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Archive for October, 2012

Hells Bells If The Driver Tells – Junior Parked For Going To The Doctor

October 21st, 2012

I know some of my comments over the last week might be interpreted by some that I’m unsympathetic to Junior, but I’m not. I have made those comments because I’m concerned about the effect the Junior situation will have on the sport. What I have been trying to point out is that the symptoms Dr. Petty based his diagnosis of Dale Junior on, just about every driver in the field has suffered this season, Namely, having their bell rung and a headache a couple days later. Several of these drivers are racing right now! Can we say Danica?? If she hasn’t suffered way worse SEVERAL times this year, her brain must be made of granite!

So, what concerns me when people make a big deal about Junior’s situation, is that there wouldn’t be a NASCAR if we pulled every driver out for the same criteria. All of Junior’s tests came in good, and Dr. Petty himself said he had to ponder the situation overnight as to whether to even pull Junior from the car!

We all KNOW there are at the very least SEVERAL drivers right now who are driving with worse. Perhaps some of them have much worse and they’re hiding it and shouldn’t be driving, I don’t know.  However, what I’m saying is that drivers shouldn’t be pulled for such low criteria as Junior was. NO ONE would make it through a season with that as a benchmark! The rest of the drivers should be able to make the decision on they’re own and not be forced out of their cars just because Junior was.

Now if a driver is tested and the tests show an actual problem, I agree the driver in question should be pulled out of his car – whether he wants to or not. I’ve had concussions with WAY more serious symptoms than Junior described, and if a driver was dealing with something on that order, I KNOW he shouldn’t be driving at 200 MPH on the track! So I’m not belittling the seriousness of head trauma.  But NASCAR should NOT pull a driver if he just got his bell rung and has a headache a couple days later and is saying he “feels fine” like Junior described without at least a test that shows a problem.

The whole idea that Junior needs time to “heal” right now is a stretch. If Junior has an injury to his brain that he actually needs to heal from, they wouldn’t let him drive for MONTHS, not just a couple weeks. If he can drive next weekend, he could have driven last weekend – and conversely, if he actually couldn’t drive last weekend, he shouldn’t be driving the rest of the year! At a minimum! They were just being precautionary and covering their butts, so  his situation shouldn’t be used as the standard for the sport. Remember, even Dr. Petty said he had to think about it overnight and decided he better play it safe.

I would hate to see the rest of the drivers put in that box. This overreaction (not by Junior, but by the press and public) is the VERY reason athletes with potentially serious injuries don’t seek medical care: because they’re afraid they’ll be benched for just having a headache! Again, Junior said he felt fine, his tests were fine, yet they pulled him basically for the fact that he felt the need to be checked out! What driver is going to want to take the chance of going to the doctor if THAT can happen? This whole situation with Junior is going to make things worse, not better… at least as it applies to other drivers self reporting.

NASCAR should probably do what F1 does and have baseline MRI’s. How that works is the driver has an MRI when they’re healthy and they use that as a baseline to compare to MRI’s taken after accidents. That would at least be scientific and would perhaps ease drivers fears of being pulled just for getting their bell rung and having NASCAR and the doctors overreact to cover their legal butts.

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New Rules For NASCAR 2013 Qualifying & Provisionals

October 16th, 2012

Since it has long been known that there is not a way to guarantee to GoDaddy (and to Rick Hendrick for his cut on the deal) that Danica Patrick will be able to stay in the Top 35 in owners points when she moves to the Cup series next year, something drastic had to be done. So NASCAR has now replaced the Top 35 Rule with the Top 42/43 Rule – under the guise for all the sheople that:

“This is a big win for our fans,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “They’ll see the fastest cars earn their starting spots. This change adds intrigue, drama and excitement to qualifying.”

The rule change now gives a starting spot to the top 36 qualifiers, plus SIX PROVISIONALS!!! It also gives ANOTHER provisional to the most recent past champion, which by proxy will be given to Danica since they’re attempting to give the #14’s points to the #10 team and Tony will then rely on the Past Champion Provisional if he gets in trouble. That will only guarantee Danica a spot in the first three races, which is why they needed to change the Top 35 rule to the Top 42/43 rule!

So in an economy with only 45 or so cars showing up for the 43 spots, this new rule with again, SIX PROVISIONALS, gives MORE of a guarantee to the teams who enter each race, not less! Now instead of Danica needing to stay in the Top 35, she is practically guaranteed a spot in the field if she stays just in the Top 40!

So much for adding “intrigue, drama and excitement to qualifying.” This is just a short sighted gimmick used to solve a problem with ONE DRIVER under the false pretense of “more competition” for those gullible enough to buy into it.

So for the 2013 season, this rule will not have a dramatic impact beyond a few of the lower performing teams. The reason why this rule will be harmful to the sport in the LONG RUN is that  when the economy improves and 55 cars show up at the race with a bunch of stripped down “one lappers”, they’ll boot REAL race teams out of the sport! That is why they put the Top 35 Rule into effect in the first place! With the Top 35 Rule, sponsors and teams who have to invest HUGE sums of money to make a commitment to RACE, need some security that they won’t be ruined by fly by night teams who are out to just run a few laps and score the purse money. The Top 35 Rule was well thought out and stuck a balance by giving the Top 35 some security for their sponsors, while still leaving room for 7-8 teams to make their way into the sport IF THEY RACED WELL!

Remember: Teams weren’t GIVEN a Top 35 spot, they had to EARN it, and KEEP earning it or they’d LOSE it! It just put the emphasis on RACING vs Qualifying!

Start and park teams don’t build their cars to race, they build them to qualify and make it for a few laps of racing and then cash in their purse check. They use weak, lightweight transmissions and gears that would never last 500 laps; they use lightweight oils that would burn up even good transmissions and gears if raced hard for a full race; they often disconnect alternators and other components and do a host of other tricks – known and unknown – so the car will be fast for one lap and they can boot out the smaller teams who come to RACE and have to set-up their cars to make ALL the laps of the race, not just a few!

So, if you get more excited watching qualifying and cars that start and park more than you like watching REAL racing, then you’ll LOVE this rule change! Personally, I don’t see this eventual outcome as “a big win for our fans” or the sport.

Knee Jerk fixes for short term problems without any thought given to the long term consequences is no way to run a business or a sport. This is going to end up putting WAY too much emphasis on qualifying over actual racing. It’s going to end up with even the good teams having to sacrifice racing trim, and more importantly MONEY, to concentrate more on qualifying trim! Putting qualifying that much ahead of racing is just nuts to me.

I’ll admit that odds are that once this comes into play, and it will, NASCAR will either raise the provisionals to protect the real teams or go back to the Top 35 rule. So why do I then care about the rule change you might ask? Well  first off they might not fix it in time before real damage is caused. But also, rules shouldn’t be changed on a whim. I think all this gimmickry to benefit one driver makes NASCAR look like professional wresting and it’s not worth the damage to real race teams in the menatime and the sports reputation in the long run.

Speaking of silly ideas and there consequences………………

The Whiners win another victory

More effects of the Whiners chasing Cup drivers out of the NW and Truck series. The NW Series has now dropped the field to 40 cars per race, and it looks like the Truck series is losing at least three races. If this continues, we’ll soon lose the Truck series and NW will look just like ARCA – just like I predicted two years ago when I said we’d make it through the 2012 season OK, but would start paying the price in 2013. So in a couple more years, the Whiners can throw a big party and pat themselves on the back for a job well done by destroying two great series but “making it all fair”!

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