Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 10, 2010

NASCAR’s Jump The Shark Moment

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:23 am

March 9, 2010 is the day NASCAR went from legitimate to a joke. Helton and crew have turned the whole deal into the Charlestown Chiefs. Carl Edwards, the bipolar acting lunatic who tried to kill Brad Keselowski and possibly many others in a grandstand had the heavy car Edwards caused to go airborne ripped through the fence, got let off with probation. Huh? The guy was 150 laps down and chased down Keselowski, who was going for a top 10 finish, to crash him.

If I was running NASCAR and did not wear panties, I would have put Edwards on the sideline for at least ten races. It is really sad. I honestly thought NASCAR’s jump the shark moment might have waited a couple of more years. They have to do something though. The New York Times ran a story last Sunday about NASCAR’s falling ratings, attendance and sponsorships.

NASCAR basically announced a ‘let boys be boys’ policy this season, and if this Edwards stunt is just the beginning the rest of the season seems foreboding. I hope no one gets killed.

Speaking of the possibility of someone getting killed, the Formula 1 gimmick of the year is no fueling during pitstops. You have to make it on one tank of fuel. That means the tanks are bigger. I was at Indy in 1964 and saw what freak accidents involving full fuel tanks can do. I hope F1 gets through the season safely.

Despite the usual hysterical shrieking by the IRL obsessed again this season, 24 cars are going to start the Brazil deal, and more are expected by the time they roll into St. Pete. We’ll see. It has been said the IZOD Indy Car Series is going to target young makes between 12 and 30, which is pretty smart. Most of that demographic are too young to have paid much attention to cart, and with Bernard and crew poised to punch out the message, attracting a crop of fans not plagued by split politics seems sound. Those of us who far pre-date the inception of cart may feel left out, but that’s OK. Indy Car MUST go after an audience younger than us pre-cart diehards. I do not know whether there is an official stance regarding those who believe cart was the be and end all, but as far as I am concerned they can either start acting like fans since they follow every second anyway or just go away.

Given recent desperation by NASCAR right now seems like a golden opportunity to widen the appeal of Indy Car once again.


  1. Eh. I still don’t absolutely hate NASCAR; one can stand it as long as one doesn’t think of it as racing. I do pretty much mostly like the road course races and races at tracks < 1.5 miles, but yeah, that no-call was ridiculous, considering Kurt Busch was stripped 100 points for driving recklessly on pit road (and not even hitting anything), and drivers lost points for swearing, etc…

    I think it jumped the shark long ago though. The choice would either be 1998 or 2004.

    The actual racing deteriorated sharply in 1998. In 1997, there were still a bunch of classic (relatively pure) races: Daytona 500 (Gordon's pass on the apron/Earnhardt grittily finishing the race), both Darlington races (great duels between Jarrett/Musgrave and Gordon/Burton), Ernie Irvan's comeback win at Michigan, and several others.

    I vote that NASCAR jumped the shark in '98 because:

    1. The 5-and-5 rule pretty much created the "dreaded aero push".
    2. A two-door Ford Taurus was introduced, which in addition to the '95 Chevrolet Monte Carlo made the idea of these cars being stock completely laughable
    3. NASCAR introduced all sorts of hype like the 50th Anniversary, NASCAR's Night in Hollywood, etc… that started to take precedence over the races themselves.
    4. More and more generic tracks were introduced.
    5. After Ernie Irvan was fired from Yates for not being corporate enough, all the other drivers were scared into not showing their true selves.
    6. NASCAR introduced the "phony red flag" at the spring Richmond race, which was a classic entertainment-wise, but a farce in terms of real racing.
    7. That was around the time pretty much all the single-car teams and owner-driver operations were folding, leading to the major mega-operations…

    Still, the 1998-2003 period wasn't TOO different from the classic period of 1985-1997.

