OK, before you guys start...
Item No. 1 - No, the "side-by-side" thing ABC did for the Indianapolis 500 isn't likely to come to NASCAR on that or any other network.
Frankly, I don't think the split screen is all that great to start with. But I can see how fans would rather see racing on part of a screen than be missing it all together.
Still, you have to remember that the rights fee the IndyCar Series gets for its races is a pittance compared with what the networks are paying for Nextel Cup and Busch races.
Whatever fraction that is, that same fraction is what the network can charge for commercial time.
If you're paying (and these are made up numbers) $10,000 for a commercial on an Indy race, you might be willing to take half the screen for that. But if that same spot costs you $100,000 on a Cup race, you want the entire screen.
I will say it surprised me that ABC stuck with the "side-by-side" for the Indianapolis 500, the one open-wheel race in this country that still has any real significance. The overnight TV ratings showed Indy with a 5.2 and the Coca-Cola 600 with a 4.7. Both were down some from last year, when Indy also won that battle.
I guess if Firestone and Target and all those other sponsors are going to settle for half of a screen for all the other IRL races, they figure they can do it for Indy, too. But I am going to be very surprised if you ever see anything like that on a Cup race any time soon.
Item No. 2 - No, the fact that Tony Stewart is banged up after crashing in the Busch and Cup races back to back at Lowe's Motor Speedway does not mean that drivers in the Cup series are going to think harder about running in Busch races for fear of getting hurt.
First, to get into one of these things you have to have a large capacity for deluding yourself into believing that you're not going to get hurt driving a race car.
Second, in the minds of a racer the financial and competitive benefits of seat time in a Busch car outweigh the risks involved.
And third, you can't ask guys who do this for a living to run around being scared of their shadows. These guys race. Remember the wrecks Stewart was in at the Chili Bowl in January. If he'd missed Cup races because of that it would have seemed stupid for him to be running sprint cars indoors in the winter time, but one of the things that makes Stewart as good as he is that
he competes all the time at everything he does.
Finally, sometimes people get hurt. Elliott Sadler, for instance, could have broken his leg - or his dang neck - with that "stage dive" stunt he tried to pull at the end of "Trackside." No, it wasn't the smartest thing anybody's ever done. But race fans don't want drivers who sit around getting pedicures between practice sessions, either. These guys are real human beings, and
sometimes they bump into things.
Item No. 3 - No, the media didn't "cover up" the fact that Jeremy Mayfield's car failed postrace inspection after the Coca-Cola 600.
Here's the way it works. After the race, reporters are working on their stories. Usually, somebody wanders out into the garage to check on inspection and see if any problems have been found, and almost always they're not done yet. So we finish our stories and, at some point, somebody from NASCAR comes in and says, "Everybody's cleared inspection," or "We've got an issue, somebody will be in to talk about it."
After night races, reporters usually leave a little sooner after the race because deadlines are tighter. Still, if inspection's not done and something comes up NASCAR's PR folks have always called a handful of regulars - somebody from The Observer, from NASCAR Scene, from The Associated Press and from the local paper near a given track, for example - and said there's a
None of that happened Sunday night. It was Tuesday, at the car of tomorrow test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, before anybody said anything.
Rest assured that there will be plenty of discussion about that breakdown at Dover this weekend.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
OK, before you guys start...
Thursday, May 25, 2006
You ask 'em, I answer 'em.
Q: With the "lucky dog" rule allowing drivers to get a lap back, why not double-file the restarts? There may be one car that gets a lap back from starting on the inside, but the rest just get in the way of good racing.
A: Agreed. In an earlier blog here I proposed precisely that, double-file restarts and allowing the leader to choose inside or outside, then second to choose and so on. I know for a fact that at one point last year the idea of double-file restarts with lead-lap cars up front was at least brought up for NASCAR's brass to consider. I don't believe it got very far, however.
NASCAR's practice in the past few years has been to give cars that fall a lap down every possible chance to make that up. Having more cars on the lead lap at the end of a race makes it look, at least on paper, like a more competitive race.
Q: We always hear drivers say things like "This is the same car we wrecked at Bristol." If it was wrecked and rebuilt, what makes it the same car? In other words, what is the definition of "car" in NASCAR terms. At what point is one scrapped. If part of the framework is damaged and they cut that part out and repair it, is that the same "car?"
