Thursday, July 13th, 2006 11:35am UTC
By Luke, Thunder Lounge
Published on Thunder Lounge.
[image:365:r:s=1:l=http://thunderlounge.com/articles/nascar/features/the-water-cooler/]This week around the water cooler has been pretty busy. In part from a slew of topics, in part from a lack of something better to do. Some topics such as Ganassi, Toyota, Yates, and the Chase have still been in discussion while a few new topics have been mixed in the conversation. These have included the “bump”, Danica, Juan Montoya, and wondering what Nascar is going to look like in 2016. Always good for a laugh, a rant, and the not so uncommon opinion from left field, this week there was so much discussion it’s difficult to pick out what to print. In the end, a few topics rose to the top.
[thumb:167:r:s=1:l=http://thunderlounge.com/articles/nascar/features/the-water-cooler/]While this has been covered in depth already here, I’ll skip the points already made. What really brings this into perspective, at least for me, was one of my buddies comments. Being a staunch Jr fan, and at times being known to ride the “hater-wagon” for Gordon, it only helped to carry more weight to his point. The point was that Kenseth knew Gordon was coming, and this wasn’t a friendly Sunday drive in the country. Matt was doing everything he could. Could it be possible that one of the reasons he failed to fly off the corner this one time was that he over-drove the car which produced a bad position coming off, and resulted in losing the ability to mash it where he had been previously. Expecting history to repeat itself Gordon mashed it, Kenseth didn’t, Gordon closed to the bumper and lifted, the damage was done as aerodynamics took over.
This kind of plays into my thoughts a bit, at least where the aero part is concerned. At that rate of closure there should have been some kinds of damage. A scratch, a little dent, something. There wasn’t.
[thumb:373:l:s=1:l=http://thunderlounge.com/articles/nascar/features/the-water-cooler/]With Danica’s manager, and father, fishing around the garage last weekend at Chicagoland it certainly stirred up the rumor mill. Add this into the mix when Ganassi announced that Montoya was dumping F1 for Nascar next year and you have one heck of an amount of space for speculation.
Several of the guys couldn’t help but wonder if the drive for the possibility that Danica would make the move from IRL to Nascar wasn’t driven by the Nascar Diversity program. Another perspective was that she is also incredibly attractive, and would bring that appeal to fans. While neither of those can be dismissed, they won’t get her very far in this sport. What Danica brings to the table is talent, first and foremost. The fact that she is also a woman, and an incredibly attractive one at that, is a bonus. There’s just this charisma that surrounds her, and one can not help but to become captivated by her. Her mere presence commands the respect of those around her. Her confidence and that way she presents herself is nothing short of a class act. In a male dominated sport, she can hold her own on and off the track.
While it appears that her venture towards Nascar is simply looking towards the future for possibilities at this time, one never knows. She’s in a contract year, and could make a move if she chose to and the opportunity was right. It would take quite a high caliber team to pull it off, and one that would be willing to sacrifice for a while as she adjusted to the difference in the car. Similar to what Ganassi faces with Montoya. If the team that signs her could weather the storm, the results could be astonishing. I’ll be the first in line for a t-shirt and hat, to add to the IRL versions already in possession.
[thumb:372:r:s=1:l=http://thunderlounge.com/articles/nascar/features/the-water-cooler/]Who saw this one coming? The correct answer: Nobody. Not even Jayski (notice the lack of a date on his posts, they were after the fact). The question is what does this mean for Nascar? It’s huge. Ganassi has captured an F1 star and turned him to the Nascar side. He’s an internationally known face, and one that can help Nascar as they look to the global market in search of fans that want to see close racing, close calls, door to door paint, and lead changes.
What does this mean for Juan and Ganassi? One hell of an uphill battle against the worlds best. F1 is machine vs machine, Nascar is man in machine vs man in machine. Not that Montoya isn’t a talented and accomplished driver. But the cars are different, and there will be a steep and fast learning curve. The upside is that Ganassi knows this, and obviously has convinced the sponsor (assumed to still be Texaco/Havoline) of this situation as well. The results won’t be known for a while, even though the first decent run Juan has will produce headlines along the effects of “Here comes Montoya”, “Montoya is force to be reckoned with”, and the likes. They will hype the driver, with a lack of data. This goes back to the old conversation of are driver’s over-hyped.
