Monday, July 28, 2008

What. Was. That?

Darrell Waltrip suggested dragging tires around the track all night long to rubber it up. Goodyear thought they should bring in tires scheduled to go to Pocono next week. NASCAR thought they should throw cautions every 15 laps to allow teams to change tires. All of these suggestions came up over the weekend in an attempt to not turn the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis into a wreck-fest. 

But everything that was done (or suggested) did nothing to prevent the most pathetic excuse for a race I've ever seen in almost 20 years of watching NASCAR racing. This, my friends, was a travesty. 

If you didn't see the Allstate 400 from the Brickyard on Sunday afternoon, go out to a local track Saturday night and just watch for a few minutes. You'll get the idea. Basically, the 160 lap race was broken down into 15 or 16 lap segments of green flag and then a NASCAR issued caution flag, allowing teams to change tires. This was what NASCAR thought would be the only way to prevent a tire from blowing out as a driver was going into a corner at 200 miles per hour. 

Everyone knew tire wear would be a problem going into the weekend. It always has at Indy. That place is rough. It was built 100 years ago for open-wheel cars to run on, not these monsters that the Sprint Cup Series is running these days. It was ground down a few years ago to allow for better handling cars. That's great. But when a tire is down to the chords after 8-10 laps there is obviously a problem - a problem that everyone thought would get better. It didn't by the way. 

The media says not to blame Goodyear, the track, or NASCAR. That it was circumstances that allowed the outcome Sunday. I personally blame all three. 

First, I blame Goodyear for coming to the track with a pathetic tire. They have for a long time. May I redirect you to the spring race at Atlanta? How can Jerry Punch do a voice-over for ESPN saying that Goodyear tires are track tested and are the best out there or whatever and then continue to watch what was going on Sunday afternoon? David Poole of the Charlotte Observer and Sirius Radio's The Morning Drive says we don't need a tire war like we saw in the early 90's. I tend to believe that if you bring in another tire manufacturer (such as for example, Hoosier) that the product they put out there will alleviate the problem of a tire war because Goodyear will be put to shame.  Then we can get down to decent racing. 

A side point: I can't remember when a fuel issue (an actual problem with the fuel itself and not mileage) affected a race to the point where the teams could only go 10 laps. 

Next, I blame the track for grounding it down several years ago. They spent millions of dollars to repave the dumb thing and then they grounded grooves into the surface in an attempt to smooth it out. Um... HUH? There are laser guided paving machine things that can make a surface of a racetrack as smooth as possible. Why not use it instead of creating grooves in the track surface. The purpose of the grounding was to improve handling for Indy cars, which is apparently IMS's bread and butter. Ok, maybe it is actually their bread and butter and not apparently. Repave the track Tony George. You'll thank yourself later. 

Finally, I blame NASCAR. WHY WASN'T THERE A FULL-FIELD OPEN TEST HERE LAST WEEK? I mean, they had an open test at Pocono... was Indy booked that day or something? If the Brickyard 400 is truly the second biggest race of the year, then why wasn't NASCAR there last week testing? Chicago is a stone's throw from Indy in the grand scheme of things, why not stop by there on the way home and test for two days? I also think that NASCAR should loosen restrictions on certain aspects of this new racecar. If it is the future, then fix it now and prevent bad racing and poor handling. 

You know, the fastest car the entire weekend did in fact win the race. And I think he could've won if there weren't pit stops every 15 laps. I just think the route to victory would have been a little more interesting. 

I'm a fan and I'm still gonna watch the Poconap 500 on Sunday, but the memories will linger from Indianapolis for the rest of the season. Personally, I don't think we should be going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway anyway. O'Reilly Raceway Park would be a good filler in its place. 

Or maybe a second race at Darlington. 

Or A race at Rockingham. Or North Wilkesboro.  

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yeah, I know I'm slack...

But I've got good reasons for not updating my trip to Chicago.

It's a little thing called Summer School.

I documented here last summer about the amount of time summer school takes up. Well, it's true. I wake up, I go to class, I go to the station, I go home and go to sleep. Repeat.

Chicago was fun. I just hate that I've been to six NASCAR sanctioned events in 2008 and Kyle Busch has won half of them. Not to mention the fact that he won last night's Nationwide race at ORP, even after NASCAR took away some of the Toyota's horsepower. I'm not even going to turn on my Sirius this week. I think I'll vomit all the way to Sumter and back if I did. But I digress.

Anyway, back to Chicago. I'm finally starting to see a difference between how racetracks used to be built and how newer ones are these days. There was nothing around the Chicagoland Speedway. There was no city, no neighborhood, no nothing. I'm not sure if I like that or not. I got to spend a lot of time with the actual MRN (radio side) guys during my trip. That's the side of this business I want to be on. Not the television stuff. TV stuff just gets in the way. Radio is the fun part.

I'll say this the media center was excellent, and since nobody had mechanical problems or wrecked hard enough to crash out at either the two races we did, I got to spend a lot of time in the media center.

I think this new racecar really has just baffled everybody in the garage area. All except Steve Addington and Kyle Busch. They seem to flourish in this thing. Maybe the reason why the two were mediocre in past seasons before joining forces this year was because they needed this type of car to perform well. But then, they had 16 chances to do something in this car last year apart and couldn't contend for a lot of race wins. Maybe just the combination of the two are unstoppable.

But I like to think that Kyle Busch wins races just to spite me. And I've gone into another tangent.

I'm gonna stop now before I say something I shouldn't. But I'll leave you with this: Chicago was fun, Watkins Glen will be fun even though I have hatred in my heart for that racetrack, and please Kyle Busch- just wreck once. That's all I ask.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Back from Chicagoland...

And I promise I'll update my trip. I've slept for most of today so far, which means I probably won't sleep tonight, but I'll post some stories later in the week. 

But this first story has to be told. 

Wednesday night the entire crew that was already in town went out for dinner. It was a nice place-- which used to be a church-- that served great Italian food. There were about 16 of us, so we took up two full tables. I sit down at one and a couple other folks sit with me. A few minutes later, the final car gets to the restaurant and walk inside. One person sits down and then another until there is one empty seat at my table and one person left to sit in it. 

So as I'm sitting there drinking my... Coke, who sits down? Legendary broadcaster Barney Hall. That's who. 

I thought I was gonna pee on myself. 

A few minutes pass and Paul finally says something to the effect of, "Barney have you met our intern this week yet?" After saying no, he shakes my hand and I barely get out my name. Then I say it's an honor to meet him and I'd been a fan for a long time. 

He sat there a minute and then finally said, "Well you're not that old so it must not have been that long." 

The entire table laughed and apparently the story got told at the MRN Production meeting on Thursday. What a great introduction. I know I'll never forget it. 

Well that's all for now as I'm going to try go back to sleep for a few hours so I can get up and go to class, work, and do a 2-hour talk show. 

More from Chicago later.