Thursday, January 21, 2010

NASCAR's State of the Sport Address

NASCAR ended their annual media tour with a press conference in Concord, NC Thursday afternoon. It turned out to be a State of the Sport type affair with Brian France and his minions doling out their talking points to the assembled media.

A video was shown hyping the exciting storylines for 2010. They mentioned on track incidents between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, and possible friction between Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya. For some reason, Dale Earnhardt Jr's crew chief, Lance McGrew, was the only crew chief mentioned during the video.

Analysis....NASCAR is trying to build excitement where there is none, and appears to be setting McGrew up as the next fall guy for Jr's non-performance issues.

Next up was Brian France with his speech full of buzzwords and talking points. They want to "Make good racing better." After all this is a "contact sport." So they will "loosen up on the drivers."

Then France hit all the hot topics of the day, diversity, green initiatives, the manufacturers, and new sponsors. Did you know that NASCAR is the biggest recycler of any sport?

Analysis...."Loosen up on the drivers?" I'm willing to bet that will depend on the driver that's involved. Biggest recycler? How many other sports use tires, batteries, oil, gas, grease, etc,? How many other sports let their fans carry in recyclable cans, plastic bottles, paper products, etc.?

Robin Pemberton was up next, to go over the newest rule changes. Bump drafting is now okay anywhere at Daytona and Talladega. Rear wing is history, going back to a spoiler. Front splitter may be next to go. New 'sharkfin' spoiler on the roof of the Cup cars. The biggest change may be the restrictor plate openings being enlarged to 63/64ths of an inch, the largest since 1989.

Analysis....All these changes should make the racing better, but we will find out when they actually hit the track. They did not do away with the yellow line at the plate tracks. I really expected those out-of-bounds lines to go. The lines would be okay if NASCAR was consistent with their penalties when certain drivers go below them. Leaving this judgement type penalty in NASCAR's hands is ridiculous. Why should a driver that is FORCED below the line be penalized! He chose not to start the Big One, and then is made to suffer for it.

A few more highlights. During the question and answer period, Brian France was quick to state that NASCAR would no longer entertain questions regarding ongoing lawsuits. He also thought it was Ryan Newman who was flying through the air at Talladega last year, as a video played behind him showing it was Carl Edwards. Fuel injection may be standard on Cup cars as early as next year. And, the Truck Series is returning to normal pit stops, not the idiotic gas or tires, not both, during a stop.

Analysis....No comments on lawsuits? At least until the first chance they get to smear Jeremy Mayfield comes along. What was the thinking behind the idea of making the trucks have to come down pit road twice for each stop, instead of once? Did someone think that was actually safer for the crewmen?

Overall impression.... I was not too impressed by what NASCAR was trying to sell. The big problem is their salesmen. Hire some spokespersons, NASCAR! France, Helton, Pemberton, and all the rest are not public speakers. It can not be that difficult to find someone who knows racing and can sell a speech off a teleprompter.

I am hopeful about the rule changes to the car, but, based on past performance, I can't get too excited about NASCAR's hype for 2010.


  1. Thanks Gene, I missed the conference. Doesn't look like I missed much though.

  2. Thanks for keeping us up to date as always.


    I can't get too excited thinking about the possibility of Jimmie winning a fifth one...

  3. Looks like NASCAR would hire a coach in public speaking to stop them from looking like such bozos. You know Ned Jarrett took public speaking classes before he took the job as announcer. Then DJ did, too, so he would be able to "talk" after a race. I think about that now that DJ is an announcer every time he says "That's unfortunate." Count the times he says it this year!lol

  4. I agree with Fireball, lol

    No talk about the networks mentioning the other 30 drivers during the Chase (31 if Dale Jr makes it) or about using hydraulic jacks like pretty much every other motorsport category (except gokarts I suppose...then again, they don't really need them since they don't weigh much, lol)?

  5. FBall...A lot of talking going on, without much being said. I think I might have even dozed off one time. lol

    Gonger....Funny how they want to put the racing back in the driver's hands, but they can't be trusted unless that yellow line OB is still there?

