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Sunday, June 23, 2013

NHRA WON THE WEEK

The political pundits love to proclaim the "winner" and "loser" of each week. Good or bad, right or wrong, that's the nature of today's non-stop media cycle.

In motorsports, NHRA was the clear winner last week. The Mello Yello series made its New England debut in Epping, N.H., to by all accounts huge and enthusiastic crowds. There was a media luncheon in Boston and Courtney Force was among the drivers who visited ESPN HQ in Bristol, CT. The inaugural national featured a Force Final -- John vs. Courtney for the first time -- with CF winning for the second time this season.

The Boston Globe ran a long, good piece on NHRA that included a line I really liked: "The sport has its quirks. But the atmosphere is infectious."

Also, NHRA made it official that it will return to the Phoenix-area as the Arizona Nationals will continue at Wild Horse Motorsports Park, formerly Firebird International Raceway. I broke the details in a Friday Arizona Republic exclusive. I also had an expanded version on CompetitionPlus.com. If you didn't grab these off my Twitter feed, here are the links to those two stories:

http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/20130621firebird-raceway-keeps-nhra-event-changes-management-name.html

http://www.competitionplus.com/drag-racing/news/25442-firebird-raceway-becomes-wild-horse-motorsports-park-will-return-for-21014-arizona-nats

After meeting with Paul Clayton and Dick Hahne, the two main men on the Wild Horse project, I'm bullish on the future of that facility. I'll tell you more about them in my July CP.com column, coming in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile: There was a driver fatality at Le Mans, Audi won again as predicted and almost 25 percent of the event was run under full-course yellow. IndyCar had heat races with no TV and Mark Miles accepted the failed business reality of Indy Lights and moved to dump off that series elsewhere. NASCAR (see below on the Nationwide race) had an OK road race with an unexpected winner in Martin Truex Jr. at Sonoma. 

The dominance of NASCAR and the current realities of mainstream media coverage in America means NHRA doesn't offen win the week. But it did last week, even with the unfortunate parking of Erica Enders-Stevens' winning Pro Stock team due to lack of sponsorship. Smiles are deserved by Tom Compton & Co.


Road America is one of my five favorite tracks and the original Can-Am and high-horsepower CART cars were awesome there. But the ending of Saturday's Nationwide series race was just plain annoying. It reminded me of an NBA game where it takes a half-hour to play the final two minutes. NASCAR should not use its Green-White-Checker rule at Elkhart Lake -- the four-mile laps just drag-out the finish way, WAY too long. Oh, the other thing I took away from the race was winner A.J. Allmendinger didn't know how to correctly pronounce the last name of the vice chairman of Penske Racing. (!) Somehow, that didn't surprise me.


Sign of the PR Times: I received a post-Le Mans news release that had plenty -- too many -- quotes from drivers and team executives, but -- BUT -- never gave the actual FINISHING POSITIONS of its cars. (!)

[ more next Monday . . . ]