Friday, May 30, 2014

Technology, a double-edged sword: Five Questions for Dover

(Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
The world is constantly changing, and you can instantly read about it on your smartphone. Whatever the news is, wherever it is, it can be accessed from a device in your pocket. We have everything we’d need to know right at our fingertips.

That is both phenomenal and terrifying.

We don’t have to think anymore. Oh, what’s the capital of Montana? I’ll plug it in the Google for you. Who was the last president to be assassinated? Search, enter, done. If it can be Googled, Binged or something, why bother having that information in your head? That’s where society is at the moment, and it’s sad.

Another development is the need to post about our lives via social media. I’ve definitely indulged in this one, but people take it even further than tweeting about their high school prom. Typing thoughtlessly can lead to backlash, but it could have major implications; nowadays, employers are looking up possible employees on Facebook and Twitter, putting an emphasis on what is posted. Teenagers now have to be cautious, though they should’ve been worried all along.

In the NASCAR world, Twitter has been a vital source of connection. It opens up those within the sport to fans, a link not forged in previous years. Chats, Instagram photos, sponsor mentions dip into uncharted waters. It’s almost a way of life. Headlines wrote themselves when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally joined Twitter after his Daytona 500 win in February. The truth is, he scanned Twitter and did a bit of investigating. Why? He wanted to see if it was worth making himself that vulnerable.

Many drivers have cut back on Twitter usage due to negativity. Matt Kenseth doesn’t post as much. I almost forgot Jamie McMurray had an account. Where’s Ryan Newman? They’ve been driven away, by people who abused that privilege.

Technology is a sword, double-edged with opportunity and volatility. It’s time to be aware of the good and the bad.

Because it’s always changing.

Dover, Delaware, is where the party’s at this weekend. All three series are racing at Dover International Speedway, and that’s reason enough to celebrate. It’s time to talk Jimmie Johnson, winless streaks and even Twitter in this week’s edition of Five Questions.

Did anyone else think the Coca Cola 600 was sorta . . . blah? This may be just me, but the race was really underwhelming. No, it’s not because Johnson won; it lacked something overall. It may have been clouded by the Indy 500 glitz, and that’s unfair to the race. However, that’s how it’s been forever, and the 600 has lived up to hype in the past. The most important aspect of the weekend was a success, though; NASCAR’s patriotism was on full display, and that’s what makes this race so significant. In that way, NASCAR stole the show, the only show truly worth stealing.

Why were we worried about Johnson again? The winner of the 600 was none other than the six-time champ. He and Chad Knaus took notes from Kenny Francis, the crew chief of teammate Kasey Kahne, and used them to their advantage. This comes after a slight drought in his win column. So, why were we worried? I like to think we entertain ourselves with the impossible. The No. 48 going winless and not getting a Chase slot? What a story! Unfortunately, it was inevitable they would get a victory, and there are most certainly more to come.

Who’s next to shatter a winless streak? Not winning can be difficult, just ask a few of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Newman and Kenseth are winless, along with Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. With a talented list like that, it’s hard to decipher who will end up in victory lane next, but I’ll take my chance. The next winner will be Kenseth, and he proved it Sunday night. He’s out of that post-championship-run-slump and ready to take charge. Of course, there’s always a dark horse, and Truex may be it. He had a great run going at Charlotte before being plagued with axle problems.

Will an action-packed weekend at Dover call for a revival? As I mentioned above, all three NASCAR series are racing at Dover. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series holds court early Friday evening, while the NASCAR Nationwide Series takes center-stage Saturday afternoon. Of course, Cup reigns supreme on Sunday afternoon, but is all this racing enough to add flair to the sport? With NBA and other sporting events taking place, it’s easy to see NASCAR getting shuffled back a bit. However, could all this action help? Yes, if it’s actually exciting. Dover’s called The Monster Mile for a reason, so let’s see if it lives up to the moniker.

Do the pros of social media outweigh the cons? The new age of technology has been both embraced and shunned by parts of the sport. I discussed both sides above, and now I’m asking the real question: is being prevalent on Facebook or Twitter worth the hassle? Yes; it gives a unique opportunity to expand the connection between driver and fans, possible sponsors and fellow racers. It gives the driver a chance to boost their image by making them more human. If we can see them as human, then an important connection is forged. It’s up to the individual person to decide where to draw the line. There needs to be a filter on all users, especially those in the public eye.


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