A: When NASCAR teams refer to having the same car, they're talking about the same chassis.
hat's the basic framework, the floor pan and the tubes that make up the roll cage. Teams usually assign numbers to chassis they build or buy from a chassis company.
That chassis, over the course of its life, may have several front or rear "clips" placed on it. That's the structure that differs a bit whether the car's a Ford or Chevrolet or Dodge.
They'll also have different bodies hung on them, the sheet-metal that forms the skin of the car over the chassis structure. If a car is wrecked so badly that the basic skeletal elements are damaged, the car might be scrapped altogether or repaired and used as a "show car."
Q: I've heard Darrell Waltrip and Tony Eury Jr. and some other people call him by the nickname "Junebug." Where did that come from?
A: It was something Dale Earnhardt Sr. called him when he was a very young boy, and some people have been using it ever since.
Q: If Nextel Cup drivers can do an unlimited number of tests in their Cup cars at Kentucky and Nashville, where the Cup cars don't race, can Busch drivers do the same thing in Busch cars? For instance, could Denny Hamlin or Clint Bowyer take their Busch cars and test at Pocono or at Infineon Raceway?
A: The answer is yes, Hamlin or Bowyer or any other driver could take a Busch car and do unlimited tests at Pocono or Infineon, tracks where the Busch Series doesn't run.
The rules apply the same way in both directions.
Q: With all of the money and engineering in NASCAR, why isn't there a track cover/tarp system similar to baseball to keep the track dry (or not let it get as wet) during rain? This could really decrease the time it takes to dry a track after the rain.
A: Well, it certainly sounds like a good idea. Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler talks about how one day he believes there will be something like this in place - some kind of heating system imbedded into the track's surface, for instance, that could be turned on to facilitate drying.
The problem is making it cost-effective. Any such system, as well as any kind of tarp system, would have to be very elaborate.
Imagine, for instance, how much tarp you'd need to cover Daytona's 2.5-mile track. You'd have to have some way to have the tarp be right beside the track so it could be deployed when needed, but still have the mechanism for storing and deploying it not get in the way of the racing.
You would have to be able to get it in place very quickly, too, because the cars often are on the track when the rain begins.
Nothing is impossible these days. The new NFL stadium being built for the Arizona Cardinals has a grass field that can be moved outside of the stadium to get sunlight and rain and then rolled back into the indoor stadium before game time.
Maybe the race track answer, at least at a place like Bristol where there are grandstands all around a relatively small track, would be a retractable fabric roof that could cover the track when the cars aren't racing and be pulled away during events.
Q: When Jimmie Johnson wins a race you guys put a big picture of him and his car on the sports page. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Richmond and Greg Biffle won at Darlington, though, you didn't have them or their cars on the sports page. Why not? Why don't you give other drivers the same respect you give Johnson?
A: Because the folks who put the paper out on Sunday mornings aren't psychic. Richmond and Darlington were Saturday night races. Newspaper deadlines stink on Saturday nights and photos have to be selected long before the race is over.
Many readers, in fact, don't get stories about Saturday night races in their Sunday papers because part of the press run is done before the race ends. It stinks, but we can't stop the clock any more than we can tell who's going to win before the race is over.
In many cases, but not all, we'll run photos of a Saturday night winner with a follow-up story in the Monday paper.
But on some days more current news about other events dictates that they get more prominent play. One thing that makes working for a newspaper interesting is that you don't get the same news two days in a row.
Each day, our desk looks at what is happening and decides which stories are the biggest ones. They get the prominent play. Sometimes that's the race, sometimes it's not. Sometimes who wins has something to do with that decision, other times it does not.
If, for example, the points leader wrecks and somebody not in the Chase wins a race late in the year, the lead photo may be of the wreck and not the winner.
News happens, and sometimes it doesn't happen early enough for us to do as much as we'd like to do. (More questions? Send them to me at email@example.com or leave them as comments to this blog.)
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Jimmie Johnson might very well win his fourth straight Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.
If he does, it would be his fourth straight victory in major Nextel Cup events at Lowe's Motor Speedway and his eighth win in 11 such events there since the start of the 2003 season.
After every one of the seven victories he's had, including Saturday night's in the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, somebody will call or write telling me that Johnson wins at the Charlotte track because his No. 48 Chevrolet is also sponsored by Lowe's. What's funny about it is that most of the people who share that opinion with me seem to believe they're the first person to whom that thought has occurred.
