Friday, June 19, 2015

Times are Changing: Five Questions for the Off-Weekend

Chicagoland Speedway. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky / NASCAR via Getty Images

Are more standalone events in the future? Let me clarify: this weekend is an off-weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series are still going hard in two different locations. With the second-tier at Chicagoland Speedway and the third level at Iowa Speedway, racing action is spread out — which is a great thing. Although some series regulars enjoy racing against the Cup guys, they won’t be there to cloud up the view. I agree that it’s important to race against Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to learn and strengthen your talents. I also agree that they can hog the wins and spotlight. These standalone events are the middle ground, and they provide the attention each series needs and deserves. If NASCAR ever makes drastic changes to the schedules (something that I highly doubt will ever happen), I hope they opt for more solo stops. They’re precious stones in NASCAR’s bejeweled crown.

Does Twitter craze over Earnhardt/Reimann engagement signify a problem? Congratulations are in order for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Amy Reimann, who announced their engagement via Twitter on Wednesday morning. The two, along with other Earnhardt family members, are exploring the history of the famous surname. It’s been a long time coming for the lovely couple, and fans on Twitter are ecstatic. However, various articles appeared on Sporting News, Fox Sports and other outlets about the engagement, which somewhat irks me. Is this actually news? I wrote a paper on the biggest blunders in modern-day media for my Principles of Journalism class last semester; on the list (I did the top five mistakes — how fitting), I discussed that the entire complex of media is messed up. Everything is considered news these days, and that devalues everything. Sure, this is a joyous event, and I’m thrilled to see how the wedding works out. This just doesn’t fuel various articles about the engagement, yet it’s a sign of the times.

Can fallen tracks rise again? The sad truth about racetracks is many fall into disarray after they’ve run their course. This was the case for my local track, Mansfield Motorsports Park. The half-mile oval hasn’t seen action since 2010 — but that’s about to change. Sunday marks racing’s return to Mansfield, Ohio with super-modifieds highlighting the Father’s Day event. The former Truck Series track is just one of the many venues that have fallen off the radar. One of the high-profile examples is North Wilkesboro Speedway, which I’ve discussed before. MMP — now known as Spitzer Motor Speedway — can give those forgotten tracks hope for a second chance. If you think I’m acting crazy, look up the history of this Ohio track. It’s been a wild ride for that beauty. If MMP can do it, others can, too.

Is Michael Waltrip Racing the next Roush Fenway Racing? I tend to be a positive person, but I know a train wreck when I see one. RFR is having an identity crisis since Carl Edwards left — and it's showing. They’ve become the standard for disappointing seasons. Now, it looks like another team is following their footsteps. Ever since the “itchy arm incident,” MWR has become a dismal place. They’ve recently swapped crew chiefs to salvage their work. To me, the team’s downfall is inevitable unless major changes are made. Maybe they need to align themselves with a new team, switch manufacturers, something to kickstart the magic. They have very capable drivers in Clint Bowyer and David Ragan, and I’d hate to see this team fall apart. Let’s hope they do what they need to do.

Will this new rules package solve anything? The biggest news of the week happened Tuesday, where news of a new rules package was confirmed. The changes will only be for the Kentucky Speedway weekend (for now), but they truly look promising. Shorter spoiler, less splitter overhang, and tires with more grip highlight the changes. This will overall decrease the downforce on the cars, which is music to the fans’ ears. Surprisingly, many drivers agree that it’s a good start. Usually, whatever the fans like, the drivers dislike. Spectators want things that make the cars more difficult to drive. Those behind the wheel? Not so much. It’s a constant tug of war game, but this could be the common ground. It’s a fantastic move and a huge step in the right direction. So yes, this will solve anything, something, maybe everything, and I am pumped to see it at Kentucky Speedway.

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