• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DIXON MIGHT BE YEAR's BEST RACER

If Helio Castroneves doesn't win the (final) "Izod" IndyCar series championship this Saturday night in the MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, it will be the fourth consecutive year a Roger Penske team driver has blown the title near season's end. But if Scott Dixon takes the trophy -- and even if he doesn't -- Dixon deserves very serious Driver of the Year consideration.

Even the NASCAR-centric media voters should take a long, deep look at Dixon. (Along with Donny Schatz, who has 22 World of Outlaws feature wins -- and, yes -- Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.)

Right from the year's first race, on the streets of St. Pete, Dixon has been maximizing what he had to work with. He went from 20th on the grid to fifth at the end there. Let's remember Honda was clearly behind Chevrolet early on and certainly at Indianapolis. But Dixon, sometimes starting deep in the field, was turning in solid points results. Not that it was widely noticed by the national media "experts." So when he was able to start winning at Pocono and Toronto, those early gritty points runs suddenly took on even more significance.

I doubt many people would have thought Dixon, coming out of Indy, would come to the finale in position as championship leader. But that's what he is. No matter the result in California, to me, he has the look of maybe the season's best RACER.


Here's the fundamental mistake sports broadcasters make: They think they are on-site to cover the game, race, match, etc. No. They are there to cover the NEWS. CBS wasn't ready to cover the news of the stadium blackout at this year's Super Bowl and NBCSN wasn't nimble enough to report on the spectator injuries at the Houston IndyCar race. They should have been prepared.


Should the NFL's Washington Redskins change the team's name? Candidly, that's a question for the politically correct crowd, but I expect in today's environment it eventually will happen. That's not the issue at issue here for this blog. The issue is media organizations who decide, on their own as a political statement, to refuse to call the team by its current legal-and-proper name. I'm not talking about what opinion columnists or commentators decide to do. I'm talking about media orgs -- supposedly in business to factually report the news -- deciding as a matter of policy to become part of the story and help influence the news. That is wrong and another very troubling sign for what now passes for "journalism."


I had several Es regarding what I wrote last week about sports car racing. Let me just add this: It's good the Powers-That-Be finally got together (read that: Money from Jim France to Don Panoz) to form one series. But, as we all saw in IndyCar, that does not translate to automatic success or regained popularity. Given all the to-be-expected transition issues, car rules unclarity, only 11 races per class, and too many classes (a necessary evil to maintain car counts and keep competitiors happy), I fully expect 2014 to be a fairly messy season. That's not negativity. I'm a longtime sports car fan and was part of the Castrol Jaguar team that finished 1-2 at Daytona in 1990. It is just a statement of historical fact.


It's good news anytime Dave Argabright writes something new. His latest book is Let's Go Racing, the story of ASA founder and president Rex Robbins. Go to DaveArgabright.com for more information. 

[ announcement of the winner of the 2013 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations here next week ]