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.August 1, 2011 7:24 pm UTC 4 Comments
Friday night’s Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway was looking to become a very memorable event. Not only was it quite possibly the last NNS race at the facility but it had some long green flag runs that aren’t usually seen at short tracks. The racing was good and ESPN’s coverage wasn’t. Not only does The Worldwide Leader have a penchant for going to commercial at all the wrong times; but it also employs one of the greatest understatement artists of all time.
Rusty Wallace has had a tough time transitioning to the broadcast booth. Unlike many of his contemporaries such as Ricky Craven, Dale Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip or Phil Parsons; Wallace isn’t able to pass along his vast racing knowledge to the television audience.
His lack of polish and broadcast acumen aside; he continues to struggle with having to comment on his own race team in general and his son in particular. It was no more evident than in Fridays race when he was too quick to lay blame on James Buescher for bumping Stephan Wallace thus propelling Wallace into prone teammate car.
Not only did the replay show that while Buescher did hit Wallace it was well before the latter ran into Annett; but the elder Wallace kept trying to sell the audience on his son’s innocence. It became embarrassing as Rusty then tried to divert the audiences attention by lamenting how much money it just cost him to have his two cars wrecked.
ESPN should not allow parents to be commenting on their children’s races–period.
Photo Credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW
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 21, 2011 2:18 pm UTC No Comments
Twice a year the silence is broken by the noise of race cars and the swelling of a population.
While much activity is present on the race track, the first race of the year at Michigan International Speedway rarely has a lot of silly season activity.
NASCAR’s silly season is highlighted by sponsor, driver and crew chief changes for the next race season; but rarely is the June race at MIS the beginning of that process.
This year however was a different story. News of Red Bull Racing pulling out of the sport came as a shocker to most. While RBR has not exactly set the NASCAR world afire, they have been a respectable race team. Poor cars early on forced RBR to miss races and driver inconsistencies have wreaked havoc with the program.
Now what will be left of RBR will either be sold off or morphed into another race team. What will become of Brian Vickers? Kasey Kahne was a lend-lease driver from Hendrick Motorsports for 2011 so his future is secure and paints a picture that Red Bull had an idea that 2011 was going to be its last year.
It looks as if Home Depot is loosing its patience with coming in second to its big-box home improvement competition and may push for Joey Logano’s removal as the driver. Carl Edwards name has been thrown into the mix as a possible replacement brand spokesman. Edwards could move into a fourth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with Home Depot on the side if another sponsor can be secured for Logano .
JGR also made headlines this week, not only by taking Denny Hamlin to
Victory Lane, but by showing up to tech inspection with illegal oil pans. NASCAR took away the offending units and have fined each crew chief $50,000 and put each on probation, along with their respective car chiefs, until December 31, 2011.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW
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.May 19, 2011 8:08 pm UTC No Comments
NASCAR’s All-Stars will show their stuff this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
As All-Star events go; NASCAR’s ranks a close second to the event put on by Major League Baseball and far outshines those put forth by the NBA, NFL and NHL. What sets NASCAR and MLB apart from the other sport’s All-Star events is the ability of the performers to showcase their talents and yet the fundamental principles of the game do not change.
Three of the four “stick and ball” sports All-Star events change the game by playing little or no defense therefore changing the very essence of their sport. If anything, NASCAR and it’s drivers heighten their intensity. The format and winner-take-all format of the NASCAR All-Star event makes it unique and the most watchable of them all.
Teams have to meet one of six criteria to make it to the All-Star event. Drivers who have won races in 2010 and 2011. If a driver leaves a team with which he has won a race, he remains eligible, the team does NOT. Also eligible are drivers who are either past Sprint Cup champions or who have won The All-Star Race in the past 10 years. Finishing first or second in the Sprint Showdown also get them in, or the ubiquitous entry by fan vote.
The pit crew challenge and burn out contest as warm-up events are less than exciting for the fans and may be more for the teams than the spectators. Those events are no more lame than the skills competitions that surround the other sports All-Star weekends.
The main event is what it is all about and NASCAR puts on one of the best events because when all is said and done it comes down to one driver against another, one team versus the others or one bit of strategy outdoing someone else.
Photo Credit:Glenn Bure/ON PIT ROW
by Steve Wronkowicz
The Nationwide Series has become a mockery of itself and it was no more evident than what we saw this past weekend at Nashville. Again two high profile Sprint Cup drivers stole the show from those drivers looking to win a championship.
There have been a ton of excuses as to the reasons that Cup drivers are tolerated and encouraged in the lesser series.
