DO THEY DO THIS IN OTHER SPORTS? NO!

Yesterday’s Dover race was clearly better than Loudon’s attempt last week.

Lots of racing, bumping, rubbin’, and even a tete-a-tete of sorts. However, what really bummed me out were the race commentators attempting to keep fans interested with their lap-by-lap “update” on the Chase points.

For example, with over half the race yet to go and Kenseth in the lead, the talking heads were putting him in first place in the Chase. How ridiculous is that? I can’t imagine watching the first game of the World Series with one team ahead by three runs in the second inning and the announcers saying something like, “Well, that pretty much clinches the game for the Sox; looks like they’ll repeat as World Series champs.” We would all call that announcer an idiot.

Look at the standings today — Gordon, Stewart, Edwards are 1-2-3 and Kenseth (remember, he was announced as being in first place around lap 190) is ninth in the points race.

How about it, guys, don’t keep updating us on where drivers stand in the Chase when the race is FAR, FAR from over.

It’s not only distracting but insulting!

TTFN,

Jon

NO ASTERISKS NEEDED!

There has been a great deal of mumbling about the Chase for the Championship as well as the Race for the Chase. Seems that some feel that anyone who wins the Nextel Cup Championship under the present system should have an asterisk placed next to their name.

Why?

Because the former system of identifying the champion took the entire racing season into account while the current system limits the championship to the top 12 drivers in points, and indeed the winner might not have been leading the points race when the Race for the Chase ended (see “Jimmie Johnson” in your NASCAR record book).

The fact is that nearly every U.S. professional sport (e.g., NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) has a system by which the “leader” at the end of the season still needs to win the “championship” regardless of its season record. Remember the 1980 Oakland Raiders? Wild card berth in the Super Bowl playoffs—defeated the Philly Eagles in Super Bowl XV! Did they deserve to be Super Bowl Champs given they were the “wild card” entry? Some still say NO! But the fact is, they WON!!!

Will the eleven drivers behind “48” be able to catch him? I don’t know. But, the fact is, just because some feel the “24” should be considered the “champ” because he was leading the points race at the conclusion of the “chase, the season isn’t 26 races long—it’s 36 races! Don’t count your chickens before the eggs hatch!

Off to Loudon.

Jon

A Tale of Two Cities

I’m not Charles Dickens but here goes: It truly seemed as if the best and worst of times happened in motorsports this weekend.

With Richmond you had the end of the long shot as Junior ran as quickly as he could but just didn’t have an engine that could do likewise. But that’s alright, now he can be free of the pressure to get into the Chase and just drive to win (I know, I know; he does that already).

Crossing state lines to the Paris (or is it London) portion of this story I actually watched the IndyCar Series race from Chicagoland (Wow a whopping 22 car field if I remember correctly).Wait I lied; I only watched the last half …

So, while not NASCAR, we saw the best of times for soon to be NASCAR man Dario F. while Scott Dixon must have just felt crushed. Of course we have intrigue as well (what good story doesn’t have a plot twist) as Danica P. mysteriously spun out with just a few laps to go. I say mysteriously as it was on pit road and apparently has happened before. Did someone say:” Conspiracy” boys and girls? (NOT ME).

Well, I guess that’s just racin as we say in the South.

Can’t wait for more mergers, new drivers, and the 08 season.

After all, it is a far, far better thing…

Michael

THE “F” WORD IN RACING

Last week Mike and I hosted, through our Department of Management, a panel discussion on “The State of NASCAR”. On the panel were reporters David Caraviello, Gene Laverty, Dustin Long, and Nate Ryan — names I’m sure you’ll recognize if you read newspapers and the .com’s that deal with NASCAR.

One of the topics that arose dealt with the “F” word—“franchising” of NASCAR. Opinions differed on whether NASCAR would ever consider franchising, mostly because of some loss of control if it did.

Dustin, however, opined that there are many forms of franchising and in fact, the “top 35 rule” is virtually a “franchising” of sorts. It gives drivers in the top 35 in points a virtual “franchise” by assuring them a place in the race. A question was raised about whether the “top 35 rule” was good for the sport, given that if my driver isn’t in the top 35, there’s a good chance he won’t make the race and I’ll be disappointed.

David quickly pointed out that this rule has nothing to do with racing but rather everything to do with guaranteeing sponsors they will have their car in the race. I’ve written previously about my dislike of this rule but I now have a different perspective on it.

I still don’t like it.

Would you prefer your driver to “get in” the race based on qualifying time or based on who the sponsor is? Granted, the drivers still have to earn their “franchise” but those who don’t have a franchise are at a disadvantage if they can’t get in the race — even if their qualifying times might be better than someone in the top 35 — in order to earn points toward the “top 35 franchises.”

Just thinking out loud.

Jon

XENOPHOBIA IS NOT A FLATTERING TRAIT!

Well, it’s official!

Joe Gibbs Racing will take to the race track in 2008 in a Toyota Camry — who woulda thought it? This is clearly seen by JGR and Toyota as a “win-win” partnership. JGR gets tons of support — financially and technically — from Toyota and Toyota gets to showcase its cars with a proven winner (make that winners as Tony, Denny and Kyle have been in the winner’s circle many times).

Thinking back, however, maybe Roush and Evernham were correct when they said that Toyota would have bottomless pockets and that other teams would need to start looking for creative financing to keep pace. We’ll have to keep watching the fallout from this change in manufacturers.

But the major problem seems to be a xenophobic attitude on the part of some NASCAR fans. They seem to forget that Toyota is the only car manufactured in the U.S. with the Ford Fusion being built in Mexico and the Monte Carlo and Charger being assembled in Canada. And don’t even begin to talk about where helmets, fire suits, gloves, and shoes are made!

It’s hard to believe that fans of Tony will stop shopping at The Home Depot simply because he’s racing a Camry. Draw the parallel with DE Jr. Will fans stop drinking Budweiser because it’s no longer on his car? Hardly. What NASCAR fans who are experiencing xenophobia should remember is that, while NASCAR is a sport, it’s also a business—BIG BUSINESS. Team owners must do what they must do, even with the chance of losing fans.

Frankly, I don’t care what they drive as long as it’s great racing!

Hope you feel that way too.

Jon