Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Some thoughts on an off weekend.

I'm actually glad we've got an off weekend here. It's not that I'm getting burned out, or that I don't look forward to the next race, but the Nascar community as a whole really could use the break. As many of you know, I read a lot of message boards. I've seem emotions and tempers run high this past weekend, particularly between Tony Stewart fans and Kevin Harvick fans. Long story short: Kevin was trying to pass Tony late in the Bristol race Sunday. Kevin hooked the apron of the track and got up into Tony. Tony hit the wall.

Kevin apologized. After the race, even Tony apologized. Havoc ensued on Harvick's message board. I found it all very amusing, but it made me think that now is an excellent time to take a break from Nascar.

Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have been friends for a long time. Tony used to drive cars for KHI in the Busch series. When Joe Gibbs Racing switched from Chevrolet to Toyota, that pretty much ended that relationship, and now Tony is driving some Nationwide races in a JGR Toyota. That's racing, and that's the business. I doubt seriously that Tony and Kevin are worst enemies by any stretch of the imagination.

Only 1 day after the dust up at Bristol, Kevin appeared on Tony's Sirius radio show to wax Smoke. I don't get Sirius radio, but from reading the accounts online, it was hilarious. Imagine Tony Stewart in a Speedo. I don't even want to, but it's obvious that these two guys are friends, on and off the track, and that the fans just need to grow up a little. If the drivers can let bygones be bygones, why can't the fans?

Operation Wax Smoke began almost a year ago, with the premise that if Harvick fans could raise enough money, or $100,000, Tony would agree to have his back waxed. The fans contributed, and finally Harvick himself wrote the check that put the total over $100,000. Tony lived up to his promise, and he got waxed. The proceeds go to Kyle and Patty Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is a most worthy cause.

I actually read what appeared to be a death threat against Kevin Harvick, on his own message board Sunday evening. What is the average age of these fans? 12? It really makes me wonder.

Some other thoughts: TV ratings are up, for the most part for the Nascar races. What has changed since last year? Toyota winning races? Dale Earnhardt Jr. being competitive again? I have a theory, but I'll let you mull it over before I talk about it.

Will there every be any more big teams in Nascar besides the established few? I'm beginning to wonder. It was sad to see Bill Davis Racing have to close down the 27 team this past week for lack of sponsorship. Doug Yates is having a tough time finding sponsorship as well. DEI is still looking for sponsorship for the 01 car of Regan Smith. What's going to happen to Jeff Burton's team after AT&T is run out of the sport? Will Sprint even last long enough to make that happen? A small team that I've been personally watching is the 08 Dodge owned by John Carter. Burney Lamar has tried to make races, but has either been rained out or has not qualified fast enough to race. I noticed this past week that the 08 was not even on the entry list at Bristol. To me, that's sad.

What's going on with Kyle Petty? Kyle is off to maybe his worst start ever, and there's been talk of swapping the points between the 45 of Kyle and the 43 of Bobby Labonte. I doubt that it will happen, because General Mills, who is the principle sponsor on Bobby's car, probably won't put up with that. There is now talk that Kyle may step out of the car for some races, and they might bring back big brother Terry Labonte, who after all does have a champion's provisional. Bobby and Terry as teammates? Both driving for Petty! Wow, there's a thought.

I've liked some of the new commercials this year so far. Kasey Kahne doing his dance, etc. for Allstate is hilarious. So is the interview with him talking about showing up to do a commercial and having no idea he was going to have to dress up in that suit! Jimmie Johnson's Kobalt Tools commercial is hilarious too. "Jimmie, what are you doing?" "Welding, Chad." That is so funny.

I think one of the basic things we forget about in this new era of Nascar is that the drivers are all human beings. Most of them never really wanted to be as popular as rock stars or movie stars. All they want to do is race, and win races. Shows such as Nascar 360 and others show the drivers in their homes, with their families, or show them hunting or fishing, or playing with their toys off the track. I think these kinds of shows are vital to keep the drivers human, at least to the fans. The drivers make a ton of money, most of them have their own jets, and some of them even fly them. When you get right down to it though, most of them would be happy working on their late model car, getting it ready for the Saturday night fight at the local bullring.

And finally, what's up with the weather this year? California, Atlanta and Bristol have all been touched by the weather woes this year. I absolutely hate it when qualifying is rained out, for any of the series. It just hurts so bad to see a team haul 2 race cars across the country, just to haul them back home, with the cars never even seeing the track, as happened in California. I know it's just the luck of the draw, but that really hurts the small teams.

Here's to sunny, 70 degree temperatures at Martinsville! Oh, and I'll have 2 of those famous hot dogs too, please.

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