Reporters Notebook

**SHAMELESS PLUG - TUNE INTO "THE BACKSTRETCH" THIS SUNDAY NIGHT (AUGUST 10) FROM 8-11 p.m. ET ON SIRIUS NASCAR RADIO CHANNEL 128. I'LL BE CO-HOSTING THE SHOW AND TAKING YOUR CALLS ON SUNDAY'S RACE AT WATKINS GLEN.

There was actually NFL football on television Thursday night.

While those games don't mean much, the sudden appearance of football means summer is heading to the finish line.

That's depressing for us Midwesterners who know as soon as the kids start waiting at the bus stop to head off to school - winter, cold and yes snow are not far behind.

But despite the imminent climate change, there’s still lots of racing to go in 2008 and as usual the news has been piling up the last few days.

So let's open up the old reporter's notebook and take a quick look at a few of the more interesting items:

• NASCAR has told the Sprint Cup Series teams not to prepare for any wet weather racing this weekend if indeed rain enters into the picture at Watkins Glen. That's the good news. The bad news is the Nationwide Series won't be so lucky.

Despite last week's craziness in Montreal, NASCAR is bound and determined to keep the road racing in the rain going and the number two series will again be the guinea pigs this weekend if necessary.

I've said it before and will say it again, the only thing worse than watching stock cars compete on a road course is to witness it in the rain.

It's like playing basketball on roller skates.

NASCAR in my mind is the premier stock car racing series in the world. It should concentrate on what it does best - oval track racing on a variety of speedways of different shapes and sizes.

Not road courses. And definitely not wet ones.

It reminds me of when McDonald's, who for years did one thing very good - produce hamburgers and sold billions of them - decided it needed to expand its scope.

Suddenly there were pizzas, fried chicken, breakfast burritos and coffee inside the Golden Arches.

Mickey D's wanted to be all things to all people.

NASCAR doesn't have to be. There are road racing circuits who handle that element of the sport very well. The sanctioning body doesn't have to appeal to every race fan in the world.

It should simply do what it's done well for more than 60 years. Run stock cars on predominantly an oval track schedule. When the skies are clear.

• The shuffling of the deckchairs on the Titanic come to mind in the replacement of J.J. Yeley with young Brad Coleman in the No. 96 Toyota. While Coleman has talent and Yeley didn't live up to expectations, it's a tough thing to throw someone inexperienced into the fray. Coleman has road racing experience, but won't even be in the car this weekend at Watkins Glen in favor of P.J. Jones driving the team's car. He'll start next week in Michigan and have an awfully big learning curve to overcome for someone without any Cup Series seat time.

• Martin Truex, Jr.'s decision to stay at DEI is also a bit puzzling. The walls of DEI haven't fallen down but they sure are crumbling and with so many other potential opportunities out there including RCR and Penske Racing, I would have thought Truex, Jr. - who has made no bones about his unhappiness at time with DEI - would have used the opportunity to jump ship. It was a smart move for DEI to lock down their anchor driver, but I think Truex, Jr.'s decision may have been based a bit more on dollars than potential to win.

• The folks in the Kentucky Speedway area are about to explode if reports of SMI bailing on plans to purchase the track come true. Without any chance of bringing or moving a Cup date to Kentucky in 2009 or for the foreseeable future, Bruton Smith's company can walk away from the deal on August 18th. My prediction is SMI does pass on finalizing the purchase and Kentucky remains a Nationwide-truck-IRL destination. By the way Saturday night's IRL visit is a sell-out.

• Hard to figure what the IRL is thinking with its new television contract that puts the Indy 500 and four other races on ABC with the imbalance of the schedule on Versus - a network that is growing but still dwarfs in comparison to the behemoth ESPN, which apparently did not want to pony up rights fees for the balance of the series. I would have thought the unified open wheel world had more value but with ratings still hovering around the 1.0 vicinity, Indy Car racing is still a tough sell. Hopefully the partnership will work out for the league and the new network but I can't help but look back on the fiasco Champ Car-Spike TV marriage of a few years ago.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2008

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