  6. ATH....Sounds like that would make a good drinking game. Take a drink every time DJ says, That's unfortunate."

    Tez....LOL. I watched the entire clusterbomb, and I regret that decision.

  7. Well this is exciting news. NSCAR again goes of half cocked with out any research to back up any thing. Will have to see what comes of it.

    It worries me about allowing a larger restrictor plate and a reverting back to the rear spoiler. Lets hope they did some research on this new set up. Fuel injection would be a good move in the future.

    Letting the drivers be drivers again? Yeah right.

    Well I am looking forward to the Daytona demolition derby this year. just a few short weeks to go.

  8. Gene - looks like just a lot to do about nothing... There must have been - as there always is - some sort of NASCAR chit they were throwing at the wall. I really do not see the splitter going away - need it for balance. GREAT TID BITS as usual.

    Willie Mac
    Chad Finley Racing

  9. Photo...Yeah, I'm wondering the same thing about the larger plate and the spoiler. Will it be TOO fast to keep the cars grounded? I doubt they can research it too much. They'll have to have the cars in different situations on the track to really know what they have.

  10. Will... what's up, bro? Thanks for dropping in. Do they need the splitter to stop the "dreaded aero-push"? LOL

  11. Don't 'cha know that racing is the R&D? I see NASCAR is supplying the spoilers and new parts for "cheap" to the teams. More indication eventually NASCAR will own all the car parts and sell them.

    Dont believe the hype...Arent all sports based on hype these days? Really, name the last truly outstanding athletic or sporting achievement in recent history that has lived up to the hype.

    I love the soap opera stuff more than the racing lately so no big...its the shrink girl in me!

    Impressive job providing thoughtful analysis on something with so little thought to start with Gene...

  12. Kristen....right on, as usual. They did announce that they would be selling crate engines in the Truck series this year... to any teams that wanted them. Not mandatory...YET.

    I'm not much of a basketball fan, but their NCAA March Madness tourney is pretty compelling, and they hype it incessantly. There aren't many other sports that live up to the hype, maybe one boxing match every 5 years will.

    Not thoughtful analysis, more off the top of my head. There is something about Brian France that irks me tremendously.

    The sense of entitlement? No not that. The overgrown fratboy image? No, not that. The total cluelessness (new word) with which he leads the company? Yeah that's it.

  13. Nice breakdown. I like all of the changes except for leaving the yellow line. That gaurantees there will be a controversy over that stupid thing again this season.

  14. I agree with most of what you said but the yellow line ....not so sure. Of course there will be judgement call's and the boys boxing the calls will be judged. It is serious business at 190mph and some of the guys will use all of the track if they can get away with it.

    Would not expect the Gu Ru's to mention law suits during a Hype session as the jury will be out on Mayfield in September. Regardless of Nascar's antics the boy messedup.

    What is up with the truck's having to roll in twice ? I havent been paying attention, it is hard enough for me not to snooze during a Cup race let alone checkin in on the trucks. I used to like that series.

    Losing the splitter does need to happen but a plate is still a plate and the drivers will still be running over eachother when the money is on the table .....maybe not ?

    Shark fin ? isn't that a delicasy in Japan ?

    Great Spinout Gene

  15. JMayer....Yes! I heard someone say that it keeps drivers from having to transition from the flat apron on the straightaways back onto the banked turns. Which can be tricky and cause wrecks.

    Okay, why don't they have the lines at all the other high speed tracks? I've seen drivers wreck at other places trying to come up off the apron going into a turn.

  16. RL...NASCAR claims to be putting the racing back in the drivers hands.... so let the drivers decide where to race at.

    For some reason, under yellow, the trucks could not get tires and gas on the stop... they had to make two stops for full service. I never could figure out why. Probably NASCAR trying to save the teams money... and we all know how well that works out...every time.

    I believe the sharkfin is a wickerbill that runs front to back on the roof of the cars now.