NASCAR Weekend: Win, Lose or Draw

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So that took long enough.

Testing is underway at Daytona. Teams are already starting to shuffle. 2015 plans are coming into place. Let’s break down a wild 72 hours, Bert Convy style.

Win: NBC

NBC may have overspent on its NASCAR package, but it is generating so much buzz with its broadcasting lineup. Everyone believes Jeff Burton will be a star. Corralling Steve Letarte stunned the racing world.

Now it looks like Mike Massaro and Dave Burns from ESPN will jump to NBC. Burns is solid in the pits. Massaro is underrated as a host. It’s difficult to create a broadcasting lineup that is experienced yet fresh. NBC made it happen with 18 months to spare.

Lose: Hendrick Motorsports

Steve Letarte has been with Hendrick Motorsports since he was 16 years old. That’s more than half his life. Hendrick Motorsports overcame the loss of Ray Everrnham, but it took time.

The bigger issue is Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Sporting News broke down the #88 team’s dynamic. Letarte stabilized an unsteady ship. Fans also know Earnhardt Jr. has had rocky relationships with prior crew chiefs.

Letarte said the #88 was the best job in the garage. Jimmie Johnson may disagree, but Rick Hendrick won’t have a lack of applicants. The problem is when hiring a new crew chief or coach, nobody ever knows it’s going to work. The #88 had a great thing going, and that’s going away at the end of this season. For NASCAR’s most popular driver, that’s a big change coming in 2015.

Draw: NASCAR Road To Recovery 

NASCAR fans should read this brief article about Todd Parrott, who recently was reinstated after finishing NASCAR’s Road To Recovery program for a substance abuse violation. Parrott is in Daytona and sounds in good spirits from reading the interview.

So why is this a draw? How does NASCAR evaluate success in a recovery program? Overcoming an issue with a substance is by far the most important thing that can happen. But Parrott lost his job with Richard Petty Motorsports. Can Parrott resume his career, or this program a virtual lifetime ban from the sport?

Mistakes happen. Bad mistakes happen. NASCAR is a sport where second chances happen. Parrott’s second chance is worth watching in 2014.