The first mailbag of 2008 picks up right where the final mailbag of 2007 left off – with readers sounding off on the state of NASCAR.
Let's get to it. As usual, my answers are in italics.
DIFFERENT STROKES ("Kicking and screaming" Dec. 24, 2007)
Your article is a joke. You printed emails from those who agreed with your ridiculous position on NASCAR's future. Wake up. NASCAR is behind only the NFL in popularity.
Of the hundreds of emails I received on my take that the Busch-Hornish Jr. points swap was bogus, about three of you disagreed with me. So you see, Milan, the mailbag was representative of the readers. As for NASCAR's popularity, this notion that it's second only to the NFL is the joke. Sure, it's more popular now than 10 years ago, but here's the thing: Whenever I tell someone what I do for a living, without exception the response is, "Do you like NASCAR?" That tells me something. It should tell those of you in the Southeast something, too.
I have read your column off and on when I can, but after your last article about NASCAR, I will be sure not to miss another one! Keep them coming!
Temecula, Calif. (currently deployed in Kuwait)
Thanks for your service, Duane. Guys like Milan and I owe our ability to trade emails about silly things like NASCAR to guys like you.
Do they still have NASCAR races? Whenever I try to watch what is listed as a race, all I see are ads. I don't know who NASCAR is interested in, but it sure isn't those of us who used to be die-hard fans.
Pie Town, N.M.
In response to the people who say, "Put the top 43 qualifying cars in the show regardless," it's time to enlighten them as to why this does not happen. On any given qualifying lap, a car can spin, blow a tire, and/or hit a wall, thus making it unable to get a time if it happened on the first of their two laps. Therefore this driver would not make the race. It could happen to Jeff Gordon, it could happen to Dale Jr., it could happen to Tony Stewart or your favorite driver. Most fans attend only one or two races a year. Now fans that paid a lot of money to attend will not see their favorite driver because of a blown tire. It will be of little consolation to think, "Well, sorry, your favorite big-name driver isn't in, but A.J. Allemdinger or Scott Wimmer was 43rd fastest. Sorry." … I'm not defending the recent actions of Roger Penske, but its far better than the ludicrous notion of taking the top 43 no matter who they are. Please address this side of the issue in a future column.
A fair point, Tony. Goes along with another e-mailer's take that NASCAR is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't. But the problem most fans have isn't with the top-35 rule as it stands alone, rather that it's just another example (along with the Chase, the Lucky Dog, random "debris" cautions) of NASCAR "fixing" the product.
I am afraid I disagree with your and some of your e-mailers' laments about the state of NASCAR. I think NASCAR is more competitive and exciting than it ever has been. Frankly, I don't see what is exciting about seeing the winner win by a lap or two or at best have two cars on the lead lap. Rarely today do you see less than 15 cars on the lead lap. How many times in the old days did they do a sub-14 second, four-tire pit stop. As far as the Chase, how many times in the old days did people stop watching because the championship was pretty much wrapped up by Labor Day. Plus there are more ways to enjoy the sport than there ever has been. In-car audio, in-car cameras, Raceview, Sirius NASCAR radio, NASCAR.com. I can't think of a time when NASCAR was better!
You had me up to NASCAR.com, Michael. Stick with us here at Yahoo! Sports. We'll show you a good time.
Speaking as a consumer, I feel that NASCAR fans need to show NASCAR exactly what we can do. Boycott comes to mind. If NASCAR wants to please the bigwigs, then let them go to the races. Let them pay. Let them see exactly what the MASSES can accomplish.
Marine City, Mich.
That's one person's take. Read on for another.
It doesn't help to quit watching the sport we all love for spite, or because we don't get our way sometimes, or because it isn't the way it used to be…. What is the same? Nothing, deal with it! It still is the only sport whose participants are actually grateful to have a job, or the only one that doesn't have a drug problem, or still thinks sportsmanship is important and doesn't have criminals poisoning the integrity of the sport. I could go on. Everything changes. Everything is cyclical. It still is and always will be the best sport in America, but will always have its faults. Accept it.
I was just wondering if this year was going to be another year of "what is Earnhardt going to do" talk on the race commentary. I get so sick of hearing about just him. There are 42 other drivers out there and they should be mentioned also. Might just as well change the name to the "Earnhardt Cup."
Machesney Park, Ill.
I am so tired of the 24, 48 show every weekend. It's like a love fest with the anchors. Yes, sometime they run well, but for goodness' sake show some of the other drivers!
In a twist of an Abraham Lincoln quote, You can please some people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time.
Why oh why does NASCAR insist on starting the Daytona 500 later each year. I have been going to this race for the last 20 years and what once started at 12:30 p.m. is now 3:30 or 4. This year will probably be worse, with all the 50th celebration. I have great seats in the Sprint Tower and hate to give them up, but …
Over the last three years, the start time has moved from 2 p.m. to 2:30 to 3:15 last year when Kevin Harvick nosed out Mark Martin under the lights. Get used to this trend, and not just at Daytona. Read: More night races.