No One Likes a Teacher’s Pet
Image courtesy of NASCAR Media Group / Getty Images
By Brandon Caldwell
May 20, 2014
Remember back in elementary school, that kid that sucked up to the teachers and was the teachers’ favorite? Do you remember ever liking that kid?
Friday night after the Sprint Showdown, the prelude to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race on Saturday night, we learned that Josh Wise, from little Phil Parsons Racing won the Sprint Fan Vote.
For those of you that don’t know, three drivers transfer to the Sprint All-Star Race from the preliminary Sprint Showdown. The top-2 finishers from the race, and a driver voted on by the fans, which already isn’t in that top-2.
NASCAR has told fans since the fan vote’s inception to vote for whoever they want and to “vote often,” as there was and as of right now, is no limit to how many votes a single person can have. When this first was introduced, I thought to myself, why let a fan vote more than once? If a driver is the “most popular” and who the fans want to see, then by having one vote per fan, no one can vote twice, and it’s the best way to do it, and there are a number of ways that it can be done.
This was never an issue before Friday. See, since the inception of the fan vote, it has gone two ways; the voters vote in who they want, and all of those times, it’s also been who NASCAR has wanted to get in as well.
There were no shockers of whoever won the fan vote. You usually could bring it down to about one or two favorites, and you were probably right on who that driver was going to be. Friday was no different at first.
Everyone thought that fan, and NASCAR favorite, Danica Patrick was going to win the Sprint Fan Vote. We saw the list of top-10 going into the night, and I was originally surprised to see Josh Wise be in the top-10 over some of the other drivers, who were not. But as my driver has wrapped up a career, I held out as long as I could for a vote, until about 5PM Friday night.
It was then that I looked at the candidates and deciphered who I thought should be an All-star, and I thought back to the season Josh Wise has had. Yes, no top-10 finishes, or top-15 finishes, but this isn’t Stewart-Haas Racing. This is Phil Parsons Racing. A top-10 is a win for these guys. In NASCAR there are no franchises like in that of other sports. There’s not an even, or level playing field. Every team for the most part, is on their own, and left to defend for themselves. So when evaluating drivers and teams, you have to take into consideration the situation, much like you do a great baseball hitter in a lineup where he’s the only star.
Josh Wise’s situation looks like this. A team in its first year of running all the laps of all the races. They run a Ford on the plate tracks, and a Chevrolet elsewhere. They don’t have a full-time sponsor, and they’re all by themselves, not associated with any of the bigger conglomerate teams.
Wise’s run in the Daytona 500, although ending up 24th, was a strong one. The run at Bristol was impressive too considering where this team is. It was at Bristol when everyone began to notice the Phil Parsons Racing team, and just how good they were looking. Another strong run at Darlington, at the track “Too Tough to Tame,” and of course who can forget that team mixing it up with the leaders two weeks ago in Talladega, before a late race crash took them out of contention for a top-10.
It was during that race that Wise gained the upper hand for me over Patrick. Not by what was happening on the racetrack, but by what was happening in the broadcast booth. Like a bunch of school kids pushing each other out of the way to get a glimpse at the prom queen. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and most of all Darrell Waltrip, were to say the least, going so crazy about Danica’s “early surge” to the front. It was there I felt forced fed. The FOX telecast was literally shoving Danica Patrick down my throat; no one likes to be forced fed. My ex girlfriend doesn’t eat eggs because her mother forced her to when she was little. She even likes eggs, but she’s sick of them. At that point, I finally knew how she felt, but I felt it about Danica Patrick. How can I have an open mind about something when I don’t even get a chance to take it all in, or even breathe for that matter?
I remembered the old adage I heard one time, “Pigs get fed, and hogs get slaughtered.” I related this to Danica and Josh Wise because Danica was the hog. Hogging the TV time, and the limelight, as Josh Wise from little Phil Parsons Racing, running up front with a sponsor, got no TV time because the spotlight was on Patrick the whole time.
So as I examined my pick for the Sprint Fan Vote, I decided on Josh Wise. A small team, that has been working hard, and running well and could use a break to get into the All-star race. My pick was not brought on by anything or anyone. It was just a feeling that I had, and I wanted to see this team make the race. I felt like they were owed the TV time that they missed at Talladega and other tracks where they ran well. We already know Danica Patrick exists, and her sponsor isn’t going anywhere.
I also took into the consideration the situation. I realized that all three of Danica Patrick’s teammates were in the big show on Saturday night, which meant to me that her car could contend for the victory, especially with how great Darrell Waltrip says she is, that Danica could race her way in anyway, being as talented as she is, and he situation with a big money sponsor, and with a championship winning organization.
After we all learned that Josh Wise had in fact won the fan vote, I thought I heard Darrell Waltrip choke over some tears as he was talking to Josh Wise about it. But what happened on twitter after the race, with another FOX broadcaster, is something that I will be talking about in two or three years when we’re discussing why Danica Patrick failed in NASCAR.
Chris “What Would I Do Without the Script” Myers, from FOX, and “Pistol” Pete Pistone from MRN Radio were on twitter acting like the two year old in K-Mart who didn’t get the water pistol they asked their mother for. It got so far as to Pistone making a reference to NASCAR taking away the fan vote. The broadcasters were upset because Josh Wise had won due to a bunch of fans on reddit.com pushing for Wise, and one fan who reportedly voted over 1,000 times for Wise. Well I wonder if that fan had voted that many times the other way, would there be an issue?
Perhaps another scenario is people don’t like to be force fed, and no one likes the teacher’s pet. For the first time in the history of the fan vote, NASCAR didn’t get their way, and the people in it were whining about it. Did we forget that this is an all-star race, and it’s what the fans want, not necessarily what NASCAR or the media wants. They can force feed their fans this whole Danica Patrick thing, and make people think that she’s the right person to vote for. But if Danica can’t race her way in, in that equipment, does she really belong anyway? I wasn’t aware that fans had to vote for whoever NASCAR wanted, and the media would get upset and cry if they didn’t.
I think what happened Friday night had a lot to do with reddit.com, but my vote came from the heart, and the fact that I want Phil Parsons Racing to know that they’re doing a spectacular job with the hand they're dealt. No one is force feeding Wise to the fans, or holding their hand and making excuses for him. He’s going out there, taking care of business and going home. NASCAR needs more of Josh Wise, and less of Danica Patrick, and the fans spoke last night. It’s okay race fans, I never liked the teacher’s pet either. And I still don’t.