Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's sights, sounds and so on at Daytona International Speedway

Sights, sounds and observations from Friday’s activities at Daytona International Speedway:
Last year, Miller tried to get Budweiser to make a bet about whether Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller-sponsored Dodge, would finish ahead of Bud’s No. 8 Chevrolet, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving.
The stakes were that the loser would have to run a race in the other beer company’s colors. Budweiser didn’t take the bet.
This year, Miller says it will change the name of the baseball stadium in Milwaukee from Miller Park to Budweiser Park for a 2008 regular-season series between the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals if Earnhardt Jr. beats Busch. If Busch wins, the Cardinals’ home (Busch Stadium) will be rebranded as Miller Lite Stadium for a Brewers-Cardinals series.
"It's too bad for Anheuser-Busch that they didn't take us up on our challenge last year, when Kurt and the team were dealing with the first-year 'new team' transition,” said Tom Long, Miller’s chief executive officer.

Workers have been tinkering with signs at the end of the road leading to Roush Racing’s headquarters at the Concord Regional Airport this week, in preparation for next week’s announcement that the Fenway Sports Group is buying into ownership of the team.
The announcement is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Daytona Beach’s minor league baseball park, Jackie Robinson Stadium. Look for the team’s new name to be Roush Fenway Racing.

One thing my media brethren seem to be doing a lot of this preseason is asking drivers their opinions about two of the sport’s top issues – the Dale Earnhardt Jr. contract negotiations and Juan Pablo Montoya’s arrival in the sport.
Patience with such questions, in some camps, is beginning to wear a little thin.
“It’s funny,” Michael Waltrip said on media day Thursday. “I raced for 15 or 20 years and all I heard was ‘How’s Darrell?’ and ‘Where’s Darrell?’”
Darrell, of course, is Waltrip’s brother. “Then I went to race for DEI,” Michael Waltrip said, “and I always hear, “How’s Junior doing?” Pardon me if I don’t choose to answer questions for him.”

It’s hard for everybody to keep up with all the changes that go in NASCAR, even somebody who’s literally inside the race car. During Friday afternoon’s Shootout practice, Kasey Kahne came over his radio with a question. “Who’s in the 44 car?” Kahne said. The answer is Dale Jarrett, with his new Toyota team at Michael Waltrip Racing.
There’s absolutely no way anybody who covers the sport regularly will make it through the first five races without, at some point, typing in that Jarrett drives the No. 88 Fords. Habits like that are just really hard to break.

Best line I wish I had come up with: Ken Willis, the East Coast distributor for wry wit in his columns in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, noticed that a lot of people employed by ESPN seem to be walking around the premises this week. “There are so many ESPN folks on property this week,” Willis wrote, “you’d think Terrell Owens was doing sit-ups in the Fan Zone.”

Man, it’s only the season’s first weekend and the race for this year’s Emmy Award for sports television coverage already seems to be over. Ray Dunlap’s reporting on why the Daytona track’s tunnel is painted yellow (it’s Nextel’s color) and his first-hand reports from a speedboat in Lake Lloyd locked it up.
…Speaking of television tom-foolery, Thursday night’s draw for the Budweiser Shootout was shown “live to tape” beginning at 8 p.m. What that means is that the draw actually happened about 7 p.m. and was recorded for broadcast an hour later. Television calls that “live to tape” because they don’t bother to edit it. Otherwise, the whole thing might have taken about 15 minutes. In English, “live to tape” means “taped.”
…NASCAR chairman Brian France will give a “state of the sport” report to the media on Tuesday. The Observer has learned that France will reveal the state of the sport is “just peachy.”


Monkeesfan said...

Of course Brian France will say the state of the sport is "just peachy." That's because he lacks the integrity to tell the truth that the sport is strong but faces serious problems of cost, competitive depth, and direction.

Brian France is reminiscent of Chuck Sullivan, the eldest son of New England Patriots founding owner Billy Sullivan. Chuck rose to a position of power in the team not unlike what Brian France has with NASCAR but lacked any serious understanding of his sport; in 1976 after a comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers the players were high-fiving in the locker room and saw Chuck Sullivan rubbing his hands together saying, "Now we can sell more tickets." Bill Lenkaitis of the Pats called him "a dork."

Chuck bankrupted the team in the 1980s when he invested the team's money in Michael Jackson's 1984 concert tour and lost all of it.

This is what I'm seeing in Brain France - he lacks any real understanding of the sport and is investing the sport's money in marketing the brand instead of shoring up the competitive product; he focuses on irrelevent peripheral issues (diversity, marketing, etc.) more than core issues, and when he does address core issues the solutions offered are always either absurdly complex and ineffective (the COT, freezing the field, the Lucky Dog) or toothless (limits on multicar teams). His passion for a useless "Drive For Diversity" program stems from his LA background, where sucking up to professional agitators instead of standing up for the real world is the norm; he consistently ignores simple and effective alternative solutions to core problems in the sport - the COT is a committee-built hybrid built when most of its features can be implemented on existing cars; most of the safety add-ons of the COT are not difficult to add to existing cars while improving ability to pass is what BGN's roof spoiler package, a bolt-on package, does more effectively.

Brian "Chuck Sullivan" France continues to prove he's not qualified for his job.

Anonymous said...

AMEN, Brother! Empty seats at the tracks, and sagging TV ratings. While much of the media buys the line that the 'chase' is the best thing to happen to Nascar since Richard Petty, they all ignore the fact that ratings for the final 10 races last year were down 10 %. Blaming NBC doesn't wash, since ratings were down for the entire year. But things are 'just peachy.'

Monkeesfan said...

David, here's a question to ask Brian France - Brian, when the Car Of Tomorrow fails to deliver on its promises, what is your Plan B?

Anonymous said...

OH you broke my heart. I thought it was live