Q: Attendance is down at every venue thus far into 2009. Fans unhappy with the CoT are blaming the new car while disregarding how dire our national economy has become. Is there a comparable metric to show that all consumer spending is down and that disposable spending on NASCAR tickets might likewise be affected?
Though it is fair to debate whether or not it is wise for the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule to have a bye week only four weeks into the schedule, few would disagree that scheduling a race at Bristol Motor Speedway after an off-week is a great way to restart what is sure to be a long, grueling season for fans and competitors alike. Seems that if there is one thing that the diverse fans of the sport can agree on is that Bristol Rocks!
The Sprint Cup Series returns to its roots this weekend with the first short-track race of the 2009 season. Since it was resurfaced, Bristol Motor Speedway has gone from a one lane bullring to a multi-groove, high-banked, high-speed oval unlike any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Even with the new surface, Bristol is still home to a lot of beating and banging, and the Frontstretch Fantasy Insiders are going to make sure your fantasy shelves are stocked with talent for this weekend’s Food City 500.
Turning a bad or mediocre racecar into a contending ride is a practice that Kyle Busch employs in the Truck Series, where he is a threat to win in nearly every race he enters in Billy Ballew Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota Truck. Busch has elevated the competitiveness of BBM, an operation that he has talked on and off again about possibly owning, despite the team not having the same resources as others they compete against. Busch says that his experience helps to bridge that gap. “We don’t have a lot of research and development going on. Pretty much, what I have in my truck is what I know and what I have learned from the Nationwide cars and the old Cup cars. That’s where all our stuff has come from.”
10. Let them use the newly named “Robby Gordon Memorial Shortcut” through the infield so they stay more competitive.
Four races in, how would you grade the 2009 Cup season to date? And what, if anything, can be done to make things better?
I was pretty excited at the beginning of the week at Daytona. We started out pretty good in practice. We didn’t have a lot of speed on the speed chart, but the truck was handling really well. We figured if it would handle good on old tires, we’d be good for the race. We also figured when we got around the other trucks, we’d be a lot faster because of the draft. We mostly focused on getting the balance of the truck a lot better. I think we did that.
When the pre-race interviews begin on Sunday morning, I can guarantee at least one question that will be put to the drivers. “What did you do with your week off?” We will then be treated to a brief glimpse into the daily lives of our motor sports heroes. Kind of cool. After all, what else does a NASCAR driver do other than go in circles every weekend? What else does a NASCAR fan do when their favorite guy takes the week off?
Following Kurt Busch’s dominating Atlanta win, he celebrated by driving his car in reverse around the track in a new kind of victory lap. Later, he said that the idea came from a Miller Lite drinking session with his buddies. So, I thought we’d speculate on some of the other ideas that might have emerged from that brainstorm in a special edition of the Top 10….
One of the bigger beefs longtime fans of NASCAR have today is the unimaginative size, shape, and location of too many of the current venues. Like the cookie-cutters that once dominated baseball, NASCAR’s schedule today is dominated by garden-variety tracks with no standout features. Little distinguishes Kansas Speedway from Chicagoland, Homestead, Las Vegas or Texas, especially when watching on television. Some newer tracks are to be applauded for the things that do improve the fan experience (like seats instead of benches), but they are clearly built with the same intention as the concrete doughnuts in baseball were – to attract as many fans as possible and to expend no energy on design or quirky originality.