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« Danica Phase I proves that NASCAR is starved for personality | Main | Sorry Johnson haters, it’s not luck »

Danica, Hockey and Hendrick domination combine to ruin NASCAR’s weekend

By admin | February 28, 2010

By Richard Allen

Had a Hollywood script writer sat down and tried to write a script of the worst case scenario for a NASCAR weekend it would have looked something like this past weekend in Las Vegas.

First, Las Vegas residents were teased on Friday that one of their own might be in contention for a win when Kurt Busch grabbed the pole for the Sprint Cup race. That was indeed just a tease as Busch would be gobbled up in a mid-race crash not of his own making. His day was ruined on Sunday and so were his hopes of repeating his brother’s feat of winning in front of a hometown crowd.

On Saturday, the worst of the worst came to fruition. Rain got in the way of the start for the Nationwide Series race. Yes, rain. Only NASCAR could have races two weekends in a row in two of the world’s driest places and have rain be a factor each weekend.

Once the Nationwide race did start, it did not take long for things to turn sour again for the sanctioning body. Since they have as an organization seemingly decided to put a good deal of their eggs in Danica Patrick’s basket they needed her to run well in her last appearance before she goes off to compete in the IndyCar ranks for a few months. Instead, she crashed early on. Any television viewers who tuned in to watch just because of her had nothing to look for with less than half the race in the books.

And more, the only thing that kept that race from being a complete blowout was eventual winner Kevin Harvick’s own pit crew. On a couple of occasions they placed their driver back in the pack with poor stops. Their car was so dominate, however, that Harvick was able to power his way to victory in spite of his crew.

But with all of that bad luck aside, the worst was yet to come. On Sunday, a perfect storm of bad luck hit NASCAR. Granted, there was a near sellout crowd on hand at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But without having yet seen the overnight ratings, it is likely that was not the case in North America’s living rooms.

First of all, the Shelby American 400 proved to all too predictable. Hendrick Motorsports took control of the race early and pretty much dominated the entire event. Jeff Gordon led lap after strung out lap until he was passed by teammate Jimmie Johnson for the win.

While there are many fans who support those Hendrick drivers, there are many more who are becoming turned off by the organization’s domination. And this week, those disenchanted viewers had somewhere to turn.

The Olympic gold medal hockey game between the U.S.A. and Canada aired at essentially the same time as the race. And as everything else did this weekend, the game played out in the worst possible way for NASCAR. The U.S. made a late comeback which sent the game to a thrilling overtime. No doubt, many people flipped the channel to that game whether they were hockey fans or not because it was the Olympics and because the race left much to be desired.

For NASCAR, things could not have gone much worse, unless you are a Jimmie Johnson fan of course.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “Danica, Hockey and Hendrick domination combine to ruin NASCAR’s weekend”

  1. steven Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 5:51 am

    I have been intrigued to have been looking closely at Danica’s practice times, qualifying times and racing results and seeing that she is not in any way competitive. Yet the race announcers have been spinning this Danicamania thing for 3 races now, even crowing that Danica has driven from 37th starting position to third place…. Yes, Nascar fans are watching but certainly must be aware that the fawning of Danica is some kind of scam.

  2. Charles Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Just another 3 hour Chevy Commerical!!!! Let see they have won 3 in a row, at Daytona they won Bud Shoot Out, one 125 mile duel , and lost the other one by inches!

    Its not just a Hendrick show, notice when he is not dominating, all of a sudden it goes to RCR, Gannisi, SHR etc!

    You can bookmark it,just let any other brand of car, Dodge,Toyota, Ford dominate like Chevy does, and the first things Fox TV would be saying is that we need to ‘even it up! or rules change When its the status quo Chevy , not one mention of any changes, it turns to be a Hendrick not Chevy show!

    Chevy has great cars and teams, but mabe when they run the other brands out, and it becomes a only one brand show, like IROC they will bet the message!

  3. midasmicah Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I’m not a big basketball, but I found myself watching more NBA then nas$car. If it’s possible, the Vegas race was even more boring then the California race. Every time I switched back to the race, a Hendricks driver was leading the parade so why watch it. With some of the rule changes this year I was hopefull about having some competitive racing this year. Not!!. It looks like more of the same. I hate being negative, but nas$car needs to give me a reason not to be.

  4. banzaibonnie Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Danica’s attitude after her crash tells the tale of a raw rookie acting like a prima donna. That lost me as a fan, regardless of her talent–if she has any,to begin with.

  5. The Old Guy Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Three races into the season and JJ has won two of them.

    This reminds me of the dominance of a pair named Gordon and Evernham back in the 90’s.

    You tuned in to see who was going to finish 2nd.

    I have a feeling JJ will break Gordons “wins in a season” record this year.

    I didn’t watch this weeks race, or last weeks, and I suspect I will not be tuned in to the next race.

  6. Joe from Pittsburgh Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Well,I decided to try NASCAR again after a few years of not watching much if any. Daytona seemed interesting,until 2 looong poyhole delays. I refuse to watch Cali because of the Darlington bitterness (although I turned on enough to see Johnson luck out at the yellow) and Las Vegas was also a Hendrick snoozer (seems I always am lucky enough to turn it on when a caution is out) as well. Bottom line—NASCAR hasnt been able to rekindle my passion for the sport and that’s just a shame. But they have themselves to thank. I have been sick of Hendrick motorsports for years and years and my wife and I even used to root for Terry Labonte!!!! R.I.P. Na$car.

  7. retireing fan Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Why watch a race when nascar allowes one brand of cars like GM, goverment motors, to have the avantage in horse power over ford or toyota. The results will aways be the same. Maby if chevy wins enough races they can pay tax payers back.

  8. Damon Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    banzaibonnie Says:
    March 1st, 2010 at 10:26 am
    Danica’s attitude after her crash tells the tale of a raw rookie acting like a prima donna


    I don’t know, it told me somebody wasn’t happy with a driver down 50+ laps to them that’s running the high line then dropped off low into the corner trying to run the low line and caused an incident that shouldn’t have happened.