Monday, June 11, 2007

Dance Between The Raindrops

It's always a shame when circumstances interfere with what should be a good race weekend, and the weather that was supposed to be good for the Pocono 500 turned out to be a pain. Now Pocono has had a history of rain interferences - in 1972 a hurricane pushed USAC's Pocono 500 Indycar race from June to the end of July when USAC stock cars had the Pennsylvania 500, leading to the Twin 500s. Rain hit NASCAR's events here in 1974, '75, '79, '82, '86, '91, '94, 2000, and 2002.

The rain for this Pocono 500, though, also brought some issues in terms of NASCAR's handling of it. From about 2 PM to 3:20 PM the track was dry other than some weepers; it seemed the racecars could easily have been brought out and run some laps to further dry the track and the weepers, and some green-flag laps could have been run. It was clear to all that the rain was not strong enough to prevent any race action from getting in, but it seemed NASCAR wasted a lot of time that could have been used to get some green-flag racing in before they eventually did.

There is of course also the issue of NASCAR's absurdly tardy starting times to begin with. Race broadcasts usually begin around 1:30 but the races themselves usually don't get the green until about 2:45; why NASCAR can't have some 1 PM starts with no lengthy prerace shows remains a mystery. If it's for West Coast audiences, I wonder just how important they really are given that the proposed Kitsap Speedway is effectively dead.

NASCAR's handling of the rain delay left a lot to be desired. Then there were circumstances in the race itself. A tardy caution came for Robby Gordon's incident, then no caution flew when Jimmie Johnson shredded a tire, and then the yellow finally flew just as Ryan Newman was on the verge of passing Jeff Gordon, a pass he'd certainly have completed in the old rule of racing to the flag.

It all combined to marr what should have been a great race at one of the sport's most grossly underappreciated speedways. Some of the up-front competition was good in this one and it could have been even better.

So the Pocono 500 wrapped up the way it did. One hopes much better comes Pocono's way at the start of August.

One Other Note: NASCAR and Pocono wrapped up renewal for the 2008 season during the weekend, with two Winston Cup dates locked in. You didn't actually believe that rumor about Pocono losinga date, did you?


BruSimm said...

Sadly Monkee.., TV's big bucks do seem to dictate the start times for their demographic audience being transitioned into certain programming, and interfere with what I used to enjoy, the earlier start times. I used to love having breakfast while watching the start of the race.

It is what it is, because without the exposure, our beloved sport could stagnate without the infusion of NEXTEL, new fans / viewers / fresh money.

Such is life.

Monkeesfan said...

Brusimm, I do understand that part, but here is the question worth asking - the sport got as far as it has by not doing things the way other sports did things; i.e. they grew and grew without "big markets" or any serious number of primetime races (until recently), and so forth. And now all of a sudden the sport could stagnate and not get renewed infusion of sponsor dollars if it doesn't go the way other sports go?