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February 13, 2010

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Dylan

You summed it up better perfectly. But don't think NASCAR is that much better. Hendrick dominates, and the rules make ZERO sense.

But your absolutly right, I don't feel nearly as pumped up about the 2010 season as I did for the 2009 season. And worse, with Wilson leaving Coyne, the biggest threat to the Big Two (on Road Courses) is gone. And then you look at the track mix, it's really terrible. Only four real road courses, and only 1(Watkins Glen) that is wide enough for Indycars. I'm actually hoping for Andretti Autosport to get back and make it a big THREE! And of course as a Direct TV user, I won't actually be able to watch races on TV anyways.

Personally, I feel this way about both Indycar and NASCAR. Expectations are low, so hopefully we'll be suprised.

pressdog

Oh, NASCAR has issues. No doubt. But if you're bran new to the racing, it's less boring. Plus I got the world's greatest dirt track just an hour away that is more than happy to let me in for $10 and sell me $3 beers of the race. Drag racing, F1, ALMS no shortage of ways to get a racing fix beyond IndyCar. The league would do well to come to a stark, immediate understanding of that. If I didn't care about IndyCar, I would have just stopped watching and not written this cry-for-help post.

Marcbever

And p-dog hits another one out of the park

Pat W

I don't mind the odd NASCAR race but Daytona bores me senseless.

I came here to reply to you to say nobody is forcing you to watch Danica's transition, and that it may be best to let her go - let's face it she's mentally left IndyCar already. But then I read your wider point, to which I don't have an answer.

It used to be that sport was a big enough draw in itself. It is clear and has been for some time, that American fans have voted with their wallets and remote controls and have chosen to go for rolling entertainment rather than sporting contest. That's a shame. I've always thought open-wheel should be on the side of the latter but if that's commercial suicide, they have to make changes. But let's not ape NASCAR, they've got that sewn up already.

Dylan

But Pat, right now Indycar isn't a sporting contest. There's nothing sporting about parades at Brazil, Barber, Infenion, Mid Ohio, and St Pete.

Pat W

Dylan: Of course there is. Sport is about the best drivers/teams doing the best job, and sometimes an underdog will come through like Wilson/Coyne did. To me this is no different to when Ferrari dominated F1 from 2000-2004, there was a lot of 'woe is me' around then as well, asking how can we shake things up again (much of it from myself). Yet now F1 is looking good. Every sport has periods of domination by one or two teams.

And if you want another F1 comparison, which I'm sure you don't but I will anyway, look at the massive increase in fan interest since Schumacher started testing. Websites are reporting record visits on their test articles and live reports. Just as IndyCar first and NASCAR now are getting with Danica. Not that she's remotely like Michael but she seems to have a similar effect.

IndyCar needs a rivalry.

George Phillips

Despite all of the missteps of IndyCar as of late, I still find it exciting although I realize it is for the wrong reasons and I am almost alone these days in my thinking. I keep clinging to yesteryear in hopes that other teams will step up and challenge the red cars and that the races will become exciting again and the Indy 500 will return to some relevance.

The arrogance of IndyCar is probably its most glaring fault. They do not seem to listen to its fan base AT ALL! Its almost as if they treat its current core fans with disdain while all the time getting coveting the prospect of new fans.

It's like an employee who thinks he can get a better job and is constantly thinking things will improve vastly at another company. While searching and dreaming of a new job, he neglects his current job. Soon he finds himself with no job. What he should have done was focus on the job at hand, perform well and soon his career grows as he advances within his company.

Bill, you're correct in saying that if Danica does well in Nationwide and continues to gain the media attention, the France family will move mountains to get her in Sprint Cup. They will do that because that's what the market dictates and what their fans want. Listening to fans...what a novel concept!

Andy Bernstein

That was a killer piece. Absolutely on the money, inluding the fact that everyone else has been ignoring: no steps have been taken to improve the racing we will watch in 2010. Or 2011.

I walked in on a highbrow discussion about how the future of IndyCar should be defined, and what was the "core product" that needed to be identified and improved.

The core product of IndyCar racing isn't even a product, it's a service: entertainment. Just like we wait from our comfy couches for a glimpse of.

So you're gonna share some of that chip dip too, right?

