Is Nascar trying to eliminate the “little guy?”

022110-NASCAR-Making-a-statement-DS-P_20100221205529_335_220_397x224 Nascar does things at times just because they can.  No rhyme or reason. They just do it because they can and always use “Actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing” as its justification.

On Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Nascar confiscated the #66 car driven by Dave Blaney from Prism Motorsports after he headed to the garage 43 laps into the 250 lap event.  His teammate, Michael McDowell headed to the garage three laps earlier.  Both would be considered “start and park” cars.

Start and park is what teams that have very little budget do to get purse money to get them to the next week’s race.  They can’t afford brand new engines.  They can’t afford to wreck their car.  They can’t afford to even have full time crew members.  They are trying to survive.

Well, Nascar by confiscating the #66 car from Prism Motorsports, puts that organization in a position they won’t be able to race that car at Las Vegas next week and stand to lose over $100,000 for at least starting that event.

The reason they won’t make Las Vegas is that Nascar has already told the team they won’t get the car back until this coming Saturday which is too late to re-work the car, practice, and qualify.  Nascar basically has penalized Prism Motorsports $100K for no known rule infraction. (The 100K assumes they would qualify for the race.)

Why is Nascar doing this?  Are they embarrassed that there are “start and park” cars in the field?  Isn’t it better to have them than a short field and when did Nascar become a series of elites only? 

Nascar was built on the little teams and owners who scraped together every dollar they had to go racing.

I know Brian Keselowski very well.  He’s the older brother of Penske Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski.

Brian tries to be the driver behind the wheel of his #26 machine every week in the Nascar Nationwide Series.  However to do that, he usually has at least one other car and sometimes two that he hopes will make the field and then parks them a few laps in.  Why?  It’s the only way he can continue to race and as Brian has told me on several occasions, racing is all he knows plus he loves the sport.

Unless Nascar believes the #66 team have been violating the rules, there is no reason to confiscate the car and hurt an already struggling team.  I believe every real Nascar fan should flood Nascar with letters and emails of contempt for this move.  It’s time to stand up to Nascar and it’s philosophy of “We’re Nascar and we can do what we want because we can.”

The lesson of Daytona? Anyone can win!

P2140009 I had possibly the best seat in the house for all the action that took place at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks as I was one of the track announcers.  My “office” is directly above the start/finish line and the view from there takes in every inch of the 2.5 mile facility. What I saw from this prime viewing location was outstanding racing in all three of Nascar’s top series.

The Bud Shootout was exciting to the end with Kevin Harvick winning.  The Gatorade Duel’s couldn’t have gotten any better with Jimmie Johnson winning by six inches and Kasey Kahne by maybe 12 inches.

The Nascar Camping World Truck Series went down to a last lap battle between Timothy Peters and Brett Bodine with Peters bumping his way to the victory.

The Nationwide race was pretty wild (Junior’s upside down ride was scary as hell!) but saw Tony Stewart continue his incredible run in the February race at Daytona with his 5th win in the last six years.

Finally, the Daytona 500 itself.  The drivers really mixed it up and regardless of the pothole that had us all mumbling under our breath, the finish couldn’t have been more exciting with surprise winner Jamie McMurray and Dale, Jr. coming from nowhere to finish second.

You’ll notice that every race was won by a different driver.  We can also throw in how Richard Petty Motorsports showed strong efforts at Daytona.  Penske Racing looked good at times with Kurt Busch, the new kid Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish, Jr. showing much improvement. 

Richard Childress Racing showed strength in their team with Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.

Roush-Fenway had their moments with Greg Biffle showing strength and David Ragan even running up front in the 500.

Hendrick?  Well they did take the front row for the Daytona 500 in qualifying and Dale, Jr did finish second.  Jimmie Johnson was strong until two cut tires and finally mechanical failure.

What does all that say?  I have no clue who to put in as a favorite heading to Auto Club Speedway in California this weekend.

Has everyone finally caught up with Hendrick?  Maybe, we’ll know more after this weekend when the racing is more of the “normal” type we see most of the Nascar season. One thing I do know is that what took place at Daytona the last two weeks should have every Nascar fan revitalized and yearning for more of that type of competitive racing every week.

Danica,Danica,Danica but what about the Daytona 500?

DaytonaDanicaPatrick-1.jpg I have now been in Daytona for over two weeks and it seems there is only one topic of discussion.  It is not the Daytona 500 but instead all about Danica Patrick.

Patrick of course made her stock car debut this past Saturday in the ARCA series and did a solid job coming home 6th while also having a great save of her race car that had been turned on the track.

957T9932_resize.JPG The media horde as I like to call them looked like a pack of hungry wolves after she climbed out of the car snapping pictures and looking for quotes.  Meanwhile overlooked was that Bobby Gerhart had just claimed his 6th ARCA win at Daytona.  Gerhart barely grabbed a paragraph of the race story.

Now Patrick is moving up her Nascar Nationwide Series debut to this weekend at Daytona and that is all that just about anyone is talking about.

I spoke with Lee Spencer who is a columnist for Fox Sports dot com and she said that’s the biggest story at Daytona.

Isn’t this supposed to be about “The Great American Race” and it’s eventual winner?

Seems that Danica now has become the “Rock Star” of racing and everyone else, including 4-time straight Sprint Cup title holder Jimmy Johnson is an after thought.

I realize that Nascar needs to draw fans in, especially on TV, but it would be nice to have some balance.  We’ll see what happens on Saturday when Danica goes against some of the best drivers in the world with many Cup drivers doing the Nationwide race.

Oh, by the way, if you forgot, the Daytona 500 without Danica Patrick is on Sunday.

Preparing for Danica Mania at Daytona

patrickdanicamediacenter09 Tomorrow it begins.  “Danica Mania” will be unleashed at Daytona International Speedway as Danica Patrick takes to the 2..5 mile high banks in ARCA practice. 

Normally the Thursday ARCA practice might bring a few journalists out to the track early to watch and do a few interviews.  Not this time.  A media horde is about to be unleashed the likes of which is usually reserved for Rock stars.

I’m torn by all this attention.  On one hand it’s good for ARCA to get the publicity as a series but on the other hand if all the stories are about Danica it doesn’t help the ARCA regulars who scratch for every penny to keep racing to get the pub they need to stay alive and on the track.

I consider ARCA President Ron Drager to be a friend and I know he understands the pluses and minuses of the situation.  Daytona is only one race on the ARCA 2010 schedule. His concern is for the entire season and series.  However, Danica Patrick’s presence means for at least a few days ARCA is front and center in the racing media world and even beyond.

I have no doubt that Saturday’s ARCA race on Speed (4:30PM ET Live) will be the highest rated ever for the series even eclipsing when Juan Pablo Montoya ran some races in it as did Dario Franchitti.  I just hope that the TV guys don’t make it a Danica all the time broadcast.  I’ve seen that in IndyCar broadcasts where there is a Danica update about every two laps.

Let’s all remember when the green flag drops there are 43 drivers on the track, not just one.  They all are taking the same chances and all have the same dream of winning at Daytona.  Danica is a big story but don’t forget to those that are family, friends and supporters of the others in the field their story is just as big and important.  All I ask for on Saturday is some balance.