I don't have much to gripe about regarding the last few weeks' happenings, but one thing I wanted to talk about is some of the schedule changes for the three major NASCAR series in 2011. Here's my summary of wins and fails:
- Kansas 2nd date: I'm torn between whether this is a WIN or FAIL. I don't really think they or any other 1.5 mile track with one date on the schedule deserves a second date, but technically it is replacing a California race date which suffered with sub par crowds and less competitive races. The June date is also a plus. The Midwest location is good and the new casino traffic could increase crowds much like I'm sure it does with Las Vegas and Dover; however, I would think Iowa should have been in the running for a Cup date. It has a Midwest location as well and it would put another short track on the schedule.
- Kentucky date: I'll have to go with this being a WIN. Excellent location, or so I've heard, for a race to be held and that along with the July date should attract a decent crowd. I'm not a big fan of Bruton or 1.5 mile tracks, but this race should be a pretty good one.
- Only one California date: WIN! The move of their only race back to late March should be a good thing, and maybe it will even attract some more fans to the races. Moving Phoenix to the old California date should also be a WIN, maybe a little bit reminiscent to the old Copper World Classic days.
- Only one Atlanta date: FAIL, but not necessarily NASCAR's fault. I think the track would be much better off if they had stuck with the original configuration and didn't convert it to the cookie cutter tri-oval format. When they lost the season finale they haven't really been able to rebound back either. Deletion of the March race is most likely a good thing, especially with the weather problems there have been in the past.
- Chicagoland date change: FAIL! It may be NASCAR's second largest market, but isn't that the case for most sports? It may attract fans to the race track, but I don't see any TV ratings increasing.
- Late July & August races being pushed back a week: WIN, but that might just be me being selfish. Now I get to see the annual micro sprint races that I go to every year during the last Saturday of July AND get the option of going to Pocono the following weekend to see the Truck Series and ARCA compete on Saturday. The races are back to the way they originally fell. The only downside is the Cup Series last break will be July 24. That's a lot of consecutive racing.
- Nationwide addition of Iowa race: WIN! Iowa gets rewarded after some large crowds and great racing. Now, if only the Cup Series would get a date and maybe you could hear or read the words SOLD OUT for once!
- Nationwide addition of Chicagoland race: FAIL! What is the point of this? Why not just run a second Kansas race with the Cup that weekend. If this is the start of their stand-alone plan to get less Cup drivers to compete for the championship then that is a FAIL as well, especially since none of the actual race dates conflict.
- Other Nationwide Schedule notes: Montreal moved to the same weekend as Michigan will take away from the prestige of the event a little, but on the other hand it will be a nice alternative for that weekend. One other note, two off weekends in a row in October? Why not go back to Martinsville or another short track that used to be on the schedule back in the series heyday instead?
- Truck Series notes: Overall schedule is still a FAIL. Way too many holes in the first half of the year. They tried to patch it a little bit with Darlington in March, but that doesn't make too much sense either. That may be an awfully cold race weekend for the fans. One Truck Series date is still TBA and it would be nice to see them go back to their roots with an additional short track race, but it's looking like they're going to Kentucky for a second time which doesn't make much sense. To sum it up the Truck Series will once again have great racing, but the schedule is quite unsatisfactory.
I have a couple more comments to add about this past weekend's races at Montreal. First of all the competition hasn't been the greatest to say the least regarding the Nationwide Series recently, but this is the race that I end up missing? Great finish and congratulations to Boris Said III and the entire RAB Racing crew. It's great to see a team like this in victory lane, and it can very well be the biggest upset since David Gilliland won at Kentucky a few years back. I hope the nice paycheck will keep RAB Racing around for awhile, and maybe the powers that be at Zaxby's may now think twice about not keeping their racing sponsorship predominantly within the family.
Prior to the Nationwide race was the Canadian Tire Series race, which also had an exciting although more controversial finish. If you didn't see it or hear about it, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hba5ntCOLaw or to user Battalionfan888's YouTube page. My impression is there's a difference between payback for slight contact and dumping someone. Sounded and looked like there was a little favoritism from the officials and the crowd; however, the initial contact probably kept the officials from doing anything about it. There's been quite a conversation about this going on all year regarding Keselowski vs. Edwards, and it looks to be evident in other series as well.
Things have been a little quiet recently on the local front, as I'm gearing up for the return of racing to North Wilkesboro Speedway! Earlier in the month I enjoyed some 358 sprint and late model racing at Williams Grove Speedway featuring Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. The NASCAR drivers got schooled! I went to Sundance Vacations Speedway during my birthday weekend and as always had a good time at the 1/3 mile track north of Hazleton, Pennsylvania up in the mountains. Videos from the racing action can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ajcrdstr24. I also finished eighth in a Borgata qualifier tournament that same weekend and won the runner-up prize of $50 cash. It's better than nothing I suppose. It doesn't look like there will be any major poker tournaments coming up until October or November.
Next up will be the return of racing to North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina for the first time since Jeff Gordon won a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race there in 1996. The always exciting Pro All Stars Series along with the Allison Legacy Series, Limited Sportsmans and Stadium Stocks will be there Labor Day Weekend for the Labor Day Classic 200. The PASS South cars will be running 200 green flag laps and a fairly large turnout is expected. I'll have photos and video footage available after I get back.
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