Nyquil Moves

The savage winter of 03 has finally released the Northeast from its icy jaws yielding to an indeterminate season I can’t call spring. Spring is supposed to be nice in these parts. Instead for the last three weeks we’ve had treetop level slate gray skies, near constant drizzle, unseasonably cool temperatures and teeth chattering winds.

This of course is a perfect breeding ground for some virulent cold virus that has now afflicted just about everyone I know in these parts, myself included. And this isn’t just a run of the mill, “Mike, I’m worried about Marcia. She has the sniffles” grade cold either. This is a butt kicking, head-pounding, monster that makes you uncomfortably aware of the many viscosity’s of mucous and requires the administration of the MOAB bomb of cold medicines, Nyquil to get any sleep. For those who’ve never taken the stuff it’s best administered while you’re in a supine position very close to the facilities so you can crawl when you get the call. It’s also best administered while alone because Nyquil Blue predisposes one to a level of verbosity worse than anything Anheuser- Busch bottles, and dubious philosophical insights into mysteries dark and vast worthy of anything growing in Ken Kesey’s midnight garden. (Leaving one to presume a certain Mr. Joel Stein must have had a keg of Nyquil fed to him intravenously before preparing his on-line comments concerning Jerry Nadeau’s accident while his dog ate his spellchecker.) Here’s some of the stories I’ve been following and things I’ve been contemplating while laying awake on the wrongside of 4 AM after an inadvertent 12 hour Nyquil Blue nap. (Ah, loyal reader, you just knew this ramble would get to racing eventually, didn’t you?)

While the Cat’s Away….- Many of you are painfully aware that last weekend there was no Mother’s Day race. Some extremists wrote that they felt it was about time NASCAR started racing on Mother’s Day weekend. A pox on the lot of you.

Meanwhile a lot of fans tuned into the Busch race from Saint Louis on Saturday and saw something completely unexpected, a race broadcast of ESPN quality for the most part. It didn’t start out well with both Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds doing prolonged Darrell Waltrip (who was absent from the broadcast) imitations culminating in McReynolds appearing to have had skunk roadkill affixed to his scalp. But that was during a rain delay and next to a toddler with a loaded automatic weapon there’s nothing more dangerous than a racing TV crew with a rain delay. More surprising was an insightful and honest piece on the difficulty of running a Busch team in the current economic climate with the parsimonious purses most tracks put up for Busch events. My guess is some of the folks at home in Daytona Beach weren’t too pleased by the candor of that report but a lot of good Busch teams have folded or are in danger of going under due to lack of funding. So what’s the problem? The official line from a NASCAR official was that it wasn’t realistic that even a top running team could get by on their race winnings. Straight from the horse’s orifice, that’s the problem.

The race coverage itself was long on insight and actual discussion of what was going on out there on the track not in the booth. It was notably light on lame attempts at humor that fell flatter than a pre-surgery Sarah Michelle Gellar, a staple of any Waltrip dominated broadcast. There were even very occasional silences when the booth crew felt it was obvious that viewers would understand what they were seeing without being told. It was a race broadcast for race fans not casual viewers surfing by and it was presumed at times a race fan is intelligent enough to understand a bit about race cars without Jim Dandy graphic and heat sinking cameras. There was no sugarcoating things when a driver was clearly at fault for a wreck, and there was even mention of the questionable state of the track at the beginning of the race.

The only serious gaffe during the broadcast occurred on the last lap. Mike Bliss, who had dominated the race, ran out of gas just past the white flag. Suddenly there was an intense battle for a race win that had once seen a foregone conclusion, but while Scott Riggs and David Green battled it out viewers were left watching Mike Bliss’s crew chief bury his face in his hands. I mean most of us could have figured out that a crew chief who runs his driver out of gas while that driver is leading the last lap of the race isn’t going to be hollering “Hooray for me!” so it would have been nice to see the race itself.

But all in all, Saturday’s race coverage was a decided cut above the standards of the FOX/FX folks. My suggestion is that whatever crew was there on Saturday be given all future race assignments while those who weren’t present should be lent to cover FOX’s newest reality show, “Who Wants to Eat Horse Patooties Naked In an Amazonian Mosquito Breeding Swamp to Marry a Lesbian American Idol Millionaire?”

I got a press release that Darrell Waltrip and Elliott Sadler will be on an episode of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” Cable operators north of the Mason-Dixon line will be including subtitles for their viewers.

What He Said- Reigning Trans Am champion (and occasional NASCAR competitor) Boris Said was recently heavily fined and suspended 45 days for using profanity while addressing series officials, complaining about said officials’ officiating, and postulating that there was a lack of parity between various types of vehicles that compete in the series. Wow, that’s positively draconian even by the standards of the NASCAR Mafia. Can you imagine if Winston Cup’s reigning champion was similarly censured last year? Mr. Stewart would probably be returning to racing about the time one of the Bush twins was appointed director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (Which incidentally is a government agency not a one stop shopping center in Texas.)

The Grass is Always Greener?- Eleven races into the season DEI and RCR reacted to under-performing teams by doing what amounted to a driver swap involving Jeff Green and Steve Park. In Green’s case the seat came with a thinly veiled warning that he better start producing right off the bat. It was noted he’s in the 1 car until September. And what is significant about September? After Dover this month this Busch series schedule switches by and large from companion events to Cup races to separate races which allow for the all too rare occurrence of a Busch series driver actually winning one of that series’ races rather than a Winston Cup interloper. Come September the Busch and Cup series fall back into virtual lockstep, meaning one driver could compete in both series without wearing out an airplane. The folks at DEI must have an eye on someone in the Busch series (Shane Hmeil?) as a possible replacement driver for the 1 team if Green doesn’t pass muster.

Track officials announced it is unlikely the Homestead-Miami track will get the proposed makeover to add more banking to the corners prior to this season’s race weekend which features the final event of all three top NASCAR touring series. In a related note, it is unlikely any one of those three races will be worth a damn this year. Tickets are still available. Go figure.

That Ain’t My Truck- Ultra Motorsports announced plans to field a third truck for the inaugural Charlotte Craftsman truck series race this weekend. Originally it was announced that Greg Biffle, the 2000 series truck champion, would be at the wheel. Not so fast. The Ultra entry is a Dodge Ram and Biffle races Fords for Jack Roush. Jack was OK with the idea, but Ford was not. So it was announced Jimmy Spencer would be at the wheel of the truck. Not so fast. Spencer bruised his ribs in a Richmond crash and was unable to test the truck so the team rescinded the offer. As of this moment Jeremy Mayfield is slated to drive the truck this Friday. Has anyone considered painting the truck brown and having Dale Jarrett take the wheel? I hear the Governor of North Carolina is looking for a ride. You know a series is in trouble when they can’t find a Winston Cup driver willing to come in and cherry-pick the purse money.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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