TORONTO - The late, great Charlotte Observer NASCAR beat writer David Poole once scolded me for suggesting that the Sprint Cup series needed to shorten most of its events.
It was his opinion that a large part of what made NASCAR’s top series so hard to conquer was the fact that it tested the limits of physical endurance of its competitors.
It was my opinion that if NASCAR reduced all of its events by about 100 miles, it would produce better races, both live and on television.
“If NASCAR did that, Brett Bodine would be a seven-time champion and Dale Earnhardt would be racing bobsleds,” Poole argued.
It was with this in mind that I read a wire service report this week that blamed the length of races for NASCAR’s drop in TV ratings over the past two seasons.
But rather than feeling that it vindicated my position, it gave me pause to consider that Poole might have been right all along.
At the Subway Fresh 600 at Phoenix this past Saturday, the event had been lengthened by 62 miles and many thought that Ryan Newman’s win was the result of the extra distance and not his superior driving skills.
But the fact that the No. 39 Stewart Haas Chevrolet was there at the end showed he outlasted, outraced and outmanoeuvred his competitors.
And isn’t that what athletic competition is all about?
So Poole, who died at far too young an age just over a year ago, appears to have won another in a long line of arguments for which he was famous.
Stinking rotten deal
Disgraced former Renault Formula 1 racing boss Flavio Briatore, who was turfed from his job with the French automaker after overseeing the cheating scandal that rocked the sport in 2009, has succeeded in getting his lifetime ban reduced.
In a deal worked out by lawyers for the two sides, Briatore agreed to halt his battle against the FIA in return for F-1’s ruling body dropping the death penalty on his career.
So as a result, Briatore’s banishment will last only until 2013 and the FIA’s ruling that he was in on the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix’s race-fixing scandal stands.
The ink wasn’t even dry on the deal, however, before Briatore issued a statement on his behalf, insisting the deal didn’t include an admission on his part that he was a major player in the whole despicable episode.
“He (Briatore) confirmed his acceptance to bear his share of responsibility in the Singapore events in his capacity of Managing Director of the Renault F-1 Team, at the time they happened, without any admission of personal guilt.”
Give me a break.
Let’s just hope that the stink that lingers around this whole affair is not forgotten in three years time when Briatore tries to smarm his way back into the sport.
IndyCar darling Danica Patrick finished way down in 16th position in the inaugural Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in the Andretti Autosport Dallara, but one day later her real value to any race team was revealed.
Her primary sponsor — GoDaddy.com — announced Monday that in her first three NASCAR Nationwide Series starts, where she finished 35th, 31st and 36th on the race track, Patrick was able to push the Internet company to No.1 among all primary team sponsors with one hour 57 minutes and 51 seconds of television time, worth more than $1.3 million US. Justin Allgaier (with finishes of fourth, ninth and seventh) and his Verizon sponsorship ranked second with $561,600 worth of TV time.
JR Motorsports has fired Nationwide series driver Kelly Bires from the No. 5 JRM Chevrolet. Bires had been sharing the car with Patrick. He will be replaced with Sprint Cup veteran Jamie McMurray ... Richard Petty Motorsports, the NASCAR team controlled by former Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett, is in default on a $90 million loan since at least February, according to a report this week by The Sporting News. Gillett declined to comment on specifics of the loan because of the ongoing creditor talks, but he said the default is technical in nature. Richard Petty Motorsports merged with Yates Racing last season and switched manufacturers from Dodge to Ford.