Random Lugnuts: MWR's Future, The Stewart Storm, and My Own Personal Sponsor Troubles
Topics: Tony Stewart
What is Random Lugnuts? It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan. The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop: you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.
August 1, 2007
Coming into the 2007 season with about 50 teams competing for 43 spots, I had thought it just a matter of time before the slower teams lost sponsors, ran out of money and stayed home, eventually making it easier for the survivors to make the show.
Michael Waltrip Racing is, from all I can read from here, a well-funded team with great manufacturer support. He and Dale Jarrett are great spokespersons who can, even missing the show, get their sponsor more TV time than some of the teams that are in the top 35, and so MWR's managed to hold on to all of its major sponsors. Their reward is now that the first of their competitors has fallen.
While the 15 team is now locked into the top 35, that still leaves the former 13 and 14 cars out of the events. Two less cars competing for 43 spots is a plus for any team not in the top 35 in owner points. Roush will also have to come to Daytona in 2008 minus one car, while other major teams have already maxed themselves out at 4 cars. If NAPA, UPS and Domino's can remain patient, 2008 looks to be a better year for MWR and all the other teams not in the top 35 right now.
Ed Hinton's Sunday prerace column had the title, "A Stewart storm could be brewing." He not only won the race, but did so in a way I've never seen before. He made it look easy at a track that has been heartbreaking for so many talented drivers over the decades. But remember sometimes as one storm passes the next is just on the horizon. And you have to look no further back than second place in Sunday's race to see that Hurricane Juan just might be forming in the distance.
And now a word from our sponsors...
Much to the chagrin of those advertisers who spend millions upon millions of dollars in NASCAR, to put their logo on the car and then millions more to build an advertising campaign around the driver and team, I often don't buy the products of the drivers I follow.
The best example of this is with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. As much as I've criticized him in the past, I do actually like the guy. But I don't drink alcohol, so there's no Budweiser in my cooler. Nor do I buy a lot of merchandise of his. I have a few die cast cars, but nothing with the Budweiser logos. Why? Because the Bud cars that Action can never seem to produce enough of go for prices outside what I'm willing to spend on a die cast car, and the $18 Winner's Circle cars in Wal-Mart are fakes with the JR Motorsports logo in place of the Bud logos. They did, however, make the yellow Nilla Wafers car and the Taco Bell car, and I've added those to my collection. I've also got a lot of Dale Jr. cards in my collection with the Budweiser logos washed out red or replaced with another logo.
So, despite the fact that millions of fans are understandably sad that their collections of red number 8 merchandise will be out-of-date very shortly, I'm kinda excited. I don't use a Sony computer or TV, but I do have a PlayStation 2, so I use one of Sony's products (a little too frequently sometimes, if you ask my wife). Mountain Dew's name was thrown around as a potential sponsor, and I drink that (I brought a cold diet Dew with me to work this morning). Next year I could be able to find affordable die cast Mountain Dew or Sony cars at the local Wal-Mart, the cards won't have their logos edited out of them, and I'll be able to get Dale Jr. stuff for my 2 year old son without wondering how soon it'll be until he asks what Budweiser is, or how I'll have to respond. So I'm looking forward to a new sponsor for Dale's car.
Tony Stewart dedicated his win at the Brickyard to his fans who have to put up with some...stuff...from fans of other drivers. Between this incident and comparing NASCAR to pro wrestling, I can't imagine NASCAR's executives being too happy with Tony. But for the most patriotic of major American sports to stifle the freedom of speech of its drivers is, to borrow Tony's term, bullshit. There's a valid reason Tony compared NASCAR to pro wrestling, and maybe there's something going on in the stands that would make people feel less than welcome at a NASCAR race (I've heard a few stories, but anecdotal evidence tends to be unreliable). In either case, maybe NASCAR should be less concerned with the words and more concerned about why they were said.
The Postrace Show
This year's Governor's Cup events at the historic Milwaukee Mile (August 24-26) includes a reunion of the "Aero Cars:" Superbirds, Torinos and Daytonas. There will also be a reunion of ARCA and USAC drivers, including former USAC and ARCA champion Ramo Stott as grand marshal. For more information, read the press release.
I know many readers will see a farily common multi-part article format here, but the credit for the inspiration really goes to Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times. I used to have little comments and ideas that never really were important enough to rate writing a whole article on, and one day reading Neil's column I just got the idea to put them all together under subititles with a common theme. Thanks, Neil.
For those of you who have comments that you'd like to make to the world of NASCAR fans, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see them in a future column.
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