I know it’s important to the drivers, teams and their families who are about to put their lives on the line. I enjoy some of the special traditions at different tracks including things like a high school band performing the national anthem at Martinsville Speedway races.

Racing on Father’s Day weekend is as important to NASCAR fans as it is for golf fans and the U.S. Open golf tournament. As NASCAR gets prepared to shuffle their schedule in major ways, I sure hope they respect these traditions because they still matter to many of us NASCAR fans.

Canary in the Coal Mine

This was a tough week for this reporter because I heard a whopper of a rumor about a major NASCAR team planning to shut down their operation for next season. While this information came from a usually reliable source I have known inside NASCAR for many years, I refuse to make huge waves based on one single rumor.

While I didn’t want to contact the team mentioned in the rumor yet, I did make a few other calls with my reliable sources within NASCAR and tap-danced around the issue without hearing anything close to a second source for the rumor. But if a Charter-owning team that runs up toward the front of the pack in NASCAR’s Cup Series is thinking about leaving at the end of the year, this move would be a major “Canary in the Coal Mine” for NASCAR.

In recent weeks, we have heard lots of rumors about possible additional manufacturers thinking about NASCAR, and maybe this will save TEAM X. But if a major team is looking to leave the sport with uncertainties over money paid to teams via the series sponsorship or lack thereof, that has to be a huge concern for everyone going forward.

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About Dennis Michelsen

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Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.

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27 comments

  1. Avatar

    My bet? Its Chip Ganassi and it will happen. Losing Kurt and Monster after this year and Kyle Larson wants out.

  2. Avatar

    A Charter team that runs up toward the front? My guess would be Petty Racing. Okay they don’t run that close to the front on a regular basis but the 43 has been in the mix for short periods of time. When I say mix I mean in the top 10 or 15. Let’s face it Richard Petty is more or less a figurehead with probably little to do with the operations. Getting up there in age too.

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      When was Petty a regular in the top 10 to 15 in recent years? Absolutely not.

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      Read it again. Didn’t say on a regular basis. Said don’t run close to the front on a regular basis. Notice short period of time.

  3. Avatar

    Until they get away from the endless aerodynamic crutches and adjustments the debate will never end. How many spoilers, fins, wings, and other devices can they keep messing with to somehow chase the fantasy of parity in racing? NASCAR has long ago lost sight of what the product is supposed to be. They are selling controlled entertainment not competition. IMO, there is a major paradigm shift but I don’t see that ever happening.

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    Nationwide leaving Hendrick should be seen as the writing on the wall for things to come. Sponsors can’t and won’t pay money that seems to be wasted due in part to lack of TV coverage, since only certain drivers are shown. ROI! ROI! ROI!

  5. Avatar

    The definition of a major team is important. I would consider four teams major: Penske, Gibbs, Hendrick, and Stewart-Haas. One of these shutting down would be earth-shattering in the NASCAR realm.
    Maybe stretching this you could throw Ganassi in there also. Any other team is a step or more below and if any of these shut down, while bad for those involved, would not be a stunner.

  6. Avatar

    “As a meteorologist, I seldom publish a bad weather forecast because I don’t want to hurt the gate at the track in any small way”

    WTF? As a meteorologist you should be reporting the facts to the best of your ability. If you aren’t then you are a piss poor meteorologist and reporter. Aren’t you lying to your “fan base” when you don’t give a truthful report? And by misguiding possible attendees aren’t you leading them down a doomed path if the actual true forecast comes to fruition? I’m sorry, this is what’s wrong with news reporters today, they have an agenda other than reporting the facts and the truth.

    Also, I didn’t think this race was one of the best of the year, I thought it was one of the worst or average at best. I kept seeing guys get a run, attempt to pass on the inside, almost make the pass, and then have the car being passed and possibly the next car or two also getting by and the car trying to make the pass have to get back in line. While the package did keep Logano from opening a wide lead, all that does is give the illusion that the race was closer than it really was. In reality it was just a high speed parade.

    Wow, I still can’t get past the idea that a meteorologist would give a fake report and be proud of it. Geez, no integrity left anywhere.

