A few more thoughts while we're waiting for Sunday's race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway:
Sunday is an important day for NASCAR. The economy can be used to explain a drop in attendance and sponsorship issues, but it doesn't explain why television ratings have been down in recent weeks. If fans aren't watching because the racing isn't good, then there should be plenty of viewers Sunday since the racing is almost guaranteed to be compelling at Talladega. If the racing is good and the ratings are still down, that will at least suggest a deeper, more systemic problem for the sport. Those kinds of problems are a lot more difficult to address.
Just one week, please, could somebody on television just decide NOT to jump on the obvious puns? Gambling references at Las Vegas and Wild West metaphors at Texas? Really? Must we? Saturday on the ABC broadcast of the Nationwide race at Talladega, the pit reporters made their “draft” picks just before the green flag as a cross-promotion to ESPN's coverage of the NFL draft.
DAVID POOLE: He's come close in each of the past few weeks to being the first driver/owner to win since Ricky Rudd. He breaks through to do it Sunday.
Winner: Tony Stewart.
JIM UTTER: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won three weeks in a row. It's time to share the wealth with another of the sport's powerhouse teams.
Winner: Kyle Busch.
BOB HENRY: Yes, the wealth will be redistributed on Sunday, but that doesn't make it socialism. Roush Fenway Racing will be the beneficiary.
Winner: Greg Biffle.
Super Bowl-Daytona conflict looms
Plans to expand the NFL's regular season could very well wind up putting the Super Bowl on the weekend that's also the traditional date for NASCAR's premiere event, the Daytona 500, based on comments from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Speaking Friday in a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors before this weekend's draft in New York City, Goodell outlined a scenario for the extended regular season that would push the Super Bowl back to President's Day weekend.
It would have two preseason games in August, down from the current four. That would be followed by an open week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week of the regular season.
“We have not found a saturation point for pro football, which is a good thing,” Goodell said. “I don't want to be around if we do.”
NASCAR's position on an expanded NFL regular-season and a possible conflict with the Daytona 500 hasn't changed.
“We're aware of the proposal and are watching to see what happens,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.