NASCAR and the MLB Nightmare

So what do Major League Baseball and NASCAR have in common?

They both will probably have the same nightmare. What’s that nightmare? Think about how much trouble the MLB head office went to ensure that the World Series games would not be (1) during the day on a weekday and (2) not up against football at night. So what happens? First, Colorado sweeps the National League pennant. Bosox saves the day by clawing out of a 3-1 deficit to win the American pennant.

Then the NIGHTMARE—a Bosox sweep in four!

So, let’s now look at the situation in NASCAR. The New York front office increased the number of drivers in the Chase (and Jr. still didn’t make it), hyped the change in the points system to reward race winners, and kept talking about how the top five drivers in the Chase are all capable of winning the championship even as late as the Martinsville race. Three weeks ago I wrote that after Martinsville, the Chase would be down to two drivers — no one even flinched. Well, we now have exactly that — Teflon I and Teflon II.

Who even cares now that we know that Hendrick will once again carry home the trophy — just which of the Teflon men will it be? Do Tony’s fans care? Matt’s? Denny’s? Hardly!

Yes, gentlemen (and ladies): we have a repeat of the MLB Nightmare — except now it’s NASCAR’s turn. As Mike said, “twice of one or half of the other”! Better leave the lights on so as not to fall asleep.

Jon

Oh, Atlanta?

Same old place
Same old city

So begins “Oh, Atlanta” by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Yesterday I only had time to see the final few laps (wait…I think from here on out I will tell my friends “I saw the last two cautions” or some other indicator) as I was tanning my face at our yearly Highland Games and Celtic festival in Richmond.

So what did I see? Well I saw that NASCAR can’t seem to live up to the hype. Listening to the drama created on the radio as I drove home, I thought we would see 12 cars run out of gas and a dark horse emerge to gain victory from the heartbreak of defeat.

And so? And so ?

Blech, as my kids once would say. Blandness was snapped from the jaws of excitement-and just in time! Guess only my FedEx man knew how to deliver the goods in the excitement arena—just ask Martin.

Oh well, like a tired army we drag on towards our Appomattox that is the end of the season. I mean, really, are you excited over twice of one or half of the other?

Think about it.

That’s the (Celtic) view from here.

Michael

PS-If you get a chance to see a band from Dallas named “Needfire”, do so. Now, they give their crowd a show!

THE “35” RULE AND LITTLE TEAMS

In Monday’s NASCAR.com headlines, it was announced that Bill Davis (of Bill Davis Racing–#22 Dave Blaney and #36 Jeremy Mayfield) is interested in selling part or all of his race team. Seems that even with the success of Blaney in his Toyota, Davis is having a difficult time competing against the likes of Hendrick, Childress, Roush/Fenway, DEI, and Gillette/Evernham. As they say, “money talks, nobody walks” but it looks inevitable that Davis will walk.
Now reintroduce the “35” rule — top 35 drivers in points are guaranteed a spot in that week’s race, leaving the small guys somewhat hanging out to dry. It is becoming increasing clear that the small one- and two-car teams will be history unless something changes. NASCAR mandated a limit of four teams for an individual owner because of Roush’s success with his five-car set-up a couple of years ago.
Maybe it’s time for NASCAR to visit the issue that plagues open wheel racing—the limited number of teams, which results in boring racing. How about it, NASCAR? Won’t you come to the rescue for the small guys and reinvigorated racing?
Probably not!
Jon

While I Was Sleeping …

There was a race at Martinsville but I swear I do not understand what is happening to me this year. I seem to want to fall asleep about 30% of the way through a race. And I did so yesterday as well.
Hmm… I guess I have simply been losing too much sleep at night over the chase for the ‘cup’ (or as one wag put it, “The Chase for the Clamshell”).
Speaking of sleep, somewhere in that deep fog just before light, I swore my mind was telling me to write about how the announcers are annoying!
Then I saw that Rusty may not be back in the announcer booth next year—guess he needs to do some more “NASCAR Angels” shows.
I guess dreams can come true…
Michael

SO MANY CHANGES — SO MUCH REMAINS THE SAME!

