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.