Andy

P.S. It seems not to have dawned on folks recently, even though many of us expect Danica to now leave at the end of the season (if not before). As it stands now, that will leave Marco Andretti as the only full time American driver in the Izod IndyCar Series.

pressdog

I see what you're saying, Pat, and I know what you mean, but isn't a sporting competition ALSO entertaining? The two are not mutually exclusive, at least to me. If the league makes it more sporting -- that is a real contest with some drama to it -- then it becomes more entertaining. THAT is what I want.

GeorgeK

Nice post Dog, but now,I gotta go watch Danica in the Nationwide race.

The American Mutt

I have an idea. Lets start an all oval all american open wheel racing league.

Steve_P83

"But Pat, right now Indycar isn't a sporting contest. There's nothing sporting about parades at Brazil, Barber, Infenion, Mid Ohio, and St Pete."

Dylan, those are not all parades. You must really not be watching. The only reason I, and many others, watch Indycars at all are for those "parades". If Indy abondones those tracks for all ovals, I'll have no problem ever watching again. As Pdog mentioned, there is F1, ALMS, Grand-am, etc. Not every person in the world thinks ovals are good racing...I have never stayed awake through an entire oval race....and yes I think IMS is a borefest as well. I appreciate the history behind the race, but I don't enjoy that kind of racing.

Dylan

I appriciate GOOD road races. Which the Indycar series seems to try and avoid. I doubt there are many people anticipating the those races. Now Watkins Glen, Sebring, Road America, Road Atlanta, Cleveland, those are good road tracks, tracks fans might actually get excited for. Barber, Brazil, St Pete, Mid Ohio, Infenion? These are NOT tracks excite very many people.

Trick Dickle

Did Danica win?

Chad Paff

This week of Danicker in NASCAR, has truly shown just how "minor league" Indy Car racing is.

Look at the crowds. Look at all the shows covering the events this week. Look at the ratings for ARCA, Trucks, Nationwide and Cup. Look at the sponsors. Damn, they have a lot of REAL sponsors at every level (even ARCA has good sponsors).

All Danicker needs to do, is not completely fall on her face. She wasn't impressive today (USAC's Ricky Stenhouse Jr was as good as her today) in a rocketship of a car. She looked lost and sounded lost afterward ("Man, this stuff is hard and these drivers are good"). This was her best chance in her first 3 races to be somewhat competitive. She will likely be completely out-to-lunch at Fontana and Las Vegas, before she trudges back to her "other" job for a few months.

But she has already done what NASCAR and Go Daddy wanted her to do. She got NASCAR's season off to a nice springboard and got Go-Daddy more exposure in one race (in ARCA, for crying out loud) then they will get in 16 of the 17 Indy Car races this year.

She has a unbelievably big hill to climb in NASCAR. A hill that she may not be talented or patient enough to ever get up. But in the end, as long as she is sorta competitive in Nationwide for a couple of years and doesn't completely look foolish most of the time, that will probably be enough. Mikey Waltrip has never been worth a damn as a driver, but he has sold a lot crap at NAPA and Aaron's over the past decade. Maybe she eventually becomes a female Mikey Waltrip. A backmarker, who sells lots of product and never has to do squat in a race car to make millions upon millions of dollars.

The Speedgeek

Jeebus. The doom and gloom around here. Cheer up. It's racing season, finally.

I mean, really, if the races are THAT dire, then don't watch. Or find a different hobby. How much worse can things get over last year? The red cars could will ALL of the races, instead of every one but one? That's not much of a difference, though I really do believe that we're going to see some other winners this year. Schumacher didn't keep winning every race every single year. McLaren didn't win every race in 1989 after winning all but one in 1988. It's racing. Sometimes something crazy happens. That's why you watch. Well, maybe that's not why you watch, but that's one of the reasons I watch. Sometimes you have to wait for the underdog to come through. Lord knows I rooted for Jean Alesi for enough freaking years before he finally won a Grand Prix. Lord knows Dale Coyne waited a long time for his miracle to come through. That's called "keeping the faith", and sometimes you just have to do that for the things that you love.

