SADLY, KENTUCKY WAS NO SURPRISE

Today’s challenge will be to not make this piece look like a rant. This observer considers himself open-minded, optimistic and one who can generally find the good in just about any situation.

Finding any good out of Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Motor Speedway is difficult to do. Sadly, it comes as no surprise. That’s the travesty of it.

First- there’s the track. After fans have clamored for years for something other than a mile-and-a-half aero track, what do they get when a new date is announced? Another mile-and-a-half aero track! Hello? Are there any signs of life in Daytona?

Not only is there the configuration issue, there’s the bumpiness of the track, making it harder to pass. They’ve been talking about a Cup date here for years, is it crazy to think that a repave might be in order before their FIRST Cup event? They’ll have to do one sooner or later, why not NOW!!

You can’t help but feel sorry for the fans. As evidenced by their attendance, the good folks in the surrounding area were ready for racing. What did they get? An on-track product so mediocre (I’m being generous here) that even the generally PC Carl Edwards couldn’t cover for it. Did you catch his post-race comments? Like too many other events, in Edwards’ estimation, only the finish saved it. I’d concur.

Perhaps the only other redeeming quality of the race (and it’s no consolation to some) is they watched a budding legend own this race and stamp is name in race track history. On this night, Kyle Busch was the man, and continues to show he will be a part of the championship chase along with brother Kurt, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Kevin Harvick. You don’t have to like the guy, but you have to admit this driver is truly an amazing talent.

Even more amazing is what an epic flop this weekend was off the track. I am pleased to say that the fans I’ve heard from did enjoy the people they met, and walked away with that same sense of community we would all expect at the race track. Otherwise, this is 24 hours a person never gets back. We won’t dwell here on the lack of parking, infrastructure, poorly stocked concessions, and inadequate porta johns, but it makes you wonder what anyone connected with this debacle was thinking.

Essentially, the folks at SMI, Kentucky Motor Speedway and NASCAR succeeded in building the better blivet (stuffing ten pounds of crap into a five pound sack). If the locale, if the track couldn’t handle the event, then why in the name of Mike did they hold it there? I understand it’s a business, but long term pain coming in blown PR will be felt long after the short-term gain of tickets sold for this weekend. This is not SMI’s first rodeo; how could they not know the parking and roadways would be insufficient?

Out where I live there’s a saying that it takes centuries to grow a forest, and minutes to burn it down. In a season where we had an All-American kid win at Daytona, several first-time winners, stout competition, and a lot of good to remember, this will sadly stick to NASCAR like stink on a skunk and overpower the good accomplished. That’s sad.

In recent history- NASCAR has the pothole incident at Daytona, the “Technology on Parade” race at Talladega (Fall, 2009), and the infamous tire snafu at Indianapolis in 2008, just name a few. It seems the phrase “disappointed but not surprised” applies here. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it will take some time for NASCAR nation to wash the bitter taste of this race from their palates. It’s commendable that apologies and make goods are being offered, but it just doesn’t make one whie of sense that these issues weren’t addressed beforehand. At this point in time, this is PR NASCAR certainly DOESN’t need, and they had to know that. 

Other articles by Jim McCoy include:

Is Jimmie Johnson A Bad Teammate?
Road Courses Belong In NASCAR 
There’s A Lot Riding On Daytona