Today’s Question: If DEI is indeed for sale, should Dale Earnhardt Jr. be the one to buy it and keep it in the family name?
My Jay Robinson Racing team continues to find our way. This is a new situation for me to try to make our team better. We went to Nashville and we were competitive to where we were able to finish 16th, on the lead lap which was a feather in our cap. We’re pointed in the right direction. That was a good run for us. Our team was happy–I didn’t think I would ever be happy with a 16th-place finish, but I thought it was good for our team.
After Nashville, we went to Kentucky and had a fuel pump break at the drop of the green flag-the very first lap. That was disappointing because the goal on our team is to finish every race in the top 20. When I do that–finish in the top 20–that really makes us feel like we’re headed in the right direction. But life goes on there and you move on.
During Wind Tunnel on SPEED Channel Sunday night, another driver complained to Dave Despain that NASCAR needs to install better cooling systems in the Car of Tomorrow because of driver discomfort in the current model. But Despain responded in the same manner that I felt, stating that he does not think that improving the cooling system in NASCAR racecars should be a priority, because he has a little bit of trouble feeling sorry for men who get paid millions of dollars to drive them little more than a few times a week.
The Sprint Cup Series went from the gritty Darlington Raceway to the glitzy All-Star Race in the last two weeks; but now, it’s time to get down to business in the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. Sunday’s event will be a test of endurance for the drivers and crews, as they fight the change from racing in the daylight to finishing under the lights. But how will your fantasy team hold up during the year’s longest marathon? More than any other race, you need to build around not drivers who that not only finish first, but specialize in being around at the finish: consistency and durability in your lineup are the keys to coming out on top. So, which drivers will help you go the distance and have your team outlasting the competition, and which ones will fizzle out before the end? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out.
Always a straight-shooter, but with a kind and down-home demeanor that makes the man easy to like, Richard Childress is a bonafide American rags-to-riches, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy success story. Though losing his father at the tender age of five years old and knowing poverty first hand, Childress has become unimaginably wealthy and resides in one of the most impressive homes in Davidson County. His charitable deeds and contributions to his community are considerable and are accomplished in a manner that fits his personality–humbly and with little fanfare.
Moments after taking his first career Darlington win, Kyle Busch got out of his car, hopped on the roof, and took a bow as if he were the hero. It was the culmination of a burnout performance worthy of his Indiana Jones paint scheme. Too bad the fans thought it was the equivalent of a standup comedian telling five straight minutes of awful jokes. The sold-out crowd showed their appreciation – or lack thereof – in all sorts of different ways: beer cans, boos, and giving him the middle finger. And so it goes for NASCAR’s resident villain these days.
One of the wildest accidents I’ve ever seen happened in the 1987 Kroger 200 at IRP. It was the first time Dale Earnhardt came up there to run it. At the practice session the day before, I had Tommy Houston set up for an interview with an Indianapolis TV station, when the reporter came over and said his producer called and wanted him to do an interview with Earnhardt instead.
Can you imagine how mind numbing it would be to watch 36 races in a row at Fontana, or a season composed entirely of 500-mile Sunday afternoon races at Pocono – about a third of which would probably be blighted by poor weather? Even the best tracks in that scenario would get dull awful quick. Fans across the country would be turning off in droves after watching week after week of “The Big One.” And they’d be equally bored with 10 months straight of high-banked half-mile racing at Thunder Valley, regardless of how much beatin’ and bangin’ there was on offer. Variety, as the old cliché goes, truly is the spice of life.
Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears. It’s time to put an end to this restrictor-plate madness at last, before some other driver pays the ultimate price. It has been nearly two decades since NASCAR implemented the plate rules as a “temporary fix” at Talladega and Daytona. Tuesday would have been Dale Earnhardt’s 57th birthday were it not for the last lap tragedy at Daytona in 2001; let’s ensure that we learn something from that death, and those of many others.
NASCAR commercials deliberately focus on the sport’s tradition and history. They remind us that in every era of NASCAR, there have been great finishes, great victory celebrations, and great rivalries. When I say “nice try,” it isn’t meant to be sarcastic or critical. It is actually meant as a compliment. NASCAR had at least finally noticed that their unwelcome innovations in recent years have been Chasing (pun intended) traditional fans away from the sport. For recognizing that, they truly do deserve credit. But ultimately, a full-force marketing campaign and any number of speeches isn’t going to undo the damage done to NASCAR’s old-school fanbase during the Brian France era.