All I can say is: patience. The car thing is not going to get fixed overnight. It feels to all of us who obsess over these things like it's been dragging on for decades and that the Delta Wing was unveiled six months ago. The truth is, it was unveiled just over 72 hours ago. We still don't know a lot of the answers behind the deal with that car, i.e. can they fix some of the aesthetic problems, so that people will stop calling it the "Delta Wang"? Will it do the things they claim it will? Maybe the answers to both of those questions are "no", but it's such a new situation that we don't know that yet. It's not worth it to me to get all knotted up until I know the full story behind the car. In the meantime, there's a chance that a different concept is going to get chosen anyway. We don't know what's going to happen.

Dylan, stop complaining about races that haven't happened yet. Brazil and Barber have not yet hosted IndyCar races, so you can not tell me with 100% certainty how those races will turn out. Yes, I know, you've been told that they're both too narrow, but that's hearsay. You claimed on my site last week that Barber is impossible to pass on under any circumstances, which I've seen with my own eyes, watching actual races at Barber, is not true. With drivers actually attempting to attack each other, Barber might turn out better than we think. Tony Cotman may have worked his magic in Sao Paulo and it might be the new Surfer's Paradise. We don't know yet. And, it might rain at either one, and we'll wind up with the best, most unpredictable race we've seen in years. THIS is why you...scratch that...this is why *I* watch racing.

Jesus. If we're going to try to stop complaining about all the attention that Danica gets (though anybody who follws my Twitter feed knows I certainly haven't completely stopped there), then we should also think about a brief moratorium on looking at how "half empty" IndyCar's glass is. I choose to think of it this way: I have a lot of drivers that I like in the series, the series goes to a lot of tracks that I like, the cars are still fast and put on a heck of a spectacle in person, the TV coverage continues to get better (my apologies to those folks with DirectTV, though), and the Indy 500 continues to anchor the entire deal. My glass is plenty half-full, mister.

GeorgeK

Back to PDog's original entertainment point.

SI this week is highlighting the anniversary of the famous/infamous 1979 Daytona 500 finish/fight between Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. It is the singular event that put NASCAR within interest of the populace in general.

Also within this issue (Feb 13,2010) is the following statement from Brian France:

"We're putting things back in the driver's hands. We want to see drivers mixing it up. This is a contact sport and you're going to see more contact."

The above rule change will allow fans to further develop rooting interest for their chosen drivers when they become embroiled in contact and retribution.

I'm not agreeing with or advocating the policy, and I don't think it really "sells" Indycar racing. I'm just pointing out NASCAR's sensitivity to marketing and their own awareness of their entertainment quotient.

The 800 Lb. gorilla in the room is still the question, "How can Indycar racing generate more fan interest?" With all due respect to the opinions of others, I don't think it's more or better ovals, the ratings show less viewership for those events then road course racing; which is why more road courses were added to the schedule.

As Dog so eloquently summed up:

The message from fans is simple: "Entertain us. Excite us. Surprise us. Captivate us. Give us value for the time we sit in front of the TV and the money we pay to go to the track, or we will take our business elsewhere."

No apparent answer from where I sit.

pressdog

If the answer is "keep hope alive" and love it or leave it (two perfectly legit answers, BTW), then nobody should be real shocked if so many leave that there's no "it" to love after a while. IndyCar needs mass audience to justify what it expects sponsors to invest. Either gotta change the business model or built the audience.

Roy Hobbson

You can't see me, obviously, but I'm standing up & saluting this post. There's also a single tear running down my cheek, Don't-Litter!-Indian-style.

GeorgeK

Last thought on marketing, generating fan interest: Has anyone read the entire Marshall Pruett article over at SPEED regrding the Delta Wing concept car? Very lengthy and thorough analysis of the new business model the current team owners are pushing, and it's not just the DW car design.

http://auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/indycar-the-big-silver-vitamin//P3/

I can see where the team owners are coming from. It's not just a car, it's new business model as well as a radical way of producing cars. It opened my eyes to more then just how the car looks.

Dylan

Speedgeek: Sure, I'll be patient, I mean I've only been patient since Unification. What's two more years? I mean what else is there? ALMS, they only run at 3 of the best road race courses in America. What? MotoGP has almsot as many Americans as Indycar? It's as likely an American will win a MotoGp as an Indycar race?

I'm sure there's nothing else to watch.

