Summer Breeze

As usual, summer is flying by faster than a Morgan Shepherd qualifying lap (actually much faster than that). As I sit on the patio and ponder I can't help but think.....

What a shame it is that New Hampshire not only has two races, but that one of them is part of the "Chase for the Championship." With no disrespect intended to the Bahre family, the Loudon track should not host two Nextel Cup events a season. The track is impossible to pass on and last Sunday's typical parade was another example of why there should only be a single visit to New England. It's hard to believe the series will be going back in less than two months and that the race will be the kick-off to the new championship format. Actually it's even harder to believe that with a year to fix it, NASCAR has the same scenario set-up for the 2005 schedule.

Wonder how Billy Parker, Jr. must feel after Jamie McMurray put a car that was as uncompetitive as any on the Busch Series this year on the pole last weekend at New Hampshire? Another example of a young driver not ready to make the leap from weekly racing to one of NASCAR's top divisions.

If you're a Busch fan, better brush up on your Spanish and French. The cirucit will be going to Mexico City in 2005 and there's a good chance a Canadian venue will also be part of the slate. NASCAR recently opened up a Canadian office and has bought the CASCAR stock car circuit, so the sanctioning body certainly has set its sights on growing north of the border.

NASCAR dodged the green-white-checkered rule last weekend at New Hampshire. When Dale Jarrett punted Rusty Wallace into the wall late in the race, it looked like the new rule would get a workout on the first time out. But the safety crew got things cleaned up in a hurry and a normal green flag finish followed. Fans may like it but the new rule is a disaster waiting to happen. Just ask Rusty, who has made no bones about his dislike for the idea.

It's a lost cause, but why in the name of Emerson Fittipaldi does the IRL and Champ Car schedule races against themselves, but also smack dab in the middle of a NASCAR race. The television ratings are actually getting smaller for each circuit, not a surprise when you continually put your product up against the NASCAR television monster. Milwaukee has lights, why couldn't the IRL race on Saturday evening? Surely that would have drawn more viewers than the deadly 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time start on Sunday. As for Champ Car, I'm not sure it matters.

If you think the Indy Car ratings are bad, check out the World of Outlaws, which is quickly spiraling down the drain. The tape-delayed racing on the Outdoor Network barely registers on the ratings scale. Outlaws fans only hope is the upcoming live telecast SPEED Channel has planned for the Knoxville Nationals. Otherwise the television picture is bleak.

Speaking of television, NBC/TNT has done a stellar job in the first two weeks of telecasting NASCAR racing in 2004. The announcing is solid and the presentation is first class, a far cry from the gimmicks and goofiness FOX throws at fans in the first half of the season. And what a distinct pleasure it is to know we won't have to endure the cries of "B$!%^*, B#*$%^, B^*&((" at the start of a race for nearly six months.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2004

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