Readers on Daytona and Danica
There's plenty to talk about after a wild weekend at Daytona, including a little
Because that sideshow is what people want to hear about, William. At last check, my story on her from Saturday's race was beating Sunday's Daytona 500 recap 10 to 1 in readership, leaving NASCAR's Super Bowl fighting for the scraps she leaves behind. And that comes after just one race in the sport's second-tier division. Could you imagine if she comes over for a full season in 2011 or 2012?
There's also the "newness" factor she provides for a sport where the driver base is set in stone. Don't believe me? Quick, in ten seconds or fewer tell me which rookies are lighting it up in NASCAR so far in 2010.
Waiting ... waiting ...
Can't think of any? That's because there are none. This year's 500 had no rookies who qualified, and the two drivers competing for top freshman honors have neither the experience (
Where I get frustrated with the Danica coverage is when people look at her as a "savior" for women racing stock cars. There have been plenty of females in NASCAR circles for years who are just as talented, but haven't gotten the opportunities. Alli Owens and Chrissy Wallace (who also crashed out of Saturday's race) come to mind, and I hope their dreams don't die in the midst of all the Danica hype.
Danica didn't do all that bad in her debut. At the time she wrecked, her No. 7 Chevy was hanging in the lead draft somewhere around 24th place, on the lead lap, and she was gaining confidence behind the wheel. When she did crash, there was absolutely nothing she could do to avoid it. I think that's a very important thing to remember -- that she never
Of those three, only Montoya was able to finish his race without causing a wreck. Considering how easy it is to cause a crash in restrictor plate racing -- where the cars spend all day running nose-to-tail with each other in big packs. You've got to give Patrick credit.
I agree with the last line of this e-mail. No matter what you think of Danica, can you at least give her through Las Vegas before passing some sort of initial judgment? We may be an instant gratification society, but Rome wasn't built in a day ... or, in this case, 300 miles.
Just don't hold your breath on Patrick fighting someone else. As I explained in
And speaking of picking fights...
Oh my God, David! You caught me. I just write about her all the time, secretly hoping it'll spark a protest to kick her out of the sport...
Let's move on.
Great point, Damon! In case you missed it, here's what Kyle had to say about Danica's coverage:
"The only thing I will say is that TV has been doing a horrible job. They've been covering her way too much. If you're going to have this much attention drawn on the series, let's put it toward all the people. If you've got all these people watching TV that want to hear about Danica, well, take advantage of that and show the less-funded teams, the underprivileged that want to have funding so they can race the rest of the year."
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Joe Gibbs Racing, through their Nationwide program, has won 33 of the last 70 races, including Busch taking the title in the equivalent of NASCAR's "AAA" baseball league. In the process, they've given just nine starts over the past year to drivers who aren't already entrenched in Sprint Cup. Think some of the up-and-coming talents would love to have a Gibbs motor (up to $100,000 per race to rent, according to sources) along with the well-deserved attention that JGR's received for dominating the series? It'd be theirs if Cup drivers didn't run in the minors quite so much.
But while those quotes are laughable coming from Kyle, let's not miss his overall point. The one worry going forward for NASCAR is Danica's only going to be around for 12 races this season, far short of the 35 contested in Nationwide. So how does the series market itself during the other 23? Like we've seen with the PGA, the
The worst part about this whole deal, Tom, is the race was one of the best staged by NASCAR in recent years. There were 21 leaders (a 500 record), 52 lead changes, and a surprise winner in
The problem is that the track incident zapped the momentum of a possible NASCAR comeback in 2010. As Nielsen reported Monday, while more people watched some part of the Daytona 500 (29 million compared to 26 the year before), ratings dipped 16 percent to a 7.7, making it the lowest-watched Great American Race since 1991.
Hopefully, word will spread about the fantastic finish so fans will give this new NASCAR season a chance. But considering that the next race is at one of the sport's most boring tracks (Fontana), I worry about that turn 2 sinkhole sinking the ratings for the better part of the next few months.
I think we shouldn't mess with a good thing. Did you see how exciting NASCAR's new multiple green-white-checkered rule was Sunday? I haven't heard a single complaint, even from the driver himself who got shafted by the change. (
Alright, before we finish up ...
Did Not Finish.