Friday, May 22, 2015

Tearing It Down: Five Questions for Charlotte

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
Tradition is a wonderful thing—sometimes.

On one hand, it keeps roots to the past intact. You should never forget where you came from, and what has happened shows what can happen in the future. I’m a firm believer in preserving tradition.

The flip side is the revolution that comes with breaking away. It’s a chance to create a new legacy, one that’s both rebellious and comforting.

This is the week NASCAR honors tradition by running the Coca-Cola 600, one of the crown jewel races of our sport. The deviation of routine is the criticism that comes with this race weekend.

I dive into that and more in this week’s edition of Five Questions. I also discuss Roush Fenway Racing, babies and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Get ready, it’s homecoming week.

Is Buescher Roush’s last hope? Last weekend at Iowa Speedway, Chris Buescher won his second NASCAR XFINITY Series race, bringing Roush Fenway Racing home a desperately needed trophy. His success and consistency is holding the organization together. I’m deeply saddened by RFR crumbling; they were one of the top teams when I began watching this sport, and they’re currently mediocre. How can Jack Roush salvage his team? There needs to be an overhaul. I’m talking about demolishing the foundation and starting from scratch. Add new people into the rotation of crew chiefs, create a new "playbook," anything. Buescher’s a top-tier talent, and something needs to be done before a more stable team snatches him up. They also have another capable driver in Darrell Wallace Jr., who is Buescher’s teammate on the XFINITY side. Wallace has impressed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but the success hasn’t transferred over to RFR. Something is missing, and Roush knows it. I hope they catch up and become competitive once again.

Does anyone else think the racing class of 2035 is looking quite nice? NASCAR is experiencing another baby boom. Earlier this week, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski become first-time dads. Busch and his wife Samantha welcomed a baby boy after countless fertility treatments and difficulties, all of which Samantha detailed in her blog. Knowing the pregnancy was a miracle and challenging accomplishment makes this occasion even more special. Keselowski and his girlfriend Paige White are now the parents of a girl. The two have chosen to keep a level of privacy to this milestone. In a world where everything seems to be on social media—something Keselowski is no stranger to, of course—and public, it’s nice to see some keep their personal achievements private. With all of that said, I truly hope we see baby Busch and baby Keselowski racing with Keelan Harvick as Chase Elliott paces the field. Wishful thinking?

Who are the winners and losers of the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame selection? Coca-Cola 600 week is a huge deal for Charlotte in many ways, including the announcement of new Hall of Fame inductees. Wednesday afternoon brought the news that Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner, Jerry Cook, and Bobby Isaac will be honored in January. By reading fan reaction, this isn’t a popular class selection. Many believe Smith’s addition is coming too soon. Others think those who are still alive need to be added before it’s too late. I agree with the latter; it’s truly a shame that many inductees aren’t here to witness this occasion, and it’s important to give those still here the glory. Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, and Ray Evernham will be in one day. I feel like ‘one day’ is too far away. However, I still hold onto the belief that five people to a class is way too many. We’re going through people quickly, and it needs to be slowed down. It’s like eating an expensive steak. We need to savor it.

If the Sprint All-Star Race was bad, why were the ratings so high? One of NASCAR’s homecoming events is the Sprint All-Star Race. The best of the best duke it out for $1 million. Denny Hamlin won the pole and the event, and it sounds like the fans lost. There were many complaints following the race, from the lack of competitiveness to just being plain bored. Despite this, the viewership was at its highest since 2011. What gives? The marketing behind the All-Star Race obviously worked, and it drew people to their television sets. That viewership now feels duped and will most likely not tune in next year. That’s the trade-off. Marketing is a gigantic part of sports. It’s also very necessary. If you’re going to go big with the advertisements, make sure the product delivers. Each segment needs to be shorter, especially the final laps. Five laps would be ideal; the current length of ten gives the leader too much time to drive away. NASCAR also needs to look at the effects of clean air. I still regard the Sprint All-Star Race as a large event, and I hope changes can be made to ensure that feeling for everyone else.

Has the Coca Cola 600 lost its luster? Sunday is one of the most highly regarded days in the sport of racing. The Grand Prix of Monaco in the morning, Indy 500 in the afternoon and the Coca-Cola 600 at night make for a jam-packed day. NASCAR is focused on the 600, of course. The long-running tradition is still a newsworthy event, but is it losing that title? All I’ve heard is that the race is too long and too boring and whatnot. If you’re going to complain about the racing (or anything, for that matter), offer up a solution. It’s called constructive criticism. Secondly, the Coke 600 isn’t the only event losing its glow. The Indy 500 has been seeing a decline in interest over the past few years, and the dangerous wrecks this past week aren’t helping. Racing has always been the outcast of the sports world, but there’s always a chance to rebound. The Coke 600 may drag at times, yes, but what event doesn’t? Instead of tearing down the sport, why don’t we start building it up with suggestions and advice?

2 comments :