What's New in NASCAR - this week?
Up first will be the Rolex 24 hour of Daytona, the road race that gets underway next weekend. Speed will show it all, as usual, and for those of us who are racing fanatics, but are tired of watching the repeats of last year's races, it's our first rush of adrenelin. The Grand Am cars have already tested on the road course and are apparently breaking the track records...unofficially, of course.
Practice for the Bud Shootout and the 500 start up on February 4th, so although the cars won't be racing, they will be practicing the now allowed bump drafting. Up next will be the ARCA race, mentioned last week, featuring Danica Patrick and a number of other female drivers, some from other racing series, and some working their way through the NASCAR ranks. The same weekend will have Daytona 500 qualifying, plus the Bud Shootout.
The week past saw Media Week at Daytona, and one of our own loyal FanIQ members, Andilee0388, provided some great pics. She claimed she was getting used to her new camera, and that's why the pictures weren't high quality, but honestly, if it were me, I'm not sure I would have remembered to actually take the pictures.
The Media Week is a chance for members of the media and the fans to meet with drivers, crews, owners, sponsors and more. There was really very little in the way of controversy or OMG! that came out of this year's Media Week. Until now that is.
Jay Busbee of Yahoo has written an article lashing back at the owners, specifically Jack Roush, who spoke out against the media, blaming all number of NASCAR's problems on the media for the way they present what they, and us fans, see every weekend. Personally, I think they both have valid points, but overall, I'm inclined to agree with Jay. His comments are almost condescending of us, the fans, in my opinion. Now, I may be in a minority, because I'm not physically at the track, and all I do see is on TV, but I have enough friends who attend the races who send me pictures and tell me of their experiences, that I'd be a little insulted. Roush said, in part,
"We have not had the level of support from the TV studio box that the other sports have. I would hope that Fox and ESPN and everybody else really thinks about what they're doing."
He went on,
"We had more cars finishing on the lead lap than ever had. The competition was great. It wasn't bad. It wasn't subject to critcism for every move that NASCAR made or every move a team made but sometimes it sounded that way back from the communication box.''
Okay, so here's where the valid point comes in. Yes, honestly, in some of the races the competition was great. In other races, it sucked, plain and simple. I could see that quite plainly from my arm chair, because I'm not blind. For Jack to say the announcers didn't provide positive commentary though, is asinine. All too often during these boring races, I was tuning out the announcers because they were trying to make a race appear more exciting than it was. It didn't matter what they said, the "races" were single vehicle trains running around the track. I'm not sure how Jack Roush thought that was good racing, and I'm not sure how the announcers trying to hype it up wasn't supportive.
Both FOX and ESPN refuted Roush's statements, and although I'm not a fan of ESPN or the majority of the color commentary they have had (Ray Evernham and Dale Jarrett can stay, along with Alan Bestwick, but the rest can take a hike), I am a huge fan of FOX. Many hate Darrell Waltrip and insist he is still "Jaws" but honestly the man does know what he's talking about, and he says what he thinks, and for that, he's by far my favorite announcer on any NASCAR broadcast. Ray and Dale are the same, they are being paid by their stations, yes, but they won't say something untrue just to make NASCAR look good.
Jay summed it up incredibly well though,
"But really, blaming the media is a tired, fake-populist approach, and a shortsighted one at that -- just as the media needs NASCAR, NASCAR needs the media. Picking a public fight with the exact people who can help you craft your image -- and, if they were so inclined, could tarnish that image in a heartbeat -- is both bad business and bad personal relations."
In any case, the season will start, and the racing will get underway, and no amount of complaining about the media will change that. We all have to get our racing fix somehow, and even i will put up with endless Lillydale Chicken commercials to watch my favorite sport.
I would be remiss if I didn't ask everyone for their prayers and best wishes for Linda Petty. She has had an ongoing medical issue and is seeking resolution to the problems with surgery. She needs our positive thoughts and I'm sure, ad you join to wish her the very best, they mean a lot to the Petty family.
Also, a huge thanks to Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motor Sports for all they continue to do to help in Haiti.
Until next week, we're still in replay mode, but the racing is getting closer. We'll have another look at how things are shaping up next weekend, and maybe even have a live race thread for the Rolex 24, if the interest is there.