The official start of the 2016 Sprint Cup season is here.
NASCAR’s annual media tour is this week. Hundreds of journalists from across the country will descend on Charlotte, talk to drivers and eat an insane amount of food. Here’s a look at potential winners and losers from the week that will be in this NASCAR recap.
Win: NASCAR Fans
I’ve written a NASCAR columns for six years. It’s been a slow off-sesaon. That’s fine; teams deserve a break and could probably use more of one.
Fans looking for more content won’t have to search very hard after this week. Sure, every driver will say they’re excited and looking forward to the year. Every team will say they learned valuable lessons in the off-season. NASCAR will say it has the perfect formula with some tweaked rules.
All that matters is that Sprint Cup teams are talking about 2016 plans. It’s time to look ahead and not worry about what happened in the past. Sprint Cup fans are ready to turn the page.
Lose: Tony Stewart
It’s Tony Stewart’s turn to take a retirement tour. This week had the potential to offer some insightful commentary from one of NASCAR’s most intriguing drivers. He was as great soundbite last year. 2016 could be a different story. Stewart’s situation with a heckler, now being investigated by Tulsa police, will likely dominate the media session, however long it even lasts.
Stewart deserves a Hall of Fame worthy sendoff. The Tulsa tussle and the lingering lawsuit over Stewart’s deadly accident at a dirt track in 2014 might make the conversation a little less than fluffy.
The media tour is always an interesting event for NASCAR. On one hand, it gives NASCAR a distinctive opportunity to showcase various causes, like its Drive For Diversity, and philanthropic efforts. It’s also a chance to place a spotlight on sponsors in a way fans and media simply can’t avoid. It’s truly a first class event.
On the other hand, there’s always a chance the publicity can take a negative tone. Last year, Kurt Busch was in the middle of a domestic violence investigation. Silly season issues for 2017 will inevitably pop up. Questions about economics and ratings always arise.
NASCAR usually comes out ahead at the end of the week. For Sprint Cup fans eager to talk about action on the track, let’s hope that’s the case again at the end of the week. Enjoy the media blitz, and insert a random catchphrase here.