COT Produces Another Snoozer At Dover, FOX TV Bids Tearful Goodbye

Charlotte, NC – We’re slowly coming to the conclusion that NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow is a dud.

Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Dover was another in what is becoming a long line of non-competitive, tedious events this season as there was little passing or competitive racing. At the checkered flag, there were just six cars on the lead lap.

Can you say yawner?

It would be easy to contend that Dover can present less than compelling races. Over the years, the ‘Monster Mile’ has created some of NASCAR’s epic snoozers. Four hundred laps on a one-mile track usually creates plenty of riding time, not competitive racing. Sunday’s event was no different in that respect.

We’re not saying Dover doesn’t’ provide good races. Sunday’s event just wasn’t one of them as driver after driver complained about the new car and tire combination. In short, the cars just didn’t have any grip. When cars don’t grip the racetrack – mechanically or aerodynamically – they just slide around and provide little racing.

Teams have done everything they can within the rules to give the new cars a greater ability to turn. The latest measure over the last month or so – positioning the rear end and wheels out of square – has the cars literally racing sideways down the track. Of course, NASCAR immediately made a new rule to limit the amount of ‘crabbing’ a team could do with the rear end.

Not only is the racing part of the COT equation suffering, but the cost of running the cars has proven to be higher than anticipated to the teams. NASCAR’s exacting standards or certifying the chassis and body measurements of each car has made virtually all crashed COT cars a throwaway.
In the past, if a car was wrecked, it got a new front clip or rear stub, some body work, and it was back to the racetrack. Now, COT cars are being tossed because it is easier for the teams to submit a new car for competition rather than fix the old one making it conform to the NASCAR laser-based chassis certification process.

Not much of a savings there.

Thanks to multiple safety improvements versus the old generation NASCAR racer, we banged the drum long and hard for the new COT car. We still think the car has promise as a racer, but after a string of sorry, non-competitive. And dare we say boring events, we’re starting to rethink or position on the COT.

We’re also concerned about the fact the less than competitive car is making its way into the Nationwide Series next year. Shouldn’t this car be totally proven as a competitive racer before it is funneled down to NASCAR’s second division?

NASCAR has been right in the past on a lot of new direction initiatives over the last couple of decades. Because of that, it has grown into the pre-eminent form of motorsports is North America and arguably, the world. Unless they can make the new car a better, more raceable, and ultimately, a more watchable product, that lofty perch is in jeopardy.

Dover Rewind –
In case you snoozed off before the end of the race Sunday at Dover, Kyle Busch won his fourth Cup event of the season. That gives ‘the Shrub’ 10 total wins this season – four in Cup, four in Nationwide, and two in Trucks.

Like him or not, Busch appears to be the only driver able master of all three vehicles in 2008. Certainly, no one has come close to matching his accomplishments this season. Busch’s persona as the latest NASCAR villain has only heightened his exposure with the fans. His routine of exiting the vehicle and taking a big bow on the front stretch after a victory is a classic ‘take this and shove it’ move.

Frankly, we love it – even if a lot of fans don’t. Busch’s accomplishments and antics this season are entertaining at worst and entertainment is something that has been in short supply in Cup this year. Thank goodness Busch is there to give things a little spice.

So Long To FOX –
No regrets here as FOX signed off yesterday handing off the remainder of the 2008 television coverage to NBC.

It’s been another season of missed restarts, wrong calls, and just plain bad race coverage for FOX. This year, incessant self promotion highlighted by the inane ‘Digger’ animated character only served to reduce the FOX telecasts to their worst since coming on the NASCAR television scene in 2001.

Sunday’s FOX sign off was complete with a tearful goodbye from the broadcast crew. We were crying on this end too, but it was tears for joy knowing we didn’t have to listen to Ol’ DW hog call another start to a race this season, Larry Mac mangle the English language for another minute, or Chris Myers try to pretend he actually knows something about auto racing.

While we can’t say NBC will be any better, it’s clear the FOX NASCAR telecasts can’t get any worse. Both networks – along with NASCAR – might want to take a long look at the ESPN/ABC IndyCar telecasts. Those programs, featuring clear, concise reporting and the ‘side-by-side’ visual concept where the fan never misses a single restart or lap, are far superior to anything NASCAR’s television partners are currently producing.

That said, welcome NBC. The ball is in your court.

One The Mend –
Here’s a shout out to best buddy and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series official Bryon Dopkins,
Dopkins, who flags the Truck events, suffered a collapsed lung while working the Truck Series tech line Thursday. He was taken to a Dover hospital where he is to have surgery Monday morning to fix the problem.

Hang in their B – you’ll be back on the flagstand in no time.

Sad News –
Veteran NASCAR track announcer and media personality Bill Connell passed away Saturday morning. Connell was a legend in the early days of NASCAR media as the track announcer at Charlotte (now Lowes) Motor Speedway for 34 years. His booming voice and laugh filled untold hours of programming on syndicated radio broadcasts.

In the 1990’s Connell produced and hosted his own television show – The Pros In Motorsports. Over the years, Connell became synonymous with the sport appearing in multiple NASCAR related movies such as The Last American Hero and Stroker Ace.

Connell was a major fixture in NASCAR when this writer broke into the sport in the mid 1980’s. Throughout my career, Connell showed me great courtesy in giving me direction and accommodating drivers I represented airtime on his programs.

A total throwback to the early days of NASCAR, Connell’s passing leaves one more open seat at the table to racing’s past.

Our condolences go out to his son Mark, and the rest of the Connell family, on their – and NASCAR’s – loss.

Share Button