Playing The Blame Game
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and a warm welcome as well to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR related, thought to be comfortably ensconced in a small cubicle somewhere within the confines of the Fan and Media Espionage Center in the beautiful Queen’s City of Charlotte, North Carolina… or maybe not.
Let’s start right off today with what everyone seems intent on discussing, rehashing, reliving, dissecting and generally beating to death verbally… the end of the Kansas race, or as some might term it, the end of Matt Kenseth. Even the emperor himself, Brian Z. France has weighed in with an opinion on this one. So much ado over nothing!
Well, there it is, all on video for your convenience, if not enjoyment. You can watch it as many times as you like, but the ending does not change. Is that the first time we’ve ever seen two cars get together? Well, certainly not if you can remember the pre-COT days. That used to be the accepted way of racing; lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.
Why, I recall one time when Dale Earnhardt, the original, did the very same thing to Terry Labonte and was roundly and loudly serenaded by the Boo-birds for his efforts in winning the race. (1999) I remember another time when the same cast of characters did the same thing at the same track, (Bristol) but that time Labonte spun across the finish line and won the race. (1995) No Boo-birds that day, but wild applause instead. That tells us that on any given day, it all depends on who pleases the crowd, who is considered right and who is found guilty of wrong-doing. It also tells us that a great number of those that revere Dale and hold his name as almost sacred today are nothing but a bunch of band wagon jumpers that hated the man while he lived, but claim to love him now that he’s gone. Phonies!
After the race, I made the mistake of doing something I never do, and almost taking sides in discussing the dastardly deed that had been done. Believe me when I say that I shan’t be doing that again any time soon. The first thing I’d like to know is how many of the “fans” that are opining for one side or the other have ever in your life driven a race car? No, bumper cars do not count! If your answer is never, which it is in most cases, then you are in no way qualified to judge or decide who was at fault, or why.
You won’t understand, many of you because you don’t want to do so, that what you see from your vantage point, either in the grandstands or on the TV in your living room or sports bar, cannot and will not show with any candor who should get the “blame” in any meeting of 2 racing vehicles. It’s the truth, like it or not. Sometimes, you just can’t believe your lying eyes… and sometimes… it really is just a racin’ deal!
Here’s a thought for everyone to mull over. Has it occurred to anyone but me that had the cars been running the low downforce “package” that everyone but Brian France really liked, the #22, if the car truly was faster than the #20, would have been able to simply drop low and pass cleanly? However, NASCAR said “No” to the low downforce and instead the cars serve out the final ten races still unable to pass worth a lick. Chalk up one for Brian the wreck lover, but he’ll undoubtedly get his fill over the coming weekend.
Next week, the cars will be at Talladega, the track that I’m almost sure invented “The Big One.” Yes, Daytona has also contributed to the destruction of untold $millions in twisted and useless sheet metal, but Talladega holds the lead in that category by a country mile. (And you wonder why the owners have banded together to try to keep costs from escalating still further , while Brian keeps screaming for more pack racing, which most assuredly makes for more and bigger wrecks.)
A large number of you claim to love the racing at the Alabama track, and that just makes me shudder. To me, loving what happens at Talladega, race after race after race, is akin to backing a serial killer for Pope. It is just flat wrong! Here’s a video I brought along just for you folks that say you like it when the cars are forced to race at 200 mph, 4 wide and 10 deep. Please enjoy it.
Now then, after that exciting and thrill-packed 8 minutes or so of wrecking, wrecking and still more wrecking, your homework assignment is to go back and assess “blame” in each and every wreck on the video. Have fun!
Can you all see the oxymoron being pointed out here? Some see the one car spin as being Matt’s own fault for blocking, while others want to see Joey Logano hung, drawn and quartered like a side of beef. I saw one respectable racing “newspaper” describe it as “Kenseth’s Death Blow.” Really? Drama in the headline attracts more readers; that’s the only excuse I can think of for that description. (Old newspaper mantra - If it bleeds, it leads) What I’d like to ask is if so many of you can choose sides and get so worked up over a single-car spin, albeit with a little help from his friend, why then do the same folks look forward to the upcoming race, which almost guarantees to be a wreck a minute for the duration of the race. I just do not get it.