The arguments are well documented with t he most prolific being; if Cup drivers don’t participate then no one will show up/watch on TV. That mindset seems to be held by track promoters and television rights holders and does not seem to hold water. Look at the empty stands at Nashville and look at the pathetic ratings on ESPN for the NNS and you’ll see that nothing was gained by having Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch in the field.
If you believe that the NNS needs Cup drivers to succeed then the next logical step would be to assume that the more Cup drivers present the more attended the race will be and the higher the TV ratings. But the TV ratings for the feeder series don’t waver much from race to race and those showing up to the race tracks have more to do with the proximity to and bundling of tickets to the Cup event.
The two man show that ESPN presented to the viewers did a dis-service to those who are in the Nationwide Series on a week to week basis and especially to those who are running for the championship. ESPN did ittle more than mention the championship drivers as an aside throughout the race, instead concentrating on Edwards and Busch.
Banning Cup drivers from the NNS isn’t the answer. Finding a better way to integrate those drivers into the series is. If Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive championships in Cup is bad for the sport then, Kyle and Carl are just as bad for the sport of second-fiddle NASCAR.
Limit the number of races that full-time cup drivers can participate in. If Cup teams want to operate in the minor leagues let them do so with a group of drivers from their Cup stables. This gives the promoters and TV execs the star power they are looking for with some intrigue as to whether this weeks Cup driver can figure out the ride.
There was a time when it was as fun to watch a Nationwide race as it was to watch a Cup race. Those days are long gone. The mix of up-and-coming drivers and never-quite-made-its was a series to hold fan interest; not so much any more.
photo credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW
by Matt Mercer, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I'm the former blogger of The Catfish Show NASCAR Blog and a contributor to On Pit Row. Follow me on Twitter: @mattmercerApril 11, 2011 8:30 am UTC 1 Comment
Much has been made of recent winless streaks by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, to name a few. Yet little has been made of Kenseth’s winless streak, because the 2003 Champ stays under the radar and doesn’t get written about by the media. After winning Daytona and Fontana to start the 2009 season, Kenseth has gone through a couple crew chiefs before pairing up with old hand Jimmy Fennig and the results are starting to show. Kenseth is tied for third in points at the moment and even won a pole this season, a feat for him.
Matt Kenseth came into the sport under the mentorship of Mark Martin and the two seem more and more similar every year. Kenseth is now a 10-year veteran and one of the most-respected drivers in the garage. He’s had disagreements with drivers in his younger days but those rough edges have long been polished. Kenseth is still competing and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his son, Ross Kenseth, join the Roush stable when he turns 18 to bring us the latest father-son pairing in NASCAR.
What Kenseth lacks in flash he makes up for in tenacity. Before Kevin Harvick took the label Kenseth was often NASCAR’s best closer. How many people remember Kenseth finished 5th in the final points standings last year? Exactly. We haven’t seen the last of the fast Crown Royal #17 in victory lane this year.
by Steve Wronkowicz
He retracted his statements on Tuesday after reviewing NASCAR’s evidence against him. The timing loop that he sped through was not the loop he thought he was being accused of violating. Regardless of whether NASCAR or Johnson were right or wrong; questions about the sanctioning bodies transparency arose.
Johnson; along with some media and fans have called for real time posting of pit row speeds for all teams at every trip for service. Cries of conspiracy have again permeated the NASCAR world. “They are hiding information from us,” was the lament from the grandstands. NASCAR has stated they don’t feel this is information that needs to be disseminated to the fan base.
I have to agree with NASCAR on this one. As I stated on this week’s ON PIT ROW show on ustream.tv; there still needs to be some intrigue within the races and maybe just a little bit of trust from the fans that NASCAR really is a fair and benevolent organization. NASCAR has nothing to gain by issuing false speeding penalties especially to the guy that has dominated their sport for the past five years.
There is enough information available to the fans and teams on a real time basis that there doesn’t need to be more graphics on my TV screen or video boards at the track. NASCAR’s radio communication with the teams, which is available on all scanners, is sufficient to notify them of a penalty when one has occured.
No other sport has the transparency of NASCAR and quite frankly I think fans have come to expect too much from the sport. Being able to not only listen to team strategy, driver and crew chief thoughts but also the sanctioning bodies communication should be enough.
Johnson’s complaint was not the first in regard to speeding penalties and it most likely won’t be the last, but I’m okay with not having to see every teams pit road speed displayed in front of me. There comes a time that it’s better to just watch the racing.
photo credit: BethAnne Heisler/ON PIT ROW