Tuesday, July 31, 2007
COT Mustangs, Camaros would give Busch much-needed boost
By Terry Blount
NASCAR's decision to bring a version of the Car of Tomorrow to the Busch Series was inevitable from a safety perspective. If the COT is safer in Nextel Cup, how can you justify running a non-COT car in Busch?
The Busch COT will not look like the Cup COT -- it won't have a rear wing or a front splitter -- but it will have many of the safety features included on the Cup COT.
It's good to keep the cars different. If the cars were as similar as they are now, Cup drivers would continue to dominate the feeder series.
When the cars are almost identical, Cup drivers use the Busch races to prepare for Cup events.
No one wants to eliminate Cup drivers from Busch events entirely. They add interest and sell tickets. However, the feeder series also has to retain its objective as a developmental league.
One solution NASCAR officials are discussing for the future is to make the Busch Series car a COT but switch to models not used in Cup, i.e., to make the Busch Series a sports car league with Mustangs, Camaros, etc.
This would solve several problems. It would give the Busch Series its own identity, something the league desperately needs.
The series will have a new title sponsor next year, so why not give the new sponsor a new product to promote? This also would give the manufacturers another model to showcase in the second most popular racing series in the country.
If every team has to build new Busch cars anyway, make the new cars something unique.
Smallest Brickyard crowd ever?
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn't release attendance figures, but it was obvious in looking around the facility that Sunday's crowd was the smallest ever for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
A best-guess estimate was about 225,000, so let's keep things in perspective. That's still the biggest crowd for any Cup race all season, but it's far from a sellout for a facility that has 257,000 seats.
Many seats on the lower rows of the frontstretch were empty, along with blocks of open grandstands in Turns 2 and 3.
Stewart's No. 20 dialed in
Tony Stewart doesn't need a lot of help to win races, but it doesn't hurt to have a hot car you know is better than all the rest.
Every car a team builds is like a fingerprint. They might look identical at first glance, but each one has its own unique characteristics.
Sometimes you roll one out that, for whatever reason, just flat flies around a racetrack. That's what Stewart has now with the No. 20 Chevy he's taking to Pocono this weekend.
This pristine machine has won back-to-back races at Chicagoland and Indy. Now it's off to Pocono, the track that most resembles Indianapolis.
Pocono is a triangle shape and Indy is a rectangle, but both tracks are relatively flat with long straightaways and sharp turns. The tracks are sort of a combo between a road course and an oval, or a roval.
Barring a mistake, Stewart has to be a big favorite Sunday. This iteration of the No. 20 Chevy was the fastest in the past two races. There's no reason to think it won't be the fastest at Pocono, too.
Legal definitions 101
Mergers, partnerships and alliances. There's a lot of that going on these days in NASCAR, but the terms are being bandied about incorrectly.
It's confusing, so here's a clarification. A merger is when two companies become one. DEI buying out Ginn Racing was a merger.
A partnership is different. When Boston Red Sox owner John Henry paid $60 million to join Roush Racing, it was a partnership that formed Roush Fenway Racing.
An alliance is when teams share information. For example, Evernham Motorsports shares setup information on its Dodges with Petty Enterprises.
For further explanations, contact a contract attorney.
Formula One's court of decision, the FIA World Sports Council, ruled that the McLaren team did have 780 pages of confidential Ferrari documents.
But there wasn't enough evidence to prove McLaren benefited from it, so McLaren wasn't penalized.
Isn't that beside the point?
Even if all 780 pages were describing what Ferrari drivers ate for breakfast, a McLaren official still had them. That alone should have brought some type of punishment for McLaren.
Even FIA president Max Mosley questioned the decision, so he sent the spy affair case to the FIA Court of Appeal.
Piquet back to driver's ed
Three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet doesn't have a driver's license.
Not anymore. His license was revoked in Brazil because of numerous speeding and parking tickets.
Now Piquet, 54, is taking 30 hours of driver's education courses, which he must complete before he can get his license renewed.
Apparently, this is a family problem. Piquet's wife, Viviane, also lost her license and is joining her husband in the driver's ed courses.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.