A Tale of Two Championships

Nascar’s Chase for the Championship kicked off with a bang as the wildly popular “old man” of racing Mark Martin started off the 10 race run to the title with a win at New Hampshire. A national TV audience on ABC got to watch the event which started at 2PM ET.

The IndyCar series was at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan running their next to last race of the season.  Scott Dixon dominated and put himself in position to win the season crown with a fifteen point lead on Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti and 18 points up on Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe.  This race, which was run in the middle of the night east coast time was seen by six people that can actually get Versus.

Nascar is running race two of their Chase this weekend at Dover, Delaware.  IndyCar doesn’t’ have its next race, its season finale until October 10th..3 WEEKS FROM NOW!

Anyone notice anything there?  Nascar is dominating because of regularity and that their races can actually be seen on television.  IndyCar is losing because everyone forgets they are even racing and they are on a “network” that is big on bull riding!

Oh, I also forgot to mention that Versus (owned by cable giant Comcast) is in a fee dispute with DirecTV.  This makes reception of the Versus IndyCar broadcast even more impossible to find.  Of course the IRL is all for the Versus side in this matter. Read IndyCar press release

While Nascar has been having a slip in their TV ratings, IndyCar would just like to have the viewers that watch the commercials during a Nascar race.

I have had a big problem trying to figure out why the IndyCar big wigs have this arrogant attitude when they are on the verge of going out of business? Nascar has an attitude also but they aren’t facing extinction.

I will make you a bet right now.  More people by far will watch the Nascar Nationwide race from California than watches the IndyCar season-ender at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 10th.  Both start at exactly the same time (brilliant work IndyCar) at 4PM ET. One race is to crown a series champion, the other just another race in a very long season. Sad isn’t it.

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Will the next 10 Nascar Sprint Cup races bring fans back?

2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup thumb Nascar’s Chase for the Sprint Cup kicks off this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  While the main focus will be on the 12 drivers that have a chance of winning the season crown, I’ll be watching to see if the overall racing continues to become more exciting.

For the last several years we’ve all heard how the Nascar Sprint Cup races have become boring. I’ve got to say that hasn’t been the case since about the beginning of August.

Maybe it’s the double-file restart policy.  Maybe it’s the tricky COT has brought 20 cars or so close together in performance.  Maybe its drivers knowing they are fighting for a job.  Whatever it is, the on-track products is a hell of a lot better and I think it will be unbelievable the next 10 races.

I say that not because of the 12 drivers in the Chase who now know no matter what, they can’t finish worse that 12th in points, but the 10-15 drivers outside the Chase who are going all out for one thing only..WINS!

Just look at those not in the Chase.  Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Marcus Ambrose, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, David Reutimann, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano and the list goes on and on.

Folks, those guys outside the Chase can cause havoc with those in the Chase just because they are that competitive and could populate the top ten in every race.

For the first time since the Chase format began, it seems this “two agenda” scenario may be just the thing to revitalize interest in Nascar. They still can’t compete with the NFL on Sunday (My theory is all those billions gambled on football games causes this) but they can bring back that occasional Nascar fan.

All I know is that for the first in awhile I don’t want to miss one minute of a Nascar Sprint Cup race beginning this Sunday with New Hampshire.  I’m saying good-bye to my mid race nap and will watch every lap that aren’t missed by those pesky TV commercials.  Let the racing begin!

Will Danica be the dagger to the heart of IndyCar Racing?

Danica Patrick All indications are now that Danica Patrick will start her move to Nascar this year.  She’ll run selected Nascar Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races along with possibly a couple of ARCA races before year’s end.  She’ll then definitely be in the ARCA race at Daytona come February..setting her up to be cleared to run with the big boys at Daytona.

Even though the word is Danica will continue to also race full time in the IndyCar series at least for 2010, it means that all eyes will be on what she does in the tin tops, not open wheel.

As I’ve stated before, like it or not, Danica Patrick is the face of the IndyCar series.  She’s the star, the big commodity, the one that brings in tons of those all important sponsorship dollars.  Without her, the death spiral I already believe IndyCar to be in will accelerate.

No one except possibly Helio Castroneves and mostly because of the fame he got with winning Dancing with the Stars comes close to Danica Patrick’s media exposure.

If she is in Nascar, everyone will watch to see how she does.  Who is going to watch an IndyCar race that would go up against it?  NO ONE!

I think it’s very telling that everyone is now pushing for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to move the start of the Indianapolis 500 back to it’s traditional local time of 11AM.  The reason, Nascar drivers could then attempt doing the double..racing both in Indianapolis then in the Coke 600 that night in Charlotte. I find that amazing. 

The Indianapolis 500 is in so much trouble they need Nascar drivers racing at Indy to save what arguably once was the biggest racing event in the world!

Of course if Danica is one of those that would do the double, why that would help attendance and the dwindling television numbers.  (Oh, the reason the start time of the 500 was moved to later in the day was to increase television audience which has consistently gone down!)

I can see it now…it would be Danica all the time from the start of the race day in Indianapolis until the end of the day in Charlotte.  I bet there would even be live updates from the plane taking her to Charlotte. She would become the event and not either race.

This sadly is where we are and there will be two big winners in this scenario.  Danica Patrick who can get a gazillion more endorsement deals and buy her own country from all the money she’ll make and Nascar.  The losers, the IndyCar series and quite likely the Indianapolis 500.

Hopefully, I’m completely wrong but my biggest fear is that I am not.