Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith has proposed blacking out races in local markets that don’t sell out.
“That’s exactly what should happen,” Smith said. “It worked for the NFL, so you have a forerunner there who has done it successfully.”
I understand his reasoning, but I don’t think it will fly. Auto Club in Fontana doesn’t sell out, but could you imagine one of the largest TV markets in the country not having the race on TV live? I doubt all the sponsors involved in NASCAR would appreciate that.
Another problem is the how large of an area to blackout since NASCAR tracks draw from so many miles away. If Richmond doesn’t sell out does Virginia Beach/Norfolk get blacked out? What about the Washington DC area? Certainly Charlottesville won’t see the race.
And what about Lowes Motorspeedway in Charlotte? If that didn’t sell out then the NASCAR team’s employees that don’t attend races themselves would be left in the lurch.
Any new blackouts would have to wait until a new broadcast contract is completed anyway. There’s no provision for one in the current contract.
I don’t see this happening.
I remember seeing Dale Earnhardt Jr’s first, and second episodes on MTV’s Cribs and he mentioned barbecue in the second one. I guess his new house is finished because Cribs has returned and Dale was quick to show off some Memphis BBQ.
I got the story here: NASCAR NEWS
Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes Memphis ribs. So much so that he has a steady supply FedEx’d to his home in North Carolina.Earnhardt
His affinity for the city’s most sought-after cuisine was obvious during a repeat episode this month of MTV’s Cribs. It is unclear, however, when Earnhardt developed a taste for Memphis barbeque.
Junior also ran during a 2003 Cup Series test session at the track, and his JR Motorsports teams have competed in the Nationwide Series event at Memphis for three years in a row, with a best finish of fifth by Shane Huffman in the No. 88 in 2006.
In an attempt to entice Earnhardt back to the track, Memphis Motorsports Park is extending a standing offer of a lifetime supply of Memphis ribs in exchange for a one-time competitive run in the track’s fall Nationwide Series race on Oct. 24. (The Cup Series is at Martinsville that weekend.)
Pig-N-Whistle is the Official Barbeque Restaurant of Memphis Motorsports Park.
There has not been a reply from Earnhardt or JR Motorsports regarding the offer.
For more information or to order season tickets, call 1-866-40-SPEED or visit www.MemphisMotorsportsPark.com.
For a lifetime supply of ribs I’d make the race!
Joe Menzer of NASCAR.com writes what I’ve been thinking, that the latest round of Merger Mania is more of a mess, than a success.
It appears that Merger Mania is almost complete, at least for the foreseeable future.
Of course, these days in NASCAR, the “foreseeable future” translates to about two weeks from now. It has been an ever-shifting landscape since about May of last year, and that likely will continue to be the case as teams scramble to find sponsorship dollars that simply don’t appear to be there in a faltering economy.
The latest so-called merger involved Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises, and was more of an absorption of the No. 43 team made famous by Richard Petty than an actual merger in the true sense of the word.
Much has been written and said about the sad end of Petty Enterprises as NASCAR has known it for 60 years. Many fans wonder aloud why it wasn’t able to be saved, even if NASCAR itself would have had to prop it up somehow.
The fact is, especially in this economy, there wasn’t much NASCAR could do. So at least the famed No. 43 survived, with a promise from the King himself that he will continue to come to the track to spread racing goodwill as only he can.
Dust swirls again
As the dust began to settle from that agreement, however, more unpleasant particles were kicked into the air when officials at GEM badly handled the supposed planned departure of driver Elliott Sadler from one of their other cars — the same No. 19 that they had inexplicably awarded a contract extension for Sadler to drive through 2009 and beyond just last May.
After hearing through the grapevine that GEM planned to release him and put A.J. Allmendinger in that driver’s seat instead, Sadler threatened to sue for breach of contract. He had every right, to be honest; and that assertion was validated when GEM officials backed off in the long run and said Sadler would remain employed as driver of the No. 19 after all.
Where does this leave the affable Allmendinger? In limbo, with which he should be familiar after spending much of last season mired in the same miserable place.
He can drive the No. 10 car out of the GEM stable, but it placed 37th in owner’s points last season — meaning he might have to qualify on speed to get into the first five races in ’09. Plus he’s guaranteed only eight tries at that unless additional sponsorship can be lined up.
The organization and Sadler both released statements in the aftermath of the fiasco claiming that they remain one big, happy family that merely had a disagreement. But do you think Sadler will be happily sharing much information with Allmendinger when they’re together at the track this season? Should he, knowing Allmendinger nearly took his job and might still be in position to do so if GEM lawyers find a way to make it legally work?
And also, how about the mindset of Sadler and the No. 19 team after all this has been aired in public? Think they’ll be in the right frame of mind and truly on the same page heading into the Daytona 500 in a month?
Frankly, it’s a mess. Ray Evernham, who originally founded the organization but sold majority interest in it to George Gillett two summers ago, is a smart man to say that he more or less is walking away from the so-called new joint venture.
And while we’re at it, who thinks Reed Sorenson is a good selection to drive the No. 43 that Richard Petty made famous? The guy who once failed to show up for a primary sponsor’s big shindig, one attended by none other than his own car owner, is supposed to step into the 43 and represent all that is right and good about NASCAR?
I’m not feeling it on about 43 different levels.
And another thing …
Speaking of Sorenson’s former car owner, what the heck is going on at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing? Supposedly the former Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing operations merged to make each other stronger. Supposedly they will field four full-time Cup teams in 2009.
