Words Always Precede Racing On Cup Weekends

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2019
Another NASCAR tradition – the July 4th weekend race at Daytona – bites the dust this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

They call the little Q and A sessions they have with drivers or officials in media centers on NASCAR Cup Series race weekends “breakout sessions” these days. In today’s era of being polite for the series’ and sponsors’ sake, the breakouts don’t really produce much of anything of interest.

They had one with NASCAR president Steve Phelps on Friday in Daytona Beach, site of Saturday night’s 400-miler. And to the shock of no one, Phelps proclaimed the current Cup product to be “extraordinary” and “exceptional” and “fantastic”.

Phelps said the 2021 product, which will feature “Gen 7” cars (excuse me for wiping a tear from my eye as I fondly flash back to Gen 4) will be even better.

“The importance of this car can’t be overstated. It will allow teams to be profitable,” Phelps said. (No more drivers and owners drinking toilet water, I guess.)

“The great news is that the fan will be the beneficiary as well, because I think the car will have better body styling that the fans I think will really enjoy,” Phelps said. (Both of them?)

This coming on a weekend which will see the end of one of the Cup Series’ proudest, most historic and most popular traditions – the July 4th weekend race at Daytona International Speedway.

Message to NASCAR: tradition matters in racing. NBC opened its pre-race show on Saturday night talking about the memories and tradition of the race formerly and cooly known at The Firecracker.

So, pretty much what you’d expect in that breakout. A combination of cheerleading and hopeful thinking.

But there was some good stuff from drivers on Friday.

From Kyle Busch, some of his trademark honesty.

In the wake of qualifying being canceled on Friday, he was asked if that was a big deal.

“I don’t mind not qualifying here,” Busch said. “I think it’s kind of a waste of time anyways. All it does is show who has a faster car, and things tend to happen here during the race and that doesn’t mean much.”

Busch also called racing with the 550 horsepower package “momentum racing”. Kind of like electric cars, he said. And when asked if NASCAR officials needed to rely more on common sense when it came to pit road penalties, Busch said, “Short answer is yes, more common sense would be nice.”

Runner-up in interesting remarks Friday was seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

He was asked about Brad Keselowski’s remarks that he was “sending a message” by driving through Johnson’s teammate, William Byron” in practice on Thursday.

“I don’t think he ‘sent a message’ to anybody,” Johnson said. “I think it was kind of careless and not such a smart move yesterday. But, if he feels good about it, which clearly…..I just watched his interview in the bus before I came over here….he feels pretty good about what he did and we’ll just see how it all unfolds for him.”

Johnson was also asked his opinion about NASCAR and IndyCar racing at the same track on the same weekend. For it, he said.

“I’m totally in favor of it. And, I would hope that it would be a road course so I could do the double. I’m not interested in an oval IndyCar race, so I would love to have a road course.”

Oh boy, breakout sessions with both IndyCar and NASCAR drivers!

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2019
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