I like Indycar, but it could be so much better. Why don't I support brazil? Four reasons. A. it's a street course, which we already have enough of.B. Not in the US, when what needs to happen is growing US fanbase.C. Sebring, Road America, Road Altanata, MIS, Phoniex, Las Vegas, Loudon, ect. all don't have datesD. I've seen the picutres of it, and can't honestly say I like it, or thinks there will be any passing.

Barber, the same. If Infenion and Mid Ohio are not good events, how is Barber going to be a good event? Starting the season with 3 street courses and a road course that is narrower than a street course is a good way to build interest in a series.

pressdog

Thanks Roy, and I know its a manly Don't Litter Indian tear.

The Speedgeek

I guess I should say that my viewpoint is probably 90% "keep hope alive" and 10% "love it or leave it". I've just read so many negative comments and blog posts lately (and, admittedly, I had a Newcastle or three in me when I dropped by last night) that I feel like the "accentuate the positive" attitude is losing out entirely.

Absolutely, there are things that the League should do, like tomorrow, to make the fans happy:

1) Make the weekend schedules make sense. Lights shouldn't be on an island by itself on Saturday. Put them an hour or two before the Big Cars. Put more cars on the track in front of the fans' eyeballs at times when they're actually at the track. This grows the fanbase for the Lights drivers, and gives people better value for their money on Sunday when your crowd is much bigger. Also, run more Lights double headers on the road courses. More racing is good.

2) On that same note, fill up the road course weekends so that there's no more than 10 minutes of down time at any one stretch. This can be done by incorporating the ladder series (now that there are three of them) and working with the ALMS. The ALMS needs to get it through its head that it'll never be major league motorsport again. That ship sailed in 2007 or so, if not long before. IndyCar needs to do what it can to help the ALMS, and the ALMS will (hopefully) do what it can to help IndyCar. Promise good entertainment value for people's dollar (and sometimes that entertainment can be a picnic in the park, but there are race cars driving by through the park all day long), and people will come out. Road America hosted well in excess of 60-70,000 people in '07 when I was there for ChampCar/ALMS. They can do that again.

3) Continue to evaluate the schedule, like on a monthly basis. If Brazil's giant check bounces this year, they're one and done, and shame on them for deceiving us. If the big checks come through, and the fans like IndyCar down there, one race (even if it's semi-boring, though I have cautious optimism about the whole thing) isn't going to kill anybody, especially if it's at a time of year when most tracks still have snow on them. Brazil is not displacing Michigan, or Loudon, Road America, or Cleveland, it's at a time of year when you have very limited options for races, so the alternative to Brazil is "no race". It's basically the same for Barber. Meanwhile, when tracks' contracts come up, take a good hard look at if you want them back. St. Pete is on the schedule because of the Andretti connection, and because there's a shortage of warm weather tracks that want us in March (that means Phoenix, Fontana, Texas or Vegas; the first two don't want us, the third one wants us in June, which is fine, and the fourth...I don't know what their deal is). When the St. Pete contract comes up, don't renew. Work with the ALMS to get on the track during the Sebring weekend. They get 100,000 fans down there because it's a spring break thing. If you can get 1/10th of them to tune into the next race, that's another 0.01 on the TV number. If you can do better than that, great.

4) Employ somebody to spend 2 hours a day surfing around to the fan sites and blogs. There are a lot of great ideas out here, but it's not real clear if any of it is getting through. John Lewis made an oblique reference to this on Trackside, but it's still not clear what is getting through to the folks in the admin offices. Meanwhile, employ about a dozen colege kids (because they're cheap) to do some canvassing at races. Ask people about the cars, about the drivers, what people like, what they don't. I'd be happy to stand and talk to one of these people for 10-15 minutes at any race that I go to. Also, do some of this out in public, with folks that aren't fans yet. If you're already doing it, please say so to make us feel better.

5) My suggestion about school assemblies still stands. My hope is that because Cavin and Kevin have mentioned it on the air a few times and to John Lewis that it's going somewhere.

6) Give us periodic updates on what you're thinking about the new car. Silence makes us think that you're not doing anything, and it pisses us off. Meanwhile, please go full court press on attracting new engine manufacturers, and then tell us that you're doing that. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants an exclusive engine supplier.

There's not a lot they can institute right this minute, but they can do an awful lot to convice people that things are coming down the line.

pressdog

Good ideas, Geek, but they don't address the boredom of uncompetitive racing, which is the zillion-pound elephant in the room.

