Rain Delay, Sticky Stuff and the Little Race that Could
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and 73s from the Lilley Pad to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this warm but not overly hot day in North Georgia. Did everyone enjoy the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday? Did anyone even watch that race?
Surprisingly, even though the race was at a track noted for poor racing and lack of passing… and a long 4-hour rain delay held off the green flag until circa 4:00 in the afternoon, some folks were watching, and were rewarded for their die-hard spirit by a really good race. The overnight ratings awarded New Hampshire a 1.6. No, that’s not wonderful, but when we consider that Kentucky could only muster a 1.3, then 1.6 is pretty fair for the circumstances. Last year’s rating was 1.8, but that one wasn’t rain-delayed for hours. All in all, I’d rate this one a mild success.
Aside from those names that most of you have already heard too much of, we had some nice runs by a couple of racers I could stand to see win one pretty soon. Taking the top points for the second stage was my neighbor, Chase Elliott, (Second to Truex Jr. in the first stage) who led 23 laps on the day and finished a decent 6th for his efforts. New Hampshire is a horse of a different color, if you will. It’s noted for changing as the race goes along. My first thought was that the #9 team was going to have to chase that car to keep it competitive later on, as it was almost “Too good” in the beginning. I’d give them a B- in that department. Now, with the addition of the “sticky stuff”, which is just a revisit to an old pit road trick when they used to pour Coke syrup in the pit stall to keep tires from spinning when the jack dropped and the driver accelerated. It made things easier on transmissions too. I still have no firm thoughts on the use of the goo. It doesn’t stay put and when the rain comes, what does it do to our waterways? (Asking for a friend… really)
Another nice guy that had a great day, which could have been better, was Aric Almirola, who wrested the lead from Kevin Harvick and managed to pull out to a comfortable lead until a caution flag flew for a crash by teammate Clint Bowyer, who had been nursing a broken car. Apparently, something else broke and put him hard into the wall, bringing out the flag that Almirola didn’t want to see. Bowyer would finish 35th and Almirola’s #10 team bobbled a bit on the ensuing pit stop, relegating Aric to being the third car out of the pits and he would finish in third place on the final tally sheet. Ahead of him were two of the… wait for it… Big Three (Sorry but I had to do it) Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.
Your scribe will spare all the nonsense about “Bump and run.” We all watched the same race. I was a fan of Dale Earnhardt for over 20 years, which should make it obvious that this old girl has no problem with a bump and run… unless it’s on a high-speed Superspeedway. That description doesn’t come close to the flat mile we visited on Sunday. Bump away boys!
All through the rain delay the booth crew without an anchorman discussed in depth the pros and cons of wearing T-shirts while calling the race. It’s well known that Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t a big fan of the suit and tie routine. His dad wasn’t either, but had no problem at all wearing a full tuxedo to the awards banquets, and not even looking uncomfortable.
One journalist, who feels the boys in the booth should look “professional” and don the dress-up clothes for every race, took a poll on Twitter that came out some 95% against him and for the T-shirts. Your scribe dropped an offering on that subject that garnered more “Likes” than I think I’ve ever received for a single tweet.
“Shouldn't be an issue because we shouldn't be looking at them anyway. The race (or show) is on the track, not in the booth!”
As to looking “Professional”, they are not. NBC, for its own reasons, took the only professional broadcaster out of the booth and relegated him to the pits for the day. At Pocono, we’ll see Rick Allen back in the booth along with Jeff Burton. Out on the pit box overlooking the pits we’ll find Steve Letarte and Dale Earnhardt Jr. With the addition of Junior to the mix, it’s painfully obvious that the broadcast booth is overcrowded, but adding him had to be their best hope for raising the plummeting ratings, so they continue to try things, hoping for a balance that I doubt they’ll ever find. Four is at least one too many. OK, while we’re discussing the booth, I have a question.
Is it really necessary for three of them to scream and shout? Seriously, Earnhardt, Burton and Letarte all have a vocal pitch approaching soprano and when they raise those voices together, it becomes a cacophony of high-pitched sound that is downright unpleasant. It’s noticeable that NBC, for whatever reason, carries a lot more background and car noise than does FOX. I would humbly request that the noise be dialed back so that perhaps the broadcasters would no longer feel the need to yell to be heard over it. They are in what I’m quite sure is a soundproof booth, so it has to be happening on purpose. Please NBC! It doesn’t make us feel as though we’re at the track. It’s just distracting and unnecessary… and it makes your announcers a tad annoying as they attempt to out-noise the background noise.
Now gentle readers, let’s touch on another subject for a moment if I might. There is so much talk, speculation and expressing of desires regarding the NASCAR schedule, it’s becoming dizzying. However, there is one cold, unwavering truth. It’s not going to change any time soon. The 2019 schedule is already out and set in stone, barring acts of God and nature. The 5-year contract with every track on the schedule will not expire until the close of the 2020 season. That means that not before 2021 is there even a possibility of adding or removing tracks from the already bloated schedule.
This scribe readily agrees that change is necessary and has been saying so for 15 years at least, with absolutely no one listening. Another cold, hard fact is that 20 of the 23 tracks we now visit annually belong to either ISC (France Family) or SMI (Smith family.) The only 3 that break that mold are Indy, Pocono and Dover. Good luck convincing the France or Smith family to give up races willingly. That’s a battle that’s been waged since circa 1960. Certainly the France family “could” decide to work for the betterment of the sanctioning body and relinquish a track or two, especially since they now own the tracks that went with the ARCA purchase, Toledo Speedway, a .5-mile paved oval in Ohio and Flat Rock Speedway, a .25-mile paved oval in Michigan. Then there are the SMI tracks. Good luck getting the Smiths to relinquish even a single race at one of their tracks. That would almost guarantee a lawsuit for some supposed misdeed, the purpose of which would be to force NASCAR to open the books for public consumption, thereby revealing the monopolistic nature of the pact between that sanctioning body and ISC. It’s worked twice before and because of it, we now have a second race at Texas and Kentucky was added to the schedule. Both times, NASCAR settled out of court, meaning in essence that both times, Bruton Smith won. “It’s a jungle out there!”
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and today I’ve found some real memories. First up is a show featuring Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn, George and Tammy, Tanya Tucker and Don Gibson.
Then, as a special treat… to me… we have a short but wonderful little skit done by Marty Robbins and Merle Haggard. If you love either or both of these fabulous entertainers, you’ll just adore this one! Pay close attention to facial expressions… especially from Marty!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling.
It looks so good on you!