Tagged: NASCAR

Hi, folks. I’m at home flipping channels between NASCAR and the NFL

Sorry for the lack of posts here about Harvey Weinstein’s implosion, or about Pres. Donald Trump and the Iran nuclear deal. I’ve been too busy the last several days on assignment. Now that my stories are filed I am watching sports on TV, including NASCAR from Talladega, as well as the NFL. The big story today is from the Green Bay-Minnesota game where the news is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone and is gone for the entire season. Yikes. Ouch.

Also, I’m trying not to care about the whole NFL national anthem controversy that has Americans so riled up. More later.

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NASCAR Pinty’s Series is on tonight in Saskatoon!


Hi, folks, it’s another big day for sports in the “306”. On the heels of the big soccer friendly in Regina, this evening we have the traditional midweek NASCAR Pinty’s Series race in Saskatoon, the Velocity Prairie Thunder. Or should I say “races,” because that’s what it is tonight: two 100-lap races instead of the 250-lap single race they had run there previously. 

Honestly, I don’t think I like this new format; they’re basically splitting the race in two and giving us less racing from these NASCAR pros on the track. In between, they will have some race nobody cares about involving these Super Late Models. I’m not interested in that, I want to see NASCAR.

There are a few big names racing tonight: Alex Tagliani, Andrew RangerD.J. Kennington (who raced at Daytona), L.P Dumoulin and defending Pinty’s Series and Saskatoon champion Cayden Lapcevich, to name a few. The live NASCAR Home Tracks updates of all the action from Wyant Group Raceway can be had here.

The best part of NASCAR is the fights!! Seriously. 

Here’s the story on the NASCAR race in Las Vegas which ended with Kyle Busch getting into a scrap with Joey Logano’s crew on pit road at the end of the race.

As an aside, it should be interesting for visitors to the M&M’s store on the Strip this week to see Busch’s beat-up No. 18 race car in there. Just kidding, folks.

Auto racing: Las Vegas getting second NASCAR race, and Indycar begins in St. Pete


I am spending NCAA Selection Sunday watching auto racing. On today is the Kobalt 400, the only Las Vegas stop of the season for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series.

But not for long. It was announced this week that Las Vegas will be getting a second Cup series weekend in the fall, starting in 2018. It will be replacing one of the two New Hampshire races on the schedule. Helping ease the move is that Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns both tracks. The move makes sense, since attendance in Las Vegas is better anyway.

All in all, it’s more great pro sports news for Vegas with the arrival of its new NHL team the Vegas Golden Knights, the announcement UFC will hold four events a year at T-Mobile Arena, and news the Raiders-to-Vegas move is back on track. Now, honestly, I have been of the opinion for a while that Las Vegas doesn’t need the NFL. What they have there now in terms of sports options is more than enough; any city that has an NHL team plus major NASCAR and UFC events on a regular basis would be doing quite well, thanks. Heck, they even have Sevens Rugby every year. But if they really want the NFL there, fine.

The other news is that this is the opening weekend for Indycar and they held their race earlier today in St. Petersburg, Florida, won by Sebastien Bourdais. Of course, whenever I see these races going in places like St. Petersburg, and Las Vegas, not to mention these golf tournaments from Florida, I get all jealous about the weather conditions compared to here, in frozen Canada. (I guess it’s supposed to warm up.) See, this is why I tune in, to get my mind off of the cold.

Also, I read an article in the New York Times about how Indycar was no longer spinning its wheels and how interest is up. You could have fooled me, though, because my own personal interest is down, and the reason is all because I live nowhere near any IndyCar races anymore. Of course, there used to be a race in Edmonton that I would go to regularly, but now it’s just Toronto on the schedule. 

If Indycar is serious about getting fans back in Canada, they need another race here in western Canada where people can go and watch the race live. There have been rumors that may actually happen, though; there has been talk of IndyCar expanding their schedule and rumor is one of those additions could be a street race in Calgary, Alberta.

Well, if that were to happen I’d be interested in going to it, assuming I still live somewhere within driving distance of Calgary, Alberta by then. Right now, the IndyCar race which is the closest proximity to where I live now is the one in Newton, Iowa!!

Not only that, the closest Major League Baseball and NBA teams are in Minneapolis, the closest MLS team is in Vancouver, and the closest NHL team is in Edmonton!! Man, I miss big city life, when these sports were only a subway ride away.

Boogity Boogity Boogity! Kurt Busch wins the crash-fest known as Daytona

What are you most excited about today? Daytona 500, or the Oscars?


