NASCAR said it allows CBD sponsorships as long as the product contains less than .3% THC. Should such partnerships be permitted, or is it better if these companies follow big tobacco out the door?
Josh Roller: If any product can legally be consumed, it should be allowed to sponsor in NASCAR and any sport. Until an oversight organization, such as the FDA, says a product needs to be reevaluated, its sponsorship should not be questioned. No doubt this will stir up NASCAR Twitter by those who have opinions that oppose CBD or like products. But I doubt every NASCAR fan during the Winston era was supportive of cigarettes or even alcohol sponsorships. My one caveat would be that a sponsorship of any kind shouldn’t be present in a city, county or state where such product is not legalized.
Luken Glover: It is better to avoid it. In a world where controversy seems to be stirred in an instant, it is another headache NASCAR shouldn’t want to tackle. It just wouldn’t be appropriate to promote it at the racetrack. The health and moral questions surrounding it also can present gray areas as well.
Joy Tomlinson: CBD sponsorships could be good for the sport, as there are so many different companies out there now. It could provide additional sponsorship for drivers and teams struggling with funds. It would be best if the branding is only displayed in states that allow it, though.
Adam Cheek: Sure, why not? It’ll definitely ignite some controversy in terms of differing views on its use, but like Josh said, cigarettes and alcohol have been and, at least the latter, continue to have their logos emblazoned proudly on the hoods and side panels of cars today. Honestly, even energy drinks are borderline controversial: 1:64 diecasts of cars with 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy and the like stopped being made five or six years ago, reportedly for the very reason that it could pose dangers to some consumers. Monster continues to forbid production of smaller-scale diecasts with the logo on them. I definitely prefer the CBD sponsorships to political candidates, for sure, in terms of probably being a tad less divisive.
Kyle Busch said he has unsold races at the NASCAR Xfinity Series even for next year and it may affect his participation. Is it time for Busch to say goodbye to the Xfinity Series?
Glover: It sets up anticipation for his appearances. While I’m not a fan of seeing NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the lower series constantly, I also am not a fan of practically banning them from doing so. It presents a challenge a handful of times a year to see just how good these Xfinity guys are. Understandably, it is an unfair advantage for someone like Kyle Busch. But we have seen drivers in recent years either push Busch to the brink or even beat him. Justin Allgaier has given the two-time Cup champion everything he can handle the past two weeks. Plus, it adds a big name to the race. If you go to a lower series sporting event, it is always neat to see a big name there.
Tomlinson: Well, he did say he would stop after 100, but it’s OK for him to continue on if he still wants to. Other Cup drivers race in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series as well but don’t get hated on as much as Busch. It’s nice to have a villain-like person there, as it’s kept things interesting over the last few seasons. If he is done in that series, his personality would definitely be missed.
Roller: No. Busch should run his five races a season. If that helps Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota help fund races for other drivers, he should definitely race. Plus, the reduced participation has elevated the anticipation for the races he selects.
Cheek: I’m totally cool with him keeping on keeping on. Busch is a lot of fun to watch in the lower series: you can’t tell me it’s not fun to see him drive up through the field if he ends up penalized for whatever reason … or that time he ran the entire last lap at Fontana in 2016 and nearly won with a flat tire. It’s stuff like that that doesn’t entirely sour me on him going out there as much as he can, and he doesn’t smack the field as much as he used to. There’s so much talent in the ranks of NASCAR that he’s got to battle for it (see last weekend’s Xfinity race at Nashville, when he and Allgaier went toe-to-toe in the late stages).
Only four full-time drivers have won in the Truck Series this year, but that will likely change soon with the limits on Cup drivers. Who will be the next to break through?
Tomlinson: Grant Enfinger seems really close to a win and could do it at Knoxville Raceway. He has three top fives in three starts at Eldora Speedway, including a runner-up finish in 2018. This season Enfinger has two straight third-place finishes at Texas Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway. He also has four top fives in the last five events, so I’m keeping an eye on him.
Roller: GMS Racing has found speed in the last two months with Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith. It’s only a matter of time before Smith finds the winner’s circle. He is one of the few drivers at this time who can challenge John Hunter Nemechek for control of a race.
Glover: Smith seems poised to break through for his first win of 2021. He has gotten better over the course of the season and has found himself in the mix from time to time. Smith is an extremely talented driver, and if everything lines up, don’t be surprised if he’s the next regular standing in victory lane.
Cheek: I’ll go out on a limb with Carson Hocevar. Niece Motorsports had a more or less lackluster year in 2020 after Ross Chastain‘s departure and after the Melon Man nearly won the 2019 championship in trucks. This year, Ryan Truex has underperformed, but look at Hocevar: four top-10 finishes, three of those in the top five, in 12 races. He’s a hair over halfway through his debut season and sits 10th in points, ahead of Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Chandler Smith, ThorSport’s Johnny Sauter and a bunch of other talented drivers. Hocevar damn near won at Charlotte, too, closing in on eventual winner Nemechek in the waning laps and cutting three-tenths off the No. 4’s lead the final time around. He’ll get there, it’s just a matter of when.
Nashville Superspeedway struggled with traffic issues that caused complaints from some fans attending. Do you think that will be the lasting memory, or was the race it put on good enough to keep fans coming back?
Roller: The issues faced by Nashville were nowhere near as disastrous as what Kentucky Speedway suffered in 2011. Another advantage for Nashville is that the racing was pretty darn good. As long as the issues are corrected for 2022, this year’s traffic issues will be a distant memory.
Glover: The majority of the time when you go to a race, you’re going to encounter a race traffic sign. In a race that was so highly anticipated, people are going to be impatient to get to the track. It took place in a very strong demographic for race fans. Plus, it was sold out. There have been worse disasters before, and I’m sure the county and track will continue to look into how they can improve the flow in future years.
Tomlinson: Unfortunately the traffic problems for fans coming in may leave a more lasting memory than the race itself. However, I wasn’t there, so I don’t really know for sure. The race was pretty good, even with another dominating performance from Kyle Larson, but nothing really seemed to stand out from the afternoon. Hopefully the traffic problems will be rectified by next season. I will add that it was nice that NASCAR tried to extend the start time to allow more fans to come into the stands before the green flag dropped.
Cheek: Considering the onslaught of tweets that rolled across my timeline that day (with one calling it the worst experience they’d ever had from a list including NFL, NBA, MLB games as well as other motorsports), I’d say that’s at least the short-term lowlight. Then again, in between the hellish ingress and egress for fans was a pretty solid race that turned into what was essentially a fuel-mileage contest, but some fun restarts here and there and a good battle early on between Larson and Kyle Busch provided some entertaining bits. I think Nashville will strike the happy medium here: the experience was subpar, sure, but it’s something for them to work on streamlining for 2022 and beyond, and the fans are probably thrilled to have NASCAR back in any capacity and will be back in similar force next year.