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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Enough with the cookie cutters: We don’t need a second race at Kansas City

Kansas Speedway is pushing hard to get another date at their track on future NASCAR schedules. This is the same track that is owned by the International Speedway Corporation, a “separate” entity from NASCAR, which coincidentally is also run by the France family. (Let’s see … they own tracks, and they also decide who gets races. Nothing fishy there. No sir, not at all.)

Though I know this will do no good whatsoever, I have three word of advice for the France clan: ENOUGH COOKIE CUTTERS

If anything, there should be less of the cookie-cutters, and more racing at tracks that provide exciting racing on a consistent basis.

Tracks like Dover, Richmond and Bristol offer some of the best racing all year. Why not build more tracks like them or find existing ones to go to? What is this fascination with the 1.5-mile clones?

I suppose there are scenarios I wouldn’t mind as much … like a second K.C. date replacing a Pocono race. But it still would be a wasted date that could be better spent elsewhere (I know of a track named Darlington that only has one date).

In the end, though, the reality for NASCAR is it’s all about the money, not the quality of the racing. ISC apparently loves Kansas City, as it is in a unique market without any other major tracks nearby, so they’ll get people to come regardless of how the racing is. And a Hard Rock hotel and casino is being built right outside the speedway, so racing fans can spend even more money than they already do during a race weekend.

The bottom line: Come 2011, a track somewhere in America will lose a date to Kansas City because NASCAR can make more money by having the race there. If that’s not proof that this sport stopped being about racing years ago, I don’t know what is.

Race predictions
I’m going to go with the logical pick this week. Biffle has won two straight races, won here last year and has been strong in practice. He should stay on a roll and take a third straight victory.

Possible spoilers are Carl Edwards, who is starting far enough back in the field that winning would be an amazing feat, and David Ragan, who has a strong car and I think is going to surprise everyone by grabbing a win before the year ends.

Montoya’s great run taken away
Juan Pablo Montoya had the pole Friday, for a little while at least. After inspection, an issue was found with the amount of pressure in the rear shocks. So instead of a triumphant day, the team now will start in the back of the pack and crew chief Brian Pattie may face some sort of fine and suspension. The Ganassi team needs good news, not more problems.

Montoya’s had some serious struggles this year, and seems to have a legitimately fast car this weekend. If he can make a strong run from the back to the front Sunday, that would do a lot to boost the team’s confidence in the wake of this setback.

Carpentier sticking with stock cars
Unlike Dario Franchitti, who gave up on stock cars after his disastrous year, it appears Patrick Carpentier is going to stick it out on the stock car side. Though he has made improvement this year, there is no room for him at GEM unless a miracle sponsor comes through at the last second -- and that’s not going to happen. He said there’s an opportunity for him to run full-time in Nationwide, and he will likely take it. This is a wise move if he wants longevity in the sport, because he can learn a lot in that series and perhaps catch the eye of another Cup team owner if he gets strong results.

Carpentier had a great quote, telling all open-wheelers looking to make the transition to stock cars: “You’d better park your ego at the entrance.”

Carpentier has always seemed like a good, honest person to me, and I like that kind of humility from a driver. I wish him luck.

Blast from the past
A face not seen in the garage area since 2000 showed up again this weekend, and that is Bobby Hillin Jr. For those unfamiliar with Hillin, he raced in several Cup races in 1982 while still a senior in high school … at the time when teenagers weren‘t a common sight in NASCAR‘s top divisions. Before Casey Atwood, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Landon Cassill, there was Bobby Hillin.

Driving most of his career for the now-defunct Stavola Brothers, his career high point was winning at Talladega in 1986, which at the time that made him the youngest Winston Cup race winner in the modern era of the sport. After that, he had little success, and quit racing in 2000 to run a business.

This week, he’s driving Randy McDonald’s Nationwide car. He probably won’t do too much of note, but it’s nice to see him back at the track.

Barrett to IRL
NASCAR owner/driver and former movie stuntman Stanton Barrett will have a whole new set of priorities 2009. He will drive full-time in the IndyCar Series (for Curb/Agajanian/Team 3G), run his own team in 10 Nationwide events and try out for the Daytona 500.

That kind of schedule is very unique, and I can’t remember anyone doing it since Tony Stewart in the late 1990s, and he was just doing it as a transition to full-time Cup driving.

I don’t blame Barrett, as it’s pretty much impossible to run your own team in any of the top 3 NASCAR series and run up front, as you have to beat all the multi-car teams that have far better resources. It will probably be nice to just be an employee in the IRL and focus on driving.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a race from Pocono, a race from California, Get rid of Watkins Glen. Give a race to Darlington, one to Kansas, and give the third race to Richmond. Oh sorry, Richmond has 2 and can't have a 3rd, even though it would be a fantasssssssssssstic race. Wheere to put the 3rd race----Oh by the way, isn't JR building a .75 track in Alabama. There I have solved all of Nascar's problems.
Throw a bone to the traditionalists,Darlington, a bone to ISC, Kansas, and a bone to JR NATION,and short-track fanatics with whatever his track in
Alabama is going to be called. Is it going to happen: who knows, with the soap opera called NASCAR, you never know.

September 28, 2008 at 5:40 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anything, add a second race to The Glen and take away both races at Atlanta. Take away a California date and give that race to Iowa. Thats a start.

September 28, 2008 at 9:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Glen", Are you CRAZY? Both road course races should have been DELETED years ago!!! Atlanta is the FASTEST track on the schedule and racing is supposed to be about speed!!!

September 28, 2008 at 5:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make the Kansas track the same as Richmond or Bristol and then give them a second date. Take away a Pocono or California, and if you can ditch Las Vegas, that's even better.

September 28, 2008 at 6:32 PM 
Anonymous AndyPandy said...

I don't understand how you can complain about cookie cutter tracks and praise Dover, Richmond and Bristol, and then say it would be OK to take a race away from Pocono (the only triangular track, with three different types of corners) and give it to Kansas, a cookie cutter.

Keep Pocono, a test of handling and endurance. I could go along with shortening whichever Pocono race occurs in the hotter part of the year to 400 miles, but if you want unique tracks, keep two races at Pocono.

September 29, 2008 at 10:41 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Hey Andy,

I'm not a fan of either KC or Pocono, but given a choice between the two, I'll take KC. With rare exception, Pocono provides some of the least exciting racing of the year, and they should have only one race, which should be 400 miles.

September 29, 2008 at 11:05 AM 

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