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?

1 comment:

JST said...

I felt the worst for the fans who were at the track who kept getting strung along by NASCAR. I agree with you that they should have just sent them home.

As for racing back to the caution -- I wouldn't mind racing back to the caution if it just affected drivers who were in front of the wreck, but of course that isn't the case. Guys fighting for positions (and therefore points and, especially at Daytona, money) were back behind the wreck, and you're absolutely right that that's the danger they were trying to avoid in the first place.