Monday, February 24, 2014


The Conventional Wisdom for years has been a winning Dale Earnhardt Jr. was what NASCAR needed to boost ticket sales and TV audiences. OK, now we'll see . . . 

ENOUGH of the Richard Petty-Danica Patrick sideshow NONSENSE. NASCAR -- NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications -- should have shut this down last week and not allowed this to overshadow all the legitimate storylines going into its most important race of the season. The very thought of a Petty-Patrick match race is the worst idea since Randy Bernard (and certain media cheerleaders) were promoting having Alex Zanardi race in IndyCar's ill-fated Las Vegas finale a few years ago. 

Let's cut the comparisons to Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King. Oh, I guess Riggs could have suffered a heart attack during his 1970s tennis exhibition vs. BJK. But the age factor and the risks involved in an auto race raise the safety stakes to a much higher level. And just what would it prove? Other than a ridiculous media spectacle, that is. One that would further detract from the important news of the season and JUNIOR!

Brian France, you're at the plate. Step-up, show leadership, and stop the madness.

Of course it's completely ridiculous for NHRA to (again) schedule a race opposite Daytona. What I'll say here, however, is congratulations to Paul Clayton and his new management team on a successful debut at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird International Raceway.) I was there three days covering for the Arizona Republic. There was a three-day record event crowd. I kept a list of all the things Clayton told me he'd do to improve the facility for racers and fans. As far as I could tell, he did them. Not just the repaved track, but new scoreboards (VERY visible), and timing and PA systems. There absolutely is a ton more to be done and it will be up to Gila River Indian Community to invest more. Good start. Good show.

It's NASCAR week in the Valley and I'm in the midst of 12 consecutive days of stories in the Republic. I am posting all links on Twitter ( @SpinDoctor500 ) as well as other news and observations. (See my feature on Ron Capps last Friday and Sunday notebook lead on Courtney Force.) My Phoenix International Raceway notebooks will include some comments from Rick Hendrick and Ray Evernham you might find surprising. I'll have a feature on Stewart-Haas Racing Friday and a personal record of four stories Sunday. Those will include my long story on PIR's 50-year history (bet you'll be surprised at a few things) and my traditional Q&A with Richard Petty. If you are not in the Valley to buy the paper, check out my stuff (and Mark Armijo's) on . 

One more: My new column is a Q&A with Linda Vaughn. Find out how she's doing these days health-wise, and how she answers a few questions you probably haven't seen before. Here's the link:

[ more next Monday . . . ]