Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Monday

Panthers training camp rolls on with 2 practices set for 9:10 am and 6 pm. So far, only a pair of minor injuries (RB Nick Goings and WR Josh Davis), and as long as the Spartanburg bumps and bruises remain minor, everyone will be happy. I was at camp on Saturday, and it's a good vibe with the players. They know the job in front of them, they are putting in the time to get it done, and they are doing it with as much of a smile as one can muster being trapped there.

We'll have more training camp news for you on Sports Night at 10.
I want to know where the outcry is. Seriously. I want to know.

The Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing. It's the Great American Race. The NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (or the Brickyard if you like), is considered the 2nd biggest race on the Sprint Cup schedule.

And we got that?

If you missed it, the Allstate 400 was the worst display of racing NASCAR has ever seen. I say this even after watching (and covering) the debacle that took place a few years ago at Lowe's Motor Speedway after the track was resurfaced by diamond-grinding it. You see, the surface at Lowe's was only partially done. Parts of the track patches didn't take, plus the surface was still very raw, eating up tires faster than a 9 year old with a pack of Gummi Lifesavers.

The Brickyard has a reputation fo chewing up tires, and NASCAR and Goodyear KNEW this was the case, after an April test session. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers tested the new car (formerly known as the COT) at Indy, and they were burning up tires back then. So between April and July 27th, Goodyear couldn't come up with a better tire for this particular surface, when they had all the data they could get?

Where are the drivers on all of this? Only a few have voiced their displeasure, saying the situation was embarrassing, or calling it a joke. Where are the others? Oh, wait, NASCAR threw a basic "gag-order" on all of them earloier this season. basically, say something nice, or don't say anything at all. A majority of drivers are playing the nice role, saying things like "it's nobody's fault," or "we did what we had to." What would the late Dale Earnhardt say? Whatever he wanted.

This is not the first time this season a tire issue has come up in NASCAR's top series, but I would have to think it's coming pretty close to being the last. The price of gas, tickets, supplies (for those fans that camp out at the facility) and so on is too high for the fans to see such a mess. The drivers apologized to the fans, then then praised NASCAR for handling a bad situation as well as they could.

Someone is to blame here. Whether it is Goodyear for making a garbage tire for that surface, or it is the Brickyard for having a track that resembles 80 grit sandpaper. For me, the blame falls on both Goodyear and the IMS equally. Indy's surface should be better than that (after 99 years of racing, a new slick of asphalt is ok every 10 years or so, right guys?). Goodyear KNEW there would be tire issues, and brought a tire that was simply not up to snuff.

NASCAR is not totally off the hook, however. Many folks at the track were saying that the new car is also a culprit here--a heavier car that worked the right rear tires like they never have before. Another flaw in this new ride that the folks at NASCAR R&D will likely look into. Still, I, too, applaud the way Robin Pemberton and his folks handled Sunday--someone pass him the Advil.

When the track at Lowe's was resurfaced (and before it was re-paved), Tony Stewart ripped Humpy Wheeler saying "if he wants to see how a track is resurfaced correctly, he should go to Indy." I would hope Stewart would attempt to seek out Mr. Wheeler today, and apologize. Indy's showing on Sunday left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, except race winner Jimmie Johnson.

At least he wasn't dealing with bits of tire rubber when he kissed the bricks.

1 comment:

Tim Broyer said...

Once again Mike, you nailed it. My thoughts exactly. NASCAR is ever increasingly forgetting the fans and the fan experience.

And let the drivers talk without fear from NASCAR. The only thing they should be afraid of is losing a sponsor.

Signed, missing Dale in Apex.