Monday, November 22, 2010

JJ's Fifth... Good or bad for the sport? I say "Nix the Sixth."

I'm obviously going to go with bad. Let me tell you why...

Are any of you fans of the NASCAR page on Facebook? If you are, take a glance at the comments fans have been making. Some people said that they're done with NASCAR; some said that JJ is a 10-race champion and not a season champion. I'm not going to lie: I even joined in on the conversation and said, "Nix the Sixth." I fully believe that should be the next campaign for the sport because they're losing fans by the minute with such repetitive results.

The only fans I've seen who are happy are the Johnson fans. I guess this is understandable since most fans would be happy if their driver won a championship, but look at everyone else. JJ's fans only hold a certain percentage of interest in the sport, and I'm going to bet that it would maybe be close to 10-15%. That leaves somewhere between 85-90% of fans unhappy with the outcome. That many unhappy fans will probably be less likely to watch the races on television, purchase merchandise, or go to a race.

Our disappointment isn't because we fans aren't happy that our driver isn't winning. To be honest, I'm a fan of Stewart and Kahne, but I'm not whining since their season wasn't spectacular. NASCAR doesn't rule my life (and probably doesn't for anyone else unless you work in the sport), but I'm surely not going to be motivated to watch a race when I know the outcome will most likely include Jimmie Johnson winning or finishing in the top-3... especially if it's one of the last 10 races of the season. The races aren't boring because of a lack of action, as they've certainly improved that this season, but there really aren't many positive thoughts about the Chase outcome. In this instance, continuity can equal disaster for the sport.

Even the Chicago Bulls championship streak was interrupted by a 2-year period, which seemed to rejuvenate fans interest in the sport during that time. In 1994, the Houston Rockets were considered to be major underdogs. Look what they did, though - they proved themselves and won the championship that year and in 1995. The Bulls took back over for the next 3 years, but you know what that did for the sport? It created record-breaking season opening television ratings for the 1996 season. NASCAR needs their own version of the Houston Rockets.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree that the Fifth was bad for the sport or does your opinion differ? Let me know - I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

I leave you with my favorite three words at the moment until my next post: "Nix the Sixth."

Take care,

Lauren B.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Chase"-ing The Top

This time of the year brings much uncertainty around the racing industry as everyone gets ready for the upcoming Chase. It seems like every year someone new emerges as one of the front-runners, particularly Denny Hamlin this year. He's been in the Chase before, but not with as much force as this year. The question, though, is this: can he keep that momentum going throughout the next 10 weeks?

Of course, I have my favorite drivers in the Chase, but I'm not here to tell you why I think "so-and-so" is going to win.... Or why "what's his name" is going to lose miserably. So, what I am going to do is a driver-by-driver analysis for the Chase in order of the current standings. Are you ready? Well, here goes nothing:

1. Denny Hamlin: With 6 wins and coming off of a win at Richmond last week, he's definitely got some momentum. He only has 11 top tens throughout the season, though, which is the 11th lowest number out of all Chase contenders. Yes, he's been consistent (even though his average finish is 15.2), but he hasn't been as consistent as his competitors.

2. Jimmie Johnson: He's kind of been lurking throughout this season without many "show off" performances, but his average finish (14.5) proves that he's keeping his eye on the prize. I'm sure he's interested in making even more history with a 5th championship, which would be an unbelievable stat.

3. Kevin Harvick: Mr. Ronald McDonald himself (sorry, I couldn't resist...his fire suit cracks me up) has a very impressive average finish: 9.8. When you talk about consistently being in the game, Harvick is definitely your man. He's completed 98.3% of his laps during this entire season, meaning that he and his team don't give up. Period.

4. Kyle Busch: It seems like every race is Kyle's proving ground. He's had 14 top tens with 8 of them being top fives and is competitive week-in and week-out. People can make fun of him for wearing a pink fire suit, but hey - he can do what he wants as long as he performs in the car.

5. Kurt Busch: Where did Kurt come from? He has had some good finishes this season, but there have been some doozies, too. A 40th place finish at the Carfax 400 won't help you win championships, so they've got to work on their performance if they want to be crowned in 10 races.

6. Tony Stewart: The 14 team got off to a rocky start this year, but it looks like they've found something that works. In the last 15 races, Tony's average finish is 9.4, and in his words, they're moving upward. Plus, if you took out the two twenty-something outliers, it would be even higher. Last year, their peak was at the beginning and middle of the season; this year, it's right now.

7. Greg Biffle: This team has been laying low this whole season and had some pretty decent strings of finishes. The last 5 races, though haven't been beneficial for the 16 team's momentum because they include a 32nd place finish at Richmond, a 36th place finish at Atlanta, and a 24th place finish at Watkins Glen. They're going to need to turn that around ASAP if they want to contend for the championship.

8. Jeff Gordon: It's pretty impressive that 10 of Jeff's 13 top tens have been top fives. Just like Johnson, he's been quietly looming in the background. This team always seems to show up when it counts, so look for the 24 to be extremely competitive throughout the Chase.

9. Carl Edwards: Cousin Carl seems to be improving in this phase of the competition. In the last 9 races, his worst finish was 12th, making his average finish a 5.6. Wow. Now, that's what can win a championship.

