Mackena Bell’s road course experience was a short one | NevadaAppeal.com
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Mackena Bell’s road course experience was a short one

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

Mackena Bell’s first road course outing in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East proved to be a short one.

Just two laps into the race the transmission in her Revolution Racing Chevrolet let go, parking her for the day.

Despite the setback, Bell said she thoroughly enjoyed her first taste of road racing.

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Another local driver, who has been sidelined for economic reasons, will be back in action tonight at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. in his first 2010 outing in the NATC-sponsored Late Model Division.

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Speaking of Saturday night racing, there was a lot of talk a few years back when NASCAR began running night races with their three top series. The theory was that race fans would stay home and watch NASCAR instead of going out to their local track on a Friday or Saturday night.

Since then, digital video recorders have become almost universal, so I don’t think the argument holds as much water as it once did. Unfortunately, the sour economy has taken a bite out of both local track attendance and NASCAR. Television ratings for the Camping World Trucks, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup are all down significantly, and you can see big gaps in the stands when you watch the races on TV.

Could it be that a lot of the new fans who have flocked to NASCAR in the last 10 years have reached the end of their attention span and drifted off to other things? That may be the case, and I think that is why NASCAR in recent years has been much more responsive to fan input.

Before, the attitude was, “That’s the way we always did it, and we’re not changing.” The new paradigm seems to be to listen to the fans and use their ideas – the green/white/checker finish and double-file restarts being two cases in point.

And NASCAR Chairman Brian France recently hinted at more changes to the Chase format coming in 2011.

Will it be enough to buck the economy and win new fans? Time will tell.

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One recent event that certainly raised a lot of interest was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win at Daytona last weekend in the No. 3 Wrangler car.

I’ve had people tell me that it was just the tip of the iceberg, that Junior is leaving Hendrick to go to Childress Racing to run the No. 3 in Cup. Junior himself said in victory circle that there would be no more races in No. 3 for him. Of course, there are those cynics who think that Junior’s emotional win with his daddy’s number was just a little too good to be true, and a number of callers to Wind Tunnel last Sunday night wondered if some restrictor plates are less restrictive than others.

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The Formula 1 race on Sunday at Silverstone, may experience a bump in the ratings due to the exposure in the mainstream media from Mark Webber’s horrific crash two weeks ago at Valencia.

I myself exclaimed, “Holy %#&$!” when I saw his car launch into the air, then land and careen full tilt into a tire barrier. Webber walked away from the crash, a tribute to the safety of the modern F1 car.

There is an excellent video, Steve Matchett’s “Chalk Talk” on SPEED.com that shows the safety improvements that have gone into F1 car design in the last 20 years. Of course, Webber will be racing in a spare chassis this weekend, as the one from Valencia is pretty much trashed.

Finally, Danica Patrick has to be feeling particularly schizophrenic these days. Two weeks ago she was in a Nationwide car at Loudon’s 1-mile oval, then last week in an Indy car on the road course at Watkins Glen. Last night she was back in the stock car at Chicagoland’s 1 1/2-mile oval, and next weekend she’ll be on the street course at Toronto in an Indy car.

Yet, she marvels at the Cup drivers who switch back and forth between Nationwide and Cup cars. Go figure.