As usual, the great American tradition of Oscar Night is colliding the same day as another great American event: NASCAR. Boogity Boogity Boogity

It seems like this happens every year, except this time the Oscars are up against the Great American Race, the Daytona 500! I guess the good news is this year they won’t be going head-to-head: the 500 is in the afternoon while the Academy Awards goes later in the evening. The only way there will be a conflict is if there is a rain delay or a lot of crashes and car-pileups. Right now, though, there is rain in the forecast — in LA.

Here’s something that just occurred to me: does anyone think the Daytona 500 might have influenced the slogan of Donald Trump’s campaign for President?

The Great American Race?” “Make America Great Again?” (Another thing to think about: Trump’s second home is in Florida.)

Of course, these two events are going to have completely different sets of audiences. The Daytona crowd is about God, country, and country music: rabid Republican, rapidly populist, and therefore, rabid Trump. 

The Oscar crowd, though, is totally socially and culturally liberal and international in its outlook. And it couldn’t be less populistic, because it’s rich celebrities and industry people there. They’re also probably pro-Globalization there, too, because Hollywood does its business all over the world. In short, they’re Democrats

This piece in Fox News sums up the cultural divide for these two events. To me it really is a stark elitist-vs.-populist divide, and has been for years. And it kind of makes no sense, either, because lots of NASCAR fans love going to movies, too. But this isn’t about the movies; it’s about the Oscars. There is this general knee-jerk reaction to this awards show in particular, because most of these nominees are just too darned pretentious for the general population.

Anyway, I must be one of the few people interested in both these things. I will admit this: of these events today, I am far more excited about NASCAR being back. I gotta admit it, it’s more my scene than the Oscars with all their fashions and political speeches. Seriously, can’t we give the politics a rest, for a change? You can be darned sure there won’t be political speeches at Daytona, these folks will be too busy racing.

Also, at least with the Daytona 500 it’s guaranteed to be exciting and entertaining — something the Oscars usually are not. Oh, well, maybe with Jimmy Kimmel hosting it will be a livelier show. 

Update: Actually, based on the Twitter reaction from Saskatchewan, most people from around here were interested in the freaking Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling! To heck with that!!

NASCAR makes more needless changes to its renamed ‘Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’

This has been a big offseason of changes to NASCAR. For one, this is their logo now (above). For another, there is a new title sponsor. Yes, the Sprint Cup is no more, replaced by something called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 

Then there was the shocking news of Carl Edwards calling it quits, after a big wreck ruined his title hopes in the final race of last season. Anyway, even more changes were announced Monday. 

NASCAR is now splitting the races up into three segments where the winner of each segment is awarded the most points. The winner of the whole race, of course, gets the most points. Also, they are no longer calling the NASCAR ‘Chase’ the “Chase”; it’s just going to be the “playoffs” from now on. The whole list of changes is here

People are saying these latest changes are evidence that NASCAR is evolving for the times, and maybe these changes will end up being an improvement on what has gone on recently. But count me as skeptical. Honestly, NASCAR has made way too many changes over the years. It sure seems like NASCAR is bent on copying the approach of the National Hockey League, a league notorious for endless rule changes to try and make the sport more popular than it is. 

With NASCAR, it all started with bringing in the “Chase” to try and make their races relevant in the final ten weeks up against the National Football League. Then, they expanded the field from 10 to 16 drivers and rejigged the rules for making the Chase, and broke it up into these multiple elimination rounds, which devalued drivers’ efforts during the course of the whole season. Yet even after all that, we still ended up with Jimmie Johnson winning the Cup, again, last season! 

Does anyone else think NASCAR was easier to follow back in the days when the cigarette makers were involved? Things have gone straight to heck ever since Winston left! You can’t keep up with all the changes to the rules, to the title sponsor, and so on. It’s just gimmick after gimmick.

Boxing and football make for a winning movie box office combination

Recently, I read an article on TSN’s BarDown website that talks about Darren Rovell’s list that he posted of the top ten-grossing sports movies of all time — in today’s dollars might I add. As it turns out, the top movies he listed are mainly football or boxing related. 

At the top: Rocky and Rocky III, followed by The Blind Side. Then it is Rocky IV and Rocky II. The Waterboy, The Longest Yard, Talladega Nights, Creed, and Remember the Titans round out the list. So, basically, it’s all Rocky or football movies, and one NASCAR movie. 

We shouldn’t be surprised these are up there. The Rocky franchise starring Sylvester Stallone is one that transcends sports, and football seems to be the one sport that translates the best to the big screen in terms of drama and action. Of course, there have been numerous iconic auto racing movies made. But I guess the surprise for me is that of all the racing movies, the one that landed in the Top 10 was Talladega Nights, the comedy with Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby. Not that it’s a terrible movie, but I’m surprised.