I imagine some of these folks are the same people who drive by a golf course and yell "FORE!" out the window as though they're the first to ever think that'd be hilarious.
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as anybody. But it at least needs to make sense. And the last thing that makes sense right now would be for anyone to "rig" it for Johnson's No. 48 car to win another race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. If NASCAR would allow it, in fact, I promise you that H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler would revert to his short-track roots and place a "bounty" on Johnson this week.
That's often done when one driver starts winning a little too often for a weekly track's promoter, who offers a little extra money to anybody who can halt the dominant driver's hot streak.
Above all else, running a race track is about selling tickets. Wheeler and his guys at Lowe's have a bunch of them to sell, with grandstands holding around 150,000 fans. They put about 125,000, maybe a little more, in there Saturday night for the all-star race and now they're trying to sell them all again eight days later for the 600.
NASCAR is popular, but that's still a very tall order. The Charlotte track works hard to sell its tickets, but no amount of effort on its part would help as much as having a thrilling and/or controversial finish to the all-star event would have.
Fans wavering on whether to come out for the race on Sunday, on whether to buy up the final 10,000 or 15,000 seats that might still be available, might have been bumped off that fence by something dramatic.
Johnson may not win again Sunday night, but it'll be news if he doesn't. You'd have to think that just about anybody who's really eager to see Johnson win a race at Charlotte has already had several opportunities to have that itch scratched.
If a race's outcome could be fixed, and if NASCAR let Wheeler pick somebody to whom "the call" would go, it would unquestionably be Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt Jr. is not only the most popular driver in the sport, he's also the hometown hero. He grew up in Mooresville and still lives there, and Earnhardt Jr. has said many times that winning at Charlotte is something he very much likes to do.
If Earnhardt Jr. had won the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge this weekend, Wheeler would have instinctively called in extra staff in his ticket office for Sunday and Monday shifts. And they would have been kept busy.
Johnson's dominance at Lowe's Motor Speedway has been phenomenal. He's won seven times on basically three different racing surfaces. He has dominated races and he's come from behind.
He's had nearly perfect evenings and he's had to overcome obstacles. He's won from the pole and he's won from as far back as 37th. But if you think he's done all of that because it has all somehow been carefully arranged, you're certainly not thinking like somebody who's trying to sell tickets.
After all, it's hard to market a foregone conclusion.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Late Saturday night, as Greg Biffle was celebrating his win at Darlington, someone in the media center was working on a sidebar.
In newspaper lingo, a sidebar is a story related to but not directly covering a particular event. Jim Utter, for instance, wrote at sidebar for The Observer Saturday night about runner-up finisher Jeff Gordon while I wrote the "lead" race story.
I was up in the press box, so I couldn't see who it was that asked Jack Roush about Toyota during the postrace interview. Undoubtedly, his sidebar regarded Dale Jarrett's signing with Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota for 2007.
The question, however, was general enough to allow Roush to go anywhere he wanted to with it - something like "How will Toyota change the way things are done in the garage?"
Here's some of what Roush had to say in response: "..."I know there was a lot to do in the papers last week about the fact that Toyota was not spending their money on race teams and was not going to create the imbalance that would exist if one manufacturer did more than another, but they're giving their money to Michael Waltrip and to the other teams that they've got started so their fingerprints are all over what's happening. They are in fact raiding the garage and that's going to have an impact.
"...I know we've talked to Ford about it. I've talked to NASCAR about it. One of the things that has made NASCAR competition so close and so interesting to all the fans is the fact that there is parity.
"There is parity among the drivers' ability at the very top. There's parity technically among the teams and there's parity among the manufacturers with regard to what they've been able to do or willing to do with supporting the teams and with bringing technology.
"But Toyota has a chance of breaking that parity and we'll just have to see what happens."
A couple of things about that give me pause. And this is not only about what Roush had to say, because he merely voiced an opinion that we're hearing a lot of these days.
First, there's this business of "raiding" the garage. As I said in part of the Monday Darlington follow-up stuff we did in the paper, doesn't it stand to reason that anybody coming into the sport to form a new team is going to try to hire good people away from current teams? Where else do you find good people?
As Roush Racing and Hendrick Motorsports and other multicar teams grew from two to three to four and even to five teams, didn't they sometimes go to other teams to find employees for their staff additions?
You certainly can't expect Toyota team owners to populate their staffs completely with people who haven't been in the Cup garage, not if they want to be competitive any time soon.
