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Random Lugnuts: Keselowskis, Johnsons, and the Schedule

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR, Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Keselowskis, Johnsons, and the Schedule

Bill Crittenden
July 27, 2010

It's good to finally get back to the ol' Random Lugnuts format.  And away we go...

Scheduled Events

There's some hubbub around Jay Hart on Yahoo! saying that NASCAR needed to "get out of the NFL’s way."  What he specifically said is that, "...there is no answer as long as the Chase kicks off about the same time as the NFL season.  What NASCAR really needs to do is get out of the NFL’s way. Start the Chase in August, end it in early October."

Well, with new tracks in "new markets" competing with traditional tracks in traditional NASCAR strongholds, it's damn near impossible to shorten a season without seriously pissing off a LOT of fans.  However, as someone who has faced Sunday afternoon having to pick between watching Jimmie Johnson march towards another Cup championship and a winning Chicago Bears team, I can tell you I've chosen the Bears a few times.  The same thing happens in early summer when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get rolling.  To me, a Detroit Red Wings playoff game takes precedence over another 1.5-mile tri-oval race.

That doesn't mean I'm not a NASCAR fan.  I just have other things in my life, in particular other sports.  I know I'm not the only one.

Today, it's not just about getting new fans to tune in to NASCAR.  Growth was easy when people were discovering the sport for the first time, or fleeing the implosion of American open wheel racing and looking for somewhere else to get their oval track speed fix.  Now it's about getting people to tune in by being better than everything else on television at the time the races are run.  Unfortunately for NASCAR, the NFL puts on a good show.

The people that run NASCAR have to consider the gains that could be made in the ratings by avoiding direct competition with the NFL.  Network television dramas and comedies are scheduled with a thought towards what other shows are in their time slot.  The sport doesn't need something as dramatic as cutting off a huge chunk of its schedule, what it needs is a schedule that allows fans to catch the Cup race and their favorite NFL team's game in the same weekend.

And if you don't think fans can change from the Saturday night/Sunday afternoon routine, just look at the competition itself.  I'm sure lots of people questioned Monday Night Football in the beginning.  Who's going to watch NASCAR on a Friday evening?  Maybe the same fans that watch football on a Monday night.

Caution Flag

There's a certain bravado to racing "balls out" all the time like Brad Keselowski.  A lot of fans respect that, and there's a long tradition of drivers from Oldfield to Earnhardt who collected a lot of trophies and fans racing like that.  However, that style of racing also leads to a lot of bent sheetmetal and bent tempers.  If successful, you can get in other drivers' heads, like "The Intimidator" did.  If unsuccessful, a driver risks getting payback (and then some).  To be successful, a driver needs to know who he can push, how hard he can push, and when to push, and it can't be "on everybody all the time as hard as you can."

Brad, apparently, missed that message in his driving lessons, but then from all I've heard if his father's been giving the lessons then I don't think restraint is in the curriculum.  Now we've seen that there's at least one driver who's not afraid of his schtick, as Brad's already gotten dumped on his head and spun around for pushing Carl Edwards just a little too hard.  Carl overreacted both times, but he did react...an action for an action, he didn't just drive out onto the track both days looking for trouble and finding Brad Keselowski.  Trouble, in the form of Brad, found him, and Carl pushed back.

I could say more, but what I wanted to say here has already been said better by Valerie Wood at http://valerie-femmefan.blogspot.com/2010/07/where-are-all-these-keselowski.html

Except that I don't think Bob Keselowski should have his hard card pulled.  I'd personally like to see him suit up and take a shot at Carl.  Then we can all see just what driving like a Keselowski means.  But that's just not safe.

And I'll just add that maybe Carl should read up on the Law of Unintended Consequences, particulary this part:  "a perverse effect, that may be contrary to what was originally intended (i.e. when an intended solution to a problem only makes the problem worse)."  Every time Carl intervenes in Brad's driving line to express his dislike of Brad's driving style, he tends to have the unintended consequence of making Brad look like the victim in this scenario.

Congratulations Jimmie Johnson!

Congratulations to Jimmie and Chandra Johnson for the recent birth of Genevieve Marie Johnson.  A well chosen name, as well, especially considering how difficult it must be to name a baby when your last name is Johnson.  Pick a common name, and your child is destined for anonymity (there are 13 Jimmy/Jim/Jimmie Johnsons in just the sports category in Wikipedia).  Reach too far for the unusual, and you risk looking like Frank Zappa.

I recently asked, "hasn't anybody in stock car racing had a daughter?"  I now have my answer, and perhaps someday nearly two decades from now Genevieve will join the Sprint Cup series.  Hopefully, by then she won't be racing for the first female win in the series.  Hopefully by then someone will have broken Jimmie's championship win streak, too.



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