Now, here is my big rant about that BarDown article I just linked to. You can tell it was a Canadian article, because they made a huge deal out of the fact that there was no hockey movies in the top 10. And I’m going, good grief, man, can’t anyone in Canada run a story about the sports movie box office without using hockey as a point of reference?! It’s almost as if they are all offended that hockey did not make the list! As if the sport was being slighted! 

Guys, guess what: the reason no hockey movies made the list is because hardly any hockey movies get made! The only two that anyone has ever really heard of was Slap Shot and The Mighty Ducks, and that’s it!

The folks at the sports nets in Toronto need to realize the world does not revolve around their beloved hockey. Deal with it, Canada.

Frankly, though, the real surprise for me is not that there are no hockey movies on Rovell’s list — it’s the lack of any baseball and basketball movies. 

Think of the multitude of baseball movies ever made (Pride of the Yankees, The Natural, Major League, Moneyball, A League of Their Own etc.) and the number of basketball movies (Hoosiers, Space Jam, White Men Can’t Jump etc.) and it really is amazing neither sport made it into Rovell’s top 10 list. 

In fact, I’m thinking maybe this list of Rovell’s might not even be accurate, because I can’t believe some of these movies that were left off the top ten (ie Space Jam and A League of Their Own in particular) given the amount of money they made back in the day. I’m thinking maybe these are just the domestic grosses Rovell’s referring to? (If that’s the case, no wonder football movies did so well!) Anyway, I ought to look into it a bit further.

The NFL season is over but at least we have NASCAR. What a finish at the Daytona 500!!

The one and only good thing about the NFL season being over is it now frees up my time to watch NASCAR on weekends.

Boogity Boogity Boogity!! The Daytona 500 launched the 2016 season today and the finish was the closest in history, with Denny Hamlin barely edging out Martin Truex Jr. to the finish line, after Matt Kenseth just plain blew it in the final lap. Stuff like this, my friends, is the reason why I’m a NASCAR fan.

Eat a bunch of M&Ms in honour of Kyle Busch winning the NASCAR Chase; plus some words about NFL fans venting about NBC 

  
The NASCAR season is over and Kyle Busch is the champion after winning the final race yesterday at Homestead-Miami. It caps a comeback year for Busch after he was out injured to begin the season. Personally I’m happy because I’ve gotten to see his Number 18 M&Ms car in person at the giant M&Ms store on the strip in Las Vegas. Great win for the sport.

Now, a few words about NBC’s coverage of the end of the race. This race, unfortunately, was delayed due to wet weather in the Miami area that pushed the start back over an hour, so that meant the end of the race ran up against NBC’s NFL highlight show Football Night in America. NBC opted to stick with the big race on its main network to the conclusion, and as usual Twitter was not happy. The NFL fans rained down on NBC with a barrage of complaints about their favorite football highlights being preempted by NASCAR.

But here’s my take on it: NBC did the right thing. They respected the NASCAR fans and stuck with the championship race to its final conclusion, and did not shuffle it off to NBCSN. NASCAR fans deserved nothing less. 

Unfortunately for NBC, right after the race ended the main network finally switched to Football Night in America, and the victory celebration and the trophy presentation were shuffled off to NBCSN, so that gave NASCAR fans their turn to be mad on Twitter. 

They were going on and on about NBC disrespecting NASCAR by not showing the trophy presentation on the main network, but really, what could NBC do? This was a no win situation either way. No matter what they did, someone was going to be mad on Twitter. And whether NASCAR fans like it or not, they are always going to be outvoted by the NFL fans. Majority rules.

Social media. Ain’t it wonderful. 

Well, all my big NASCAR viewing plans this weekend were a washout.

  
As I had said earlier, I had big plans to watch NASCAR and the Chase race from “nice and dry” Phoenix, Arizona this weekend. 

It didn’t go as planned, to say the least, because the weather didn’t cooperate at all in the desert. 

The rains came in Phoenix and it delayed the start of the race — so much so that I was able to get in quite a lot of viewing for both CFL playoff semi-final games in the afternoon. 

By the time evening came, the NASCAR race had still not started and I had planned all along to go to the big James Bond movie Spectre. So I went to the movie. 

Let me tell you — after all that terrorism in Paris recently, going to this movie was not a good way to escape from the world’s problems. (Especially with French actress Lea Seydoux in the cast, reminding you of Paris just by her being in the movie.)

Bottom line is, I went to that and ended up missing the entire NASCAR race, which ended up shortened when the rains came again and was ultimately won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 

So now, there is just one Chase race left next week in Miami with four guys left competing for the Cup. Hopefully, the weather is better on Sunday in Miami than it was down in Phoenix.

