Thursday, July 9, 2015

Post #MAVTv500 & #CokeZero400 Superspeedway Event Observations

Ryan Briscoe has a moment of personal conversation with his helmet as he prepares to be a competitive factor in the MAVTv500 superspeedway five-hundred mile race held at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday June 27th. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

Post #MAVTv500 & #CokeZero400 Superspeedway Event Observations

This was NOT a good week for ‪#‎NASCAR‬. Last week they ask fans not to fly the ‪#‎ConfederateFlag‬ and we see more Rebel Flags at Daytona International Speedway than we have seen in years.

They pull the hard cards of the crew guys who should have been celebrated as heroes for rushing to help Austin Dillon after his crash and have to explain they just wanted to talk to them, they will not fine them at all.

Subway is the presenting sponsor of the Xfinity Series race and is at Daytona ... this week Jared, the face of Subway advertising, had his home raided as part of a child pornography investigation.

But all of this serves as a distraction to the real issue at hand - Pack Racing.

Pole sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. held off the pack (a very good view of the definition of "pack racing") to win the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.  Earnhardt led 96 laps en route to his second win of the season.  Jimmie Johnson finished second, while Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch completed the top-five. Image Credit: NASCAR via

This weekend's heavily promoted race on NBC at Daytona, the Coke Zero 400, was delayed from its normal broadcast window and pushed way past midnight on the West coast was won by Dale Earnhart Jr. in a journeyman display of restrictor plate, raceline control, superspeedway PACK RACING.

If it were not for a couple of incredibly hairy Pack Racing crashes where everyone survived and about three spectators (it could have been a lot worse) were injured due to debris from a car flying into the catch fence ... the race was a total bore as are most NASCAR oval racing restrictor plate events.

The week before, a race that was also on a NBC broadcasting property (NBCSN), but not heavily promoted, the Verizon IndyCar Series held a race at Auto Club speedway.

The MAVTv500 would have been a good news event for the series if the race was able to draw spectators because the racing was anything but just a pack of cars playing "Follow The Leader" behind a very experienced driver/tactician. The product on the track and the lack of spectators attending the event show a dichotomy of efforts between the teams and drivers versus the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) management.

The product is the best it may be in years from top teams to the bottom of the points paying order ... this may be the most professional and talented to ever be assembled - the VICS management, however, may be the second worse ever (2015 explained here) with the worst management team being the last years of the Tony George regime, many of whom occupy positions in this current management team.

No.5 Ryan Briscoe (L) and eventual MAVTv500 winner No.15 Graham Rahal approach the Auto Club Speedway Start/Finish line side-by-side as a sparse crowd witnesses one of the best, most competitive races held in the annuals of open-wheel racing - world record 83 changes for the lead. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

This reaction to the MAVTv500 was posted by a friend of a longtime NASCAR fan on Facebook - this reaction has to see the light of day:

Geoff Gray (posted to facebook timeline)

One of my best and oldest friends came to visit us for the fourth of July weekend. He is a good ole boy NASCAR fan from Arkansas. We got to having a drink or two with dinner and he asked me what all this "business" was regarding "those crying tea and crumpet" Indycar whiners ... I told him that I had recorded the race so just sit back and watch. His response was the NASCAR fan typical "Why would I want to watch follow the leader IndyCar racing?" crap but I was able to convinced him regardless...

To say the least , from the drop of the green flag he was transfixed ... after 20 laps he was cheering and had already decided on a driver he wanted to see win ... Merican of course ... by the end of the race he was on his feet cheering on the race like a true fanatic. And then .... yup ... the after race whining began ... the Wheldon name was slung about wrecklessly as though there were even some semblance to that tragic day at all. 

Then my friend pointed out, most astutely pointed out, that:

(1) This not even remotely "pack racing" like them-thar "restrictor races" as there were rarely any one following or side by side for any length of time at all! In fact most of the time they were jumping out of line to actually pass one another!

(2) Don't these guys get paid a lot of money to do just that?

(3) Why wasn't there anyone there in them grandstands?

(4) Was it because it was a 500 mile race scheduled to run in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer?!?!?

(5) Who the hell was officiating when that fuel buckeye got ripped off .... Ain't that a penalty? It ain't like Rahal couldn't have made the time up ... hell, that crazy Brisco guy got a "drive through" and damn near won ifn' he didn't get wrecked!!!

(6) By the way ... I kinda like that Brisco guy ... he was Mr Spectacular and didn't cry boo after the race ... now that's a driver ... he oughta' drive NASCAR!

At the end of evening my good friend said to me " That was probably one of the best races I ever saw ... Maybe the best ... Ya'll got a good thang goin' there if they keep on drivin' like that and the management would shut those clowns up"! "Yup ya got a good thang goin there ... just dont tell anybody" ...


Long Time Coming: Rahal, Andretti Names Share Podium Again: Drivers with two of the most recognizable surnames in IndyCar racing shared the podium following the exciting MAVTv500 at Auto Club Speedway on June 27, when Graham Rahal won and Marco Andretti finished third (Tony Kanaan in P2). Surprisingly, it's the first time in their Indy car careers that the two - who each now drive for teams owned by their fathers - have celebrated together in Victory Circle. The last meeting on the podium for a Rahal and an Andretti was Sept. 1, 1996, in the Molson Indy Vancouver street-course event. Marco's father, Michael, won that day and Graham's dad, Bobby, finished second. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Inside the box score - MAVTv500: Numbers to note following the MAVTv500 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval - the 11th round of the Verizon Indy Car Series season:

6 - Positions gained by Stefano Coletti in the final 25 laps of the race (18th to 12th). ... Podium finishes in his last seven starts at Auto Club Speedway by Tony Kanaan, who was the race runner-up.

7.77 - Average running position of winner Graham Rahal for the 250 laps.

14 - Drivers who led at least one lap, the most to lead a race at Auto Club Speedway since November 2001, when a track-record 19 drivers led.

18 - Positions improved by Rahal (19th to first), most of any of the 23 starters.

21 - Indy car wins for cars owned by Bobby Rahal, who won 24 times as a driver.

74 - Top-three career finishes by Kanaan, tying Rick Mears for 13th on the all-time Indy car list.

76 - Laps in which rookie Sage Karam improved his position, most of any driver.

80 - Lead changes in the race, an Indy car record. The previous was 73 at Auto Club Speedway in November 2001.

124 - Starts between Indy car victories for Graham Rahal, the longest streak between wins by an Indy car driver. The previous record was 97 starts between wins held by Johnny Rutherford.

244 - Consecutive starts by Kanaan, extending his all-time record.

2,537 - Total on-track passes for position. Kanaan had 204 (in 250 laps), most of any driver.

3,173 - Total on-track passes. Of the 6,248 total on-track passes this season, 51 percent occurred in the MAVTV 500.
(ht: VICS)

As the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to race on "the oldest speedway in the world" known as the Milwaukee Mile, let's hope that the attendance gap closes up so that folks can actually witness competitive open-wheel racing on a flat oval venue and come away with the appreciation for the toughest competition in motorsport. NBCSN Race Broadcast - Sunday, July 12, 2015 - 5:00pm ET.

Regardless, it is still time for a change in management to one that actually has someone who drove a car in competition as opposed to a committee of people who occupy Race Control who make most of their decisions, post race, in a vacuum of direct competitive track knowledge driving in open-wheel cars.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: #MAVTv500, @ACSUpdates, Auto Club Speedway, Brian Barnhart, Country Club, Derrick Walker, Mark Miles, MAVTV 500, Race Control, The EDJE, Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR, Coke Zero 400, Daytona, Pack Racing

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