Nascar in 2016
[thumb:366:l:s=1:l=http://thunderlounge.com/articles/nascar/features/the-water-cooler/]Finally, with everything that has happened in the last 10 years, and the ever quickening pace of forward deployment of the sport, what will Nascar look like 10 years from now? What tracks will not be on the schedule, what will the schedule look like, what will the cars look like?
These are all interesting questions for obvious reasons. At that point the ISC track in NY should be running, as another ISC track that they are trying to get put together in the Seattle area. In time that area may change slightly, and even who built it, but then again the college of Auburn may hold a secret clue. Yes that is a secretive answer, and one that very few people will piece together. Good luck, it’s going to drive a lot of you nuts trying to figure it out.
In regards to tracks and schedules it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either some sort of split schedule, with divisions that combine for the chase, or some sort of lengthened schedule with a mandatory number of weekends off that the teams must choose. This is a really touchy subject, and one that has been speculated on for a few years. It is one that is also fast approaching as new tracks are being built with Nascar’s top series in mind. Something has to give, and so far it’s been tracks losing dates. This is unacceptable, unjust, and unfair to not only the fans but the teams and sponsors as well. The only realistic approach is to tweak the schedule. I know several fans that have stopped supporting Nascar. They’re response when asked about it is on the surface slightly humorous, but deep down has quite angry roots. The response?
“Are they racing at the Rock again?”
“Nope, not yet.”
“$%!# ‘em then.”
While slightly humorous, it shows that Nascar is on the edge of a cliff. One where they could further do damage to the people that have put them where they are today, or they could keep moving forward in the best interest of the sport. Kicking tracks off the schedule where the racing was incredible is not only ridiculous, it’s bad for the sport. In terms of Rockingham, it was replaced with a second California snooze-fest date. The quality of racing was sacrificed to the large market money whores. In short, ISC sold out to “the man and his money”.
What in the world will the cars look like? By that time the COT, which will see it’s competition debut next season, will either have been replaced or on its way to replacement for yet an even safer car. Technologically, it’s anyone’s guess. On the way there, expect tweaks and changes to the COT as well teams massage and tweak the bodies to make the cars faster. Will it end up with aero problems like the current cars, or will they be solved? If so, to what extent will they be solved? We all came to a basic agreement that there will probably be 3 or so template changes, not including things such as rear spoiler/wing adjustments and the other minor tweaks.
Also we would like to think that the cars would be a little more identifiable to their street counterparts. They still are slightly different now, but not by much. Nascar’s goal has been for each vehicle to be competitive against the others so that one manufacturer didn’t have a distinct advantage and draw teams from the other manufacturers. Chevy has been the dominant force in the manufacturers championship for a long time. However, compare how many teams have to bow tie against the teams with a blue oval or horns. Chevy’s “domination” can be looked at in several ways. First they have the numbers advantage, and therefore better odds. Second, there’s a reason so many teams run the bow ties. Overall, they have been quite competitive for a long time which naturally has produced their large usage base. The two go hand in hand, really. In this respect, it’s one of the reasons Nascar has wanted to keep the cars as close as possible. To keep the manufacturers in check. Nobody wants to keep their brand of car in a series where another manufacturer is killing them week in and week out.
In the end, it was another eventful week around the proverbial water cooler with people that have nothing better to discuss during breaks in the day. The conversation is always lively, and never lacking for a dull moment. Granted a lot of the discussions aren’t “appropriate” for direct quotes, but the spirit is still there none the less. The upcoming weeks are sure to bring about much conversation as summer turns to fall, and season turns to Chase. On the horizon is an RYR announcement at some point in time, an announcement of MWR’s third driver, as well as three other driver’s yet to be named in the Toyota camp. If you’re keeping track, we still don’t know about BDR’s two drivers or the second Red Bull driver. However, one thing is for certain. Red Bull’s second driver certainly isn’t going to be Boris Said.