CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Column by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — NHMS photo —
Race fans, I have to admit, this weekend in racing was a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion.
There were a few things that were great, there were some things that I wasn’t impressed with and then there were some things that were just downright ugly.
It took a little bit of time, but I’ve whittled the weekend down to one item in each category that stood out. Take a look below in this week’s edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Good — The FIA Retires No. 17 in Honor of Jules Bianchi
Thank you, Formula One. You finally did something noble for a change.
While there may be someone far crazier than there needs to be in charge of the series (I believe our Senior Editor, Tom Baker, refers to those kinds of people as “cuckoo clocks”) I have to applaud the touch that Jean Todt and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (known to commoners as the FIA, the sanctioning body for F1) gave today by permanently retiring the No. 17 in honor of the late Jules Bianchi.
For those who may not know, Bianchi passed on Saturday from injuries sustained nine months ago in the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit. I know that for a long time, fans and friends alike had hoped he would recover from his injuries and awaken from his long coma, but ultimately it was not to be. I was surprised at how shocked I was personally at hearing the news late on Saturday, because for a while I had geared myself to expect the worst and hope for the best, but I think we were all holding onto that last shred of hope that Jules might come back to us.
As it is, I am of the opinion that any time that a racer is killed in the course of action, such consideration of retiring the number must at least be discussed in their honor. As far as NASCAR goes, yes, you can bring up the No. 3 debate all you want, but NASCAR is a far bigger fraternity than F1 is and has a much larger pool of numbers that must be used for their fields.
While I don’t advocate retiring a number in NASCAR when a driver is killed as I do in other forms of motorsport, I do think that a predetermined hiatus (five years, for example) would be appropriate before returning the number to the general pool or to the team that last used it. In F1’s case, there are far less drivers to worry about selecting numbers and I feel the step was a positive one.
We don’t know how great Jules’ career might have been if he had lived, but there are far too many who agree he was taken far too soon and never got a chance to show us just how capable a driver he truly was. (Remember Monaco 2014, if you need an example.)
Thank you, Mr. Todt. You did the right thing to honor a young man who brought a bright spirit to F1 and whose memory will live on in our hearts for years to come. #ForzaJules
The Bad — NASCAR’s New Hampshire Stop Falls Flat in Excitement
We went from one of the most exciting NASCAR races I personally have ever seen last week in Kentucky, to a race this weekend that was an absolute snooze-fest in Loudon.
While Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were slicing and dicing for the lead inside the final 20 laps and Busch, along with teammates Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin, battled three-wide for the top spot in the Bluegrass State one week ago, the most exciting thing that happened on Sunday was Busch nearly taking out Brad Keselowski en route to getting his lap back late and going on to win for the third time in the past four races.
Other than that, you had debris cautions (with water bottles on the apron that NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said the sanctioning body was “going to address” (but really, why?) and Alex Bowman catching fire after a blown tire on pit road. You didn’t have many, if any, real quality passes for the lead once Busch and Keselowski established themselves out front and there was no drama in the closing laps once Busch’s strategy paid off.
It was a dud of a race, quite simply.
We saw what a new rules package can do for the racing action. We’re going to (hopefully) see it again this weekend with a high-drag package at Indianapolis whose goal is to compress the pack and make for slingshot passing and closer racing at a track that traditionally hasn’t been all that entertaining in the past.
New Hampshire is one of those tracks that has been lackluster, at best, in regards to entertainment value over the years. It needs some spice. It needed it on Sunday.
Unfortunately for those of us watching, it didn’t have that at all.
The Ugly — Brickyard 400 Coverage Airs on NBCSN Sunday Afternoon
NASCAR. NBC. Are you KIDDING ME???
I don’t care that I get NBCSN on my television, and I will have no problems watching this Sunday’s Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard live. (Wow, that’s a mouthful. They should have just left it alone and kept calling it the Brickyard 400, but that’s a debate for another day.)
The fact of the matter is this: NASCAR’s end-of-July classic is one of the five crown jewels that the sport has to offer, along with the Daytona 500, Southern 500 (moved back to Labor Day this year for the first time in over a decade), Coca-Cola 600 and spring Talladega race — all part of the original “Grand Slam” that NASCAR instituted as part of the Winston Million program in the mid-1980s.
A crown jewel race should NEVER air on a subsidiary channel as opposed to being on network television.
This is a problem that has started this year with the new television contract, with a horde of XFINITY and Cup races moving to FOX and NBC’s versions of ESPN (FS1 and NBCSN, respectively). While I’m not as incensed with the NXS races being out of the mass public’s eye — because let’s face it, no matter how much NASCAR and the TV networks say that these channels have the reach of their network counterparts, they don’t — a premier series event, at the very least, should never be somewhere where a group of fans can’t see it because they don’t get the channel.
I’ve said before that pay TV will play a big part in both killing off the loyal fanbase that NASCAR has spent the past six decades building and preventing that fanbase from expanding outward. You cannot build a sport when the maximum amount of eyes aren’t able to be on it every single week, consistently, without fail or question.
It is a disgrace that one of the sport’s biggest events of the year will only be seen by a fraction of the people who should be able to watch it.
So, there you have it, folks. That’s my three cents from this past weekend in racing.
An honorable mention goes out to the Verizon IndyCar Series, who put three American drivers on the podium and six in the top seven! Not only was I beyond thrilled for the Stars and Stripes contingent, but I was as shocked at Juan Pablo Montoya crashing out of the race and as equally entertained by Ed Carpenter and Sage Karam’s squabble on pit road after the race, where Carpenter called Karam a “weapon” and said he “needed to calm down and learn how to drive without wrecking people.”
There’s another set of good, bad and ugly moments right there — and we only had to look at one singular race!
Keep it off the wall, and I just might see you at the race track!
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, Speed77 Radio, the Performance Motorsports Network, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]