Weekend update: NFL and “the Chase” is on, plus I’m through with the Riders.

This has been a work weekend so I have been out covering the local events for the past couple of days and filing pictures and stories. My work is pretty much done for the weekend, so that means I am now tuning in the NFL as well as the NASCAR “Chase” which is now on. It’s a pretty brazen move by NASCAR to put their product up against the mighty National Football League, but they manage. 

While watching that, I have been looking for audio streams for these NFL teams and had been listening online to the Buccaneers and Dolphins radio networks. The thing I like about football from Florida is that folks there are totally into football and the NFL. Reminds me of the passion fans have here on the prairie for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Despite all the teams’ troubles, the fans still show up. Wish it were that way all over Canada, but it isn’t.

As an aside — I am done, absolutely done, with the Riders this season. 

Last night the Riders managed to call a timeout that they didn’t actually want to call to begin with, allowing quarterback Henry Burris time to lead his team down the field to get the winning field goal in a 30-27 Ottawa win. 

This was in spite of a decent enough start by quarterback Kevin Glenn. So now the Riders are 1-11 with six games to go in the season, and with Zach Collaros out injured in Hamilton all the talk now is about how the Riders might officially throw in the towel and trade Glenn over there. 

The way things are going, this is shaping up as possibly the worst season in franchise history. This has certainly been the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and I’ve endured no shortage of terrible Roughrider teams. 

While the team is not yet officially eliminated the next six games are shaping up as meaningless contests for the Riders, for the most part. Makes me nostalgic about the old days when Roughriders teams routinely played nothing games late in the season every year.

Let me tell you, the Riders are really making it easy for me to concentrate on all the other sports going on right now. 

As for me, I didn’t even tune in most of this CFL game on Saturday night. Instead of tuning in the Riders, I mainly followed the SJHL Battlefords North Stars game versus the Kindersley Klippers. This was job-related, as I was writing up the story on the weekend series between the two teams during this opening weekend of the SJHL hockey season.

In fact, it’s just two games into their regular season and the North Stars have more wins than the Riders have all year.

Can I add a comment on the weather? It has been beautiful this weekend, and while it is expected to cool down, this overall El Niño weather pattern looks like it will benefit this area for several weeks. Yet the local football fans aren’t getting a chance to enjoy it. This is September, supposedly the heart of football season, yet these loyal Saskatchewan fans who have shelled out their hard-earned money for Riders football are being reduced to watching a bunch of absolute nothing games coming up. Rider Nation deserves better.

I went to bed early and missed the big NASCAR wreck at the end of the Coke Zero 400 race!!

  

So, anyway, exhaustion clearly got the better of me with last night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. 

The race was delayed for hours due to rain, and then after it finally started I was so tired that I went to bed early, leaving the iPad running so I could listen to the race call from the Motor Racing Network.

The bottom line is that the race must have bored me right to sleep, because I nodded off completely and totally missed the scary crash at the end of the race

It was so bad that even race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in tears over it, over fears that NASCAR driver Austin Dillon might have been killed. He wasn’t. Still, it was a scary situation. Fans were even injured by the debris, too.

What a way to introduce casual fans to NBC’s Sprint Cup coverage, eh? First a rain delay, and then that incident. Scary business.

Sad news for NASCAR and its fans: RIP Steve Byrnes

It is a sad day for all of us NASCAR fans as Steve Byrnes of Fox Sports has died of cancer today. Anyone tuning in to Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage over the last several weeks knew all about Byrnes’ cancer fight and the tough situation he was in.

The Sprint Cup race in Bristol this weekend was actually named the Food City 500 Supports Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer in his honour. Of course, this was the race that was delayed by wet weather and so on, but it was finally completed at night with Byrnes watching the whole race on TV. His final tweet: “I went the distance.” 

That memorable race has a much more poignant meaning today with this sad news. RIP Steve Byrnes.

Trying to spend today watching auto racing, emphasis on word “trying.” 

Well, after starting the day watching the Grand Prix of Bahrain won by Lewis Hamilton, I tried to watch the NASCAR Food City 500 race from Bristol, TN today, but unfortunately the weather has not co-operated and we are in a rain delay. Anyway, that’s fine, it frees up my afternoon — and all the other race fans’ afternoons — to tune in to the IndyCar race going on in Long Beach

Makes me wish I were in California. Oh, and as an aside, it is now officially safe to travel again to Southern California because the measles epidemic is over.

Update: Good news, we got the race in!

On today’s NASCAR tilt: “I tuned in a WWE match and an auto race broke out!”

IMG_0435.JPG
The end of today’s NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway proved too funny for words as Jeff Gordon, enraged at Brad Keselowski for slamming him and running him off the track, charged after him in the pits after the race ended and the result was one massive fight — one in which Kevin Harvick also got involved.