Sue

Danica would have to have a complete personality transplant before she could even attempt to be a female Mikey Waltrip.

I am not entertained by her, or her media. And she has cultivated that media intently. She does not avoid it, she nourishes it. That in and of itself is fine. It's her hypocrisy about it all that insults me.

After watching the Nationwide race yesterday (and I did enjoy it much more once she was out), and the Danica lovefest redux by the announcers, and the ESPN tape at the bottom of the screen that was all-Danica-all-the-time until mid-evening and through the basketball game, I most likely won't be watching any Nationwide races that she's entered. Which ticks me off because I do like Nationwide. So count one Nationwide fan that has checked out of the viewing audience. And I really don't think I will be the only one.

The Speedgeek

Yeah, but I don't see what they can do to address that right now, like before the start of the season, so I'm just trying to think down the road. The teams can do their part by maintaining stable lineups. When you're swapping drivers and engineers every year, it's impossible to develop the relationships that you need to be able to develop your car. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anybody outside of Jay Penske (and Roger and Chip) is going to bring back his same lineup as last year. So, that aspect is on the teams. And there's just not much that the League can do before the next car comes out to shake things up. Shorter weekends, like Kentucky was, so that there's no time to sort out the setups? Tweak the aero rules on a weekly basis, so that the teams don't know what's allowed until they show up at the track? I don't know.

In the meantime, I'm trying to be optimistic and enjoy the battles where I can. The red cars can and do battle with each other up front. The midfield is a tornado of unpredictability, and occasionally one of those cars gets up near the front. Stories like Sarah's are what it's all about. They'll win one out of maybe 1,000 races against the Chips and Penskes, but top-10s become like wins. I guess I'm just the sort of person that the one weird race or one great race is enough to keep me interested in the sport for another 3 months. I suppose I'm not the one to ask here.

Dylan

Having boring races does kill you when you've only got 17 of them.

Watching the same 4 drivers battle each other isnt' that interseting. Of course, IF Graham Rahal gets a Ganassi ride, that would be a good thing. THe biggest thing to hope for is that Andretti Autosports gets back on form.

The biggest issue with boring races is boring tracks. Look at NASCAR. They have a ton of races in the spring. Fontana, Atlanta, Road Atanta, Charlotte, VIR, Richmond, Sebring, Phoniex, Las Vegas,and Homestead all can be run in the spring, and all would be better races then StPete/Barber/Brazil.

Edward

Dylan:

It's PHOENIX, and INFINIEON. Please use spellcheck.

As I explained to you at your blog-where you posted the same factually challenged points you regurgitate here-some of those tracks aren't on the SCHEDULE-because ISC doesn't want to do anything to benefit IndyCar. Clearly you don't get that.

Pressdog's and the Speedgeek's points are well taken. You don't have any factual evidence to back up your assertion that Brazil and Barber will be boring races. That is your opinion, not a fact. Something that hasn't happened yet can never be a fact.

You are also according to your blog a former NASCAR fan. This may come as a great shock to you, but IndyCar isn't NASCAR. In closing, if you hate IndyCar so much, then go back to watching NASCAR.

And take your friend Chad Paff with you.

Dylan

Wht teh fekc! Eye No howe two Spelle!

Factually challenged? um.... how can Barber possibly be a good event? If Mid Ohio and Sears Point aren't good races, and if they are good bike races, and Barber isn't, then what good can come of it? And again, my biggest problem with Brazil is A. We have plenty of Street races, and b. when what Indycar needs is to grow domesticly, running in Brazil doesn't help. C. there are plenty of good tracks in America that could be an entertaing race.

I also can see, and I can tell the differance between NASCAR and Indycar.

Dylan

Oh, and as I said, I've also been called a champ car crappy. Thats a pretty strange mix, Champ car crappy and NASCAR fan

Trick Dickle

"This may come as a great shock to you, but IndyCar isn't NASCAR."


No, it isn't.

Which is the #1 problem.

rj

"The arrogance of IndyCar is probably its most glaring fault. They do not seem to listen to its fan base AT ALL! Its almost as if they treat its current core fans with disdain while all the time getting coveting the prospect of new fans."