10. Jeff Burton: Jeff has had an up and down year. He's had 13 top tens, but he's also had 7 races where he finished below 20th. He has the skill to win the championship, but he just needs a little bit of luck to be on his side.

11. Matt Kenseth: The 17 team needs to get back in the routine they were in 6 races ago. Since then, 4 of their finishes have been in the teens, which is definitely not going to win them a championship. They have the equipment and know-how, so you never know what will come out of their sleeve.

12. Clint Bowyer: This guy is in it to win it. It was impressive to see their team's determination to get into the Chase at Richmond. When they needed to just finish 28th or better, they were contending for the win, risking everything. They've had mediocre performances, but the drive is there, so look for them to perform better during the next 10 weeks.

So, what do you think? Who do you think will come out on top of the Chase totem pole? Post your comments - I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, July 2, 2010

"This is it; no more 3 for me"

"Incredible" is the only word to describe tonight's race.

Seeing that #3 tribute on the track and eventually in Victory Lane was absolutely amazing. It represented everything that Earnhardt stood for: a winning tradition, family, friends, and passion. I would venture to say that the emotion was just as high as Junior's Pepsi 400 win in 2001. Tony Eury, Jr.'s face and interview after the last lap said it all: to paraphrase, he said that they lost everything at Daytona, but to win tonight was just amazing. To be honest, I wasn't ever an Earnhardt fan because I didn't truly get into racing until around 2000, but that was something that just had to put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. What a powerful night in Nascar.

That car isn't just a car, though: it's a legend. So much passion is attached to that number and was tragically taken from everyone that day in February 2001, but the history still lives on. The love for everything that car stands for still lives on. The admiration for "the" driver of all drivers still lives on. And now his own flesh and blood just won in his paint scheme from the 80's. Suh-weet.

You know, though, it would be really easy for Junior to take on the #3 car forever, but tonight was it. He said in his Victory Lane interview, "This is it; no more 3 for me." He ran it in a race at Daytona in 2002 and won and finished 36th at Charlotte in the same year, but tonight will be the end of the #3 saga for Junior. I think that's very admirable to do that because if we saw that number on the track every weekend, it wouldn't have as much of a meaning behind it. Nevertheless, I'm glad he drove it tonight.

What were your thoughts about the race? What about the new cars with the Mustang and the Challenger, as well as the new editions of the Camry and Impala? The new cars have been slightly overshadowed by this epic win, but feel free to comment on anything and everything!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nascar's news is as fast as the cars

A lot has happened since my last blog: the two golden boys feud, Old Spice drops out of the Stewart-Haas clan, Kasey Kahne signs a deal for 2012 but leaves 2011 open for negotiations, and blood clots interfere with Brian Vickers' health bill, to name a few.  Wow...  that's intense. 

There's been a lot of surprises this season that no one would have ever imagined.  Tony Stewart and his crew are in a completely opposite position than they were this time last year.  Horrible finishes have burdened them this entire season, but they're hoping to turn that around this weekend at Dover.  I'm not really sure a 16th place start is going to provide a win, but no one ever knows what's going to happen there... or at any race, for that matter.  Also, Harvick has managed to stay on top of the standings this year.  It almost seems like he and Tony have switched places, but I'm sure Kevin is living up to his nickname right about now even though he isn't too "happy" about his car's handling at Dover.  It also looks like the Roush camp has also begun to get back into their old routine of good finishes.  It's definitely good to see them up front once again. 

Add to the craziness, Danica's worst career start in IRL.  I had the opportunity to visit the first IRL race at Barber Motorsports Park a few weeks ago, and her performance really was how she described it: terrible.  According to, though, she's not blaming her part-time schedule in Nascar for the disappointing season.  I don't know that I agree, though - unless you're Tony Stewart, it's difficult to go back and forth driving two completely different types of cars with different kinds of technology and different styles of tracks.  I guess I'm still sticking by my opinion that she's not as good of a driver as everyone makes her out to be.  Looks don't equal performance, people.

Anyway, though, we all want to wish Brian Vickers a speedy recovery.  There's no telling when he will be back on the track, but he should take his time considering the seriousness of this condition.  His health is much more important than making the Chase (Red Bull even agrees), so many thoughts and prayers are going out to him right now. 

'Til next time,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Atlanta Race... In-Person Review

Thank goodness there were some impressive wrecks, Goodyear tire problems, and intentional wrecking at the Atlanta Sprint Cup race. The rest of it was just plain boring.

As I sat in the grandstands, I hoped that the race would be comparable to the Labor Day weekend race. Well, needless to say, it wasn't. The race was the same-old Atlanta with long, drawn-out boring segments where the leader seemed to lap a car every couple of times he came across the finish line. There was even a time where I nodded off and almost fell asleep. I don't know about everyone else, but the race really didn't truly get interesting until the end of the race. The intensity seemed to have been kicked up a notch, which always makes things interesting... too bad it wasn't until 30 laps before the checkered flag dropped.

