TORONTO - NASCAR bosses get a lot of unsolicited advice from fans, the media and even, more than occasionally, from this corner.
Over the past seasons, one of the more persistent complaints from the masses was that Sprint Cup drivers were spending far too many Fridays and Saturdays taking money out of the pockets of the guys and girls who are trying to make a living in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The tall foreheads down in Daytona Beach thought there might be something to this, so they changed rules, forcing drivers to choose only one series to earn championship points, the reasoning being that Cup stars would be less interested in racing in the NNS if the carrot of a championship ring was taken away.
Well, it has hardly changed a thing. In the first combined 13 Nationwide and Truck races, 12 have been won by drivers who compete in Sprint Cup. Only Johnny Sauter’s Camping World win at Martinsville broke the pattern.
One reason is that when Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch step down in class, they bring their A-team with them. A Rush Fenway Cup pit crew, for example, can put together consistent 14-second pit stops. NNS teams high-five one another if they get a mid-15-second stop.
That 1.5-second difference is what separates winners from also-rans.
So, maybe NASCAR should allow the Cup drivers — after all, they do bring in the crowds — but ban their Cup pit crews so as to level the playing field a little more.
Sadler feeling the squeeze
The main thing that Elliott Sadler noticed as he took to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the first time on Tuesday was how narrow the 4.360-kilometre road course was.
“I don’t think there is a narrower track that (NASCAR) races on,” he said after coasting around the Montreal track in a rental car during a promotional appearance.
Sadler will get a chance to try real racing on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Incorporated Chevrolet for the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA 200.
It will be something that he is actually looking forward to doing, in spite of his background where road-course success has been limited to a pair of sixth-place finishes at California’s Infineon Raceway.
His team owner, Kevin Harvick, has won at Montreal and Sadler will have veteran Max Papis — who finished second in 2010 — as a KHI teammate.
“I have already leaned on Kevin for advice and I will be testing with Max at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) this summer,” Sadler said of his preparation for the August race.
Heat is on Brazilian drivers
There are five Brazilian drivers on the entry list for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Itaipava Săo Paulo Indy 300, and the competition among them to be the first native to win there is immense.
But none among Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ana Beatriz or Raphael Matos can match the motivation of Vitor Meira in the No. 14 A. J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara Honda.
Meira is on the comeback trail after a horrendous crash at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 in which he broke two vertebrae in his lower back.
The 34-year-old Meira would spend the rest of that season recovering from his injuries.
And last season, in his first race back, Meira claimed third place at Sao Paulo, his best result of the year.
This weekend, he would like to move up two steps on the podium.
“The people saw what kind of show we put on last year and they’re really excited,” Meira said earlier this week from Sao Paulo. “The tickets are almost sold out. It’s growing even more. It’s interesting for the people of Săo Paulo to know that cars are racing on the same streets they travel every day. Every other form of racing (in Brazil) is on a race track and to be on the streets is a plus for IndyCar.”