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Friday, June 5, 2009

Goodyear, NASCAR deserve kudos for efforts to improve Brickyard race

Anyone who watched NASCAR’s annual trip to the Brickyard last summer probably wishes they hadn’t. Tires were blowing so often the drivers had to pit every 10 laps or so, and it was something I wouldn’t even call a race. A combination of tire issues and the state of the track led to a sad state of affairs at the famed track in Indianapolis.

So I was very pleased to hear how extensive NASCAR and Goodyear have been working since last summer to improve how long the cars can run at Indy. This past week, the sixth tire test at the track was held, and a seventh test is planned before this year’s edition of the Brickyard 400. Even the guy who has cursed Goodyear’s name so many times in the past, Tony Stewart, was asked to take some laps during the latest test. … That’s a testament to how serious they were about getting it right.

As I spend much of my time in this space criticizing the actions of NASCAR, I felt the folks in charge, along with Goodyear, needed to be applauded for this level of dedication to this important race.

The positive results of this dedication are coming, too, as many drivers in the most recent test have reported that they are able to run 30 or more laps, about the length of a full run at Indy.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Brickyard 400, as I don’t think the racing is all that great most of the time, even when tires are performing well, but I recognize the importance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the history of racing.

Any motorsports fans who have not attended a race at this track really should make it a point to do so at one point in their life, as it’s such a massive place and so full of history that just being there is awesome before a single car hits the track. While the track may not have been built for NASCAR cars, it’s logical that the biggest racing series in America should make a stop at the most famous track in America.

That’s why it was such a travesty when last year’s debacle happened at Indy. More than 200,000 people showed up and paid good money to see a race, and they didn’t get to do that. A sport with as much money behind it as NASCAR should never put on a show that bad.

Thankfully, it appears the sport and Goodyear were determined not to repeat their past mistakes and we’ll actually be able to see a race this year at Indy. I’m sure all the testing was pretty costly, but the damage that would have been done by another non-race at Indy would have been far more costly.

#300 for Harvick
It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since he took over for the late Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing, but Kevin Harvick will be making his 300th career start at Pocono. With 11 wins, including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, plus an All-Star race and Bud Shootout win, his career has been solid and should be for a long while. He’s not usually a championship contender, but not everyone can be Jimmie Johnson. This year has been a bust, but Harvick took on a job few people would have wanted … taking over for the Intimidator … and has done a good job carrying on the legacy of quality racing at RCR. Few records in the NASCAR history books will bear Kevin Harvick’s name, but between his Cup career and Nationwide and Truck series ownership success, he has plenty of good things to look back on over the past 9 years.

Dumb joke, Danica
Danica Patrick made headlines recently by joking that she’d take performance-enhancing drugs if it would help her win races and she knew she wouldn’t get caught.
“Well then it’s not cheating, is it? If nobody finds out?” she said to ESPN’s Dan Patrick.
Asked again about it, she said: “Yeah, it would be like finding a grey area. In motorsports we work in the grey areas a lot. You’re trying to find where the holes are in the rule book.”

Without getting into the debate about whether performance enhancing drugs would even help in NASCAR, let’s just say it’s not exactly a good time for any athlete to say stupid stuff like this.

Whether it’s Barry Bonds or NASCAR’s own Jeremy Mayfield saga, people’s careers and legacies are being ruined because sports leagues are cracking down on cheaters.
It’s not really something to joke about at this point.


Anonymous Ed said...


re Danica...Amen! She is just an empty suit. It is nice this year to see much less drama from her and more serious racing, but she hasn't impressed me just yet. But to your point, generally these media hungry types are always trying to say something profound and cute every time someone cues the mic. That's just where she went wrong re drugs...A joke? A joke!? What does she take us for? Any thoughtful person would know that now is not the time in today's society to make light of drugs in sports. It's just not. I am all for free speech and making a little controversy but her remarks show how out of touch she is...a legend in her own mind.

re NASCAR and Goodyear...Kudos? Kudos? Come on. I hate that word anyway. Who ever gave anyone a kudo? Sounds like some green leafy stuff you don't want to eat like spinach or greens...Anyway no one should congratulate an organization(s) that should do the job right the first time. That's the most riduculous thing to come out of your keyboard in a long time. What else did you expect them to do? Let's see they should guess about it and have again a worldwide audience for one of the most prestigious races on the schedule at the oldest track on the books in front of 300,000 people and screw it up as bad. They had plenty of warnings in other places that they were off (Goodyear) and NASCAR had warnings from drivers that this CoT was a bad apple yet they all were arrogant and just plowed ahead like a (Red)bull in a china shop.

Lookit if Boeing put out 100 great 747s and 10 lousy ones that fell from the sky then went to work hard to make 100 great 747s again, would we say "thanks?" Frigg no! They have to get it right EVERY time! We don't excuse Tylenol for putting out 1,000,000 great little pills then 100 that make people sick then another 1,000,000 great pills do we?

Look Matt drivers have been telling Goodyear and NASCAR they were behind the 8-ball, not about Indy but about a lot of areas and it just fell on deaf ears. Indy was the slap in the face the drivers didn't want to do and had no control over but was a wake up call to arrogance. (too much camber! that's always the goodyear engineer's excuse. I bet that's why Tony the Tiger got so mad at Goodyear because he has one of the best in the business in Zippy at the time who was very conservative on camber.).

And on another front. NASA was aso arrogant about that little rubber o-ring, ignoring engineers' points that it was too cold, that they flew anyway. And again had warnings about the foam busting the tiles but ignored that. Both times they went to "work hard" to fix the problems...'Kudos to them' many would say. I say they should have paid attention to the people that knew the first time around and we wouldn't have the deaths from those debacles. Same goes with NASCAR.

Please for chrissakes don't be NASCAR's apologist! They need to take their lumps. They messed up big-time last Indy and they better damed well get it right this time around because if they can't run this important race no more than 12 laps of green in 2009??, well they better go on and turn the lights out because they have killed it. It's done.

June 5, 2009 at 11:51 AM 

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