restrictor plates

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 – some observations

• • • First of all, I’m amazed as I bump around the Interwebs that there are a few people out there, saying in total sincerity that Tony Stewart wrecked Kyle Busch, usually accompanied by some sentiment to the effect of how Busch ‘had it coming’. Are people BLIND? It was one of the clearest cases I’ve ever seen of a block gone wrong. Busch drove directly into the path of Stewart who could have done nothing to avoid the impact. Busch wrecked himself, plain and simple. Stewart had no hand in it whatsoever.

 

• • • But, really, if you ask me what was the cause of the wreck, it wasn’t Stewart, it wasn’t Busch, it was RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING. With the current aerodynamics of the cars combined with the restrictor plates, a lead car has absolutely no defense when the car behind him ‘gets a run’. So the leader makes a desperate block (sometimes 2 or 3). Blocking is a dirty move. Throwing yourself in front of a faster car who is about to pass you, hoping that he slams on the brakes because he has the good sense not to cause an accident, is not racing. But the drivers’ hands are forced. The drivers will continue to block, and when a wreck happens, there will be 20+ cars ready to pile into the wrecked cars because the grid is so tightened up. NASCAR could conceivably implement an anti-blocking rule, but that would he hard to enforce and just make plate races even more of a game of musical chairs than they are now. The answer is to GET RID OF THE PLATES!!!!

 

• • • I was very relieved to see Kyle hop out of the car, seemingly ok (though he did complain of a headache). He took several horrendous impacts. There was a lot of groaning and wincing in the room as we watched the replays. It is indeed a credit to the safety of the cars. But one of these times, we won’t be so lucky… this madness doesn’t have to happen.

 

• • • But what do I know, I’m just watching on TV right? Let’s ask, oh I don’t know.. how about Tony Stewart? The guy who won the race. He just won his second race as a driver/owner, at DAYTONA of all places, and here he is in victory lane. Wait, why isn’t he happy? He should be on top of the world right now. He’s not happy because a fellow competitor and friend of his was savagely wrecked, and it is not satisfying for him as a competitor to win like that, and for Kyle to run so well and not finish. And he can’t point to a foolish, or overzealous move on his part or Kyle’s part, it was just the reality of restrictor plate racing. Could this downer of a victory lane interview be an eye-opener to Brian France? Can it help him see that maybe, something is very wrong here? Not likely…

 

• • • Speaking of the victory lane interview, what about this “Miss Sprint”? Here we have Tony Stewart giving an interview, clearly upset about what just happened, and Miss Sprint is the only other person on the screen and she just couldn’t be happier about the situation. Congratulations, Sprint, you just made Miss Sprint look like an idiot. Now, I’m not criticizing the woman at all. She’s paid to stand in the camera shot and grin from ear to ear. The point is, is it really necessary to have a woman in a Sprint getup just standing there doing nothing but smiling throughout this whole interview? The fact that smiling is her only role is what made her look foolish. If you want Miss Sprint to be a part of the celebration, why can’t she present the check, or the trophy, or she can hand the winner a drink and walk away, I don’t know. The blatant insertion of her as a ‘presence’ in the entirety of these interviews (we can’t even see the interviewER) just reeks of desperate over-commercialization, in what is already the most whored out sport on television.

So.. OK, if the prospect of our TV screens not being filled with a logo for a few seconds is too terrible to even consider, (sacrilege!!) how about a nice big foam Sprint cell phone that sits on top of the winner’s car? Have they done something like that before? Maybe NEXTEL did. I like that a lot better. Remember the big foam PowerAde bottles? Sometimes the saga of the PowerAde bottles in victory lane was more compelling than the race itself. That sounds better than Miss Sprint’s current role. (Not that I want Miss Sprint to lose her job. I’m pretty sure she has many other capacities as Miss Sprint anyway.)

 

• • • Watching the replays, you have to wonder. What if Kyle didn’t make that final desperate block? It’s possible he didn’t need to. Yes, Tony was passing him, but they were awful close to the line. I think there’s a chance Kyle could’ve held him off. Would Kyle have thought differently if he wasn’t ‘mirror racing’?

 

• • • The ‘Wide Open Coverage’ by TNT was, all in all, pretty damn nice. I think advertisers aren’t used to dealing with more than 30 seconds for their spots. Some of those elongated commercials were weak and could’ve EASILY been condensed to 30 seconds and not lost anything at all. I didn’t like that Ralph Sheheen had to ‘set up’ the commercials. Between that, and all the usual sponsored segments (Toyota updates and what not), Sheheen had to do an awful lot of shilling. But it’s awesome to be able to see all the green flag action. And how is it not a win for the advertisers too? I’m sure I could name almost all of the advertisers that bought an ‘inset’ commercial during the race. You would think a network could command a lot more money for ads like this. Let’s hope this catches on with other networks..

 

• • • I can’t find much too fault with TNT’s coverage. Aside from all the shilling, the commentary was top notch (no Bill Weber, good! Dallenbach and Petty, great!). Good information throughout. Good camera work. One slip up, and this one can’t be forgiven, is to not update the conditions of the drivers after the big wreck at the end. ESPN does the same regularly when they do their races. But ESPN sucks at everything. I wish TNT had more dates. They are really showing how it’s done.

 

• • • I’m really impressed with Juan Pablo Montoya this season. His talent is unquestionable. He’s one of the best drivers in the world. The question was whether he could adapt to stock car racing. The answer seems to be, absolutely yes! On an underperforming Ganassi team, he continued his excellent season today despite a lot of adversity, solidifying a top 12 points standing in a group mostly populated by the Hendrick and Roush superteams. Give him another year or two experience, put him on a top team, and he’s got championship written all over him.