Then there is the whole "parity" issue. Roush has a point there, in the sense that if it becomes a matter of one manufacturer subsidizing its teams to a degree that no other manufacturer can or is willing to do, the balance is going to be upset.
But couldn't it just as truthfully be argued that the exact same thing has already happened in the sport?
Substitute "team owner" for "manufacturer" in that previous paragraph and see if you don't agree.
Perhaps "subsidizing" is not the correct verb, since it's not that Roush or Rick Hendrick or other multicar team owners are spending their own millions to support their three- to five-car teams.
Sponsors provide much of that money, sponsors who want to be associated with winners and are willing to pay $15 million or $20 million to get it.
The rise of multicar teams in the sport has certainly changed the competitive balance. Single-car teams can't keep up these days, not because the people who work for them aren't good racers. The business model has changed.
A sponsor who might have to spend $15 million for 36 races on a single-car team could come to Roush and spend $10 million and be part of five cars, and get five drivers to make appearances and do commercials.
The buzz in the garage right now is that Toyota is offering "cut-rate" full-season sponsorship opportunities. Michael Waltrip, for instance, could sell a sponsor 36 races for $8-$10 million instead of up to twice that much. He'd make up the difference because Toyota is either paying him more directly or is paying indirectly by doing many of the engineering and car development functions for all three Toyota team owners instead of having each owner having to do that on his own.
I don't know if that's what is happening or not. But if it is, isn't that just another example of changing the business model?
If I am a sponsor and somebody tells me they can get the job done for 36 races for $10 million, there'd better be a good explanation as to why that wouldn't work for the team I'm currently giving $20 million to.
Roush and Hendrick and the rest of the guys who own multiple-car teams right now have worked hard to make their businesses work. But just like racing evolves, business does, too.
When the game changes, you have to adapt. If Toyota's arrival changes the way business is done in NASCAR, as so many people think it will, the teams that will be thriving five years from now will be the ones that figure out where the sport is going instead of merely resisting the forces driving it there.
And covering which teams do that and which teams fail won't be just a sidebar over the coming years. That's your lead.
Friday, May 12, 2006
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Friday, May 05, 2006
If you live in the Charlotte area, or if you're among the thousands of fans who'll be visiting during race weeks there later this month, mark Tuesday, May 23, on your calendars.That evening, Bobby Hamilton and a few dozen friends will be at the NASCAR SpeedPark at Concord Mills, the massive shopping complex just down the street from Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The occasion will be the "Craftsman for a Cure," a charity event to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and the Victory Junction Gang Camp.Hamilton is at the center of the event after announcing earlier this year that he would step out of the NASCAR Truck Series to begin treatments for cancer found in his neck.
The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. and there are several ways fans can help.For $75, a fan can get a VIP dinner with one of several drivers who'll be there to help with the event. Tickets to race against drivers on one of the tracks at the SpeedPark are $20 to $40. And tickets for access to autograph sessions with selected drivers are $15 each.Fans can order tickets by calling (866) 227-3264.
Hamilton said this week that it's been a humbling experience to help put this thing together."Victory Junction Gang has been such a huge thing that we have all tried to support whenever we could," Hamilton said. "There have been people who have been a little bit more fortunate to do more for certain things than others. I have always been one of those guys that I just do what I can.
"To be on the flip side of it...has just totally overwhelmed me. To know that I can pick up the phone and I called Jeff Gordon's people and Jimmie Johnson's people. Then I picked up the phone and I called Kasey Kahne. The man is in between practices calling me back, saying 'OK, give me some times. This is what I would like to do. I'll do an hour here, an hour there. I'm going to call you after the next practice.' And he'd run and call me back.
"Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman stepped up right off the bat. I can't even spout off half the names. A ton of our NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series guys have really stepped up as well. Jon Wood called me. The Wood family has been close to me my whole career.You really hate to throw names out there because we have so many participating.
"We have a whole field of drivers almost that could make a whole race. I cherish everything that every one of them has done. And I don't have to tell you how I feel about Ken Schrader and Michael Waltrip who have stepped up. It just goes on and on, and the people just want to keep doing more. You just can't believe what a feeling it is when you are on the other side of it."
Many of the drivers who won't be there have donated uniforms and other memorabilia for a silent auction that will run in conjuncture with the event.
