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Random Lugnuts:  Selling Cars and NASCAR Fans

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Kasey Kahne, NASCAR What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
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:  Selling Cars and NASCAR Fans

Bill Crittenden
October 28, 2010

Opening Lap

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday is dead, right?  Weakened by parity, mortally wounded by the common template, and finally killed off by the Car of Tomorrow?

True, the old method of proving your product is better than the competition's by racing the same cars that are parked in the showrooms is long gone, but the basic concept is still viable.  It just needs a little nudge from the marketing department.

Instead of selling products, the automakers involved in NASCAR could use their on-track triumphs to sell their companies.  And if you convince a potential customer that your company is better, it shouldn't take much more effort to convince them that you make better cars, too.

For an excellent example, take a look at what Honda has done with their participation in the Izod IndyCar Series.  Bonus points for finding an accomplishment worthy of advertising when there is no competition for them to beat.

The Grandstands

Kudos to Kenny Wallace for pointing out that the folks outside of the NASCAR garage don't really know all that's going on behind the scenes in regards to Kasey Kahne leaving the 9 car.  I had wondered exactly what was going on there, assumed there was more than a stomach virus involved, and kept quiet.  Others, apparently, called Kahne a quitter, and Wallace came to Kasey's defense telling those watching that they didn't know all that happened in that garage.

Something to remember, though: NASCAR claims 75 million fans and I'm betting that there aren't nearly that many "hard cards" issued each year.  Even if NASCAR drew an attendance of a quarter million a race over 37 Cup races (don't forget the All-Star Race!), and no fan went twice in the same year, that's still only 9.25 million tickets.

Tens of millions of NASCAR fans every year don't get to go to the races.  So for most NASCAR fans, we see the sport through the rectangular images displayed before us each Sunday as we watch from the comfort of our couches (or occasionally, the discomfort of a hard bar stool).  There's an entire industry based on discussing sporting events, and NASCAR is no exception.  A lot of amateurs like to add their two cents (yeah, I'm one of those), and what would have been water cooler discussions twenty years ago are now worldwide arguments thanks to the internet.

NASCAR is one of the best-covered events of any type I have ever watched, which makes a lack of information more attention-getting than a minor disagreement resulting in a driver walking out would have been.  In a field of light, the black hole is what stands out.  So there are a few things that can happen in incidents like these.  1.) you can keep secrets and people will fill in the hole with whatever fits their preconceived notions, 2.) you can tell fans to shut their traps, and they might, but citizens of the nation that came up with the First Amendment also might be offended by that and decide they'll stop listening to the person that says it or may even decide to change their channel if they hear it often enough from enough people, or 3.) tell people what's really going on so there isn't a conspiracy theory or unnecessary and untrue badmouthing!

Points Standings

I've often said that whoever can beat Jimmie Johnson for the championship when he's on his game (it doesn't count if he finishes 8th) will be a hero to millions.  Rarely in the history of sports are opportunities presented the likes of which has been presented to Denny Hamlin.  Like the US Olympic hockey team in 1980 claiming victory over the unbeaten and unbeatable Soviets, the triumph of defeating an unpopular and seemingly unbeatable opponent while overcoming personal hardships is a compelling story.  Coming back from surgery to win races, then coming from behind in the Chase to beat the juggernaut of the 48 team would be a great story for the sport's history books.  While my hopes are with Kevin Harvick in 3rd place, I would like to say "good luck" to Denny Hamlin in his efforts to secure a place for himself in stock car racing history.

Of course, for Jimmie's fans I should say that this would be just another year like any other were it not for the dominance the 48 team has shown in the last half decade, and since it takes a truly great opponent to make a great triumph, there is no one better to have to beat than Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, and the rest of Hendrick Motorsports.

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