Friday, May 12, 2006

It's a busy stretch, but if you've got questions, I'll look for answers

Sorry I haven't been the most faithful blog correspondent these past few days. Charlotte race weeks are too close for my mind to be anything but mush right now.
I know you guys get angry at me when I complain about my job, and I understand that. But I am just telling you that in the month of May I am like that guy in the circus who spins plates on the ends of sticks. About the time you get three or four plates going, you have to keep going back to spin them again while trying to get more in the air.
"You must enjoy sleeping in your own bed during the race weeks in Charlotte," people say. I do, but sleep is about the only thing you get to do at home for those 10-12 days.
Anyway.
One of the things I want to do with this feature is answer questions you might have about racing. There are a couple that I'll answer here before you ask, because they always come up, but if you've got questions I will try to find the answers or tell you that I can't find them at any point in this process.
I try to read every comment on each blog I post, even though I may not reply to all of them. If you've got questions you've always wanted to know the answer to, post them to me in comments to this blog or just e-mail them to me at dpoole@charlotteobserver.com.
Every so often, I'll collect 10 or so and post the answers in a blog. You can leave your name if you want to, but you don't have to.
OK, a couple of answers to questions that always come up.
1. Jeff Gordon finished 40th at Richmond and earned $110,861. Reed Sorenson finished 23rd and won $77,025. How can this be?
No question is asked with greater regularity that the one about who wins what in a Cup race.
The answer is really, really complicated. But in the most simple terms, there actually are several parts to the total purse in a race. The first part is what the track actually puts into the purse. The second part is the money the television network pays for the rights to broadcast that particular race. In both of those cases, first pays more than second, second pays more than third, third pays more than fourth and so on.
The third part of the purse comes from contingency awards. At Richmond, for instance, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Bank of America Card Service Mid-Race Leader, the Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race, the Sunoco Diamond Performance and the EA Sports Move of the Race awards.
Each contributed to his overall winnings of $239,166. Eligibility for those awards is based on which cars carry which stickers behind their front wheels. Some cars don't participate in some programs because of conflicts - Casey Mears' car is sponsored by Havoline, for instance, so it's not going to carry a Mobil 1 Oil sticker.
That, however, doesn't explain how Gordon won more than $33,000 more than Sorenson at Richmond. Gordon didn't win any contingency awards. But Gordon qualifies for several of the "owner's plans" that contribute money to each race's purse.
One rewards teams on a formula that weighs their performance over the past three seasons, apportioning part of the television dough. Another rewards owners for having won races in the previous year. That's where the "extra" money comes from for Gordon's team.
2. Why are races starting later these days?
Television, mainly. If a race starts at 1 p.m. on the East Coast, that's 10 a.m. in the Pacific time zone. That's pretty early to get a full audience - people in Oregon and Washington and California go to church, too.
If you start at race at, say, 2:30 pm in the East, that's 11:30 am in the West and that's a little better for the audience across the country. Local television affiliates, especially NBC affiliates, don't mind seeing races go off the air right at 6 p.m., either.
That leads into their local newscasts, and local news is a competitive business. It's nice having a NASCAR race lead into your news, especially if you're in a market where the races get good ratings.
3. What happens if a driver has to go to the bathroom during the race?
A driver loses so much fluid during a race and is concentrating so hard that, frankly, the issue doesn't come up as much as you'd think it might. But if a driver has to go to the bathroom during the race, a driver goes to the bathroom during the race.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just ask Tony Stewart...he had a good "run" a few years ago at the Glen.....

Anonymous said...

福~
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