by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.June 16, 2009 5:34 am UTC 17 Comments
Brian France showed up at Michigan to let everyone know he is involved in fixing what ills NASCAR.
It has been a bit unusual for the Prince of NASCAR to show his face to the crowds at a race sanctioned by his family’s company. But Brian, Jim Hunter and Mike Helton were all at Michigan International Speedway this weekend. NASCAR’s version of the big three wanted to talk with drivers, owners and the media to assure them that racing will go on even if Detroit’s big three aren’t involved.
General Motors now joins Chrysler in scaling back their financial backing brought on since thy both declared bankruptcy. That is where France’s comments become interesting. He told those attending the driver/crew chief meeting that there were other foreign manufacturers interested in coming to NASCAR. While none were ready to make the jump immediately; he could foresee more participation from foreign based manufacturers as long as they had manufacturing facilities also in the United States.
Therein lies the impetus for this week’s BUZZ ON PIT ROW:
How will fans react if NASCAR allows other foreign makes into the Cup Series?
Let us know what you think and we could us your answer on this week’s ON PIT ROW radio show heard live from 5-7pm ET at www.onpitrow.com. You can also call the show at 800-645-2946 and possibly win a Kevin Harvick bobblehead if you are chosen “The Shell Nitrogeon Enriched Call of the Day”
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowOctober 24, 2008 11:32 am UTC 2 Comments
Has NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow failed? I’m sure that Brian France and Mike Helton would say no, but the jury may be hung.
There are many definitions of failure that the CoT fits. Rather than saving teams money, by limiting the inventory of cars required to compete, the CoT, to quote Mike Mulhern …
“has become a major financial drain on teams, because of the extreme technology needed to try to master what is widely seen as a misguided physics project.”
failure: noun – The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment.
There is fear that some manufacturers may curtail their support for NASCAR. We already see that in the – soon to be – Camping World Truck Series. You can’t blame the CoT for that. But the new car continued a trend toward look-a-like, generic bodies that make NASCAR less viable as a brand builder than it once was.
failure: noun - The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.
Hendrick Motorsports drivers have been about as successful as any racing the new car. But two-time defending champion and current Sprint Cup points leader Jimmy Johnson and the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr ….
criticized NASCAR for not being more willing to consider changes to that design to make the racing and passing better …more
failure: noun – The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: a crop failure.
The one stated goal that seems to have been achieved is that of building a safer race car. That’s a good thing. But not enough of one.
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by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowOctober 17, 2008 10:42 am UTC 3 Comments
There’s plenty of doom and gloom in the mainstream media about the current state of the U.S. economy. You don’t need more from a NASCAR blog and I’m not going to give you any. But NASCAR teams had money issues before the recent house-of-cards crashed on all of our heads. Race teams always have cash concerns, no matter the league.
But this time, will NASCAR go in an all new direction? Will NASCAR finally embrace the “F-word”? Full Throttle’s Marc has a great post with question suggestions for Dustin Long to ask of Mike Helton. Here’s one…
Set the record straight on any potential franchising of NASCAR teams. Is franchising in NASCAR’s future? And if so will the number of teams allowed into Cup be restricted further in the number of cars allowed? (i.e. From 4 to 3 per owner)
I’m betting that Dustin will get danced on when Mr Helton answers that one. But nobody dances the answers here. Check out my Tight in Turn Two topic this week. Then go to NASCAR Bits and register your votes on question of the week.
According to various reports, Felix Sabates and or Chip Ganassi are predicting that NASCAR will reduce the size of starting fields in the three top series to as few as 36 cars. Do you agree?
Charlie: No, not for the Sprint Cup Series I don’t. But I don’t know what these guys know either. I believe that the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series fields will shrink. They already have, unofficially. We posed this same question to Larry McReynolds on Tuesday’s ON PIT ROW. He agreed on the Nationwide and Truck but surprised me by saying he saw scenarios where Cup could shrink as well. I don’t see it. If anything, the attitude of Earnhardt Jr may force the Cup Series to increase its field size. Remember Junior saying that, with the cost of fielding Nationwide teams being what it is, he may as well move JR Motorsports up to the Cup level. A similar thing seems to been behind JTG Racing moving to Cup.
One of the problems early this season was teams with good sponsors having to go home after failing to qualify. Many of those sponsors have moved to teams with a better chance of making races. How will fewer teams help that?
Bruce: I think that some of the guys on the Cup side are guessing at the situation from some stats that are floating around out there right now.
If they had to, NASCAR will probably back up their Cup side of things and it would be an interesting consolidation to see more Nationwide teams merge over to Cup, whether they are ready or not for it. If that’s a possibility. It don’t think the field will be limited, but it may be short in a race or two in 2009.
That’s what we think. What do you think? And what do you think about Bruce’s topic?
I have to wonder just how well NASCAR can fare the financial storm that not only just plowed through everyone’s wallets, but next year while we still deal with the after affects?
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by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowOctober 10, 2008 10:13 am UTC 2 Comments
NASCAR’s Mike Helton has added to the lexicon of the sport. Along with “restrictor plate”, “car of tomorrow”, “racing deal” and “Junior”, I propose the phrase, “going forward”, for inclusion. In doing so, I acknowledge that the term, “do over”, will never be.