Hamilton says his treatments are going on along well, but Hamilton wouldn't complain if they weren't. He's always been one of the most decent, down-to-earth guys connected to NASCAR, and the way he's dealing with this is just proving that all over again.
"Everybody is going to deal with this at some point in their life," Hamilton said. "It's such a big thing. I guarantee that just about everybody knows somebody or has had a family member go through it. It just makes you think of things different.
"I don't look at the sport that different. I look at human life different. I see people at the hospital. I talk to patients every day. I had the hospital call me and want to give me VIP treatment because they had race fans as patients talking about me.They called my house and said 'We'd like to bring you in the back door. We have a CEO room.' I said, 'I don't want you to touch me. I want to sit right out there with them. Leave me alone. I'll learn a lot. I just want to sit with the rest of the folks.'
"I think I have learned to cherish anybody's life. We're all human beings. We all have a life. Do some of us live them right? Probably not. Do all of us live them right? No. Do all of us live them halfway right? Probably so. There's so many different ways to look at it.
"You know, somebody will get mad on the highway and say, 'You blankety-blank.' That's not me anymore. I tell people all the time. Somebody will call or stop by and say, 'Is there anything we can do? We're praying for you.' And I'll say, 'That's all I need, just keep doing that.' And I'll turn around and tell them 'Don't forget to hug your wife or your kids or your grandkids tonight and tell them that you love them. Make sure you do that every night.' That's just the difference in what you learn going through something like this."
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Will Ferrell was all over the place at Talladega over the weekend, promoting the movie he stars in that is going to be released Aug. 4.
The movie's called "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby," and NASCAR is firmly in bed with the company that made the movie in terms of promoting it. "Ricky Bobby" merchandise went on sale at the track this weekend and the NASCAR public relations machine put Ferrell in front of the media as much as possible during the Aaron's 499 weekend.
I don't have anything against Ferrell, per se, but I took a pass on taking part in those sessions since the only possible objective of any of them was to promote his movie. All I've seen are a couple of trailers, so maybe I'm prejudging this film.
But my initial perception is that it's going to be full of the same old stereotypes about people who live in the South.
And if that's true, then I can tell you right now that I am going to hate it. It's not about being able to take a joke, because goodness knows if you're a Southerner you have to have a pretty thick skin to make it through life these days.
Funny's funny. But mean is mean, too, and frankly I am tired of having good, hard-working people made fun of just because they have a Southern accent.
Let's use Kellie Pickler as an example.
Now I know it's not cool to talk about "American Idol," but it's not the No. 1 show on television because nobody pays attention to it.
My sister-in-law, Lori, lives near Pickler's hometown of Albemarle and everybody there was pulling pretty hard for Pickler. So as the weeks went along, I began to hear and read about what people were saying about this young lady who's had a pretty tough life and was just trying to take an advantage of a big break that came her way.
And so, naturally, most of that hacked me off. The Ellie Mae Clampett stuff. The "Kellie can't possibly be that dumb"stories.
Pickler didn't know what calamari was until she went to California? Hey, take a pound of liver mush into the green room for an "American Idol" taping and see how many California natives could tell you what that was.
If you ask me, a slice of fried liver mush will kick calamari's butt in a taste test 100 times out of 100 - and I've had both.
But every week on "Idol," after Pickler sang her guts out, they'd parade her to center stage and do something or say something to make fun of her.
Simon Cowell called her a "minx" one night and Pickler didn't know what that was.
Reckon Cowell would have known what a "cooter" was if Pickler had called him that?
A couple of years ago, a guy named Jeff McGregor got himself a motor home, packed up his wife and spent a year going around in it to NASCAR races. He then wrote himself a book called "Sunday Money" about the experience.
The book was interesting, but in it McGregor kept talking about "off-ramp America."
It's actually a pretty good term to describe the sameness you can see when you travel from place to place if all you take the time to notice is what's within sight of the interstate. But what I kept thinking about when I read the book was that there's a heck of a lot more of that kind of America than there is the kind McGregor and his wife were used to as residents of New York City before they set off on their adventure.
There are a lot more people in this country who're like Kellie Pickler and the people around her hometown who pulled for and voted for her on "American Idol" that there are people who fly from New York to Los Angeles and back and think of everything in between as "flyover country."
And there are a lot more people in this country like the ones I'm betting Will Ferrell's movie will "spoof," which is an euphemism for "make fun of," than there the sycophants who followed him around Talladega all weekend telling him how hilarious his movie's going to be, too.