KERCHNER: The Heat Race
CONCORD, N.C. — Is anyone else tired of all the negative news in racing?
All are things that have nothing to do with going fast, passing cars, winning or losing.
The recent controversies in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the two most prominent North American racing series, make motorsports look as laughable as the major stick-and-ball stories.
We racing enthusiasts wanted equal coverage with football and baseball. Well, this week we’ve gotten it and for all the wrong reasons.
Those who read sports pages and websites and watch ESPN’s SportsCenter, have seen images of Texas A&M “bad boy” Johnny Manziel and noted baseball steroid user Alex Rodriguez replaced by long-winded b.s.-filled explanations of what happened — or didn’t happen — Saturday night at Richmond Int’l Raceway.
Clint Bowyer’s attempts on live editions of SportsCenter to explain away his inexplicable spin at Richmond were laughable. It was clear Bowyer didn’t even believe the manure he was spreading.
And two days later comes “partial” evidence that Penske Racing, which for years had one of the cleanest racing operations in the world, but has run afoul of the rules in both IndyCar and NASCAR this season, may have been involved in a separate act of “fixing” the outcome of the race and ultimately getting its driver, Joey Logano, into the Chase.
All of this is less than two weeks after IndyCar’s debacle in the streets of Baltimore, where officials took action against Scott Dixon for the second consecutive race in controversial fashion, ending his hopes of winning the series championship.
While the incidents involving Dixon had more to do with poor officiating from series officials than any type of cheating, it still left spectators and viewers wondering why they just didn’t tune into WrestleMania 749 instead.
The outcomes are just as hokey, but when the event is over, it’s over.
The great Chris Economaki used to tell us, “Any press is good press.”
In this case, we beg to differ. This kind of publicity only hurts motorsports. This is not a case of two guys throwing punches and fueling a rivalry between competitors. This is entirely about the integrity of the sport.
NAPA is already reconsidering its sponsorship of Michael Waltrip Racing after the NAPA team’s role in Saturday night’s doings. We won’t be surprised if other sponsors follow suit.
And we’re betting we’re not the only race fan who will be watching college football and the NFL while Chase races are taking place.
If you want racing, visit your local track on a Friday or Saturday night. That’s where racers race. Sponsors, politics and television racing rarely factor into the outcome.