Nextel’s Saturday specials
May 21, 2005
Why does NASCAR continue to run Saturday night races, like last night’s Nextel Challenge “Racing Entertainment” event?
Doesn’t it know that this column runs on Sunday morning, and I have to have my copy to the editor before the green flag flies on Saturday night? I mean, if I make a prediction and it appears before the race, and I’m wrong . . . well, that’s OK. It happens to dozens of racing prognosticators. But if I make a prediction here, you’ll be reading it AFTER the race, and I’ll look like an even bigger idiot than usual! That said, I hope Jeff Gordon won so the prediction I’m not making will come true.
Last week I was faced with a similar situation, Indy Pole Day. Fortunately (for me), Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was rained out, so this space was left relatively unscathed. As you already know if you watched yesterday’s qualifying (weather permitting), defending Champion Buddy Rice will be on the sidelines this year due to practice crash injuries. Ironically, the man he replaced after a near-fatal crash, Kenny Brack, will now replace Rice.
I’m not sure, but I think that qualifies for the Guinness Book of Records. Today will be “Bump Day,” provided there are any car/driver combinations left to try and qualify. The new rules this year give virtually unlimited attempts, due to the fact that there are barely 33 cars and drivers on hand to qualify. Of course, with the new qualifying rules, a team can abandon its grid position and re-run as many as 3 times today. Will that happen? Who knows? As Dave Despain of SPEED Channel recently remarked, the 800 pound gorilla of open-wheel racing in America is on its way to being reduced to an organ grinder’s monkey.
Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his first Craftsman Truck win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Friday night. The Truck series always provides good, close, exciting racing, and Friday night’s race was no exception. The series is unique in its combination of young upwardly mobile drivers and a cadre of Nextel Cup veterans.
And the four manufacturers in the series (Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, and Toyota) appear to have reached the parity that NASCAR holds so dear. Late in the race all four makes were represented in the top four positions. Of course, the race ended with the now almost-mandatory green-white-checker finish.
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I spoke with Les Kynett of Champion Speedway on Friday to get his comments on the future of asphalt oval racing in Carson City. Although Kynett hopes that Champion will have another season after 2005, it’s by no means a sure thing. Kynett has submitted a proposal to the city to put a major Motorsports facility east of Carson City near the Lyon County line, adjacent to the Carson City landfill. This is the same piece of BLM land also being coveted by two other entities for the same purpose.
City officials are working with BLM to get the land ceded to Carson City, and then all bids would be considered before awarding the land to one of the three for development of a racing facility. Kynett hosted a visit by officials from both NASCAR and USAC in March, and he reports that they were impressed with the potential of the site. Right now, the ball is in Mayor Marv Texiera’s court, but in my estimation the best case scenario for racing at whatever facility gets built and by whom is at least four years down the road.