I have been complimenting NASCAR, as far as my ability to compliment the organization, quite a bit since the Press Conference of a few weeks ago in which the new rules for the 2017 season were announced. After careful consideration of all that was said at the Press Conference, and fully aware that not one person on that stage dared to question what NASCAR was doing for fear of reprisal, I had made up my mind to accept it and give it a chance. Actually, it was a long discussion with my brother Richard that pointed out the things I had failed to see in the initial, a usual for me, knee jerk reaction. I am now "ready, set, go" for a good, if not great 2017. Or, I was.
The words "tweak", "enhancement", "fan experience" and "on track product" are words added to the lexicon of NASCAR speak since Brian France took over the sport. While this is not a Legendtorial intending to bash Brian France or NASCAR, I would like to say a few words about this new vocabulary being tossed about on the shores in Daytona.
First, "tweak". This word is used by NASCAR meaning to "make adjustments” NASCAR feels will "enhance" the "on track product" for a better "fan experience". Really. What I see in those five letters is the ability of Brian France to do as he pleases, when he pleases, whether or not it makes good sense. Remember the Michael Waltrip team fiasco at Richmond a couple years back when Martin Truex was bounced from the Chase and Jeff Gordon added by Brian France because "I can"? I remember how unfair I thought that was to Martin Truex who, in my opinion did nothing more wrong that being behind the wheel of a Michael Waltrip car. It was Clint Bowyer, was it not, with the itchy arm?
As far as enhancing the fan experience, I see the new rules for 2017 as providing better planning for bathroom breaks and trips to the fridge for snacks. I honestly see nothing in this rules package that is going to make the "on track product" better for the fans. I think the format is a good one for excitement purposes and for requiring WATSON, the IBM computer, so well known for its Jeopardy appearance, to be able to calculate the points at the end of each race weekend. Fans who will go to the track will still enjoy the races as they always have and maybe even a little more as this format should remove the need for those bogus "debris" cautions.
I had posted a Forum comment last week asking whether you listeners would prefer stories from my memory of great racing experiences. Two people answered, both mentioning they love the stories of the past. Jeff continued his response with wanting me to continue to go into one of my tirades if something ticked me off. I really had a good story planned for this week about the 1964 Daytona 500 when NASCAR released the "official for the time being" ruling about cars being damaged in the race being allowed only five total minutes on pit road to repair the damage. If the car is required to go behind pit wall or uses more than the five minutes to repair the damage, it is out of the race. Period. End of story. Even as I allowed myself a couple of days to consider the impact of this rule, I still came down to the fact that this rule is about as stupid as anything NASCAR has done in the past 15 years.
Case in point. Most of you listening, or reading this later, should remember the miraculous story of Benny Parson's sole Winston Cup Championship. That Sunday in Rockingham was the Sunday that showed the true spirit of racers, at least the racers of the time. I was at that race and watched through the fence, as I don't know how many guys from different crews came over to help Benny get that car back on the track to earn the points he needed for that Championship. That is the type story that made this sport the wonderful example of human endeavor that it is, or was. I'm happy that I was there to see that piece of history unfold before my eyes.
I have read several articles over the past week, how the championship picture would have been different several times, if this rule had been around. One article supposedly computed all seven of Jimmie Johnson's championships throughout each season and opined that had such a rule existed for the past 15 years, Jimmie would have one legitimate Championship. The same genius says Gordon would have had only two. Even with the convoluted way NASCAR manipulated the Kyle Busch Championship, had that rule been around, Kyle still wouldn't have won. That statement is not intended to disparage Kyle in the least. His Championship is a product of what NASCAR wanted.
That's enough for tonight. This latest tweak, or enhancement, is, in my eyes, another example of shooting yourself in the foot.