Monday, February 15, 2010

Thoughts about the beach

I wanted to title this entry Thoughts FROM The Beach. Because I wasn't in Daytona this weekend and am instead in Tennessee today where it is snowing yet again with 20ish degree temps, I opted for ABOUT vs. FROM.

A few final thoughts about Speedweeks...

The Good

The racing - let's lead with what matters. When the green was unfurled, the racing was pretty good. I'll leave the multiple GWC attempts debate to others. And the cut tires. And the average performance of Hendrick. But up front, the stuff was good. During the first attempt at a GWC, Truex, Harvick, Biffle, and Bowyer nearly wrecked. It looked like an XBOX video game. But they straightened it out, and let the others wreck behind them instead.

The history - I hope the trend continues and expands of NASCAR's showcasing its historical participants. Junior Johnson gave the command to start the engines. Richard Petty rode in the pace car (some debate as to whether he actually drove it or not). And Glen and Leonard Wood served as honorary starters. All very nice touches to the race.

It was great seeing The King back at the beach. He missed most of Speedweeks to be with his wife. But he returned Saturday and had a long segment on Speed TV Saturday. What was even more enjoyable was some good interviewing and father/son banter between him and Kyle.

I fully realize Richard is only a figurehead at Richard Petty Motorsports, but I'm still a sucker for seeing a competitive Petty-emblazoned team. Kasey Kahne is an A- driver on a B- team. I've never been big fan of his pretty-boy, Allstate-soccer-mom vibe. But he is the one who got the King back to victory lane in 2009, and his victory over Smoke in Thursday's duel was very cool to see.

Source: St. Petersburg Times at

My true emotional loyalty is vested with the #43. So when A.J. Allmendinger got racey in the duels and then took the lead in the 500, I really got excited.

Sadly though, a quote by Red (Morgan Freeman's character in The Shawshank Redemption) returned to mind when A.J. spun it all by himself ending his chance for a great finish:
"Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
The Bad

Harry Connick Jr. did a fine job singing the national anthem - far better than many of the other posers NASCAR has rolled out in seasons past. Being from New Orleans, I know he was happy about the Saints Super Bowl win, but that did NOT give him the right to wear his fleur-de-lis hat as he sang the anthem. Good grief dude, have some respect for for the flag and nation for which you are singing. This was the second anthem FAIL in as many Saturdays. The guy singing the anthem for the Shootout didn't remove his hat either. Looking at the glass as "half full" though, at least HCJr. wasn't as disrespectful as this guy.

ESPN recovered greatly from 2009 in its coverage of Saturday's Nationwide race - despite Danicamania. On Sunday, however, FOX reminded me how sick I am of Darrell Waltrip. Where shall we begin:
  • Shilling for Mikey's teams and his sponsors? Mike Joy tossed him the news the #43 was slicing through the field. Rather than elaborate, DW instead chose to name drop NAPA along with Truex. The fact he does so repeatedly doesn't really surprise me anymore I guess. What really chaps me is FOX Sports allowing it to continue.
  • His openly biased cheering for Dale Jr. as the field headed for the checkers?
  • Possibly the most illconceived ad drop for the A-Team movie featuring Jaws and Hollywood Hammond? The original TV show was bad, the movie is unnecessary, and the "acting" of Waltrip and Hammond was just plain dreadful.
Ol' Charlie Dickens knew what he was talking about when he wrote "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Kasey Kahne, Allmendinger, and Elliott Sadler all ran fantastic in the first half of the race. However, the second half of a race is what really matters - specifically the last lap. And when the race ended, the RPM teams were nowhere to be found - except for ...cough, gag, wheeze... Paul Menard. I would never have bet Menard to be the highest finishing RPM car when the day began.

Ohhh yeaaahh - Over the last few years, Daytona and other tracks have held a pre-race concert for the fans. This year, the track really pulled a head scratcher by serving up wrestler Randy Savage.

Wait...that wasn't him? It was who? Well, it sure looked an awful lot like the Macho Man to me (click for reference pic).

The Ugly

Returning to the DW and Hammond theme, their trying to tell me a lie not once, not twice, but multiple times really annoyed me. Repeatedly they said no one left the track during the red flags for track repair. We're not stupid. TV told the truth as did Twitter. Plenty of folks left. No shame in that as fans had to catch planes, get back home, get back to work, were frustrated, were out of beer, etc. These clowns don't need to piss on my back and tell me its raining.

How about FOX TV in general? Most folks gave them props for staying on the air way beyond the expected coverage window, and I'll give them that much as a kudos. Let their broadcast included more potholes than the track surface itself. Let me enumerate just a few examples:
  1. Delayed mention of the track coming apart - Many drivers were telling their crews about the problem. Twitter was alive with fans and media scanning the drivers and posting what was said. All of this was happening a full 15-20 minutes before TV's first mention of the problem.
  2. Commercials - TV had 3 extra hours to pitch product. When the race returned to green each time, did they stay with race for extended period? Nope, they returned to commercial drops at the regular intervals as if the 3 hour delayed had never happened.
  3. Commercials part 2 - One Sprint commercial was to get real-time race updates. Actually, that was a pretty good pitch. Maybe I should sign-up for it because goodness knows I wasn't going to get real-time updates from the FOX guys.
  4. DIS repaving - The booth and hotel bantered the idea of repaving the track. The question I stupidly asked the TV was "When was it last repaved?" Seems to me that would have been a good piece of trivia to tell us. The producers of the Super Bowl have every doggone trivia minutiae imaginable for their announcers and color guys. FOX? Nope, we get A-Team ads with DW and Hammond, speculation about driver's babies, and repeat replays of the 1979 Daytona 500 finish. (For the record, the track was paved in 1978. Props to Monte Dutton for educating us in one of his articles Sunday.)
Austin Dillon's debut in the highly-anticipated return of a Richard Childress #3 black NASCAR entry made the highlight reels for all the wrong reasons. The kid likely has a big future (I've seen him run the wheels off a World Of Outlaws late model), but he didn't even make one lap in his new truck fielded by his granddaddy.

How 'bout it? Any additional highlights or lowlights I missed?



  1. Nice piece bro! Dead on about DW too! That talkin head is just too much! Also, if you really do follow me on Twitter and say your my friend, lol, you would have seen I tweeted that the track was last paved in 1978. Google is a great tool!