It’s time for Happy Hour. As always, tweet us your thoughts or shoot us an email at [email protected] if you want to participate.
@NickBromberg how bad was the Jeff Gordon snub for the Icon award last night at the ESPYs?
— Save A Click NASCAR (@NASCARClickSave) July 14, 2016
Let’s get straight to it. Jeff Gordon was not honored as an “Icon” at Wednesday night’s ESPY awards. This upset a lot of NASCAR fans on Twitter. Those same fans were also upset Driver of the Year was not shown on the telecast (Kyle Busch won that award).
Our response to the anger is a simple “Why?”
Gordon is currently a Fox employee. You may know that Fox is one of ESPN’s biggest competitors, though the four-letter network consistently outrates Fox when it comes to cable programming. While it may not be as simple as ESPN not wanting to honor a man who works for a rival, it’s a fact that has to be taken into context.
Secondly, it’s the ESPYs. What NBA stars did during the show was great; don’t get us wrong. But it’s a sports awards show that ultimately doesn’t have any effect on the sports landscape. Kyle Busch suddenly isn’t a better driver or his achievement in 2015 isn’t more significant because he won an ESPY last night.
Jeff Gordon is still a four-time Sprint Cup champion without being recognized as an icon. And he’s still an icon. If you were to describe Gordon to someone or have to provide a brief summation of his career, you’re not going to be mentioning the ESPYs at all. Even if the summation was 2,000 words.
Besides, as our friend from ESPN Ryan McGee pointed out, it’s not like Gordon has been ignored by ESPN throughout his career.
And you know why the ESPYs dominates conversation during this point in the year? Because there’s nothing else going on. This week is the perfect opportunity for NASCAR to try a mid-week race (yes, we’ve said this before). With sanctioning agreements locked in with the current tracks on the schedule for the next few years, a current Cup host would need to be willing to experiment.
But it’d be a worthy experiment in our eyes. NASCAR would have a sports desert all to itself (as baseball is on the All-Star break) and with the right track and race length (no 500-mile races at Texas, please), some casual fans could get hooked.
@NickBromberg We aren't getting a Cup race during the ASG hole, how about swap NH and KY so at least CWTS gets Thurs. night to shine alone?
— Brian Cullather (@Briancullather) July 14, 2016
Alas, Brian is right. We’re not optimistic this will happen anytime soon. Swapping New Hampshire (site of Sunday’s race) and Kentucky isn’t a bad idea. Neither is moving up the Brickyard 400 weekend and having the Eldora dirt Truck Series race during the All-Star Break. And hell, maybe even a Cup Series exhibition? We’re dreaming here, so why not?
Is Roush Fenway really moving forward or has the new package leveled the playing field for a moment? – Jim
Roush is making steps — though at the same time it was hard to get worse than the team’s performance in 2015.
Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have shown much more speed, both with the new rules that have been in place at Michigan and Kentucky and with the 2016 rules.
I’m not too bullish on the team’s Chase chances, simply because of the logjam at the back of the Chase field right now. But if a race or two goes fuel mileage and Roush plays its cards right, who knows?
The real test of the team’s improvement may be 2017 when Stewart-Haas comes to the Ford camp. It’ll be an interesting year for Richard Petty Motorsports too. That team has flat struggled in 2016. Aric Almirola has not been competitive and the fabrication budget for Brian Scott is sky high.
@NickBromberg What is it going to take for Goodyear to bring a proper tire to a repaved track? Feel like it is always good hard
— Bharat Nagaswami (@BNagaswami) July 14, 2016
As we’ve said before, Goodyear is balancing PR and raceability with its tires.
Given the downforce levels of the cars, Goodyear focuses on building durable tires because it doesn’t want to have tires that blow out. It’s not great for PR to have a driver talk about his bad Goodyear tires after a tire failure sends him into the wall.
So with survival in mind, Goodyear also wants to have a tire that’s got enough fall off to make fresh tires worth it. It’s a fine line and Goodyear always errs to the side of durability. With less downforce and advance warning about those changes, Goodyear has opportunities to make softer tires. Hopefully it can do that.
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