Throughout the race, at least a dozen teams had issues with their Goodyear tires. What surprises me, though, is that Goodyear seemed to deny the claims altogether, basically implying that the drivers who had problems had a bad set-up. Goodyear Racing chief Stu Grant said, "It's a tire the guys are happy to run on. They're comfortable and they're fast if the setup is good. The leaders are running great. If you look at (Kasey Kahne) and (Busch), their tires have looked great all day" ( It's highly doubtful that 12 of the best teams in the sport ALL had completely bad set-ups. I listened to Tony Stewart on the scanner, and his tires were basically what held up his progression on the track throughout the entire race. Also, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Robby Gordon, and 5 others were affected. Of course, it's important to have a set-up that's a good combination to incorporate grip and speed that won't blister the tires, but come on, Goodyear. Maybe something really was wrong with the tires? It just says something when Goodyear specifically tests tires at a track (ahem, Atlanta), yet there are still problems with them there.

Everyone's been talking about Carl Edwards' intentional move to wreck Brad Keselowski, so I'll just cover it briefly. Carl usually seems to be a level-headed guy, so that's probably why the media is blowing up this altercation between him and Brad. Two things: A) You really shouldn't really wreck anyone because of safety reasons and B) if you're going to wreck someone, don't wear white gloves! It was obvious that Carl intentionally wrecked Brad because you could see his gloves moving side-to-side. It's evident that Carl had a lapse in judgment, but he shouldn't be suspended a race for it. If you really think about it and put all of the wrecks together that Brad's caused in the last year or so, it probably wouldn't even add up to amount to this specific incident. We'll just have to wait until Tuesday to see what Nascar thinks.

I will say, though, that I really like the fact that the races will end under the green flag and not under a caution. Kudos to Nascar for making the call to change that rule. If the really old rule was in place, the race would have finished under the caution flag after Carl and Brad's incident. I know the fans who paid to attend this race definitely wouldn't have been happy about that... this one, in particular.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Rule Change... Surprise, surprise

Nascar isn't a stranger to rule changes.

One of the latest changes in the Nascar rule book is that the lowest-finishing car that didn't wreck out of the race will now be inspected by the officials at the conclusion of the race.  This change is supposed to encourage the start-and-park teams to put more effort toward actually participating in the race instead of dropping out after 30 laps.  There is more to this rule change, though, that might actually backfire on Nascar's efforts.

This rule change can prove to be devastating for under-funded teams because of the monetary implications that accompany the inspection process.  Just think for a minute: Cup Series engine rebuilds can cost several thousands of dollars, most likely in the upwards of $30,000.  For under-funded teams, this can be fatal.  That's like one person's salary for an entire year!  The cost of rebuilding an engine, much less a car, is extremely expensive.  If that rule wasn't in place, that money could have been used for research and development programs that could simply make the team more competitive. 

Not only does the money concern come into play, but also the question of whether or not the start-and-park teams will risk their equipment to actually enter into the field.  If there's no way to be competitive with the other 42 cars, why even enter and risk being the car that gets inspected and possibly torn apart?  We might not have to worry about qualifying to actually get into the race if there aren't 43 cars for the field!  That can lead to a whole plethora of new issues for another day and time, though.

You never know what can happen...  Nascar always keeps things interesting! 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Excitement at Races: Yaay or Neigh?

In light of Jimmie Johnson's win at California, I wanted to write about a question that a friend and fellow Nascar fan, Cade, chatted with me about a few days ago: When the same drivers win week-in and week-out, do the fans still feel some excitement about the possibility of their favorite driver having a chance to win? 

Let me begin by giving you some background information on my Nascar history.  I have been a serious Nascar fan for about 10 years (I watched it a little bit before then), and was originally drawn to the sport because of a driver named Ricky Rudd.  He was my reason for being a racing fan because of his down-to-earth demeanor and by simply being a class act.  I loved his personality because he was one who would race with patience every week, but he would get fired-up when with Rusty Wallace or Kevin Harvick.  Toward the end of his career, I knew that the probability of him winning a race with a one-car, under-funded team was much smaller than the bigger teams.  Of course, every race fan wants to see his or her driver win, but as long as I saw his name on the starting line-up, I was content.

I don't really think that affected my attitude toward watching or attending any races, but it does get frustrating when the same drivers win each week.  So many people aren't fans of certain drivers simply because of that factor.  Take the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. for example.  You either loved him or you hated him; there was no in-between.  His passion made for many exciting races, wins, and championships, but he certainly had his fair share of nay-sayers because of the success he'd already had.  Say what you want, but some people are naturally jealous of others' successes.  It happens all the time - in the work place, in the classroom, and even on the race track.  It's almost inevitable.  What can happen, though, is that some people have the potential to start to lose interest in watching the races because it's almost as if the winners are predetermined.  I'm not saying the races are fixed; that is definitely not the issue.  What I am saying, however, is that it takes the fun out of the anticipation of who is going to win. 

So, here's my question for you: do you get bored seeing the same drivers win each week?  The Jimmie Johnsons, the Jeff Gordons, the Kyle Bushes... Does it take the fun out of watching the sport?  I'd love to hear your opinion on it, no matter if you agree with my views or not.  Feel free to postg your comments!