Yo yo yo, home skillets. It's friday, Friday, FRIDAY. That's a good thing ... Dude. I totally had to interrupt writing this to watch Danica Patrick's live media availability (hipsters just says "media avail") via NASCAR.com. All part of my continued "leg humping," don't you know. I live tweeted a bit of it, probably lost and gained Twitter followers, insert my indifference to that here.
ANYWAY, pull up some dark roast, belay the room for cream and let's briefly discuss our stagger toward Sonoma and the post-grinding Bristol.
Bristol, Bristol, Bristol -- (7 p.m. Eastern tonight, ESPN) You'll recall (or maybe not) the last races at Bristol March 18 & 19 wherein the MAMMOTH stands were about half full and there were NOT any cars flying through the air. Apparently this had been Bristol's trademark when it was a much flatter track ... twisted and mangled sheet metal from all the crashes, along with hostile drivers and Thunderdome-like fan enthusiasm.
Well Bristol installed Rusty Wallace-like progressive banking and that seemed to make the racing far, far less contact-y. During the races in March if I recall correctly most of the yellows were for "debris" such as menacing hot dog wrappers. Track owner, Bruton Smith, was not amused so he announced they would change the track in the months between March and tonight's race. Fire up the grinders and flatten out one of the three grooves. I think the goal is to make it harder to pass without bashing. Yeah, I don't get that either.
During the NASCAR truck-shaped vehicles race there this week there was precious little banging and I strongly believe the pole sitter led every lap. As for the 50% (ish) attendance, a lot of people blame the law of supply and demand for that deal. Since Bristol is in kind of a remote location and there aren't a ton of motel rooms around, those that are in the area jack their prices up so you pay $503 for a Motel 6 room (I am making that up, but it's very high). That and the price of gas and "bad economy" has kept fans away, is the theory. You can't blame Bruton for the high motel prices. He's not the King of Bristol and cannot dictate motel prices.
I'll be tuning in tonight to see if the cars go to banging (7 p.m. Eastern ESPN) and at least take a glance at the Cup race to see what attendance looks like.
More Caffeinated Sonoma? -- (4:30 p.m. Eastern, Sunday, NBC Sports Network). KEY QUESTION: will this be Snorenoma? Infiniyawn? Sears Pointless? Or will the car and track changes encourage overtaking? A bit more than a pipe dream here because the New Car (!) has been surprisingly racy (compared to the old Dallara) on even the most boring ... er ... technical tracks (Mid-Ohio and the Gorgeous Facility of Barber, most notably). Sonoma has tweaked some corners to try and encourage overtaking. Why? Because their contract is up or about to be up and they want IndyCar to come back. Where did I read that? Either Curt Cavin or Robin Miller. I googled, but couldn't find the link.
But, the story said that Sonoma wants IndyCar to re-up or extend its contract there so they are trying to address concerns that the race is a parade. Very encouraging because the track is trying to do something to encourage more fans to watch, both in person and on TV. Indy Car sponsors already super love going to Sonoma since it's in wine country, etc. and "beautiful country" and they can have their Pinot on the veranda, etc. So the suites sell out (I'm sure) and it's a cash harvest for the track in that regard. "Word on the street" is Sonoma is the second most popular race among sponsors behind Indy, which explained in the past why IndyCar continue to go there despite lethally boring racing. (Notes from the 2011 race here.)
Yet the track is tweaking itself to be more fan-attractive. This is encouraging to me. If all we cared about were sponsors who like to sip Merlot, they wouldn't tweak the track. But if IndyCar is saying "I don't care how much sponsors' VPs of Marketing love their shiraz and syrah, we gotta have more viewers" that is HUGE progress.
So tune in to see if the changes and the car create some passing. Maybe someone will chuck a shoe onto the course. Hitting a shoe with an IndyCar I gotta think would be way worse than hitting one with a stock car. Probably bust off a front wing.
Day job. You know the drill. Word to your posse.