It occurs to your aged scribe that many of you have never seen or experienced racing on the giant tracks before the advent of the restrictor plate, that evil invention that bunches the field up like sardines in a can and won’t allow the faster cars to escape from the back markers. I don’t expect you to do this right away, but please, save the links for a time when it’s more convenient for you to watch a race. The race in question is one I’ve described many times over in various rants over the consequences of restricting high-powered motors. It is the “Winston 500” from April, 1985.
Reluctantly, I’ve had to settle for posting it in three segments, because that is the only way it is posted on YouTube. Here are the links, and I promise, you will enjoy the race. If you don’t know the winner, don’t peek. That way, you will be amazed at what raw, unbridled speed can do.
Part 1 of 3
Part 2 of 3
Part 3 of 3
This week we have something a bit different to share with you, and I think most of you will like it. First up, we have a song called “I’m Putting You in My Rear View”, sung by none other than NASCAR’s “Gentle Giant”, Buddy Baker. Please enjoy!
Next we have one simply entitled “T-Bone” and it’s not about steaks. This one comes from someone I think everyone knows, Mr. Richard Childress.
The next one comes from Ricky Rudd, singing “Trying to Win it All.”
Our last song isn’t sung by a racer; rather it is a tribute to all that have left this world for Heaven, directly from a race track. This is Keith Bryant, from his album, “Traditions Sure Run Deep” singing one entitled “Driver’s Prayer.”
Yes gentle readers, there is a message there, and I hope you all receive it loud and clear.
Well, that was to be the end of the column, but now it’s “Oops” time. This column generally begins on Monday, then takes shape and form on Tuesday. Come Wednesday, which is today as I type, I could probably start all over again since all the “news” has changed. The TV overnight ratings came out yesterday, and since then I’ve heard all manner of folks praising the apparent rise in the ratings for the Kansas race. We’re sorry to disappoint, but things are not always as they seem.
Yes, 2.2 is higher by some 10% than last year’s rating for the same race on ESPN, but let’s not overlook the elephant in the living room. Sunday’s race at Kansas was broadcast, not on cable, but on the mighty NBC broadcast network. With that in mind, perhaps you’ll understand and appreciate this snippet borrowed from Jayski.com:
“The 2.2 is the lowest ever for a Chase For the Cup race on broadcast television, and the lowest for any Sprint Cup race on broadcast since at least 2004. In both cases, the previous mark was a 2.5 for the 2009 New Hampshire race on ABC. Every other race on broadcast this season has earned at least a 2.6 overnight.”
It’s all in the wording, and folks that are well versed in words may also be pretty fair at playing the “spin” game, and I’m not speaking of a racing spin, but the political kind. To those that I heard rejoicing over the latest ratings last night… do the actual facts present it in a different light?
Note: Broadcast Networks include NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX, or the “Mother Ships” as they have come to be known. (Sorry, but I do not know the Canadian counterparts) They are free and generally available to everyone in all markets… except for those (Like my friend Erica) that live in outposts too far from any broadcasting tower to receive a channel or channels without involving cable. Yes gentle readers, there still are such places in our country and in Canada in this year of 2015. Add to that the great number of homes that have simply opted to disconnect the money-grubbing cable companies and watch only the broadcast channels, and you quickly get a picture of why any programming on a broadcast channel will always top the same thing presented on any cable channel.
By far, the most common complaint we hear from fans is that the race in (Insert race here) cannot be watched on their TV or from their location. I wish I had an answer for those folks, but I don’t believe there is one, other than in some cases paying a cable company still more for a higher “tier.” Those four corporations are huge, and operate in sums of money that this scribe does not know how to type. Suffice it to say that zeroes would be running off the page.
One more short note… yes, I’ve glanced at the “leak” of information coming out about the franchise/charter discussions between NASCAR and the RTA. When it becomes fact instead of rumor, I’m sure we’ll be discussing it. Of course, then it will be too late to do anything about it, but in reality we can’t do anything about it anyway. Again, we’re talking about agreements among folks that deal in funds we couldn’t begin to count. I’m reminded of Buddy Baker’s analogy of a couple of rich car owners… “Any one of them could burn a wet mule with hundred-dollar bills.”
Be well, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!