The Chrome Horn News


by Walt Stubbs

    Do I leave or stay? Should I stay or should I go, as the 80ís group The Clash used to sing? Those were the thoughts racing through my mind Thursday Night as I peered thru the window in my press box seat at Thompson Speedway, looking at the track in front of me and seeing dark clouds with lighting to my left making its way south to the speedway grounds. Those were also the thoughts of many in attendance, who, in a moments notice, risked being dumped on by pellets of rain with no cover in sight other than under the metal grandstands. (Not exactly a smart move to go for shelter) Many chose to leave, rather than stay and watch the yellow laps tick off one by one after the last caution of the evening for Renee Dupuis, who hit the turn three wall hard. It wound up being the smart choice, as the scheduled Charter Communications 150 lap Modified Tour race was called after 100 laps, with Donny Lia winning his third race of the season in the Garbarino #4. As for myself, I decided to only leave the press box and head to the turn one grandstands, to be closer to the parking lot in case the rain decided to hit harder than the annoying on and off sprinkle that was over the track as the pace car quickened its pace with Lia and Ted Christopher right behind, steering from side to side to keep there tires warm with the hope that the race would continue. While the drizzle never got to be more than the nuisance it was, it created enough havoc for NASCAR to pull the plug. With the race being an ďofficialĒ race after 75 laps, it was probably the smart thing to do.
    While it may have been smart for NASCAR to pull the plug, many of the fans that I ran into while sitting in turn one, posed some serious questions. Not at NASCAR, but those at Thompson. They wanted to know why the Tour race couldnít have started sooner, and in turn, avoided this dilemma? A fair question and one that I actually asked myself while watching six divisions run there feature before the Tour race took the green at approximately 8:30 pm. For those interested, those six divisions included the TIS 20 lap feature, 15 lap Mini Stock feature, the 20 lap Ltd Sportsman feature, the 25 lap feature for the Late Models, the 30 lap feature for the Sunoco Modifieds and the 30 lap Pro Stocks feature. While Thompson should be commended for running six divisions in a two hour period, my question is why run six divisions when you are also running a Touring division on the same evening, on a Thursday Night no less? Or better yet, if you are going to run your six divisions, why must the Tour race be the last one run in the evening? Believe me, I understand racing is a business and Thursday Night is Thompsonís regular night to have racing. I get it. But deciding to host an event, be it a NASCAR Modified Tour race or Busch East race, makes the program a different one than your weekly program. Tracks should consider some things different such as travel, be it for the teams, many whose members do have to work on Friday, and the fans, many who Iím sure have traveled an hour or more to watch the Tour and who would have liked nothing better than to have seen a full 150 lap race while also getting home at a reasonable hour. Instead, they got the worst of both worlds. They saw a rain shortened race, with many of those laps that counted being of the caution variety, while also not leaving the grounds until a little after 10:00 pm and then contending with the traffic leaving the Thompson grounds. Think about it. If say, the Tour race started at 7:45 pm sharp, it is likely the full 150 laps would have gotten in plus many would have at least gotten a better nights sleep. I realize Iím probably dreaming, but is it hard to ask tracks to consider these things when scheduling an event, especially on a week night? The days of the four hour marathon at a race track are over. Fans today, for the most part, arenít into it. They want to see what they want to see and move on. Thatís why TIVO and DVRís have become the norm, so people can skip the commercials and the like and get to what they want to see. Another perk has to do with the mass exodus of fans after the Tour race is over. Some of that exodus could be avoided by not running the Tour last. This would give fans the option (thereís a concept) on whether they want to stay for the next feature or head home to there cozy pillow. A lot of people question the popularity of the local race track, saying itís a dying breed. While part of that can be blamed on the popularity of the Nextel Cup some of the blame should go to the tracks for not keeping up with the times and what fans want. Tracks should consider those fans needs first, since they are the ones who ultimately pay the bills. Iím sure if you polled many of those leaving the grounds, more than a few left for home disappointed. The ultimate question is will they come back?
    While obviously the big story coming out of Thompson was Donny Liaís third win of the season (and the rain), the other story making the rounds had to do with the Flash format and the revisions made by NASCAR as the format heads to Twin State Speedway (Claremont) on Sunday night, July 8th. As released last week, the tweaks of the format include taking 10% of the field by time, redrawing them by positions. Once time trials have been tabulated, then running two 25 lap features and then running a 100 lap feature with the first 50 laps not counting cautions and the last 50 counting them. While personally liking the attempt at making some changes, some of the drivers I spoke to still werenít dancing down pit road celebrating. Many had more issue with the purse, or lack of one at Twin State. More than a few questioned why anybody would go up to New Hampshire, on a Sunday Night no less, and run for what some termed peanuts? For those out of the top ten in points, where is the incentive? An 8:00 pm Sunday Night starting time also has swayed more than a few from not going; many citing having to work on Monday morning. (Thereís that work concept again). All in all, it should be an interesting weekend up in the hills of New Hampshire. I wonder if anybody will be joining NASCAR PR man Mark Mockovak in the press box?

THOMPSON NOTES: As expected, Woody Pitkat has replaced Chuck Hossfeld in the Hill Racing #79. It wasnít the best of starts for Pitkat as he had to take a provisional after some mechanical ills in warmups... The threat of rain had more than a few teams thinking strategy on whether to pit or not to pit. James Civali, who was arguably one of the fastest cars on the track, elected to pit early, which cost him a shot at the win. It would have been interesting if the race could have gone another 25 laps as he was up to seventh when the race was called. After three weeks off prior, the Tour heads into gear with New Hampshire (Loudon) this Saturday followed by the Flash race at Twin State the following weekend. But, in following with the times, the Tour then takes almost a month off before heading to Riverhead and the final Flash race of the season. And finally, a few random thoughts while we wonder what ever happened to Jeff Spraker? Itís funny how a lot of people the last few months thought that Dale Earnhardt Jr didnít have the equipment to compete with the rest of the teams in Cup while with DEI. If thatís the case, then how can one explain the recent success of Martin Truex? He races for the same team with the same equipment (some would argue he gets less than Earnhardt) and has a first, second and third in the three weeks prior to this past weekendís race at Sonoma (Infineon). It will be interesting to see how Earnhardt stacks up with the Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnsonís of the world when he teams up with them at Hendrick Motorsports next year. And finally, This Weekís Quote of the Week comes from John Blewett III on why he is not racing at Wall any time soon, ďI have suspended myself from racing at Wall.Ē All news and views can reach me at 2 Constitution Court , Unit 501 Hoboken, N.J. 07030


Source: Walt Stubbs/
Posted:  June 25, 2007

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