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October 25, 2014

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Sprint Cup racing is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner

An oil spill, the firing of a military general, Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the president’s falling poll numbers have all conspired to keep me from posting on Bloggity this week. It’s difficult to concentrate on NASCAR when there are so many editorial cartoons that need to be drawn. But now that it’s the end of the week, my attention has once again turned to my favorite sport.

It has often been said that NASCAR is like a family. But it’s not always one big happy family. It’s more like a family at Thanksgiving. There’s always some tension, resentment and anger lurking under the surface just waiting to boil over at the dinner table. In my family we always slice the turkey in the kitchen so that the dangerous carving utensils never make it to the dinner table.

This Sprint Cup season has seen no shortage of tension and anger between drivers as NASCAR’s “boys have at it” approach has taken hold. And that’s a good thing because watching Jimmie Johnson march toward another championship isn’t too exciting. I like it that the drivers aren’t afraid to show their emotions and verbally mix things up. Granted, these antics can sometimes be a little juvenile, but it’s better than the packaged responses we’ve endured from drivers in past seasons. For a while the Cup drivers were beginning to sound like politicians pontificating from the steps of the Capitol during a CNN interview.

The fans complained that the drivers were too careful and NASCAR responded. And making some changes based on fan reaction is continuing this week with the introduction of the Mustang and Challenger in the Nationwide Series. We have all wanted race cars that looked more like the street versions and NASCAR is moving toward that. The new cars look great and do make the machines look a little more like their street counterparts.

It seems that the Nationwide Series is the laboratory for these cars that will eventually be used in the Cup series. But two things are missing from this equation: a Chevrolet and a Toyota that are based on pony car designs. Toyota doesn’t have a pony car in its lineup, but Chevrolet should be using the Camaro. Maybe Chevy is waiting to introduce its pony car into Cup when Ford and Dodge make their move to that series. But why give the marketing advantage to Ford and Dodge? From a competitive standpoint, using the Camaro in the Nationwide Series would be a good move for Chevrolet. I think I may have said this before, but it’s time for the sedans to leave the sport.

One thing that I really appreciated about the new Nationwide car is a front end that incorporates a splitter that’s smoother and more fluid than the version used on the Cup cars. The new splitter is free of the ugly braces that extend down from the bottom of the bumpers. There’s talk that this design will be incorporated into the Sprint Cup cars in the future.

“NASCAR Now” on ESPN reported this week that Jeff Gordon may be having a new sponsor splashed across the hood of the No. 24 in the near future. DuPont is with Gordon through 2010, but ESPN reported that Mobil 1 might be the new sponsor for the Hendrick car. Looks like there are a lot of fans who will have to be buying new wardrobes and expanding their die-cast collections.

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New Nationwide Series Mustang

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