Last week we NASCAR fans and followers could have been overwhelmed by the story lines that kept showing up. Let’s review:

Nationwide Insurance takes over No. 2 series in 2008

Coors takes over as Official Beer of NASCAR in 2008

M&Ms will become primary sponsor on Kyle Busch’s Sprint ride in 2008

Dario Franchitti signs with Ganassi

Jacques Villeneuve makes his Nextel Cup debut (without incident)

Andy Hillenburg buys NC Speedway with the hope of running some races there

Haas Racing signs Scott Riggs for 2008 — with possible consequences for either Jeff Green or Johnny Sauter

Indeed, it was a busy, busy week. But let’s look outside the headlines: Several drivers labeled this past Sunday’s ‘Dega race as BORING! And the rich keep getting richer: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart finished in the top eight while Casey Mears finished sixth to help Hendrick sweep again! Ah yes, Mikey and the Toyotas came on big time but only Blaney was able to take advantage. Dodges ran well but finished pretty much out of the money. Clearly, Chevy was the car to beat.

In the end, maybe we can keep some excitement in the Chase but after Martinsville, if I were a betting man, I’d say that the Chase will come down to a two-way battle. New blood — yes; change in results — no.

That’s my view.

Jon

HEY! — WE MADE THE HALL OF FAME!!!

Back on June 28 I wrote a blog that referred to our predictions for this year.

Seems that we had hit our second prediction (JPM wins a race) and I said that we only needed one more correct prediction to make the Hall of Fame (batting .333, which is far better than the Mets did the last two weeks!).

Well, looks like we got the third prediction correct — we predicted at least two open-wheel drivers coming over to NASCAR. And that’s going to happen, apparently.

Jacques Villeneuve and Dario Franchitti will be driving Sprint Cup next year! Both will be driving at Talladega this weekend — Jacques in Nextel Cup and Dario in ARCA.

Oh, if only Toyota could pull out a win!!

Jon

UP POPS THE “F” WORD–AGAIN!

Yes, I could enter the fray and give my two cents of philosophy about last Sunday’s fiasco, but I’d rather return to another theme that I brought up a while back — the “F” word — franchise.

Prior to the race on Sunday, I caught some of the pre-race hoopla, and the topic of the diminishing number of single car owners — and merger mania — arrived front and center. Seems there is concern that the single car owner is soon to become history — and that flies in the face of the “good ol’ days” where anyone could arrive at a track and run the race. Seems that economics has gotten in the way of what NASCAR was — RACING!

And, of course, the discussion then turned to the “top 35 rule”, where any owner having at least enough points to be in the top 35 is automatically guaranteed a starting position regardless of what happens during qualifying. That leaves eight slots open for, as it is fond to be said in Southern circles, the “come heres.” Currently, only one single car owner is in the top 35 circle — Robby Gordon.

This discussion naturally led to the topic of NASCAR’s franchising of teams. Teams paying for the franchise would automatically be “in the race” because only 43 teams, at most, would have franchises.

One commentator suggested that NASCAR could ask for up to $100K from a multi-car owner for a franchise. Seems this commentator felt that the owner could then leverage the franchise in some way. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to simply say, “Why give NASCAR a hundred grand when all I have to do is be in the top 35 in points to be assured a starting position on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon?”

Forget franchising — it ain’t gonna happen, guys — the owners are too smart to throw their money away. And that will be one of my predictions for next February. On to Talladega — let’s see what Jacques has in store for #24!

Jon

Down The Rabbit Hole …

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!
Alice in Alice in Wonderland

First let me do my Sarbanes-Oxley and state that I did not see the Kansas race. I was on a jet returning from a business trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. Sounds like I had the most fun this weekend.

Ah, with that being said it still cannot wash away the fact the Chase is getting curiouser and curiouser (sorry, couldn’t resist).

From what I have read, NASCAR may have a problem in the way they send their ‘signal’ to the public. Radical conspiracy theories aside, many are wondering if rules are applied consistently and fairly. While drivers want to believe that they have won (or didn’t do anything wrong) there must be something to an issue when so many believe they fall into either category. As others have written, NASCAR’s rules mostly likely need interpretation by beings of far superior intelligence to mine, or perhaps to any other human walking the planet.

Oh, Alice was the cat right when he opined, “We’re all mad here.”?

– Michael