Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Notes from Day 2 of the Sprint Media Tour

Notes, thoughts and observations from heading into the evening of Day 2 of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway:
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One thing that has been driving race fans nuts over the past few years is that starting times have been all over the place.

This year’s starting times haven’t been announced – they could be sometime this week, I hear – but I have seen a tentative list and I can tell you that at a lot of Sunday races in the Eastern and Central time zones will be starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Several of the races held farther to the west will also start in the 1-2 p.m. range out there, meaning they’d begin at 4 or 5 back here.

I am guessing that means a 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. prerace show on TV with the race starting at 2:10 or so after national anthems and commands to fire engines. I think fans will be good with that, as long as it’s as consistent as it can be.
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The biggest surprise of the week so far is that, going into Tuesday night’s dinner gathering at Joe Gibbs Racing, no pulled pork barbecue has yet been served to media tour participants. This is my 12th media tour and I will promise you that’s the longest we’ve EVER gone without that happening.
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It’s no secret the National Hot Rod Association plans to hold a national event in September at a new drag strip being built near Lowe’s Motor Speedway, but there still has been no official announcement of that.
One is scheduled for Thursday, but a packet given to reporters staying at the tour’s headquarters hotel by the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau jumps the gun on that a bit.
"Coming in 2008: The Drag Strip at Concord," one page in the packet reads. "This groundbreaking new facility will be the only 4-lane drag strip in the United States and host to NHRA events as well as many other events throughout the year."
The idea of a four-lane strip has long been discussed in drag racing. It would basically be a pair of two-lane racing courses side-by-side so one could be used as the other side is being cleaned after an "oil down" or some other problem.
The oil down is the bane of a drag-racing promoter’s existence. If a car with a mechanical issue leaves oil or other fluid in the racing lane, that requires a sometimes lengthy clean-up. Such clean ups prolong the length of an event and also leave the track – and fans watching the action – idle until racing can resume.
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It doesn’t really matter what kind of music you like or don’t like, the lineup announced Tuesday for the pre-race show at this year’s Daytona 500 is significant.

Monday, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sport needs to get back to its basics. Right, wrong or indifferent, a fundamental truth to stock-car racing is that it has had long-standing ties with country music. But in recent years, a country artist had about as much chance of performing before at Daytona 500 as I did.

This year’s headliner, however, is Brooks & Dunn. That duo has won more country music awards than Ryan Newman has won poles, and they once even filmed a video featuring Dale Earnhardt pretending to play a guitar.
You may hate country music and you may hate Brooks & Dunn, but if you’re NASCAR and you’re going to tell your "core fans" that they still mean a lot to you, booking Brooks & Dunn is a good move. As Humpy Wheeler said Monday, NASCAR started providing too many violins and not enough banjos and got a little "fancy" over the past few years.

There will be other acts – Chubby Checker, Kool & the Gang and Michael McDonald – in the prerace show. None of them, however, is Kelly Clarkson or anybody who has ever been near an "American Idol" stage.
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Sprint previewed its new NASCAR-themed ad campaign Tuesday morning and I’ve got to tell you, it’s out there.
The premise, basically, is that they’re going to show the "soul of NASCAR" by showing cars racing with light forming images on the cars to reflect a driver’s persona. The best way I know to describe it to you is to tell you to imagine if ESPN’s "Draft Tracker" suddenly became possessed by demons.


Anonymous said...

Are you trying to tell me the Draft Tracker wasn't already possessed by demons?

Anonymous said...

Funny how this all fails to mention the comments that were made by RCR since the fact the Cup world is to lie down to HMS

Anonymous said...

anonymous - "Funny how this all fails to mention the comments that were made by RCR since the fact the Cup world is to lie down to HMS"

Funny how people named anonymous can dream up the damnedest crapola.

So... are the black helicopters also buzzing your house?

Anonymous said...

Who really cares what RCR has to say. Talk is cheap. Back up what you got on the track.

Anonymous said...

For the record, anonymous No. 2, I wrote an entire story for the paper on what was said at RCR about the Hendrick guys. That's why I didn't put them in the blog. -- David Poole

Anonymous said...

One thing I hope "getting back its basics" means is going back to Darlington on Labor Day for the Southern 500.

Anonymous said...

1 step back is 3 steps forward. I hope a few more of the "old" ways come back.