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      Agreed. Also explains why he (along with too many others) are preaching how great the racing was when I saw it with my own eyes and know better!

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        Good point but I can accept that he thinks the race was good, that is subjective and I realize as I am reading it that it is just an opinion with which I can chose to agree or disagree.
        The weather report is supposed to be based on facts and empirical data. To ignore that data and report differently is extremely wrong if it is your job and you are being paid to do it. Even more so if it is being presented under the guise of legitimate news and not an opinion.
        Well you know the old joke about weathermen…. it’s the only job you can keep and still be wrong 50% of the time.

    • Avatar

      I am not getting PAID to give a weather forecast, although in the past I have worked for a NASCAR team that wanted that info (many years ago now) so why would I post anything that might hurt a track get fans to the show? A weather forecast always has a level of uncertainty to it and a good meteorologist doesn’t get too full of himself thinking he will always be right!

      What makes a good or great race is in the eyes of the beholder and everyone is entitled to their opinion. As I mentioned I dislike this aero package BUT I was entertained from start to finish by this race.

      Thanks for your feedback.

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        But of course if you want to follow me on Facebook or on Twitter @DMICMEDIA and want to ask about the weather for any event I will be glad to give you my best forecast

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          After what you’ve said here why would I ever want to ask you for the weather report? Unless I want fiction of course.
          BTW, nobody expects you to be right, they expect you to look at the data and report it without any conflicting interests. Apparently, you don’t get that.

    • Avatar

      What’s new about having an agenda reporting other than the facts and the truth? Happens every day and not just by the media. Plenty of untruths coming from the top in this country nowadays. Guess it’s all in who you want to believe. Me? I try to take everything I read or hear with a grain of salt now.

  7. Avatar

    The possibility that one of the charter teams will shut down is the real news. One of the back markers wouldn’t be surprising. Even RPM wouldnt be a major surprise, but above that?
    Then to think that sponsors on the car may not be enough anymore, that its the manufacturers tha make the difference, my how times have changed.

  8. Avatar

    na$car just proved how dumb they think we are. i knew 5 pm start time on monday had to do with tv coverage. i’m really surprised that they waited to run race at 5 pm and didn’t run it earlier in the day and do delay broadcast. could they not had pre-empted whatever daily nonsense is on fox during the work day?

    i fear sooner, rather than later, the broadcasting of the races will come with the opening ceremonies going on while coverage goes to track. in this pc correct world we live in, i cannot imagine the invocation continuing to be televised. rarely do you see anthem at baseball and football games unless it’s a big game. i know they do the pre-race coverage at indy, for the 500, but that’s a once time a year event. but weekly, some person has to be wondering if all the pre-race coverage is needed. in the past, i think the only race that had a big-deal pre-race show was daytona 500 as it was the first race in the season and it ended speedweeks. never use to have hollywood hotel or nbc pit studio that was hauled around to the tracks.

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      Was it NASCAR or FS1? Because the announcers are hired by Fox right? I always assumed so, and FS1 really disappointed me, they play the CAN vs Cameroon before the race, broadcast the race, then replay CAN vs Cameroon? Wth is that?

      I would think that the national anthem and prayer is probably within the current contract to be broadcasted, that is my assumption anyways because that is eating commercial time and if these big networks have proved anything, it is they will cram as many commercials in as they can during sporting events. I agree though, won’t be long before some PC movement pushes to get rid of these pre-race events.

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      Thanks for your feedback! Well back in the old ESPN coverage of NASCAR they would start the broadcast with the cars already rolling out on the track, maybe we will go back to the future on that stuff

      • Avatar

        if we could only have the old espn broadcast group! back then i remember when rpm tonight debuted. that was a great show. they covered all form of motorsports, not just na$car. john kernan!

        yeah i’ll admit it, i’m old. but the race day, pre-race and ongoing breaking back to the studio at charlotte is getting too much. yeah they did that for rain delay this past sunday, but sometimes too much of what people thought was a good thing can be bad.

