Pressing Topics

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The email inbox has been humming the last few days with a flurry of press releases.

It's somewhat of an occupational hazard to receive as many releases as we do in this business and truth be told, not all of the news that comes from this avalanche of information sticks.

However a few recent items sure did including:

NATIONWIDE RACE BUMPED FROM ESPN2
Friday night's Nationwide race at Richmond has been given the boot off of ESPN2 because of the network's commitment to the NBA playoffs. With three post-season games to televise Friday night across ESPN and ESPN2, the network was forced to make a last-minute shift of Friday night's NASCAR round to - get this - ESPN Classic and SPEED.

Commitment is the key work here because obviously ESPN's is clearly with the stick and ball NBA.

This kind of maneuvering was a fear brought up by many when ESPN got back into the NASCAR world. With so many major league sports properties, there were concerns by some that NASCAR would take a backseat much of the time.

We've seen college football force viewers to miss starts of races but I believe this is the first full pre-emption.

Unfortunately many fans don't get ESPN Classic or SPEED because their cable outlets don't carry either network.

So one of the best races of the year will be relegated to a smaller potential audience, unfortunate since the Nationwide Series is coming off record ratings for last Saturday's Talladega round.

Maybe your scorn shouldn't be aimed completely at ESPN if you indeed can't watch Friday's race, but at the NBA, which for some reason has a post-season schedule that finds three games being played pretty much all at once.

Wonder what Brad Daugherty will be watching Friday night?

NEW CHARLOTTE DRAG STRIP NAMED
When Bruton Smith and SMI announced plans to build a state-of-the-art drag strip next to Lowe's Motor Speedway, the drag racing world went wild.

What better way to showcase the series to auto racing-centric Charlotte fans than with one of SMI's patented Taj Mahal motorsports facilities?

Part of the announcement was a contest for fans to name the new facility.

We finally have a winner and it cost me a new monitor, because when I read it I immediately spewed coffee.

The winning name was ZMax Dragway at Concord.

I'm not kidding.

The release reads: After an exhaustive review of 4,365 entries in a naming contest for Lowe's Motor Speedway's new dragway, Speedway Motorsports officials have selected zMAX Dragway @ Concord as the official name for the state-of-the-art facility.

"We were overwhelmed by the response from race fans," said Bruton Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. "They suggested everything from Burnout Boulevard to The Southern Slingshot to The Main Drag. Two people entered zMAX Dragway and we're going to reward both of them."

Now the fact that a corporate name was part of any suggested entry from a fan is laughable. And even if it were, you have to believe the two winners are employed by ZMax.

Oh did I mention ZMax is a subsidiary of SMI?

Listen, I love what the folks at Lowe's Motor Speedway and SMI do to promote, publicize and market races, but even they have to realize this one is pretty tough to swallow.

And for the record, I absolutely love Burnout Boulevard.

SHORT TRACK OPENER RESCHEDULED
This one may not sound like a biggie, but to me it exemplifies everything that is wrong with and hurting short track racing around the country.

When Wisconsin's Slinger Super Speedway was forced to postpone its season opener on April 27th because of rain, the date chosen was the following Sunday afternoon, May 4th.

Unfortunately that's the exact same day as the second ASA Midwest Tour race of the season slated at nearby Madison International Speedway (which by the way will include Kyle Busch in action), a date that has been on the calendar since the schedule was released back in February.

To be fair, Slinger was going to run a regular show the afternoon on the 4th anyway, but why? Both events are going after many of the same drivers, teams and most importantly fans.

Wouldn't it have been better for all involved to maybe slide the race to a night affair? Sure it's a little chilly in Wisconsin in early May, but I could have sworn I saw those same state fans dressed in parkas and hats for the bone-chilling NFC Championship game in February.

I'm not trying to pick on anyone, I enjoy my annual mid-summer trips to both tracks, and unfortunately this scenario plays out many times each year around the country But promoters have to work together in this day and age or the short tracks will soon be gone the way of the drive-in movie or $3 a gallon gas.

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