Monday, May 24, 2010

Great weekend, but first...

Tremendous weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway (I still have to correct myself when I begin to type "Low..."), but before I talk racing and other stuff, I gotta unload this.

Carolina Panthers. What are you thinking?

Summer School, also known as Organized Team Activities (OTA's for short), began on Monday, but unless you follow me on Twitter (or any other Panthers reporters), you won't know what's going on. You see, the Panthers are only opening OTA workouts to the media on Tuesday and Thursday. And even then, I suspect the same rules (for TV) will be in place. We can only shoot a very limited portion of the workout, at the beginning of practice. It
s called "stretching."

This is a mistake, in my opinion. The media is the bridge from the team to the fans. Panther fans want to know what's going on with their team, especially after this past off-season. The team jettisoned so much of their roster (nevermind guys that left via free agency), that there is very little experience remaining. It's a young team that is heading into 2010. Fans want to know what's going on.

Also, I don't truly get what the hang up is with TV cameras shooting practice. It's football. It's not government secrets. TV stations aren't selling copies of practice video on the black market, or to other NFL teams. I'd love to hear why this is such a hang up. I just don't see it.

While on the topic of the NFL, ESPN's John Clayton reporting that the 2014 Super Bowl looks like it is heading to New York. Some reward for the teams that make it there. No warm destination city to play for the title in. No warm game conditions. Let's not forget the game is in late January/early February. The Super Bowl has always been played in either a warm city, or domed stadium. 2014 would be outdoors in cold (snowy?) New York. I don't like it.

OK, enough rambling about that.

NASCAR took center stage over the weekend, with the All Star Race and Hall of Fame Inductions. The race itself was a snoozer until the final 10 laps. Got interesting when teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch had their little get together. Hamlin shut the door on the outside racing lane, causing Busch to hit the fence. Busch would later wreck out of the event, and use some rather colorful language about his teammate over his radio. It's something we'll have to watch, but in my estimation, it's a non-story.

What you have are two drivers, very talented, and very competitive. Hamlin asked the question via his Twitter feed after the race, "would Kyle pull over and let me pass if the roles were reversed?" That answer, plainly, is no. No way. Heck no. Once the calm sets in, Kyle will see Denny did what ANY driver would do, teammate or not. I love the fire in Kyle, though. The guy hates losing. All drivers are like that, but Kyle shows it. That rocks.

Lost in all the post-race JGR drama, was the fact that Kurt Busch won the darn thing, and the $1 million dollar payday. He was solid all night, but would he have been the one at the front if Jimmie Johnson hadn't spun out? Maybe. The class cars of the field were the 2 (Kurt Busch), 11 (Hamlin), 18 (Kyle Busch), and the 48 (Johnson). Martin Truex, Jr. was the leader of the 2nd tier of cars, and he finished 2nd. Shame that the 11, 18 and 48 had troubles late.

Hall of Fame Inductions were impressive, but had moments of "huh?" sprinkled in. As I mentioned in this little corner of the web, the initial HOF class was a winner, even if Bill France, Jr. got in earlier than I would have put him in (I would have chosen David Pearson, but that's me). Bill France, Sr,., Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, and Dale Earnhardt rounded out the 5 inductees. Solid.

A nice ceremony for all in attendance, but, some observations:
  • Classy move by Jim France, donating Bill Sr's HOF ring to the Hall. That piece of history will be on display for all time--the first HOF ring ever issued. Nice moment.
  • Weird sight-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. standing next to Teresa Earnhardt for the post-induction speech photo with The Intimidator's HOF spire. Also check the sports page in the Charlotte Observer. Teresa is speaking at the podium, Dale Jr. is in the background, arms crossed.
  • Junior Johnson's acceptance speech was funny, but a little rambly at times. Having never really covered him as a driver or owner, I'm simply chalking that up to Junior being Junior. His "breakfast plate" story was a classic, one which I have been using for some time now. Guess I know the origin.
  • Kyle Petty's presentation of The King was very cool. Kyle saying he was wearing one of his father's Daytona 500 Rolex watches, and he was on his way to wearing the HOF ring.
  • And then there was Dale Jr., talking about racing his father in Japan, the day he finally met "The Intimidator." Said he was running away from him, "like I got an "F" on my report card."

All of the moments were special. For every single new member of the Hall, Sunday was a unique experience. Even for those in the crowd, it was touching. I was happy to be a part of that day, even as an observer, and someone to document the occasion. Hard to debate the first class of inductees, but going forward, there will be (and should be) some passionate discussions regarding who is going in. The NHOF should keep this in mind: It's a Hall of Fame for the "greats," not the "very goods." The first 5 were greats. Keep it that way.

One other item, ESPN's Rick Bucher saying that Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski is a logical choice to replace the fired-as-of-Monday Mike Brown in Cleveland. Why is it that whenever an NBA job opens up, Coach K is the first guy people think of? K hasn't left Durham in 30 years. He's going to jump to the NBA because LeBron might want him? Flaws in this: 1) LeBron might not be there next season. 2) K is coming off of a National Championship at Duke. 3) He was reportedly in the mix to coach the LA Lakers, with Kobe Bryant, which he refused. So again, I ask, why would he go to the NBA now?

Have a great week--we're back at Charlotte Motor Speedway Thursday for qualifying for the Coca Cola 600!

Mike Solarte

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