As y’all know, I’m not a big fan of That Homo Jeff Gordon, but….I must say that after last night’s race at Richmond, I’m beginning to have a bit of empathy for the guy. Once again, he had a race he probably should have won snatched from him at the final moments on a yet another green-white-checkers restart. This time by Kyle Busch. Not that Kyle was a last-minute beneficiary of good luck….Kyle led for most of the race and could have won wire to wire lapping the entire field had his car not gone south about 2/3rds of the way into the race.
Last week at Talladega, not that Gordon would have won it, but his team-mate had a lapse of his damned ability and took Gordon out.
And I’ve already mentioned Newman at Phoenix and Stewart at Texas. So yeh, I get it. Despite it all, I feel for the guy. He’s become the perpetual bridesmaid at Hendrick. Never the bride. Not no more. I guess it would be okay to see his slap his uni-browed butt-buddy punk protege and his damned ability into place once. I wont stand up and cheer if Jeff Gordon wins. But I might applaud.
Pretty soon Gordon will be the old man at Hendrick once Mark Martin leaves. It’s good to see the old guys win once in awhile. Even if it IS Jeff Gordon. Yarrrggghhh!!
Well…I had high hopes for today that Chelsea would clinch the Premier League with 1 game to go. A win, coupled with a Man U loss at Sunderland would have sealed the deal. Chelsea took care of business early by smacking Liverpool in the mouth 0-2 at Anfield and dashing Liverpool’s hopes for a return to the Champions League. Sure, Pool will still play in Europe this coming year….but qualifying for the Europa League (from which they just got bounced by Athletico Madrid) is like being invited to the NIT. Rafa ‘s got a lot of work to do in Pool over the off-season.
But…Man U pulled out a 0-1 win over Sunderland on a goal by Nani. By the skin of their teeth they remain the bridesmaids of the Premier League 1 point down on Chelsea with 1 game to go.
And so we go on for the final week. Chelsea closes it out with Wigan at Stamford Bridge. Man U will have a tougher match at Old Trafford with Stoke City. Stoke City is a tough road team. Both team MUST win. My prediction is Chelsea will handle their business at home with Wigan. But Man U could come of their match with a draw. Stoke has a fairly good road record for a mid-marker team, despite the fact that Chelsea boat-raced them out of Old Trafford 7-0.
Far and away from the world of brides and bridesmaids are the lowly back-marker start & park teams that have recently been attracting more attention in the NASCAR world. The president of Texas Motor Speedway Eddie Gossage claims they’re stealing money…..that is, they’re stealing money he thinks should be paid to legitimate teams.
Now I’ve always made sport of the start & park crowd, mainly because at times their stunning quixotic attempts to rise above their mediocrity can be fairly entertaining for a descending series of moments. The simple fact that Joe Nemechek runs a start & park team pretty much guarantees a seemingly mean-spirited tweak from me every once in a awhile.
But this season, some of the powers that be in NASCAR are getting serious about it. The 43rd place car, if it isn’t in 43rd place because of a wreck, will have the car confiscated by NASCAR and torn apart and thoroughly inspected. I’m of the feeling that this is extremely punitive and in the long run goes against the spirit and soul of NASCAR.
Are the back markers stealing money? Mark Aumann’s article on nascar.com looked into the prize payouts for races going back to 1960. He did find that while the payouts for the lower finishers has not gone up significantly as a percentage points of the total purse, the winners percentage of the total purse has decreased substantially from 1960.The 43rd place finisher is still in the 1-1.5% range. The dramatic drop is in the winner’s take. In 1960, the winner’s take was 22-23% of the total purse. By 2009 that take had dropped to 5-6%
So…where is the money going? Certainly not to the much maligned ((and laughed at)) start & park teams. If they were racking it in at the expense of the winners, they wouldn’t be start & park teams to begin with. Last night, at Richmond, the aforementioned Joe Nemechek wrecked his #87 FrontRowJoe.com Toyota on lap 42 and the $65,512 he took home for his efforts will barely pay for repairs to his car, let alone get him enough ahead to pay for next week. As much as I ofttimes poke fun of Joe, it’s not fair to stay he’s stealing money from anyone. It’s got to hurt his pride immensely to have to start & park every week.
The money is actually going to the mid-marker finishers….15th through 30th. That’s where the money to used to go primarily to the winner is going now. Kyle Busch won the race and took home $264,506 for his efforts, or 5.25% of the total purse. But Tony Stewart, who finished 23rd, took home $108,623, or 2.15% of the purse. The percentage of the take is remarkably consistent from 10th on back to 30th…even beyond. This is where the money is going.
NASCAR’s current purse structure is parity driven, to a point. What it has done is created some measure of parity amongst the larger, multi-car teams so they all get a reasonably equal piece of the action. Eddie Gossage shouldn’t be barking out his ass about start and park teams, he should be barking out his ass about the the 3rd or 4th cars on some of the larger teams who are being rewarded every week to finish 25th. It’s cars who finish 20th to 30th week in and week out who are stealing. The money is going to feed the large teams.
If NASCAR were to go back to the good old days where the winner got 22% of the purse, the money has to come from somewhere. And where it’s going to come from is from 3rd or 5th place on down through 35th. And especially from cars that finish 10th through 25th. The Joe Nemechek’s of the world always got about 1% of the purse. It’s the Elliot Sadler’s and the David Ragan’s, and the David Stremme’s of the NSACAR world who are doing the stealing on behalf of their fully-funded team owners. If NASCAR were to go back to the good old days of winner take the lion’s share, the first folks to squawk will be Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush, Roger Penske, Richard Childress, Chip Ganassi, Richard Petty/Gillette. All the money they’ve been stealing each week will be gone. Unless one of their boys happens to win the damn race., of course. Maybe that would make racing better if there was more incentive, such as MONEY, to win.
But please don’t malign the entrepreneurial spirit that drives the start & parkers to show up at the track week in and week out with high hopes and noble expectations. Sometimes it’s the ones who walk alone that can find a way to greatness…as Alan Kulwicki did back in 1982. It’s almost impossible to accomplish that these days, but why make it even harder?
Next week the fun continues at Darlington, the Lady In Black. The Track Too Tough To Tame. Another Saturday night race. The Southern 500. Well…I guess it passes for one these days. The Southern 500 always used to be Labor Day weekend. The spring race at Darlington was always the Rebel 400. But…I guess we’ll have to live with what we have.
That said, it should be a terrific race. And the 42 bridesmaids will be stripped bare, and not be their bachelors. And when the checkered flag drops the bride will wear black.