MPM2Nite

MPM2Nite: Does the Brickyard 400 Still Matter?

The Brickyard 400 (now presented by no one) is being run this weekend. It'll happen next year. But will that be the case in 2012 and beyond? And does anybody still care? Once envisioned as part of the pantheon of stock car racing events equal with the Daytona 500, Southern 500, and World 600, the Brickyard has become almost an afterthought, the "highlight" during a stretch of long, boring races that make up what I call the "Summer Slump." Do you think otherwise? A good ticket to the first few Brickyard 400s was all but unobtainable despite the massive inventory of butt perches the track offers. This year, sales would have to double overnight to reach merely pathetic status.

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MPM2Nite: Odds and Ends For The Off Weekend

I’ve got to admit, finding out this was an off weekend for the Cup series caught me by surprise. Traditionally this had been the second Pocono race weekend, but I guess it makes sense to separate the two Pocono dates by more than a month. Fans need a couple more paychecks to help pay for seats. In a way, perhaps we’re all lucky. After a hot dry start to summer here in Pennsylvania, the last five days have featured violent electrical storms and heavy downpours. Hey, I love jetskiing … just not in my basement. Many writers, even those who should know better, have written this week that this Sunday will be the last off-weekend for the sport. As best I recall, there’s no race on August 28th, between Bristol and Atlanta. I pray to a benevolent and forgiving God that’s the case because I simply can’t fathom going from now to Thanksgiving without one more weekend to catch my breath. I think the Geneva Convention forbids such cruelty.

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MPM2Nite: Waving The White Flag Of Surrender… Before It’s Too Late

Every few months, Brian France feels it behooves him to address the state of the sport. Such press conferences tend to involve a lot of disinformation, misinformation, long words used incorrectly, and non-existent words being formed, as well as much waving of hands and bright red-faced zealotry comparable to a holy roller seeing the first bag of rattlesnakes entering the sanctuary. The assembled press watches, nods, duly takes notes, and wonders all over again how this moron became head of NASCAR. But what was surprising about the “State of the Sport” speech this weekend at Daytona is that Brian France, his very own self, admitted it might be time to modify the Chase format.

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MPM2Nite: Cleaning Off My Desk – NASCAR Odds ‘N’ Ends

To the considerable delight of some and the consternation of others, I’m taking a couple weeks' vacation. But the “In” box of my desk and my email address are so full to the bursting, I’m going to do this week’s Thursday column just in an attempt to play Hercules and clean out those Aegean Stables. *Tasmanian Be-Devil-ed* It figures. A week after the Michigan snoozer, I decide to skip a recap and something of interest finally happens at Sonoma. I mean, what are the odds?

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MPM2Nite: An Unforgettable Day With My Father

_Writer’s Note: This article was originally run on the Father’s Day weekend of 1996, and I run it again every year at this time in memory of my dad._ The 1973 Daytona 500 probably doesn't top most fan lists as the greatest running of the real Great American Race. Its outcome was not decided by a last lap wreck like the classic 1976 or 1979 events, nor did it feature two drivers nose-to-tail heading for the stripe, as in 1993 or 1996. But it is, and always will be, the most memorable running of the February classic in my book, because it was the first NASCAR event I attended. My dad took me.

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MPM2Nite: The Curious Case of Churlish Kyle

It’s a modern journalism phenomenon. The mainstream media seems to love elevating politicians, athletes, celebrities, and would-be celebrities to prominence, then spend the next few years trying to chop them off at the knees. To a lesser extent, it’s the same with the racing media, yours truly included. We’re often not sure what it is, exactly, that we want. We’ll write about boring races, then decry the fact NASCAR threw an unnecessary caution to spice up the end of a race. We’ll decry the fact that drivers have become sponsor-spewing bland robots, yet the second we let just one of them show some negative emotion, they get taken behind the woodshed and beat to shreds in the press.

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MPM2Nite: Pocone and Pocotwo? A Solution to Pocono’s Supposed Problems

I must admit, as a guy who has called Pennsylvania home for going on four decades now I feel a great deal of affection for the Pocono track. I won’t claim it’s the best one on the circuit (that honor belongs to either Darlington or Richmond) or that it provides the sort of constant side-by-side excitement that once was Bristol. But I have witnessed some outstanding races at Pocono. I remember in particular Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s last lap, land-rush finish in 2001, Jeremy Mayfield knocking Dale Earnhardt the original aside on the last lap in 2000, and Tim Richmond’s emotional comeback win in 1987. (Unfortunately, I’ve also seen some terrible crashes there, too, including wrecks that almost killed Bobby and Davey Allison, Harry Gant, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon.)

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MPM2Nite: Sizzle and Gristle Not For Everyone, NASCAR

I guess it was a couple decades ago, a new style Japanese restaurant opened up in a town nearby the small burg I called home (where the local McDonalds was considered fine cuisine) and became all the rage. "We just had to try it," a friend assured the woman I was dating. Well, that put me on edge. I’d hated every movie her friend had ever suggested, every song, every scenic point we just had to see, and most of all I just hated that friend of my lady’s. But being in a relationship means occasionally having to listen to her wishes as well. Wincing, I checked my credit card balance, patted the Harley an unwelcome goodbye on an off night for us, and loaded Vickie up in my El Camino for the dinner. (I think showing up at a Japanese restaurant in an El Camino is a pretty sure sign you’re outside your comfort zone. )

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MPM2Nite: The Next 5 Hall of Famers

The hullabaloo surrounding the opening of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame has reached a crescendo, or at least the highest level of noise the marketing types in Charlotte and Daytona Beach have been able to achieve. Let’s just say that said opening is a few notches beneath the general public’s radar screen, and it’s unlikely Diane Sawyer will be broadcasting the Nightly News from the Hall unless maybe Carl Edwards agrees to put Brad Keselowski on his roof again.

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MPM2Nite: The Merry, Merry, Month of May

Saturday’s Cup race was run on May 1st. I love May. It means the start of car show season and nearly daily Harley rides as the temperatures warm up to a level these old aching bones can tolerate. It’s a pretty good month to be a NASCAR fan, too, with Richmond, Darlington, Dover, the All-Star Race, and the World 600 all on the slate. Fast, loud cars on some of the circuit's best circuits? I’ll be there with bells and whistles. But I remain a fan of not only NASCAR racing but auto racing in general. And growing up, I recall when the month of May meant one thing for racing fans. It meant the Indy “By Gawd” 500. Indy wasn’t just the biggest story in auto racing, it was the biggest story in sports bar none.

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