Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup: 6 things I’ve learned from both the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky. Kentucky Speedway blow it for there first Cup race.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Welcome readers, for the past two weeks now, NASCAR has been taking a big hit from the fans following back to back disappointments when it came to both of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. It looks like a black eye for sure to me.

However in and among all of the racing and talk, I’ve managed to come up with 6 things I’ve learned from both races.

1. Most NASCAR fans don’t like the tandem two-car drafting “prom date”, “tag team” or whatever you call it racing at Daytona or Talladega. In my 20 years of watching NASCAR, I don’t think I’ve really seen one thing that NASCAR fans have hated more than this tandem racing.

I believe that NASCAR should change there view here and rework the restrictor plate racing and at least make one rule change for the upcoming Talladega Superspeedway race this fall during the chase to have these races become more entertaining for the fans and that also puts more control in the drivers hands instead of one driver having to say I’ll finish second.

2. After the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, only David Regan with the entire #6 UPS Roush-Fenway Racing Ford was the only one’s happen, while the rest of the field, along with the teams, owners and fans left angry.

3. Jimmie Johnson is still the man to beat if the #48 pit crew can get the pit stops correct. Earlier this week on RaceHub on SPEED, it was said that the #48 team is in tryout mode for the pit crew. While I don’t want to second guess this, there is clearly an issue here and the #48 team should be the last team to be testing out new pit crew members regularly. This is this teams weakness.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. needs some luck. Over the last four races, Dale Jr. went from good luck and solid finishes to just plain bad luck. Daytona was him getting caught up in a wreck and Kentucky say the #88 blown a left front tire coming off pit road. Right now, as a result of a few bad finishes, Dale Jr. has dropped from 3rd to 8th in the points and is only 21 points ahead of 11th Tony Stewart. Hopefully this team can find some luck and rack off some top 5’s and top 10' finishes starting at NHMS.

5. Kyle Busch is coming. As much as I hate to say this, but Kyle Busch is right now is leading all drivers. Busch is the points leader, has 3 wins and is becoming a championship contender for the upcoming chase. He’s on the HOT list right now.

6. Finally, the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky was a complete embarrassment for both NASCAR, the Kentucky Speedway with SMI.and has left the sport with a huge black eye as a result.

Keep in mind that Kentucky Speedway is not a new track and it has been dealing with traffic nightmares with 40,000 fewer fans for over the last several years.

In watching the media coverage, SPEED showed a shot of the traffic nightmare of traffic coming into the speedway or at least trying. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I-71 has three-lanes of traffic going in each direction. Now I’ve been in traffic up in New Hampshire and they only have two-lanes going in each direction and they have a good traffic pattern.

I personally believe that Bruton Smith is once again blaming someone else and trying to get another state or county to give money to his track to keep a Cup Series date. He did the same to Concord, NH and Concord, NC and look how that turned out. Smith, SMI and Kentucky Speedway should be taking at least 90% of the blame here for the traffic mess.

They are the one’s that screwed up, added 40,000 new seats, but didn’t added enough parking and accommodations for the fans. And if that wasn’t enough, it took them three press releases to even think of giving the fans an apology and it was weak.

Plus, all SMI did to accommodate the fans that were turned away was a ticket exchange program and not a full refund. What a joke, fans can either pick a Cup date from the remaining SMI tracks on the Cup schedule this year and drive to that track which aren’t close by, by any stretch or accept tickets to next years Kentucky Speedway Cup Series races.

Bottom line, Kentucky Speedway blow it for there first Cup Series race, the traffic was a mess coming in, several thousand fans were turned away after hours in traffic and no parking, the race itself wasn’t that good to begin with and wasn’t that entertaining despite a few double-file restarts thrown in at the end of the race. And then, it was a traffic nightmare trying to get out of the speedway.

I just have to wonder if fans will give Kentucky Cup race another chance in 2012? I believe some will, but the new will ware off and no ladies and gentlemen, Kentucky Speedway wouldn’t be the biggest race of the Cup Series schedule. Daytona, the Brickyard, Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond and more are way bigger than Kentucky, what a joke to even think that.

Thoughts? And be sure to check out my new blog ThinkingBrian.com on Tumblr.