ANDY CAGLE: Empty Seats Fill the House in Las Vegas
Random thoughts while counting the empty seats at the Las Vegas Speedway.
Goodbye, Nextel. We hardly knew you. In 2008, what is now the Nextel Cup will be the Sprint Cup. When the telecommunication giants merged -- or Sprint bought Nextel, or whatever -- this was inevitable. All I've got to say is good job NASCAR. You ran off your 30-year title sponsor for a company whose name only lasts four years of a 10-year deal. Have fun re-branding everything guys.
Speaking of "Sprint," I would like to apologize to all the open-wheeled fans out there who may have been offended by my ignorance concerning USAC racing. I did not see Sprint cars at Darlington a couple of weeks ago, as I incorrectly stated in last week's column. I saw Silver Crown cars -- big difference. According to Aaron Fry, a Sprint 410 driver from Ohio, Sprint cars have a shorter wheelbase and weigh a scant 1,200 pounds compared to the 1,800 pound "big, ugly, lazy, old cars that don't respond well that I saw" at Darlington.
Sorry for my confusion, Aaron. I won't make the mistake again, even though those big, ugly, lazy, old cars that don't respond well looked pretty daggum cool to me.
New 'O' Line
Tom Brady is going to have to restructure his contract with the New England Patriots to afford all of that child support. I bet Brady has a new perspective on the term "breakdown of protection."
If Las Vegas had a sell-out crowd for last weekend's race then I am the King of England. I'm not saying they didn't sell all their tickets, but they sure had a bunch of empty seats, especially in the turns. Just because you throw those red and blue seats in the mix to fool the television cameras people will still notice the empty seats.
Where's the Love?
Alex Rodriguez said in a radio interview this week that he is going to leave the Yankees after this year if the fans didn't "embrace" him this year. This is after he went public with the fact that he and Derek Jeter no longer sleep over at each other's houses.
Note to Alex: QUIT BEING A LITTLE GIRL!!! You make $25 million a year to play baseball, just play the game.
No offense intended to little girls.
Three races into the season and I am a little amused by the doom and gloom attitude that traditional fans have held concerning Toyota's entry vis--vis the status quo in NASCAR, myself included -- I once compared Toyota to the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse.
I know they are handicapped by the "Top 35" Rule, but out of 22 Toyotas that have attempted to qualify for the three races (eight at Daytona and seven at California and Las Vegas), only eight have managed to make the field and three of those don't really count because Dale Jarrett has relied on the past Champion's Provisional to make all three races (leaving him with only three for the next 33 races).
Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger have yet to make a race. NAPA is a little perturbed that Michael Waltrip hasn't made a race since Daytona and currently sits in the red in the points at negative 27, which I think is cool because it means right now, three weeks into the season, I have a better shot at winning the Cup than he does.
Toyota has the people to be good in the future. They have a good core of young drivers in Brian Vickers, Allmendinger at Red Bull Racing and David Reutimann with Waltrip's team. They also have some really good crew chiefs, including Doug Richert and Tommy Baldwin Jr., but no matter how much money Toyota throws at its program you can't replace seat time for drivers. Until these guys start consistently making the field, they aren't going to get it and the over-40 crowd that Toyota has in its other seats and NASCAR rules are preventing that from happening.
So despite the dire predictions, Ford, Chevy and Dodge are living to race another day.
Andy Cagle can be reached at email@example.com
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