The Writer’s Block: Gordon, ESPN, and Eldora
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images
Jeff Gordon leads the outside line at the start of last Sunday's Brickyard 400.
By The Racing Experts Staff
August 1, 2014
Our writing staff takes a look at three hot topic issues and weigh in their thoughts.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
Q. With Jeff Gordon scoring his 90th career win Sunday, how many does the 42-year-old have left in the tank??
Sunday further proved how well the No. 24 team can perform on long-runs and restarts. I believe Gordon can win at least one more this time this season.
As for when it’s all said and done, I think his win total could reach at least 95.
I think Jeff can hit the 100 win mark before he retires. He has the fire and the equipment to keep winning at least a few more races a year.
He has shown consistency this year with his points lead. The only thing that I believe that will possibly prevent hitting the triple digit mark is his back.
The example I always go to in times like this is Mark Martin. He kept himself ultra-professional, ultra-focused and ultra-fit, and even up to last year part-time in the #55 he was a contender for race wins at age 54. Theoretically that gives Jeff another decade, but not everyone is like Mark are they?
Fact is, to even make 100 race wins will be a tough achievement, let alone 105(David Pearson’s mark) - but he has enough time to do it and I don't see him slowing down soon. His bigger problem might be the immediate future at Hendrick - Chase Elliott is seen as his long-term successor so will his chance to get to 105 wins be decided for him?
Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
Jeff Gordon celebrates his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.
I think Gordon will stay consistent for the rest of the season. He might have one more win or two before the season is over.
Q. Sunday began the final stretch for ESPN covering NASCAR. Thoughts on ESPN exiting at the end of 2014?
It's a shame ESPN won't be broadcasting NASCAR next year. I really enjoyed their coverage of this sport we love.
I saw this time coming though. When there is a rain delay, ESPN and NASCAR gets so much hate on social media from the average ESPN viewer because it is either cutting in their sport or they wanted to watch Sportscenter. Even if they take a second to talk about NASCAR on Sportscenter, it brings a lot of hate on social media.
In a way, I see ESPN's departure as a good thing for both ESPN and NASCAR because of this.
Like anything, things tend to grow on you, and ESPN’s coverage is no different.
I wasn’t old enough to remember the network’s first stint, but I will be saddened to think we won’t be hearing the likes of Allen Bestwick, Andy Petree, and Dale Jarrett covering NASCAR for quite some time.
ESPN has played a huge role in NASCAR, but honestly it will be remembered more from its stretch from the 1980s to 2000.
When the telecasts started again in 2007, they seemed disorganized and the commentary was lackuster. Within the last few years, it has gotten much better with Bestwick in the booth, but nothing compared to what it used to be.
I'll be frank - I've never really enjoyed the ESPN coverage. It's lacked natural flair and felt too corporate and like regular sportscasting rather than geared-to-NASCAR coverage. They seem better at covering other sports and even other motorsports, but never really took to NASCAR naturally. I think NASCAR suits a two-TV-company system best, and going back to FOX and NBC will bring back how it used to be before 2007. I think this works best for all parties.
I really like ESPN's coverage for NASCAR races, stinks to see them go.
Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images
Darrell Wallace Jr. (54) leads Ty Dillon and Ron Hornaday Jr. around Eldora Speedway last Wednesday.
Q. Tony Stewart thinks Eldora could host a Nationwide and Cup Series event. Could they be feasible ideas?
It could be doable. Maybe the Eldora mid-week race could be expanded to the Nationwide Series.
Cup would be a stretch, and with only 30 trucks running the Wednesday race, what would be the cap for NASCAR’s premiere series?
Plus, with a seating capacity under 20,000, more temporary seating might have to be considered.
I’m not so sure NASCAR would entertain that idea, and running less than 43 cars in the field.
I think a Nationwide or Cup series event at Eldora would be a great idea.
With the hype around NASCAR’s overall popularity dwindling, a Cup race at Eldora would be huge. There are lots of dirt racing fans that are not into NASCAR, but this could peak their interest.
NASCAR needs more short tracks on its schedule and Eldora would be the best possible place to start.
I'm torn on this. I think we all had the same feeling watching Eldora - 'THIS IS AMAZING WHY ISN'T THERE MORE OF THIS IN TOP-LEVEL NASCAR?!?'
And watching the NASCAR Trucks tear it up was the most fun one can have with their clothes on. But I have a weird dilemma about this - I think Nationwide would suit the track down to the ground, but Cup is just too...elite? Is that the word?
Sprint Cup is the very top of the NASCAR ladder, and whilst I think it still shouldn't forget its roots (and I have long advocated more short tracks even at the top level), I still think it is just above dirt racing.
Nationwide however isn't. It would also suit Nationwide more in that it has been Nationwide pioneering more innovative scheduling in recent years - thanks to that series we are now talking about tracks like Road America, Iowa and Montreal as potential Cup races in the future.
So overall I would say Nationwide yes, Cup no - for now. Never say never!
I think Nationwide is doable, but not Cup.