No wonder Gordon was mad! Until the final caution forced the green-white-checkered finish, Gordon had been leading, or almost leading, the race. Had he won, he would have advanced directly to the final 4 at Homestead, Florida in two weeks for the Sprint Cup title. But wrecking in Texas has put all that in jeopardy, and now there’s the real possibility NASCAR might dock him a lot of points over this brawl, which would totally screw him over.

This epic fight comes close on the heels of another fight that happened in Charlotte recently during the Chase, involving Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. And people thought that brawl was one of the worst they’d ever seen, until today.

So last year in NASCAR was the “Year of the Crooks” because of all the cheating and machinations that went on, and now this year is the “Year of the Fights.” Honestly, this is a joke. It may be entertaining, and it’s great that the new “Chase” playoff-style format has proved so hotly contested, but really, these guys are starting to look like pro wrestlers out there. They really do need to dial back on the WWE antics, otherwise they’ll have about as much credibility as them.

After writing all this, I forgot to mention that it was Jimmie Johnson who actually won the race. Since you’re asking, I can confirm that no, he didn’t get into any fights afterwards.

Sports rants: thoughts on two Texas auto races, plus the World Series TV ratings

I am wasting this snow-filled day at home watching sports on TV. After catching the end of the Aston Villa-Tottenham soccer game, I am now tuned to NFL and CFL football until the start of the auto races later today.

Yes, there are two big races going against one another this afternoon, and both are in Texas. One is the United States Grand Prix from Austin, while the other is the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Fort Worth. USA Today did a whole piece on how these two Texas races are up against each other. Personally, I think this is terrible for the fans, especially the ones in Texas.

Seriously, there are race fans who would have wanted to attend both races, and there are 52 weeks of the year in which to avoid a conflict. But these organizers forgot to look at the calendar, and so, instead of attending both of these races on separate dates, the race fans in Texas must either pick one or the other. This is going to drive down the attendance at both races, in my view.

It also stinks for me because I finally have a free weekend to be able to watch auto racing, after I spent last weekend working, and after going to a Riders game the weekend before. But now I am going to have to pick which one of these races to watch live.

Well, I’m going to watch Formula 1, because I don’t get an opportunity to do enough of that anyway, but the glitz and glamor of F1 is more my style than what you get from these good ol’ boys, these deep Southerners, in NASCAR anyway. Besides, the F1 race should be over before the NASCAR one, so I should be able to catch that one, too.

Also, I should comment some more on the TV ratings for the World Series that just ended. I notice the usual “baseball is dying” stories are out there again, with the Daily Caller the latest to declare the sport unpopular and in decline, declaring the audience as too old.

In truth, Game Seven between the Royals and the Giants got a big audience, but admittedly, these sorts of ratings don’t happen for baseball very often. I know it absolutely drives baseball people crazy when some ordinary regular-season NFL game on a Sunday or Monday night gets better ratings than the World Series.

And yet, a lot of people who have written about this point to the fact that the regional TV ratings for baseball are excellent. This is exactly the problem. Lots of these writers are saying baseball has become too regional a sport: people care about their local area teams, but they couldn’t care less about most of the other teams.

Part of the problem is the national media, who seem to fawn over a small number of big-market teams, like the Yankees and Red Sox as a really good example. But you’d never know the Minnesota Twins or the Colorado Rockies existed based on the coverage they get. As for the San Francisco Giants, they are particularly ignored year in and year out by the national media because they’re on the West Coast and their games are too late to get on the nightly highlight shows. It’s a lazy excuse, but that is what’s happened with them.

As a result, no one knows who Madison Bumgarner is, and no one cares about the Giants, a team that’s won the World Series three of the last five years!

With the NFL, their whole TV approach is totally different, with their national TV deals aimed at having fans care about the entire league, not just the local team. It seems like every team in the league gets on national TV at least once, no matter how bad they are — including even the crummy Detroit Lions every year on Thanksgiving.

Because there’s coverage of pretty much every team, a SF-KC game in the NFL becomes one people will watch and care about. But in MLB, with their focus on regional TV deals, and with the national media focused mainly on the major market East Coast teams, the local fans will have already lost interest the moment their team was eliminated — so a SF-KC matchup in the World Series becomes one they don’t care much about.

It’s not just Major League Baseball that has this problem — the NHL has the exact same issue in the USA (though people in Canada will watch any hockey game anywhere, I notice.) Also, I notice it’s getting to be a real problem with the CFL where people seem to care only about their local teams (ie. Saskatchewan) but increasingly could care less about any of the others.

