Today’s Question: In light of complaints leveled by several NASCAR drivers this week, Goodyear is on the hot seat following the race at Atlanta. This isn’t the first time the tire company has come under fire in recent years; with that in mind, is it time for another manufacturer to be allowed to supply tires within NASCAR? Or has Goodyear proven they deserve to continue on as the sole supplier for the sport?
After four weeks of high speed racing, beating and banging will be the name of the game this week as the Sprint Cup series heads to Bristol for the Food City 500. At a track where people are often taken out through no fault of their own, this is definitely a wild card weekend for fantasy owners. So which drivers will help your fantasy team survive at week at the fastest half-mile in racing? Read on to see what the Frontstretch experts have to say in this week’s edition of Picks ‘N’ Pans.
Toyota broke through with their first Sprint Cup win as a manufacturer on Sunday. What else can we expect from them throughout 2008, and how will the other three go about stepping it up?
Author’s note: Ladies and Gentlemen, as you read today’s Top 10, dated March 12th, 2008, you may feel a slight sensation of deja vu. Do not be alarmed! You are not stuck in some twisted NASCAR version of the movie Groundhog Day. But then again, maybe we are! It is very hard to tell with such things. Believe it or not, what you are about to read was originally published March 13th, 2007! Why, you may ask, are we bringing it up again? Well, it seems Tony Stewart went on the same tire tirade last year at this very time! Perhaps it is time for Tony to get a new publicist; or maybe, this is a sign that “the more things change, the more they remain the same,” especially in NASCAR.
It seems like every couple of weeks during the season, the headline the day after a Sprint Cup event announcing the race winner is shared by either the newest physical altercation, one driver “trash talking” another, or unnecessary rough driving being committed by a competitor. Although I do believe NASCAR attempts to keep behavior at an “acceptable” level, I am not naive enough to understand that the sanctioning body knows a little public controversy can be good, as long as people spell the name right (note to the stick and ball reporters out there: it’s spelled N-A-S-C-A-R). Anyways, as long as I hold onto that belief, it makes it easier for me to understand why the sport does not put a stop to about 90% of such shenanigans. It certainly is not because they the sport is helpless to reign in their “bad actors.” We all know they can do that!
But stillâ€¦they don’t. And judging by Brian France’s comments in January, in which he claimed the sport “needed to get back to its roots,” I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
However, since there’s more coverage now than we can wrap our hands around these days, I do have some thoughts to start what will become a roundup around the NASCAR TV circuit each Tuesday. My main displeasure with FOX as of late isn’t with the talent, or even the barrage of sponsors; instead, it’s their personnel’s contention they brought us the new invention of “Gopher Cam” (with the cartoon mascot now being called “Digger.”)
1. Where Have They Been? – It appears that some race fans, missing from the television viewing audience the last few years, have decided to give NASCAR Sprint Cup racing another shot. Ratings are up for the four race broadcasts (Bud Shootout, Daytona Qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400) televised this season that did not suffer a rescheduling due to weather (California). Overall, the FOX network has seen a 3% increase in its race ratings, with last week’s Las Vegas broadcast increasing by a whopping 13% in comparison to last season’s race.
The Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta may have made history at the front of the field — with Toyota claiming the first victory for a foreign-born manufacturer since 1954 — but it also featured a number of drivers trying to prevent history of a different sort at the rear. With just one race remaining before 2008 owner points are used to “lock in” provisional spots, those on the dreaded bubble were trying hard to avoid any sort of Atlanta pitfall which would leave them on the wrong side of the cutline. With Bristol up ahead, the unpredictability of a half-mile short track makes it the highest-stress event on the circuit for a team that has to snag a good finish; so for most teams Sunday, the goal was to put the bubble out of reach of even the worst Bristol disaster.
As I was getting in my car for the Gatorade Duels, I said to myself, “Okay, Herman. You can do this. You’ve done it before.” Except I knew there was more on the line than just making it into the 50th 500. This was a chance for me to prove myself for once and all, on the biggest stage in auto racing. This team was giving me an opportunity to show my ability. As the race went on, it wasn’t looking very good. They dropped the green flag and the ignition went out. We had to pit and restart last. The whole race was like a dream. I was so focused inside the racecar on what I had to do; the drafting, all my moves.
I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and my father and mother started taking me to what they called the “hardtop” races at the Jeffersonville (Ind.) Sportsdrome when I was 10 years old – in 1949. I was hooked from the start. Those hardtops were mostly 1939 and ’40 Fords and Mercurys, with an occasional ’39 Hudson tossed in, and the racing was fantastic.