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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Postponing Brickyard until Monday would have been best option

Tony George, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is hopping mad.

After days of hearing about how his track’s “abrasive surface” is part of the reason Sunday’s event turned into something less than a race, George came out Tuesday and said: “The problem is solely (NASCAR‘s), and by that I mean it’s theirs to figure out. It’s not going to come with anything we do to the track.”

Then George threw down the gauntlet: “The track won’t change next year, so if they want to come back, they better figure it out because I don’t think the fans want to come back and see that.”

Tony George has done a lot of things in the past that fans don’t like (see: Indycar split), but he is a very smart man. He realizes, as should fans, that NASCAR and Goodyear really screwed up by not doing more testing to make sure the tires Goodyear provide were going to work with the COT. They did not do their homework, and the race fans and race teams suffered as a result. The “diamond-grinding” process Indy uses to smooth out the track works fine for the Indy 500, so that’s not going to change anytime soon. Between now and next summer, NASCAR and Goodyear need to do as much testing as is necessary to find out what’s going on at Indy and make sure next year‘s race goes off smoothly.

In a move I hope doesn’t turn out like George Bush Sr.’s “No new taxes” remark, NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton has come out to say “This won’t happen again” … I hope he’s right, but I won’t head to Vegas just yet to bet on it.

One argument that really bothers me that I’ve been hearing all week is: “At least all the drivers raced. Most of the Formula 1 drivers pulled into pit lane and refused to race after their tire problem”
In retrospect, all the drivers pulling into pit lane and refusing to race would have been the best move possible Sunday. They should have given Goodyear and NASCAR 24 hours to either rubber up the track properly, or bring in a tire that would last more than 10 green laps and not endanger their lives, and then held the race Monday. The Formula 1 drivers were smart … why should they go out and risk their lives just so F1 can continue to put on its show. Safety is more important than entertainment. CART drivers pulled a similar move at Texas in 2001 to ensure their safety, when the speeds and G-forces got out of control and they were feeling dizzy and couldn‘t control their cars.

The standby “They did the best they can” argument to defend NASCAR means very little when what happened on track Sunday can hardly be called a competition.

I know why a postponement didn’t happen … there were more than 200,000 people in the stands who were promised a race, and postponing it would cause chaos … as many would have to go to work Monday and thus never see the race, but it really was the best option if the goal was to provide a good race for the fans.

Though it will never happen, those fans deserve a refund.

I’m not sure who needs whom more between NASCAR and the Brickyard, but neither one of them wants to see the Brickyard 400 stop running. The chance of that happening is close to zero, as too many people make boatloads of money off this race. But if next year brings another show like we had Sunday, it might actually be discussed.

Adios, Mexico City!
In a move I find disappointing, the Mexico City race has been dropped from next year’s Nationwide schedule. NASCAR says its already achieved its goal of further developing stock-car racing in that region.
They say a permanent race outside the country was never planned.
I think that’s a copout, and robs the up-and-coming drivers of another chance to hone their road-racing skills. Also, I bet money was a factor in removing the race, which is understandable, but they won’t even come out and say it. The replacement race will likely be at Iowa Speedway, which could be an entertaining race, but I hate to lose a great race at a great track from the schedule.

Johnson going Truck racing
Randy Moss Motorsports has delivered on their promise to land a big-time Cup driver, at least for one race. Defending champ Jimmie Johnson will get into the team’s Truck at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s Johnson’s first Truck race ever, but it’s still a huge score for Moss’ team to land a driver of Jimmie’s caliber. The team must be on the right track, or stars like Johnson wouldn’t consider getting behind the wheel.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly a column from someone who has never had to get a room at Indy during a racing event. Here's the thing about rooms at Indy you pay normal room rates for practice and qualifying the price doubles on race day which is great if you happen to own motel or hotel but sure a pain if you don't. All the wiggle room Nascar had was used up by Saturday night, they either had to throw the dice or tell over 250,000 people folks call your motels and tell them you need your room back or sorry folks come back next year. It was a poor show segregated into the little 10 lap sprints but where were all those experts on Friday or Saturday when the problem was realized with these quick fixes? So as some of the drivers indicated it was not great but it was as good as they could do given the poor situation given them. Would it have been great if another tire was brought by Goodyear oh gee of course but that just like all the "easy quick fixes" suggested by the Monday morning quarterback club is a little late in coming. Sometimes you get to see a great race sometimes you don't this time you didn't. But please let's play the all American blame game now because as we all know if it's not perfect someone's to blame. If there is one thing that possibly came out of this was made crystalline clear and shown in living color all the hype, promotion, and groundwork done by Nascar to promote the COT as the do all Swiss Army car has been greatly overstated. The track will not be changed, Goodyear now knows the Checker Cab of race cars the COT will not work with previous tire setups, and Nascar still has vast amounts of changes needed in this car before it can be called a finished product. Let's just chalk this one up as an educational experience and go on to the next race, now if this occurs again I'll bring the feathers you bring the tar.