Anyway, it would really help baseball if there were more attempts to showcase the other teams in the league on a national basis. They need to step up their national presence in a bigger way than what they have been doing. MLB needs to do more to market and hype up the whole month of October similar to the NCAA’s approach to basketball’s “March Madness.” That seems like a good plan to me, because honestly, most people couldn’t name most of the players in March Madness. Yet they still watch, just because it’s the NCAA Tourney.

I think this is a strategy worth pursuing. Seriously, this year’s playoffs were excellent, and there is no reason baseball couldn’t do better with its ratings in the future. They might as well hype it up and try and get people more excited about it. Anyway, those are my thoughts, and that’s all for the moment.

Robin Williams and Tony Stewart lead this week’s Bad News Roundup

This edition of Bad News Roundup features all the news that happened during my recent brief trip to the USA.

For a while the big story down there was the incident on that track in New York State over the weekend, in which NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr.

The video can be found here. Only watch it if you have a strong stomach.

That horrible incident dominated all the newscasts in the USA on cable and also Entertainment Tonight. Even Nancy Grace was weighing in on whether charges would be laid. You know, it just seems like it is the bad-news incidents like this – as well as the Dale Earnhardt death years ago – that are the ones that get NASCAR all the media attention, and for all the wrong reasons. And this wasn’t even a NASCAR event, either, that this happened at.

It took a really big piece of bad news to shove Stewart off the newscasts on Monday when the story broke in the afternoon that Robin Williams had died in a suicide. Age 63.

Wow, what a devastating blow for fans of comedy and the movies. And what a career.

Since everyone is recounting their favorite Robin Williams movies, mine were Good Will Hunting and Good Morning Vietnam.

That was pretty much my trip for you, having to hear about all this cheery stuff on TV.

THE NASCAR CHASE IS NOW AN AFTERTHOUGHT THANKS TO MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING

Nascar-LogoEven casual auto racing fans have surely heard by now of the big scandal in the NASCAR race in Richmond last week that was meant to set the field for the Chase.

All the accusations flew after the race that Clint Bowyer purposefully spun his car in the race, forcing a caution that took down race-leading Ryan Newman and costing him a spot in the Chase, while putting Martin Truex Jr. in.

Then a few days later NASCAR booted Truex out and put Newman back in the Chase, finding that Michael Waltrip Racing manipulated the outcome of the race. Every one of Waltrip’s drivers got docked 50 points due to the manipulations going on.

Michael Waltrip’s name is now mud and the sponsors over at NAPA are thinking of giving him the boot after this total PR debacle.

Today, NASCAR also put Jeff Gordon in the Chase in response to more manipulations going on, this time by the Front Row Motorsports and Penske teams. Both those teams are on probation now until the end of the year, and NASCAR plans to do what it takes to ensure this sort of team-orders manipulation doesn’t happen again.

This has only been the capper to what has been an utterly penalty-filled year for NASCAR, what with Matt Kenseth and  Joe Gibbs Racing getting the book thrown at them this year (though the penalties were later reduced), and Brad Keselowski getting docked, too.

Honestly, folks, these penalties, and all this rule breaking and cheating, is sapping the life out of NASCAR. You tune in a NASCAR race these days and you never know at the end of a race whether the winner actually won, what with all these penalties overturning the results all the time. It’s bad enough when officiating dictates the results of games in the other leagues, but at least those penalties happen DURING THE GAMES. In NASCAR the penalties seem to happen after the fact, which is even worse.

The Chase begins this weekend at the Chicago race track. Surely these teams can go ten full weeks without getting any race results tossed out due to penalties.

NOW A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE NEW NASCAR TV DEALS

Nascar-LogoOnly found out just the other day about the news that NASCAR awarded the TV rights to both Fox Sports and NBC for 2015, shutting out Turner Sports and ESPN.

This has apparently caused a lot of grousing from worried NASCAR fans who are afraid they won’t be able to get access to NBC Sports Channel or Fox Sports 1 on their cable systems — at least, not without having to shell out more dollars. Also, there’s fallout already with word that TNT and ESPN may want out of their current NASCAR deal a year early.

Folks at Awful Announcing are wondering about why ESPN would bail out of NASCAR so quickly and seem to be speculating that finances at ESPN could be the reason. 

Certainly from a NASCAR point of view the deal sounds good, with NBC paying $4.4 billion for its portion of the new contract. But a lot of people are already worrying this could be one of those take-the-money-and-run type of deals that doesn’t do much for promoting the sport.

Already there’s talk out there, such as in this Sporting News article, that NASCAR is marginalizing itself in an NHL-type of manner. Heck, what do these two sports have in common? Why, you guessed it: NBC!

