Daytona-500Due to bad weather, the 54th running of “The Great American Race,”  the Daytona 500, was postponed for the first time ever. Consequently, it was viewed by the largest TV audience in its history by being moved into prime time the following day; now unopposed by the NBA All-Star game and the Oscars. Unfortunately, the “Super Bowl of NASCAR” still took SIX hours to complete. I do confess that I was drawn in to watch much of the show, and even though I am NOT a racing regular, there were many aspects of the Daytona 500 telecast that still aggravated me. Here are my Top-Five peeves:

 

#5 – Michael Waltrip as an In-Studio Analyst

Michael Waltrip added nothing to the broadcast. Plus, he looked like he was wearing a suit & tie for the first time in his life. His high-pitched squeaky voice and messed-up hair were just difficult to take. His NAPA™ commercials were even more absurd. He’ll always be Darrell’s little brother and “The Andy North of NASCAR “(i.e., pretty much known for only TWO victories in his career). Really, they couldn’t have dusted off and propped-up Richard “The King” Petty to handle Waltrip’s assignment?  If you agree, you might Tweet him at http://twitter.com/#!/mw55, and let him know!

 

#4 – General Sights and Sounds of the Telecast

Fox Sports just really didn’t know how to handle a car race in the weekday prime time slot. As they initially came on the air, their regular Sunday “football” theme music was playing; I guess just to add some artificial drama. Unexplainably, leading in and out of several commercials, we were treated to little gopher cartoon characters in the bottom left corner of the TV screen. There went the drama, except for the “below 12-year old” demographic. Then, for two laps somewhere during the middle of the race, we were warned to prepare for Fox’s “Crank It Up” feature to hear nothing but the roar of racing car engines… like this was something unique? I, like most other folks, use the volume control button to capture the same effect. Duh!

 

#3 – The Half-Way Bonus

OK, Martin Truex Jr. and his crew were probably very happy to get the $200K for being the race leader on Lap 100. But what other championship offers a prize for being on top at the half-way point (even though the race is “official” at this point)?  That would be like giving a lime green jacket to the 36-hole leader of the Masters. Is NASCAR afraid that they’ll lose some viewer (and even driver) interest if they don’t offer an interim race prize? Come on!

 

#2 – Major Crash in Lap 2 of a 200-Lap Race

I realize this can’t be helped….or CAN it? Don’t these rednecks know not to put the pedal to the metal so early?… it’s not a

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Danica Patri...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

2.5-mile sprint race! In addition to damaging about seven cars, it completely eliminated two of the highest-profile names in the sport; five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and Go-Daddy babe Danica Patrick (although Patrick did return after a 75-minute garage repair while she sat in her car the entire time, down 62 laps to the leaders… basically driving uncontested in the back of the pack to the finish). NASCAR definitely has to at least re-think its rulings when something like this happens.

 

And my #1 peeve of the 2012 Daytona 500… Why Does NASCAR Require Jet Engine Blowers to Remove Track Debris?

What were the odds of Pablo Montoya’s car losing control during a caution flag at the Daytona 500 and hitting a 200-gallon jet fuel tank atop a track blower? I couldn’t really determine if the jet engine blowers actually saved any time, given all the response staff involved. The two-hour clean-up looked more like something we would see after a freeway hazmat crash. But, at least now we know that Tide™ removes stains AND jet fuel from an asphalt track surface!

 

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