I would like to make the point that George did what the fans wanted by providing free cars and $1.5 million to ChampCar instead of letting the teams in that series go bankrupt, and what did it get him? The ChampCar fans still hated him, the old IRL teams felt slighted, and he got kicked out of the seat of power by his family. So the fans in that case were wrong.

How can Indycar listen to the fans when the fans are at each other's throats over what Indycar is supposed to be? It's very well-established in this country due to the success of NASCAR compared to other forms of motorsport that Americans, which make up the largest part of the potential fanbase for Indycar to be successful, prefer ovals to road courses. Yet a person commenting in this post said Indycar should not follow what most racefans in the U.S. watch and should have more road courses instead. Most racefans want American racing stars, yet anyone brings that up is called a racist. Most fans hate follow-the-leader parades, and one such parade that happened last year on an oval, Richmond, is no longer on the schedule. Yet, St. Petersburg and Belle Isle and other such events are "necessary" because the team owners own these events in an inherent conflict of interest a la ISC and NASCAR. In relation to that, how can these team owners represent what the fans want when they prioritize their interests first?

Bottom line: the Indycar fanbase ranks as one of the dumbest fanbase groups in the world because it so heavily splintered that none of them can enjoy a good race and instead just b*tch to one another all day long. And this is not a recent phenomenon, this has been going on for 15 years! Grab every single Indycar fan, diehard and casual, put them in a room, and have them agree on something other than "we want a good race". If anyone can, I'll be impressed.

Dylan

Dickle, I don't think becoming like NASCAR is the answer either. Notice the 8 hours of Daytona

pressdog

Don't mistake bloggers and forum posters for the fan mass. The vast vast majority of fans don't have blogs, post on forums or read either. I don't think we (posters and bloggers) can say we know what fans really want because we're just at tiny, little sliver of the mass. OF COURSE a business does NOT just blindly implement customer input, but that input helps the business figure out what products will make it the most money. You need to be constantly talking to your customers to get ideas on how to improve, keep their loyalty, attract new customers. It's not so much the how, but the what. What benefits do customers want in return for their time and money? Then you figure out how to deliver those benefits. It's soooooo not easy to do this, but welcome to reality. If you want to make millions and grow your business and rule the world, you gotta figure it out. And cruising a forum or a blog won't hand IndyCar the answers. You won't figure anything out unless you determine what benefits attract and keep the number of customers you want.

Leigh O'Gorman

Do they ever do questionnaires at races to ask a random set of fans what interests them and they would like to see more/less of in amongst a whole pile of other stuff?

Just wondering...

rj

"Don't mistake bloggers and forum posters for the fan mass. The vast vast majority of fans don't have blogs, post on forums or read either. I don't think we (posters and bloggers) can say we know what fans really want because we're just at tiny, little sliver of the mass."

Of course, and guess what American racefans, the ones that don't read blogs on the sport or populate message boards, want Indycar more to be like? Based on viewership numbers: NASCAR. It got proved a week ago that an ARCA race is more popular than an Indycar race, and yet people say "more ovals are not the way to go, American star drivers are not the way to go, we need more St. Petersburgs". I've always believed that Indycar as the premier autosport died when Jeff Gordon went to 1994 because his situation represented everything right with NASCAR and everything wrong with CART/IRL/ChampCar/Indycar. Segments of the fanbase have denied this for 16 years, and now here we stand 16 years later where more people tuned into an ARCA race with Danica Patrick instead of a non-500 Indycar race with Danica Patrick. How many people are going to tune in to Indycar races when there is no Danica Patrick? You think sponsors of other teams haven't asked themselves that question? Robin Miller has stated a few times that the fan club/fanbase of some of the top USAC drivers is higher than everyone in Indycar not named Danica or maybe Castroneves.

You reap what you sow. And the netizens of the Indycar series damn sure sowed it. I had a few people on the SpeedTV forums that used to try to convince me that they would rather race at Belle Isle than Michigan. When your diehard fanbase think like that, no wonder ARCA got a larger rating.

rj

"I've always believed that Indycar as the premier autosport died when Jeff Gordon went to 1994 because his situation represented everything right with NASCAR and everything wrong with CART/IRL/ChampCar/Indycar."

This should say "...when Jeff Gordon went to NASCAR in 1993..."

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