The feeling is out there that you kind of need to be on ESPN in order to be relevant as a sport, in order to get on their highlights and have people talking about them. It’s true, too, that ESPN is EVERYWHERE so it really helps if they are covering your sport. Mind you, for several years this past decade FOX and NBC shared the NASCAR rights without ESPN even being involved, and the sport seemed to grow quite nicely without them.

On top of that, I listen to ESPN Radio a lot and they seem to say absolutely nothing about NASCAR anyway. And you hardly ever hear about NASCAR on Pardon the Interruption or any of their shows. Instead, it’s LeBron James and the usual people they talk about, not Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth or Tony Stewart. It really won’t matter if NASCAR signs with someone else, because ESPN already pretty much ignores them.

As far as I’m concerned, NBC seems interested in actually giving auto racing the time of day, whether it is NASCAR, IndyCar, or Formula 1, so I am not worried in the least about their coverage. As for Fox Sports, they’ve already proven themselves as NASCAR rights holders based on their prior efforts, so I’m very happy they’re picking up more races.

Frankly, I would have been way more upset if those guys at FOX Sports had been shut out, because they do a better job anyway. As Darrell Waltrip says, “boogity boogity boogity!!”   

I FIND MYSELF MORE INTERESTED IN NASCAR THAN THE OSCARS THIS YEAR

Usually I am all hyped about the Academy Awards but for some reason I was still more interested in the Daytona 500 even though there was that awful wreck the other day that sent many fans to the hospital.

Amazingly, no one has died. Even more amazingly, they pushed ahead with today’s race in spite of the tragedy. I think maybe what happened the other day was kind of on the minds of the drivers, because there wasn’t a lot of wild and crazy passing in the race.

Anyway it was Jimmie Johnson who won — again. So much for all the hype about Danica Patrick.

As for tonight’s Oscars, I’ll watch the usual parts of the show like their annual list of deceased people, just to see who got omitted again so that everyone gets all upset. But I don’t know if I am going to watch the whole thing. I might cut out during the boring parts and watch Family Guy instead.

I notice the host tonight is the usually funny Seth MacFarlane, a choice that I believe is sure to go down like a lead balloon with these uptights in the audience. I read this Oscar show may be a little less reverential than it usually is — less of this glitz and glamour and more humor.  The Oscar show usually lays it on thick with putting Hollywood on a pedestal and all that nonsense.

That’s what the audience in the hall expects — this audience filled with stars and industry big shots. They usually are demanding a show that is reverential of Hollywood. Unfortunately, it makes it hard for a funny host to be able to be irreverent, or for that matter, funny, at all.

This audience is, without question, the toughest crowd in comedy. They just don’t have a sense of humor. I’ve seen one funny comedian after another go down in flames at the Oscars over the years. So good luck to Seth MacFarlane tonight. He needs it, more than you know.

Also, they are planning a tribute to 50 years of James Bond 007 movies tonight, and the rumor is they are going to bring back all the guys who played James Bond for the show tonight. We’ll see if it happens.

Basically, that’s about all I care about tonight — I’m not that interested in the Oscar race like in past years. For more about tonight’s show, here’s a story here. Also, the red carpet live streams are on at KTLA and OntheRedCarpet.com. 

TWITTER GOING CRAZY OVER MASSIVE WRECK AT DAYTONA

It was an awful scene at Daytona today at the end of that Nationwide series race held this afternoon. There was a major wreck at the end of the race. Regan Smith was heading for the finish line in first place but ended up going into the wall, and then all heck broke loose and somehow Kyle Larson’s #32 flipped right into the fence. It has to be one of the scariest crashes people have seen.

Somehow Larson managed to walk away from this mess, but there is a lot of concern about the fans in the seats. Apparently a tire went into the stands and apparently an engine did, too! This is scary stuff. I remember an incident at the Indy 500 years ago where a tire went into the stands and a fan was killed.

The word is that a number of fans have been injured in this latest incident. Right now Twitter is going nuts with stories and rumors from the track.

For more on what happened, here’s a story from Yahoo! Sports. Oh, and as an aside, Tony Stewart won the race, but no one cares about that right now.

Usually I look forward to the start of NASCAR season, but this is not a good way to start.

KESELOWSKI WINS SPRINT CUP IN EVENTFUL WEEKEND FOR AUTO RACING

Auto racing may be in the sink right across Canada — a place where fans much prefer hard-hitting sports like the UFC fights held in Montreal last night — but that didn’t stop me from following the goings-on in NASCAR this weekend as Brad Keselowski, that same guy who posts on Twitter from inside his #2 car, clinched the Sprint Cup title in Homestead, Florida.

