Sunday, August 1, 2010

Top 6 NASCAR things learned from Pocono - The Sunoco American Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 edition.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, this week, NASCAR finds themselves on the tricky triangle in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, at Pocono Raceway for the inaugural Truck Series shootout race and the main event, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

In every week and weekend on the NASCAR schedule, there always seems to be something that comes out that says “what were they thinking” or “damn!” and this week and weekend was no different, but what did we learn, here is the top 6 things learned from NASCAR racing at Pocono Raceway.

1. This one’s for Jack (Roush), get well soon. Greg Biffle wins a wet and wild Sunoco American Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. In a race that was filled with boredom, long drawn out green flag runs, short sprint racing, rain, red flags, scary wrecks, good racing on restarts and Jimmie Johnson dominating the race, it was one long day and I’m just glad it’s over 5 hours later. Congrats to Greg Biffle, RFR and Ford on getting back to victory lane.

2. NASCAR needs to draw a line and stick to it (policy) with what NASCAR will make public, keep private and what is “acceptable” and “unacceptable”.

Earlier this week, an AP report by Jenna Fryer talked about NASCAR secretly fining two drivers for making comments this season that they felt were detrimental to the sport or against the brand.

"NASCAR Gets Tougher To Protect Its Brand" from AP reporter Jenna Fryer.

As a NASCAR fan that has been watching this sport for about the past two decades, I have seen NASCAR transform over the years or change and for the most part for the better. I’m not a fan that typically looks to the past and say the past was better, nor do I look at the past in this case. After the latest published report, in this case secretly fining drivers for comments NASCAR felt were detrimental to the sport. NASCAR had a huge firestorm on their hands that they really don’t know how to handle.

Normally NASCAR will put out a press release out on just about everything and my email bin shows it from penalties against drivers, people who violate the substance abuse policy, results, basically almost any news, so why did NASCAR feel that fining drivers for comments that they felt were detrimental to the sport should be kept secret…

And that’s the problem I have, I don’t care about the fines, I don’t know why Ryan Newman got one, but Denny Hamlin saying races are fixed when they aren’t should get him fined, but again why do it secretly and it makes me think what else is NASCAR keeping secret that they normally would be make public? NASCAR can’t play with this, make it policy and stick to it. If you want it secret, then just say we want it secret in the future.

I am sick and tired of NASCAR drawing a line and then moving it, it’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s what turns fans off and it will hurt NASCAR in the end. NASCAR needs to stay consistent period, and this is turning me off too and that’s really hard to do.

3. Elliott Sadler and the Truck Series is a good match. On Saturday at Pocono raceway, the NASCAR Truck Series made their debut to my surprise with a 50 lap shootout or sprint race which was ok, but not my cup of tea. Anyway, in and among all that, Elliott Sadler took the pole and after holding off a hard charging Kasey Kahne and Matt Crafton, won his first career Truck Series race. Sadler also joined the elite club of winning in all three major series.

4. Truck Series qualifying was entertaining – and it only took one hour to complete. NASCAR decided to change qualifying for the Truck Series because of time constrains. NASCAR put 3 trucks out on the track at one time with 20 sec. between them with the slowest trucks from practice at the beginning to the fastest trucks qualifying at the end and fans didn’t have to wait hours to see who won the pole. NASCAR could use a modified format in all three series, but with only two cars or trucks on track on big tracks. Good results, just keep it fair.

5. Both Pocono Cup Series races need to be shorter – 400 miles would be a start. I’ve watched both Pocono races this weekend (Trucks and Cup Series) and while the Truck was ok, the Cup race was once again long, drawn out and at times boring. I know we are looking for some endurance races, but damn even at 400 miles would be an endurance race.

6. NASCAR and the talk of changing the 2011 schedule and chase format – need more information. During the past few weeks, NASCAR media has been talking about both the 2011 Cup Series schedule and the changes to chase and so has Brian France. The problem is Brian France didn’t release many details and with whole transparent thing, NASCAR should release a draft of the all three national series schedules and what they think they want to do with the chase and let the fans have a say openly.

The Final Lap:

Next week, NASCAR finds themselves for the second time this season at a road course, the 2.45 miles Watkins Glen International for next Sunday’s Cup Series race. I wonder if Marcos Ambrose and rebound and finally break through into victory lane before he exits that ride at season’s end. And congrats to Bobby Labonte in landing the #47 next season, it should be a good season for Bobby Labonte and hopefully he too can return to victory lane in 2011.