But now it’s ’09 on the calendar and much uncertainty swirls around the new, combined organization.
Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 1 Chevrolet is the only driver whose team has secured full sponsorship for the upcoming season. Aric Almirola is ready to roll in the No. 8 car, but has no primary sponsorship as yet. Juan Montoya is set to pilot the No. 42 car, but has only half his season covered by sponsorship green.
That leaves the No. 41 that used to be driven by Sorenson (and pretty poorly at that) lurking out there without a driver or a full-time sponsor. Although Bobby Labonte, the former driver of the No. 43 for Petty, has long been rumored as the top candidate for the 41, you have to wonder if the so-called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing will even be able to field a full-time fourth team as they previously projected.
Mergers are supposed to leave those involved stronger than they were when they stood alone. But it doesn’t appear to be unfolding that way, at least not yet, for either GEM or Earnhardt Ganassi.
As the 2009 season inches closer and more uncertainty looms ahead for everyone involved, one gets the sinking feeling that Merger Mania looks a whole lot more romantic on paper than it does in reality.
NASCAR Nation is on the verge of saying goodbye to Petty Enterprises. The famous team with the famous owner and former driver, Richard Petty, released Bobby Labonte from all team and sponsorship ties Thursday and is negotiating with Gillette-Evernham Racing to field the 43 car next year.
Economic forces caused PE to join with Boston Ventures to infuse the race team with cash, but it wasn’t enough to stop the collapse of the storied team.
PE has been on a decline since Richard Petty stopped driving. Let’s be real here, Kyle Petty just isn’t that good. Don’t get me wrong, the man does wonderful thing for the community and the Victory Junction Gang is awesome, but Kyle is not his daddy.
Kyle drove for PE way too long meaning PE couldn’t get top tier sponsorships.
PE stayed in Level Cross, away from Charlotte, the defacto home town of NASCAR for too long, only moving last year to the area.
PE was slow to employ the latest technology. I don’t think they ever picked up a 7-post.
And then there’s Dodge. In the modern era Dodge has always been on the second shelf, never the top shelf because of a lack of cooperation.
This is what Petty said just before the 2008 season ending race at Miami-Homestead:
“I think you look at who has been successful [in recent years], and Roush has seven or eight cars he’s working with; Hendrick has six or seven that he’s been working with; even Gibbs has had some other deals they’ve been working with,” Petty said of the alliances Roush Fenway has with Yates Racing, Hendrick has had with what soon will operate as Stewart-Haas Racing, and Gibbs has enjoyed with other Toyota-backed teams.
“It’s hard to compete with that. You look at the Dodge teams, and you’ve got four teams that have been totally independent. We’ve not thrown our stuff into the middle of the pot, like the other teams have done, and tried to work through things together. Hopefully, we can do that next year.”
“We’re losing one Dodge team for sure [in Ganassi], and I don’t know about a couple of the rest of us. I just don’t know,” Petty said then. “But, hopefully, we can all get together over in a corner somewhere and get our act together. We need to say, ‘Hey, instead of all of us Dodge guys working independently, maybe we can get together as a group and make this work.’ That would make for Dodge teams that are a lot stronger.”
Interesting and prophetic, huh?
So PE’s 45 car is gone, the 43 is going to GEM, Chip Ganassi Racing’s 40 is gone, and his 41 and 42 cars will be Chevy’s at DEI-Ganassi.
All this doesn’t sit well with Kurt Busch.
“I’ve always thought more is better. If you’ve got more Dodge cars on the track, you’ve got more opportunities to win,” Busch said. “But you want quality within those teams. We hope there may be an opportunity for some other team to come over to Dodge. That at least gives you the positive feeling that you’re moving in the right direction.”
Well, Dodge teams aren’t moving in the right direction.
RIP Petty Enterprises. But don’t worry, more Dodge teams will soon follow.
During last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions Week NASCAR CEO and chairman Brian France was interviewed by Sporting News Wire Service.
Question: How large will the race fields be next year?
Brian France: They don’t have to be at 43 [cars]. A year or two ago we had too many cars, too many well-funded teams. We’d love to have 43 teams, not 44, all well-funded. We’re going to have highly competitive teams. The balance of the teams will be well-funded, not all.
Q: How important is it for drivers to express their personality?
BF: I think it’s very important. We’ve got some talented drivers. We’ve got drivers that come from all over the country. We’ve got to do a better job at giving them opportunities. They need to be able to be themselves. If you’re upset and you’re mad in the heat of competition, do we want you to walk around like you’re in the library? Of course not. We want you to express your emotions.
Q: How often are you at the track?
BF: I’m at 12 to 14 events [annually]. We run our sport differently. We have the president [Mike Helton] of our company at every event. We want to balance Mike Helton’s role and my role. The business of NASCAR is a seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year job. We also have 1,100 people that work at NASCAR. A little too much is put on Brian France being one place or another. We have a good system. Mike and I have been good partners at balancing competition and the business side.
Q: What sports business story will you be watching closely in 2009?
BF: I’m watching Anheuser-Busch. We’re certainly watching keenly what’s going to happen with the manufacturers, and are they going to get the support they need from Washington. Those are some big categories with our television partners. There’s a lot of pressure in the advertising market right now.
Q: What will your legacy be?
BF: I will not have a 30-year run like my father for a variety of reasons. We have so many talented people. The legacy is, do we make progress? There are lots of decisions we have to make all of the time. Did we take advantage of the opportunities on behalf of the team owners? Did we do everything we could?
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