Q: Last week’s Mailbag is a joke. That race at Las Vegas was a great race. Please don’t lecture anyone on terrible racing when IndyCar’s “finale” is a single file ant march through a flat road course in a desert. And don’t think I didn’t notice your sarcastic “best drivers in the world” jab. I’ll take Truex, Keselowski, Busch, Busch, Larson, Logano, Harvick, and Elliot over the entire IndyCar field. Anytime, anywhere. Heck I’ll take even one of those drivers against Indy’s field.
And that is not to take away from IndyCar’s talented drivers. They are extremely talented. And I would love to watch them all compete against one another. Heck, I would love to watch just the IndyCar drivers compete against each other, but it’s too bad they can’t in their “race” cars as evidenced at almost every oval track they have been on (and when they do, they get penalized because they technically crossed the last two feet of a painted line). I’m not here to defend NASCAR’s gimmicks but Las Vegas was leaps and bounds above Sonoma. It was not close.
Oh, and as for the jab about wrecking into each other -– I’m sorry that stock cars do not have 15,000 pounds of downforce on their cars when they are racing in 185 degree temperatures or whatever it was. Don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that the intense battling for the lead – all day long – was somehow preferable to the spec car robots following behind each other like kids in line walking down the hallway. I love IndyCar and I’m rooting for the sport to continue its positive momentum, but let’s just settle down a bit.
And as much as I despise the green-white-checkered finishes, it came about because NASCAR’s leadership, for all of its stubbornness, actually was receptive to fan feedback. There is also an additional short track and road course (although I hate this Roval, but don’t get me started) in the postseason, the same postseason that only results in two months, not six, of an offseason. Where’s that series finale at Gateway that everyone was clamoring for? Not there yet? Oh okay! Thank you.
P.S. You, Nate Ryan, Marshall Pruett and Jeff Gluck are the best racing journalists in the business.
Jeremy in Raleigh
RM: I thought Chicago and Watkins Glen were great races, but not sure how you can mention Vegas in the same breath after watching the last 20 laps. We all have our opinions on what constitutes a great race or great drivers, but don’t insult my intelligence and tell me that just because somebody is good at one discipline for all but two races, that makes them better than a driver who has to run four disciplines. I’d love to see Kyle Busch run an IndyCar at Long Beach and Scott Dixon drive a stocker at Bristol, because they’re both special talents. Anyway, IndyCar is still pure racing compared to NASCAR’s stages, mandatory cautions, lucky dog and G-W-C, but NASCAR is still the big dog on television and in the grandstands, so while it’s not what it was 10 years ago, it’s still working compared to many other sports. And, yes, Sonoma was a crushing bore and a terrible way to end the season, and I haven’t given up pushing for Gateway. Thanks for your passion.
Q: I read in the Sept 19th Mailbag all of the readers who were upset that the NASCAR race went long and ran into the start of the IndyCar event. And I understand that disappointment, I truly do. But look at the ratings. And 2.1 million people were watching the NASCAR race from Vegas. That’s 2.1 million people who would be sitting in front of their TVs when the IndyCar race came on. And NBC was promoting the heck out of the Sonoma finale! NBC couldn’t have done more to hype the event.
So the race finally starts and TV sets have Power and Rossi running around (albeit a bit later than expected). And 1.5 million of those sets of eyeballs left the telecast, but 600,000 stayed around to watch the finale of what has been a great season. IndyCar lost 2/3rd of its audience. What does that say to investors? To sponsors? To fans? NASCAR is already losing huge sponsors (Lowes, Furniture City) and yes, there are fewer fannies in the seats… but for readers to lament that NASCAR is on and Indy gets second citizen status, it doesn’t make sense! Of course NBC is going to stick with the box cars running in circles. People are watching! IndyCar? On the week prior, when NASCAR was off and it had the TV to itself (for the most part), it lost out to an Xfinity race. It might be time for people to realize that, in the mind of the American consumer, IndyCar racing is niche and will always be niche.
RM: You pretty much nailed it. NBCSN gives IndyCar more promotion than it ever received on ABC, and that’s going to double next year with NBC coming on board. But NBC paid a fortune for NASCAR, and to your point, the numbers speak volumes about which series is more popular. I’m glad we had CNBC to go to when NASCAR ran long, and I’m sorry a lot of fans don’t get that channel or didn’t get the message or had their VCRs already set and missed the start. But it’s big business and common sense, and as much as we like IndyCar, NBCSN was going to hang with the big dog, just like any other network would have done. And, as I said in an earlier response, NASCAR has been good for IndyCar’s ratings.
Q: Just reading all the complaints about the NASCAR race running long and NBCSN missing the start of the Sonoma race. I was pretty disappointed to miss the start as well, but understand NBCSN’s position. Any other sport on TV that is broadcast back to back, whether it’s baseball or football or whatever, will show the finish of the first event before cutting to the second. While it does suck for us IndyCar fans that don’t care about NASCAR, how would we feel if they cut off the end of a normal race to go to the start of NASCAR? It would have been nice, however, if once the tin-tops restarted, they would have went to the side-by-side like they do or the commercials.
RM: Correct. Nobody is going to leave a live sporting event until it’s finished.