He did it by fending off Jimmie Johnson, who had a real shot at winning the championship today. But he wound up third in points behind Clint Bowyer after a costly miscue in the pits (his crew didn’t put enough lugnuts onto the wheels, apparently), followed up in short order with the whole car smoking on the track and ending up in the garage. What a way for a championship to be decided, but that’s the way it goes in auto racing.

This was also the first title for Roger Penske who, despite winning several Indy 500s, spent over two decades of trying to win a NASCAR title. The drought finally ended this weekend.

Winning the actual race was Jeff Gordon, who just a week before got a big fine from NASCAR after he rammed Clint Bowyer’s car and then got into a fight with him after the race in Phoenix. Never a dull moment in NASCAR, I gotta say — it’s what keeps me coming back year after year, although the real reason I watch is as a replacement for football during the spring weekends following the NFL season.

So about the only racing series left to watch now for me is Formula 1 which will have its finale next week in Brazil. Thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s win today, the drivers’ title race won’t be decided until the final day, which is a nice change from last year.

Today’s F1 race was the first in the USA in a while, which is good to see. It was staged at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and as the New York Times explains, it was kind of weird.

NASCAR CRASHES RIGHT OUT OF MONTREAL

When it rains, it pours. Canada is taking it on the chin with all of its sports. It’s bad enough the NHL is locked out, but all this auto race cancellation news is really adding insult to injury.

Fresh off the recent announcement that the plug was being pulled from the Edmonton Indy comes word that local promoter François Dumontier has pulled the plug on the NASCAR Nationwide race in Montreal, the NAPA 200.

Turns out  he was involved — sort of — with the same villains who threw in the towel on the Edmonton race, Octane. It was Octane Management that was in charge of the Montreal NASCAR race, while their sister company Octane Motorsports Events Inc. was in charge of the Edmonton event. Now we have learned the latter company has gone belly-up. What a mess. No wonder the Edmonton Indy race is now kaput.

Apparently NASCAR wanted to come back to Montreal, but the promoter claimed they were losing money on the Nationwide race and were tired of waiting for NASCAR to bring the Sprint Cup series (pictured) to the track.

Really — this is the reason this race is getting pulled? Because they were tired of hosting a second-tier Nationwide series instead of the major-league one, the Sprint Cup?!

I would have preferred the Sprint Cup there too, but that Nationwide event was a pretty darn good race that attracted some popular names (Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, etc).

I suppose the good news is that the track will still be able to fill the open date on the schedule. Rumor is that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve might now host a DTM series race instead. That’s fine, except nobody in Canada cares about that mainly Euro-based series.

What it all means is we have only two bigtime races in Canada on the schedule in 2013 that anyone in this country cares about — the F1 race in Montreal and the Indycar race in Toronto. Wait, it’s actually three races, because the Toronto race is going to be a double-header next year. Thanks a lot, Edmonton.

I guess you could add the American Le Mans series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario to the list, but nobody in Canada beyond die-hard race fans cares about that series, either. That’s too bad, too, because the cars are good.

There is speculation, though, from Norris McDonald that the Nationwide Series event could end up at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next year to fill the Montreal void. I hope so.

For now, it’s a mess.  Auto racing joins hockey in the sink across Canada; we have nothing to look forward to in the winter and now nothing in the summer, either.

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In other racing news, Michael Schumacher announced he is retiring. Again. Maybe this time he’ll stick with this decision.

THIS WEEK’S NEWS FROM NOWHERE IS A REAL HIGHWIRE ACT

Welcome again to News from Nowhere for this Monday night. I have a few items to share with you this night about all the happenings going on out there.

I guess the first piece of business is to mention Nik Wallenda’s highwire crossing over Niagara Falls on Friday, which ended up a success. Of course, at the end of it all Canadian officials asked him for his passport. It figures.

In other news, the Greek pro-bailout party won the election, so Europe is breathing a little more easily tonight. The whole continent may not end up hurling itself off the cliff after all.

And Rodney King, the man whose beating by LA cops ultimately led to the infamous LA Riots, is dead.

In local news, Friday was Saskatchewan’s day of the tornadoes.

A whole whack of them were seen by people and some of them even touched down. Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of excessive carnage, though there was damage.

In auto racing news, the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw the top three finishes recorded by Audi, Audi and uh, Audi.  

The NASCAR race in Michigan, on the other hand, was won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

In box office news, it was a real down weekend, especially for this weekend’s flops: Rock of Ages and Adam Sandler’s absolutely lame-looking That’s My Boy.

As for me, my monthly column is up (talking mainly about crime) and my Cairns on Cinema June update on where the box office stands, are both now up.

And that is all for now.