Hurry, hurry, step right up, See the sideshow
It became official after the latest episode of Trackside Live. The “Southern Gentleman” has now fulfilled his destiny of becoming a sideshow act. Now, before the email/hate machine goes into full force, one should first take a deep breath and realize that being labeled a ‘sideshow act’ is not always a bad thing.
There have been numerous other drivers who have made a nice living doing very much this same thing. Kenny Wallace comes to mind, but I am not sure if the Sadler faithful would like their driver being compared to the ‘Herminator’, especially considering that in 17 years of racing, he does not have a win, and only 6 top 5s. Then there is Michael Waltrip, another driver with spotty at best success on the track, but his antics off the track have enabled ‘Jetfuel’ to own a race team. So I guess things are not all that bad.
Now the first question I asked after this latest TeeVee stunt the Southern Gentleman performed was this ‘another set-up like the now infamous stage dive’? Of course it was. We all know that Sadler has an accurate arm from the All-Star Helmet Throw a few years back, but it was obvious (from the ‘batter’, Jeff Hammond, being in full catcher’s gear, to the ‘warmed’ up arm of the driver of the 19 car.) that the ‘bit’ was to intentionally bean Hammond. But desperate people many times need to resort to desperate actions. It has been painfully clear that the actions of the driver of the 19 on the track has not warranted much attention, with the glaring stat of only finishing on the lead lap on 37% of the time this season. We wonder why some Nascar fans are getting tired of the WWE style of racing shows that seem to be popular with such networks as TNT and Speed Channel. (Frankly, ESPN is not much better)
Where are the ‘For Sale’ signs now?
After totaling the primary 19 car in the final moments of Happy Hour, one has to wonder just what is going on with the 19 team? Many wrongfully pointed the finger at former Crew Chief Josh Browne, but even a ‘miracle’ worker like owner Ray Evernham is having troubles not only fielding a competitive car ‘off the truck’, but seems to be ‘guessing’ at in race chassis changes as well. (Something Browne was crucified for in the past. One point of interest I did notice however, listening to the in-car feed was that Ray’s methodology yesterday was to ‘learn’ about how the chassis changes were reacting. There were a couple of instances where Sadler wanted trackbar adjustments, along with the air pressure changes and was over ruled by the owner/emergency CC. (yes, I do realize that there is an interim CC, but Ray was the one over the scanner making the calls yesterday) Evernham must have realized somewhere in his very successful CC career that making too many adjustments each stop can many times only compound the overall problem. Just how does one really know what changes helped and what changes did not?
Ray’s ‘plan’ was to ‘work with air pressure’ combinations much of the day, in an almost ‘learn to walk before your run’ approach. It was not something that was realistically going to earn the 19 car a top 20 finish, but it was something that may pay off down the road. Heck, for the first time that I can recall in Sadler’s career, a call for an inner liner pressure change was made (ala Chad Knaus). Maybe that is insignificant, but I took it as something new for Sadler, borderline innovative! I’m thinking some photo shopping of the original ‘for sale’ picture might be in order. I can't help to think that in a selfish sort of way, that Browne was getting a chuckle watching the 19 make chassis changes much of the day, and find little success.
Do as I say, not as I do
Then there are the loyal paying fans of SFC. While they have many reasons to be frustrated and to feel almost let down by the high hopes attributed to this season, there seems to be another ‘sickness’ that many have to deal with recently. It seems that ‘Sybil’ has once again returned to the SFC forum after months of hiatus and has almost demanded that others agree with her ‘persona of the week’.
I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to want everyone else to wave their pom-poms and cheer the same cheer but when you see that same person’s condescending attitude on other fan forums, it just make you wonder what control issues this person is having. What’s next, picking on the “Southern Gentleman’s” girl friend? Even I won’t go there as her life is her own and she seems to want to keep it that way. There is nothing wrong with that.
It is most definitely the silly season. Not only for drivers, but Crew Chiefs, and even sponsors have not seen such turmoil since the likes of the 2001 season. You have to get a giggle reading the reactions concerning some of these ‘rumors’. When there is a ‘rumor’ being floated around by a member of the media (be it print or TeVee/Radio) that the consensus of the driver’s fan don’t want to happen, an immediate reaction is to call the source of this rumor non-credible. When Pete Piston wrote a few weeks ago, and later wrote a second time, that he is hearing rumors that Sadler will not be running the 19 for Evernham next year, less than an hour after the article was posted, the lack of credibility claims were fired off by some of the Sadler faithful.
Flash forward to last week, and the Jayski like rumor that M&Ms maybe ‘interested’ in moving their sponsorship to the 19 and Sadler next year. What is interesting is the reaction by the majority of SFC fans, and the lack of questioning of the source. I guess the benchmark for credibility has more to do with simply agreeing or disagreeing with the content or claim over the track record of the person claiming it.
Even “Spotterman” has felt the need to chime in with a few denials but has been strangely silent with this last possibility. I am not saying that either of these rumors have more or less credibility than the other, just saying that the perception of each is textbook psychology.
How does he do it?
Now pretty much everyone who reads this blog, understands that I will criticize many of “Spotterman’s” PR decisions and plans, but week after week Brett Griffin ‘delivers’ on the spotter stand. This week at Chicago was not different.
The job of spotting is difficult enough but when a car almost a half a straight ahead spins and gets tangled up with another car, almost immediately the eye in the sky not only saw the wreck, but correctly identified the cause. In this case a tire coming of the rim. Maybe he heard Nascar race control with their observations, maybe not, but the point is that once again the 19 spotter is one of the best (if not the best) at his race day job.
In all honesty, one of the few bright spots this season for the 19 team has been the exceptional performance of the spotter.
A week off
With the off week, and with me actually having to ‘work’ the past few weeks, here are some things we won’t have to hear.
* Sometime after the cross flags we don’t have to hear Sadler tell his CC, ‘This is by far the worse the car has been all day’.
* On lap 30 or less, Spotterman letting his driver know that the car directly behind him is the leader.
* The ‘time waste’ of a 2 plus hour pre race show (and that is after a two hour ‘morning pre race show’ on Speed Channel.
* The question of just which team will land the Bud sponsorship. (nevermind, there is a pretty good chance we will hear something about it)
And lastly, ‘LOST’ began filming season 4 this week! Woohoooooooooo!