Thursday, December 3, 2009

On Rick Ren's KHI departure, getting drivers back in touch with the public, and good equipment

A few things I wonder as the off-season starts to settle in...

-Does the departure of Rick Ren from Kevin Harvick, Inc. have anything to do with the team owner's conversation with the crew chief and driver Ron Hornaday following the race at New Hampshire? Remember, Harvick was incensed that his employee raced him hard for position at the end of that race, believing that he could have challenged Kyle Busch for the win if he could have gotten past Hornaday. I can't help but think that Ren realized that mindset wouldn't change ; afterall it's the same circumstance that prevented Hornaday from being a three-time consecutive champion when KHI's Ryan Newman passed Hornaday on the final lap at Atlanta taking 10 valuable points away and giving the championship to Johnny Benson by just eight points.

-I've listened to Sirius NASCAR Radio a lot throughout the year and one of the most popular topics among members of the media that are guests on the various shows is what needs to be done to show the drivers' personalities to the fans. The theory is that NASCAR got popular back in the 1970s and 1980s on the backs of drivers that exhibited their personality week-in and week-out, so the same thing could happen today. While I have no doubt that the drivers would benefit from showing their true selves more often, it's not a true apples-to-apples comparison. It's nice to know that Jimmie Johnson grew up in a trailer park in El Cajon, but at this point, what does he have in common with Joe Sixpack who saves all year to buy tickets to the closest NASCAR race? Thats' what made the sport what it is: drivers who were very much like the people who sat in the grandstands. You could sit there and think of Bobby Allison as your nextdoor neighbor. Even Dale Earnhardt was seen as an everyman. I am sure motorcoaches have made the lives of NASCAR drivers much easier, but the motorcoach lot is the worst thing to happen to the sport. It insulates the drivers from the general public and keeps them away from the people paying the freight. If the drivers aren't on the track or debriefing with the team in the transporter, they are in their bus. In reality, they should be out signing autographs or mingling with the people who make that motorcoach possible.

-Speaking of Sirius, I heard Chocolate Myers say RCR's new ARCA driver Tim George would finally get a chance to prove himself as he will have his first opportunity to drive good equipment in 2010. No doubt RCR will field great racecars, but George had access to good cars in 2009 too. He drove for Eddie Sharp in '09, the same team that fielded cars for series champion Justin Lofton. The cars George drove for much of the season were previously driven by Michael McDowell and Scott Speed, both multiple winners in their brief ARCA careers. I'd say George had pretty good stuff in 2009 too.

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