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        That would be fantastic if Fox and NBC actually went back to starting races as the cars rolled onto the track. It would also be fantastic if networks would run commercials during pit stops. Any significant pit stop developments could always be reviewed during the race.

        As far as a major team shutting down, I’d agree on Ganassi. On the other hand Kurt Busch recently said he’d consider another year with the team of Monster was on board. Roush is no longer a major team but does run TOWARDS the front. And it hasn’t been the same since Edwards and then Kenneth left all those years ago.

  9. Avatar
    Christian J. Budd

    Close racing /= good racing. Half the fans in Jeff Glucks Poll realized that. Holding it wide open the whole time sucks, and it’s the same reason why many people didn’t like plate races in the past. Having a quasi plate race every week sucks, and we’ve taken a sport that was already pretty car dependent and made it even more so. The driver is a very small piece of the puzzle, evidenced by the fact that only two organizations have won races outside of one fluky plate race.

    The real question is, how long will people who hate this package stay tuned it? Hilariously, we were told by Steve Phelps that NASCAR made a mistake chasing casual fans, then they proceed to piss off half of the dwindling remaining fanbase with their crappy rules package.

    But hey, at least they might get a new manufacturer!

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      Unfortunately, another manufacturer running this horrendous package won’t help the racing get any better. And as I mentioned in another post, I’m out for the rest of the year – at least for the cup series. Pains me to be this way. I’ll still follow what is going on, but I just can’t keep supporting something I don’t enjoy nor agree with. I hope they seek out medical help for their rectal cranial inversion and get this fixed before 2020. Don’t know how long I can stay interested without having compelling, *authentic* racing and an interesting viewer experience while other entertainment entities are stepping up trying to get my attention…

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        Jeremy – let me know how Xfinity looks, maybe I’ll start opening my Saturdays and chore on Sunday Fundays instead 🙁

        Unfortunately I feel that the more vocal group seems to enjoy this type of racing, it gives them a fake feeling that it’s close. The guys in the booth and on race hub (etc), writers, youtube talkers, and MRN broadcasters keep hyping it and talking about how great the racing has been compared to last….news flash….is sucks compared to the early 2000s. They cite the passes and lead changes under green. Stats are cool especially if you have 6 lead changes during green flag pit stops. This package is as one of the writers called it ‘lip stick on a pig’ and its frustrating. I wish the younger group 25 and lower would go back and watch some of the races from the late 90s and early 2000’s, not every race was tight but you often had tight multiple groove racing through the field, beating and banging at short tracks with drivers on edge working that wheel for all 500 miles. This crap we have today looks like large scale go-karts running around at WOT.

        Everyone wants parity? Remove the aero advantage from these cars, I’d bet its a lot cheaper to hire good engineers to create mechanical advantages than it is to pay engineers and wind tunnel time along with buying one of these new scanners. The side panels of these cars are engineered to bow inward (out of spec) during the race to create more side force, then come back to spec once they are done racing…how much money you think it took just to discover that aero advantage? (hours of engineering, analysis, wind tunnel, full body scans, etc)….That is why I believe you don’t see this parity everyone is itching for, why you wont see a smaller funded team compete with these highly funded teams and it is unfortunate. That hood scoop they ran at the all star race makes me fear they are looking into continuing with high drag and reduced HP for the future generation. I spend a long time complaining to my wife after that Michigan race cause I am such a frustrated fan, I hate the chase for the championship crap, I hate listening to these guys during the race try and convince me that this package is awesome every week, and I really hate hearing about how track position is so important when I use to hear how having a fast car is important! Now you can have a fast car but if you restart 8th with 10 to go you are essentially eliminated from winning especially with this double file restart crap!
        Sorry that was a longer reply than I intended…

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          Thanks for the feedback everyone!! I abhor this race package, I am still from the Dan Gurney camp of the best racing having the least down force and the most horse power but the Michigan race entertained me. But people do have different tastes which is why there are more than just chocolate and vanilla ice creams available!

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            Yes! Less down force. Unfortunately the only thing that is for sure about the Gen 7 car is that they will be running reduced HP…