By admin | June 15, 2008
By Richard Allen
Wow! NASCAR decided to cram an entire season’s worth of news into one week. And for some of the news making events it was about time.
For the first of the it’s about time news pieces, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finally ended a 76 race winless streak by taking the LifeLock 400 at the Michigan International Speedway.
Junior’s victory was not shy of drama, however. After he and several others pitted during a caution for a lap 152 incident when Robby Gordon hit the wall Earnhardt went into fuel saving mode and literally coasted to the win, running out of gas just past the start/finish line. He had to survive a green/white/checker finish, saving what fumes he had left in his tank by riding on the flat apron of the track and shutting the motor off from time to time as he rode behind the pace car.
Junior had not won since 2006 in Richmond. This was his first win since his highly publicized move to Hendrick Motorsports.
After the popular driver’s move to HMS many thought the wins would come in bunches, especially after Junior took the went to victory lane in the Bud Shootout and his Gatorade Duel race during SpeedWeeks in Daytona.
Finally, in the 15th race of the season, Junior, his team and his fans can stop wondering when he is going to win a points paying race.
In another major happening to occur this week that could fit into the it’s about time category, NASCAR pulled its drivers and teams together and told them to stop whining.
It seems that all we hear from these guys who fly to races in private jets and stay in motor coaches worth far more than the average fan’s home is how hard they are having to work. So what if the Car of Tomorrow is harder to drive than the previous car?
Instead of whining and crying to every microphone and camera they can find the drivers and teams need to work harder.
There can be few things more aggravating to a fan who has traveled a long distance to a race, spent $4/gallon for gas, paid for an overpriced hotel and been ripped off at the concession stand than to hear some guy who has just made his next million dollars get out of his car and tell everyone how terrible life is for him.
Finally, NASCAR has said to the drivers what should have been said long ago. The Car of Tomorrow is a work in progress just like the previous car so be more positive about the great sport we all enjoy.
In another bit of it’s about time news from the past week, Petty Enterprises realized they are not going to get better by standing still. The sport’s most historic team brought in the investment firm Boston Ventures to infuse more capital into the company and hopefully put the team back on the right track.
Unfortunately, the first family of NASCAR had to give up control of the company to make that happen.
And in what may wind up being the biggest story of all, NASCAR was sued this week for $225 million by one of its former employees claiming racial and sexual wrong doing by the sanctioning body and some of its employees.
All in all this was a huge week in NASCAR. Some of the news good and some of it bad. But one thing is for sure, there will be no shortage of stories to write and talk about for the next several days.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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