I had returned from a trip to the upstate of South Carolina to watch my soccer star playing grandson, Sam, play in the North-South Game for the best high school players in South Carolina. Sam's team won, 3-2 and Sam was selected as most valuable player and received yet another trophy to add to his tremendous collection. I mention the trophy only because I've never received one, other than the one I bought recently at a church yard sale for Fifty Cents. Forgive the preamble, but I couldn't resist bragging a little.
So, after supper Saturday, I happened to check my emails to be informed that the Xfinity race from Iowa had not one Cup driver entered. Hmmm, I think to myself, might be worth watching this one. Then I find out there will be NO Waltrip in the FOX Sports 1 Booth which really boosted my enthusiasm to watch the race. After supper and cleaning up the dishes, I settled into my chair and turned on FS1. As I watched driver introductions I was so impressed and amazed at the youth involved in that series, the youth who would have a chance to show their talent without the multimillion-dollar teams that usually show up and ruin the show in what should be a stand-alone series on its own.
If you watched the race, you know you saw some really good racing. Oh, that "clean air" bit for the leader still played a part, but watching these young guys race three and four wide was worth tuning in. Surprisingly, considering the lack of experience of many of the drivers and the enthusiasm of youth involved, the race was clean with only a couple minor incidents, although one of those incidents changed the eventual outcome. When the checkers waved, it was 19 year old William Byron, driving for JR Motorsports in Victory Lane. Had to be a great thrill for him as he was side-slammed by Denny Hamlin at Michigan the week before to have the win stolen from him by Hamlin and the JGR team for which Hamlin drives. Ryan Sieg, another young driver with a good future in the sport finished second to record the highest finish of his young career.
The racing was great and, surprisingly, the crowd in the stands and around the track was pretty darned good... probably better than what I saw in the almost empty grandstands at Sonoma this afternoon. There has been an awful lot of chatter on social media sites I frequent about the winner and the race in Iowa. Are you listening NASCAR? A stand-alone Xfinity Race with no Cup drivers, decent crowd, great racing and a young man getting to display his talents and win a race. No side-slamming Cup driver stealing the win. I love it!!!!
Now, as to "the sly FOX" to which I referred in the beginning. Do any of you remember when they ran the first truck race at Eldora? Excitement level for all fans was off the scales as NASCAR was returning, albeit with its lowest touring division, to the dirt track. Having watched all the Eldora races, in spite of putting up with the screeching emitted from the oversized mouth of one guy from Kentucky, I really enjoyed those races. NASCAR on dirt again. The dirt tracks around which I grew up in the 50s and 60s. Not quite the same racing, but interesting.
We all know that FOX moved all the races in the month of June (as well as several races before June) to its lower level "FS1" network. "Fox Sports One" as it is properly called, covers all manner of sports, yet has not yet been able to grasp the fact that most sporting events take longer than the time allowed by FS1 to broadcast them. I feel I've been cheated when finishing order interviews are overlooked so they can move on to the wheel chair tennis tournament from Happy Acres retirement home. Fortunately, I have FS1 on my cable system, for which I pay a monthly bill high enough to cover all the sheet metal damage to the number 10 Cup car. Many people don't have the luxury of even having FS1 offered by their provider.
The point of all that is to say, as the Xfinity race was being rushed off FS1 Saturday, it was announced that Eldora would be shown on FOX Business Channel this year. I almost overlooked that little statement until I was being told where that channel could be found on certain satellite networks. I immediately scanned my cable system and I did locate the FOX Business Channel and it is a part of the monthly bill. Oh Joy! I will be able to see Eldora after all. I checked out the regularly scheduled programming on FOX Business Channel to find constant repeats of stock market news and financial analysts who report on anything financial. How that could fit in with a truck race on Eldora Dirt I could not imagine. Then, it hit me!!! FOX put it there when their attorneys discovered the "specific performance" clause in the contract with NASCAR. Simply stated, that clause would allow FOX an out if NASCAR wasn't performing up to the terms and conditions of the contract.
Surely, folks, we all know the television ratings this year have exceeded all dismal expectations of even the worst critics. All the fluff about watching via other means (i.e. I-Pads, cell phones, in bar televisions or whatever) is just that, fluff. Though it may be "spun" anyway NASCAR may choose, to have the Eldora truck race relegated to FOX Business Channel is a slap in the face. Wonder how Lou Dobbs (the stalwart of FOX Business Channel) is taking all this.
I would be laughing uncontrollably at this point were it not so sad to see my sport, the only sport I've ever watched, (other than what my grandsons play) go through such humiliation. It was once fun to talk about racing with fans of other sports, but nowadays it is humiliating to have them laugh out loud when I mention NASCAR. Maybe the FOX Business Channel will increase my investment portfolio. Look for the silver lining you know.