Sunday, March 28, 2010


HEADLINE NEWS: will have four hours of exclusive live programming from Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, April 10, starting at 3 p.m. EDT (noon Pacific), leading up to the Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup event. I'll be a part of this with special The Race Reporters segments.

Rain, rain, well, Sunday, it didn't go away in Martinsville or St. Petersburg or Charlotte.

NASCAR, IndyCar and NHRA all plan to race Monday . . . when -- if ever -- has THAT happened?

The Izod IndyCar Series was quick to herald the improved TV numbers for its opener in Brazil on Versus, but the ratings for Sunday's run in St. Pete would have been much more important for sponsors left to ponder their investment in the sport. It was an ABC network telecast, late afternoon, with a NASCAR rainout, with competition from -- among other events -- NHRA's Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.

In the on-going debate on how best to rebuild the once-great series, one topic that always seems to find its way into the talk is a return to Phoenix International Raceway. Indy machines first ran the Arizona one-mile oval in 1964 -- A.J. Foyt won -- and PIR became a legendary stop on the trail. And a hugely popular one, too. But years of decline ultimately resulted in an end after the 2005 event, won by Sam Hornish Jr.

PIR President Bryan Sperber was the Newsmaker guest on my The Race Reporters show last week. Mark Armijo asked about the possibility of a new IndyCar try. For the record, here's how Sperber answered:

"I have not spoken to Randy (Bernard, new ICS CEO) as of yet. Anytime we've had conversations with the IRL after they dropped us from their schedule, we've always entertained the possibility of returning. It is something we are interested in. But, as I've said to them, each time we've revisited this, it has to make sense for all parties involved. That includes the League, television, etc. It really includes the fans here in the Valley, first and foremost. We've got to figure out a time on the schedule that makes sense. That's been the stumbling block, it continues to be the stumbling block, at least as of about two years ago, when we last looked at it. Maybe if something has changed with the IRL, and there's more flexibility there, something could get done. As of today, there's no discussions."

"I think the IRL, for all the good things it could bring, it would be a challenge. Let's not kid ourselves: This is a series that certainly has had some difficulties as of late. Returning to a market where the series has left -- in the way that they left, which was flat-out dropping us -- they've got a tough sell-job with fans. I'm probably the easiest guy to deal with. It's the fans that they're going to have a long road to hoe and building back their confidence. This would not be an easy item to schedule on their calendar . . . Time heals all wounds, but I think the IRL has to go the extra mile and show they're sincere with the fans here in the Valley."

Here's the audio link for the full show and interview:

FAST LINES: One factor in Danica's NASCAR adventure is IndyCar's increasing number of road course events -- especially street races. Don't doubt that . . . For once Indy team owners did something smart -- electing Gil de Ferran as their rep to the advisory committee for the new car formula . . . Here are three words Milka Duno and Brian Barnhart need to learn pronto -- Start-and-Park . . . The broadcast facility at zMax Dragway has been dedicated to the memory of Steve Evans. Thanks to Paul Page for helping to make it happen . . . I warned a few months ago that sports coverage will never be the same with getting involved. We saw an example last weekend with the TMZ report of Arizona Cardinals' linebacker Joey Porter's arrest . . . Absolute must read: "Confessions of a Sportswriter," by Frank Deford, in the March 29 Sports Illustrated.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

March 31 -- Newsmaker: David Reutimann. Panelists: Dustin Long, Ron Lemasters Jr.

April 7 -- Newsmaker: Max Papis. Panelists: Kenny Bruce, Dave Kallmann.

April 14 -- Newsmaker: Melanie Troxel. Panelists: John Sturbin, Bobby Bennett. Plus, Peter De Lorenzo.

April 21 -- Newsmaker: Patrick Long. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Matt Yocum.

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley.

[ David Reutimann news note Thursday . . . ]