Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Baddest of the Bad Boys

Everybody loves a good villain; villains make any situation more interesting. Nascar has its own version of a villain... they are the bad boys.

There have been a few bad boys in recent years; the most obvious of which would be Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart. Busch was considered a bad boy back during his rivalry with "never was" Jimmy Spencer, when Spencer was still behind the wheel rather than in front of the tv cameras on race day. No Nascar fan will ever forget watching Busch smacking his butt in an obviously derrogatory gesture aimed at Spencer! Busch has since calmed (I blame his recent marriage and plastic surgery stint) and is no longer that excitable, except for his recent tantrum a few weeks ago at Daytona.

Tony Stewart, on the other hand, is still going strong as Nascar's #1 bad boy, especially since he has proved himself once again by being the other half of Busch's recent tantrum and is now on probation for the rest of the season. That's the thing about Stewart... he never fails to remind everyone that he is the bad boy.

The thing about these bad boys is that they have proved themselves within the sport; both Busch and Stewart are past Nascar Champions.

The baddest of Nascar's current bad boys is Robby Gordon. Unlike the others, Gordon is a single-team owner who has proved himself on basically every other racing circuit except Nascar. However, his temper and ridiculous on-track behavior have definitely put him into the Nascar record books.

Looking back on Gordon's behavior, I have found that he has actually taken the "bad boy" image past the point of anyone else in recent history. In fact, he is nearly out of control.

Gordon caught my attention the first time when he picked on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a few years. Needless to say, that wasn't a good friend-making tactic for someone since it put the majority of Nascar fans against him merely because of who he was bullying. Since then, his behavior has become much worse.

Last season's incident at the Nationwide race in Canada was the icing on the cake for me; there was no turning back, Gordon was from that point on the baddest of the bad boys or an immature fool who shouldn't be allowed to race in another Nascar santioned event.

The fans at home, as well as the Nascar higher-ups, knew that Gordon was planning to dump the lead car the first chance he could get. Once he did that, he ignored the black flag that Nascar immediately threw to punish him for his actions and he went on to run the final laps of the race. Nascar continued to threaten him and eventually stopped scoring him but Gordon still would not pull in. He finished the race and preceeded to do "victory" donuts next to the actual winner of the race! Perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought the age limit to drive in Nascar was 18, not 5!

This event in Canada opened my eyes to the true Robby Gordon. He is not actually the baddest of the bad boys, he is merely a spoiled brat.

So, it is now 2008 and the season is 2 weeks old; Gordon is already in the dog-house with Nascar.

After failing a technical inspection prior to the Daytona 500 due to an unapproved nose on his Dodge, Gordon was docked 100 points, fined $100,000 and his crew chief was suspended for 6 races. This punishment remains consistent with Nascar's policy on violations dealing with the new car style, but Robby Gordon apparently thinks he is above the law yet again.

He has now decided to appeal his punishment and, with help from his sponsor, t-shirts are being made to support his "cause", Rally for Robby, in hopes that Nascar will reverse their decision.

First of all, kudos to Nascar for staying consistent with their punishments; this should show drivers that it doesn't matter who you are you will be punished in the exact same way if you mess with the COT. Secondly, I would like to know why Robby Gordon thinks he deserves special treatment from the organization that he has constantly clashed with; if you don't like Nascar go back to IRL.

Also, to the two fans that Robby Gordon actually has, its a good thing this weekends race is in Vegas because if it was in Talladega and you were caught with one of those "Rally" shirts on you'd be getting your ass kicked by the fans who threw trash at the other Gordon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The End of Silly Season? ... Or Is It???

Supposedly, the beginning of the new Nascar season is the end of "Silly Season" (Nascar's term for the period of time when teams swap drivers, sponsors and personnel as if it is all a huge game of musical chairs). From what I can tell that is hardly the case... it appears to go from Silly Season to Sillier Season; instead of the teams being crazy it is the sanctioning body itself that goes nuts.

During the off-season Nascar pretends to put their thinking caps on in order to create a more fan-friendly, driver-friendly, sponsor-friendly Nascar; In the end, they succeed in screwing everything up.

We are two weeks into the 2008 season and already last year's issues are re-surfacing as well as new problems coming into play.

The first of these issues is the reappearance of last season's mysterious "debris" cautions... where Nascar throws the yellow flag, citing debris, but said debris is never actually seen. This year's first incident was during the Daytona 500 for goodness sake! Can't we at least go ONE race without having an issue like this? So what if Jeff Gordon wasn't doing so hot?? So what if the person leading had been leading for a while??? I don't care! Let the boys race!

Luckily, this past weekend's event in California had enough problems to where Nascar forgot they were supposed to throw one or two of their fake cautions in to the mix. The 24 hours at California (or the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, as it is now called) was a tad bit ridiculous if I do say so myself.

For a sport that has taken such incredible measures to ensure the safety of its drivers and crew members, you'd think it would have enough common sense to wait for the track to be in raceable condition before dropping the green.

I understand they wanted the fans in attendance to see a race. I understand they wanted the television viewers to see a race. I understand everyone was depressed by all the rain that plagued the weekend... but, seriously!

It is sad that Denny Hamlin wrecked his car because of a wet spot. It is even more sad (and scary!) that Casey Mears was the first to roll the new car and that he could have been seriously hurt had the safety crews not put out the fire on Hornish's car so quickly. But the saddest thing of the weekend was that those incidents were not enough reason to make Nascar think twice about their decision to start the race under questionable circumstances.

If the rain wasn't enough, then the fact that the Speedy dry used to clean up Michael Waltrip's parade lap oil droppings were blinding the drivers should have been a good reason... but no. Then following multiple red-flag periods, a few rain showers and approximately 11 hours of boredom for crews and fans alike, Nascar FINALLY made the decision they should have made before the green was even dropped... the race was post-poned!!

I understand that Nascar does what they can to make the show happen ... but first they meddle in the happenings by throwing bogus cautions and then they push to hard when they need to think about other things... Nascar is all about the racing, so why not make sure the race is legitimately good?

1) Don't throw bogus cautions... the boys are there to race so let them do it!

2) Keep the caution rules uniform! No more holding caution flags for last lap crashes. The '07 Daytona 500 probably would have had a different end result had the caution been thrown and the field been frozen as it should have been... Plus, I thought the field freezing idea came about so that there would be no more racing to the caution?? Interesting...

3) BE SMART!! Don't let dollar signs get in the way of driver safety or a fan-friendly atmosphere. Who wants to sit in rain soaked bleachers until 11 o'clock at night?