Greetings, kids, from the Chicagoland Speedway Media Center. Pretty quiet in here right now because it is 8:49 a.m. Central and the amusing truck-like vehicles raced last night. So the big dogs have yet to enter and the sparseness of the center crowd keeps the volume of media member chit-chat to a dull murmur. Pull up a cup of dark roast and let’s discuss …
"In addition to that, we’ve decided that due to the totality of events that were outside Jeff Gordon’s -- his issues, we’re going to ad a 13th position to the field, and Jeff Gordon will qualify for the championship this year, the Sprint Cup Championship,” said France.
Basically, it’s this: all the spinning and pitting and alleged colluding and generally wack behavior by several people led to Gordon getting HOSED out of a chase spot, in Brian France’s opinion. And it’s crystal clear that Brian France’s opinion is the only one that matters here in NASCAR land. The Chase is a construct of BF’s making, so, like the Matrix, he can alter it as his pleasure!
Let’s stop here to ask ourselves if we can imagine this scenario playing out in IndyCar. Mark Miles steps up to the mic and ays here’s how it’s going to be, without spending five weeks trying to get the big teams on board. Even loaded up on bourbon I can’t imagine that happening (not that I am drinking right now, for the record).
There's also some element of reacting to fans' outrage and chagrin over the events at Richmond. Twitter and other social media outlets that let fans talk directly to NASCAR and to each other played a role in prompting NASCAR to act, in my opinion, so it's interesting to look at the role of fan input into this decision.
Also, there are consequences beyond points and chase births at play here. I think Clint Bowyer took a lot of brand damage when he spun intentionally. In other words, a lot of people looked at Clint in one way before the spin, and have adjusted their view of him afterwards. The bottom line in racing is always the fans (don't let anyone tell you any differently), and if the fans turn away, that's like losing sales, and losing sales is what gets action quickest here in America. If customers don't like how a business's representatives conduct themselves on track, that could have dollars-and-sense consequences to the business, and as I said nothing prompts change like lost sales.
Brian seriously missed a chance to start the news conference with, “Before we get going, I just want to ask … ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”
That answer, for the assembled media anyway, has to be “HELL YES!!” Much excitement and energized activities among The Media, because I know a twist-and-turn story like this is what The Media live for. I used to be The Media, so I can speak from experience here. You don’t want crazy crap to happen, but you do want to be there if it does. And don’t give me the hypocrisy about The Media shouldn’t be so zealous about this case … as you zealously consume every digital word and second of video.
Mike Helton said that NASCAR will hold a mandatory meeting with all teams and drivers sometime today to give them some clarity on what kind of on-track stuff constitutes “conduct unbecoming” and what doesn’t. As in: is letting a teammate by so he or she can lead a lap and get a point OK or not? Sounds like this upcoming mandatory meeting will be a NASCAR racing ethics and etiquette session. If “racing ethics and etiquette” made you coffee spew, you’re not alone.
In a moment of honesty, Mike and Brian might just say “if you’re going to pull crap, please don’t announce it on a scanned radio channel, OK?” If the teams just get cagier about what’s always gone on it will quickly fade from the spotlight. I am in no way saying all this taking a dive and alleged intentional spinning and slowing down is not a huge bunch of shit. What I am saying is it will be virtually impossible to enforce any etiquette rules in racing, especially when there are virtually no rules on track in NASCAR re: bashing someone intentionally, heinously blocking, driving like a dick or whatever. It happens in every form of racing out there.
Watch for a bunch of tweets about where and when the meeting is held today, then a frenzy of “what was said” reporting afterwards.
At a minimum, it’s great theater. The indefatigable Bob Pockrass (The Mixer), who you should all follow on Twitter (@BobPockrass), has probably popped out 18 stories on this deal all by himself. If Bob got paid by the word, there would be Mixer Racing team right now.
France’s decision to add Gordon may right the alleged wrong he suffered by these other teams allegedly doing stuff, it opens up a rat’s nest of shit. It also kind of makes NASCAR look like they are just kind of making it up as they go along. Which they kind of are. I think the meeting today is to try and get some guidelines out there. Good luck with that. Get ready for “what about Martin Truex?” who also seemed to allegedly get screwed here. If you’re adding a 13th car to the chase, why not a 14th … and then the person in spot #15 starts to say “hey, wait a minute ..” And if similar stuff happens in the future, the offended party will start yelling “NO FAIR! You didn’t let Jeff get screwed in 2013.” It’s gonna be crazy train.
Speaking of crazy train, back in IndyCar, the Baltimore Grand Prix is toast for 2013, allegedly due to a scheduling conflict. Here’s the news release:
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Sept. 13, 2013) - INDYCAR announced today that it will not return to Baltimore in 2014.
"After a successful visit to Baltimore, which included record attendance, we are disappointed that our schedules will not align to host an event in 2014," said Mark Miles, chief executive officer, Hulman & Co., the parent company of INDYCAR. "This was simply a matter of trying to find the best date that worked for all parties, since Labor Day weekend was not an option in 2014. We are thankful to the city of Baltimore, Race On and Andretti Sports Marketing for their support and enthusiasm for the event over the years."
Miles added: "We continue to finalize our 2014 schedule and anticipate announcing it prior to the end of our 2013 season."
Naturally, fans of the event were pissy about this announcement. That’s understandable. As for what the conflict was all about … NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Street races seem to have a pretty short lifespan. There’s Long Beach, Toronto and St. Petersburg that are durable events, but others come and go.
I’ve also been hearing that the street race in Brazil is toast for next year, but Mark Miles insisted as of a few days ago that he’s not heard anything about the alleged toastness of Brazil.
If Brazil goes away, is that it for Bia Figueiredo who relies on big Brazilian sponsorship? Questions, questions.
Welp, that’s racing from here in Chicagoland. Be sure and follow @BobPockrass, @JennaFryer and @NateRyan on the twitter for the continuing updates on this developing situation.