    You could easily pick 2004 for the JTS moment due to the following:

    1. The chase – How do you improve a horrific points system that rewards the driver best able to make seventh place finishes? By requiring drivers to only have to do so for the last ten races, thinking that will somehow make the title race closer, when that hasn't proven to be the case yet.
    2. The lucky dog – I must admit I don't hate this, although most fans do. It is much, much better than leaders slamming on the brakes to let their teammates back on the lead lap and frequently letting ten or more cars past to do so, which was the norm around 2000 or so.
    3. Scoring loops – I do like the idea, but I think NASCAR isn't competent enough to use them correctly.
    4. Green-white-checkered – I liked it in the trucks, but that ship has sailed. It sucks and needs to be eliminated.
    5. At least two or three completely incompetent races a year as a result of the impact of green-white-checkered and scoring loops combined.
    6. Inconsistent penalties became a more and more consistent occurrence.

    Either way, NASCAR jumped the shark waaaay before 2010. I don't agree with lots of other bloggers calling it N-Word as I think that is rather childish, but yeah, it's seen better days. Pretty much all the racing leagues have (but I'm not saying the best IndyCar period was the mid-'90s, I'd say late '60s/early '70s). It's hard for me to think of one that is in its prime now…

    Comment by Sean — March 10, 2010 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  2. I still believe Edwards was trying to alter the outcome of the race and it would not shock me if he did it under orders. Juan Pablo was closing fast and would have won under green.

    Also, NASCAR now has additional footage to show over and over again of a flying car to go with their Talladega piece. ESPN keeps playing it over and over. And on Pardon the Interuption, the ESPN show, the picture of Danica that was so clear in the backgroung during her NASCAR stint has now been obscured by different different camera angles.

    NASCAR and ESPN must think people are stupid.

    Comment by Mike Miller — March 10, 2010 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  3. Sean pretty much nailed it, but I would also add NASCAR’s Top 35 rule, as well as the decision to take a race away from Darlington , South Carolina, to give to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, which, despite NASCAR’s spin to the contrary, has been a big mistake.

    And, yes, Mike, NASCAR and ESPN DO think people are stupid.

    Comment by Thesmartestguyintheroom — March 10, 2010 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  4. Regarding the columnist’s comments on the “no fueling” policy in F1–I, too, was at Indy in 1964, in fact, the Sachs-MacDonald accident took place right in front of me. It was horrible, and it wouldn’t have been as bad if there hadn’t been so much fuel on board either vehicle. I guess the F1A thinks that because they aren’t using gasoline like such was the case at Indy in 1964, everything will be okay in the event of an accident. We’ll see.

    Comment by DOUG ALBORN — March 10, 2010 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

    • You should also weigh the dangers involved with actually fuelling the cars. For a solid decade before 1994, refuelling was banned, and I don’t think I’ve seen much footage (if any at all) of giant fires from that period. Meanwhile, 1994 to 2009 featured at least a half-dozen pitlane fires, resulting from fuel rigs malfunctioning or drivers leaving their pit with the rig still attached. I think the refuelling ban is long overdue, simply for the increase in safety.

      Oh, Sean’s right on all of that stuff above. Edwards is an idiot, and NASCAR is setting a very bad precedent by not penalizing him.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — March 10, 2010 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

      • Oh, and one thing that I forgot: fuel cell technology has come a long way since 1964, and a lot of that innovation was because of the Sachs/MacDonald wreck. Cells are a whole lot better at keeping the fuel inside nowadays, so I think it’s a far better idea to not have the quick connect off the side of the thing which just provides a place for fuel to come out more easily, especially when a fuel probe is going in or coming out. The F1 teams will be able to have a more “permanent”, better sealed opening for filling at a slower rate in the garage area, not during race conditions. Also, having to start with all of your fuel on board puts a premium on fuel economy, because the less fuel you have to power your engine, the less you have to accelerate, stop and make go around corners. That’s a plus for technology that could be applicable for road cars, which is a very good thing.

        Comment by The Speedgeek — March 10, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

      • A lot more than half-a-dozen I’m afraid Speedgeek. I think the stats say it was something like at least 2-3 pit fires in F1 per year – most were innocuous and put out quickly, but it was still a constant occurrence.
        I love the idea of getting back to no refuelling in F1 – it might teach drivers that they have to pass on track as opposed to waiting for all the stops.

        Comment by Leigh O'Gorman — March 11, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  5. Thanks, Speedgeek–you’ve taught me a lot. I didn’t know about all that fuel cell tech and how it’s improved in the past forty-odd years. You’ve done your homework, dude.

    Comment by DOUG ALBORN — March 11, 2010 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

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