This all comes from Mr Helton’s statement after the confusing Talladega finish.
“Since the end of the race there has been some confusion as to what is allowable during the last lap at Daytona and Talladega. To be clear, as we go forward, there will be no passing under the yellow line at any time during NASCAR races at Daytona or Talladega, period. This includes any passing below the yellow line near the start/finish line on the final lap,”
My only question is, Why wasn’t/isn’t this statement a regular part of the driver meeting at every race at Talladega and Daytona?
This week’s Bench Racing with Me and the Dummy’s question is…
Talladega reared it’s wild-card head again Sunday. It was entertaining but is the chancy nature of the plate-race big-ones just too random for ‘Dega to be included in the Chase?
Charlie: I admit that about the only Cup races that I can actually watch from start to finish are the races from Talladega. And I’m right on the edge of my seat for most of them. But I caught myself making notes during last Sunday’s race about who I thought would get caught up in the big wreck, and why. Not who had the best car or which crew chief was likely to make the big call. Dale Eanhardt Jr showed the extent of competitor frustration, after his team re-built his car, only to see it wrecked in a random act of wild-cardness…
“We ain’t going to spend this much time putting this many man hours into the next (restrictor) plate race because there ain’t no telling what’s going to happen anyway,” Earnhardt said.
I don’t want to see the plate races go away. They’re too much fun to watch. But maybe the results are too random. Take Talladega out of the Chase.
Bruce: I’m with you in this one Charlie. Restrictor plate races are a blast, are intense, and have tons of drama every time someone even changes lanes. But for the Chase for the Cup to have any validity, they need to reconsider how they do this run down. This isn’t really racing. It’s survival. Yes, the some of the best cars end up at the front at the end of the day… if they’ve survived the inevitable big wreck. If they need to keep the race, make this race the non-points race of the season.
Yes, Regan Smith almost got his first win, but would that have been possible if the entire field was still in the hunt for the checkers? I look at RP racing the same way I look at figure 8 racing, and in a valid contention for a championship, the last 10 races should be ones where it’s about racing, pit stops and strategy, and not hanging back at the end of the pack to survive the event.
That’s what we think. What do you think?
Should NASCAR take the winter off to actually create / print out a rule book for everyone involved?
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by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.October 8, 2008 7:54 pm UTC No Comments
It’s admittedly a little late for vitriol in regards to last week’s race at Talladega, but I’m still steaming over NASCAR’s decision to award Tony Stewart a win over Regan Smith. I still see it as a poor judgment call on NASCAR’s part, one that rings inconsistent with other calls that the sanctioning body’s made in the past.
In lieu of Quick Hits this week, I’d like to blow off some steam.
For those of you living under a rock, here’s the scoop: On the last lap of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega on Sunday, Regan Smith passed race leader Tony Stewart for the win. However, the pass was disallowed because Smith had moved his car below the yellow line in order to get by Stewart. Stewart was thus awarded the win, and Smith was bumped to the end of the lead lap, “finishing” 18th.
On big tracks like Daytona and Talladega, the yellow line separating the track from the apron is an “out of bounds” line. This means that you have two laps to forfeit any positions gained below the yellow line, or you face a drive-through penalty.
However, there’s a kicker. A pass below the yellow line can be upheld if, according to NASCAR’s discretion, the driver in question was forced out of bounds by another driver. In that situation, the advantage is considered moot, and the pass is allowed. Of course, this call falls under the discretion of NASCAR officials, and this is the source of my vitriol.
NASCAR says that they “do not believe” Smith was forced below the yellow line. I invite any interested party to watch the tape again. Notice that Smith’s car moves toward the inside to make the pass, but then has to make a sudden jerk left, forcing him completely below the yellow line.
Had Tony Stewart not blocked him below the yellow line, he wouldn’t have jerked the vehicle left like he did, would he? He wouldn’t have had to jerk the car to the left if Stewart hadn’t pulled a block.
Regan Smith is a professional auto racer. Professional auto racers understand that jerking a car around at high speeds is a recipe for disaster. Given the speeds that a large racetrack like Talladega facilitates, and the potential for things to go wrong given any sudden movements (there were two major accidents in the race), Smith would not jerk the car around unless something gave him a reason to do so. In this case, that “something” was Tony Stewart.
I would call that conclusive evidence to point towards “force,” wouldn’t you?
Interestingly enough, Smith’s nose never actually went in front of Stewart’s until the #01 was at least partially back “in bounds.” Watch ESPN’s replay from the tri-oval cam, and it becomes apparent that the No. 01 had no track position advantage while he was still completely below the yellow line.
Regan Smith, not Tony Stewart, won that race.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Smoke fan, partially because he’s willing to call NASCAR out when it makes a bad call. This is when I channel Tony Stewart and call NASCAR out myself. If in 2007, you don’t penalize Johnny Benson for passing other drivers under the yellow line at the end of a truck race, then you shouldn’t be calling that penalty on Regan Smith in 2008 at the end of a Cup race.
Sadly, I understand that NASCAR is god and will never go against its previous decision. But on the bright side, I’ve got a new favorite driver.
Congrats on your first Sprint Cup win, Regan, and may there be many more to come.
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