July 31, 2008 at 8:04 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

You bring up a good point about the hotel rooms ... I hadn't factored that in, and I'm sure it would have been a major hassle.

My view comes strictly from the perspective of someone who wants to see a good race.

As far as the COT goes, there's no turning back on that experiment, so Goodyear is going to have to come up with something that works next year. Overall, I think it has its benefits, but a major flaw was exposed at Indy for sure.

July 31, 2008 at 8:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hasn't been just Indy Matt this thing has been a nightmare from day one on almost every track in terms of setup. And almost all the historical data teams have spent millions of dollars on from years and years of racing, engineering, wind tunnel work, chassis setups have been rendered useless in less than a year. Nobody has ever indicated they didn't want a safer race car but I question whether it couldn't have been achieved with the previous car or this will result be some kind of imposed generic IROC type car in which Nascar builds the cars and motors under and the teams just stripe and sticker them on Thursday? And for them to now think this is the way to go in the Nationwide Series it will simply bankrupt the series. From the standpoint of Goodyear coming up with another tire to use, according to Junior in the now infamous April tire tests they had such a tire but chose not to bring it for the Indy race one has to wonder why. He also stated they were only able to get 5 laps before cording occurred in April on some of the sets hummm does that sound familiar to what occurred Sunday. I think maybe Sunday there were any number culprits to blame for the race least of which would be the drivers, crews, or teams. But as they are so quick to state Nascar is THE show they own it, operate it, and rule it with an iron fist when they deem necessary given the fines assessed over any tampering with this wonderful feat of engineering accomplishment the COT. The odious buck has to stop on Brian Frances desk over the Brickyard 400 this year.

July 31, 2008 at 10:15 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I rarely express sympathy for the France empire, but I think they're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with this COT.

One on hand, after Earnhardt became the fourth driver to die in one year in the sport, they had to take long-overdue measures to do something about safety -- and they have through mandating the HANS, installing the soft walls, and building this car, which is by all accounts safer than the old one.

But by adding safety, some major problems with setup have come up, Indy being an extreme example, which leads to more complaints.

So while I recognize the COT is currently exposing its faults, I also know that NASCAR would much rather field complaints about setup problems (which, hopefully, can be fixed at some point) than complaints about their drivers dying, which can't be fixed.

July 31, 2008 at 10:33 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One word about postponing the race to Monday...RAIN. If it had rained on Sunday, most everyone would have found a way to stay and watch the race on Monday. Now about the race.. I thought racing was about a combination of speed and strategy. If the tires were wearing out so fast, perhaps the drives could have and should have driven more to the tires capability. That would have made it a real race.

July 31, 2008 at 6:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was the Brickyard any different than the 2005 Coca-Cola 600 which had 22 cautions ?? Most were caused by tire issues ... Tires issues cause by Bruton Smith partially levigating the track ... Levigating the track was an idea they got from Anton Hulman George (aka Tony George) ...

The 5 points races (2 Cup, 2 Busch, 1 Truck) had a combined total of 72 cautions ... Add in another 6 cautions for the All-Star race & Open race ...


Last year's Brickyard race had 9 cautions and over 1/4th of the race was run under caution ... 2 because of tire issues ...

2006 Brickyard 400 had 8 cautions ... 3 because of tire issues ...

2005 Brickyard 400 had 10 cautions ... 7 of which were caused by tires blowing out ...

2004 Brickyard 400 had 13 cautions ... 7 because of tire issues ...



It sure looks like the Brickyard 400 is plagued by cautions and tire issues ... It's a product of the track, even if Anton doesn't want to admit it ... I didn't bother to check how many cautions they have in the Indy 500 because I know they have a lot too ...

I'm not placing all of the blame on Goodyear, NASCAR or IMS ...



With the F-1 race in 2005 ... It wasn't the drivers who decided NOT to race ... It was their particular tire manufacturer that ordered the teams to NOT race ... Many of the drivers admitted after the fact that they wanted to race & would've had it not been for $$$ with the tire company & their teams ...

July 31, 2008 at 10:32 PM 

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