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Talladega! At just the right moment....because NASCAR needs a shot in the arm

  Mike Wallace (01) is about to go for a big Talladega ride (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Hey! How about that Mike Wallace?
   Talladega! And at a perfect point in this early NASCAR season -- following a run of less than thrilling events, at California, Bristol, Martinsville and Texas. 
   Wallace did a dipsy-doodle in Saturday's Nationwide race, flipping down the backstretch….but – a la Dale Earnhardt a few years back – when his car landed on its wheels, Wallace fired 'er back up and drove back to the finish line: http://bit.ly/foGUO6

    Talladega rarely if ever disappoints, no matter what.
    Even Friday's tornadoes and rain couldn't dampen anticipation about Sunday's Talladega 500 -- Aarons 499.
   It's a good thing Texas' Eddie Gossage didn't put his 500 up against the Masters last Sunday afternoon, because the golf classic – with maybe 10 men having a shot at the win in the closing laps – had everything Texas didn't, in terms of drama.
   Matt Kenseth's Texas rout, two weeks after Kevin Harvick's California romp…and by the way, how long was that Martinsville race? Probably well past most attention spans.
   So now Talladega, and certainly NASCAR will regain momentum Sunday.
   Even Fox, which has done a less than spectacular job this season with its coverage – camera work, direction, and announcing, which has bordered on the intolerable – can't screw up Talladega. Knock on wood.
   What in the world is going on inside Fox headquarters? Someone needs to have a sit-down and rethink camera angles – rethink its NASCAR production operations from a number of angles.
    Is it true that Fox carried Mark Martin's crash live from the in-car cam? Atrocious.
    Not to mention why was there apparently no soft wall where Martin hit....
   Is Fox' coverage falling apart? It's certainly been flat. No good perspective, no big-picture understanding of the race as a whole.
   Who is the Fox boss here, now that David Hill is busy doing some National Geographic thing for the network?
   Certainly TV ratings should be hot for Talladega.
   After a hot start, NASCAR's TV ratings have hit what looks like a lull. While this year's early season schedule shuffle (Phoenix for California, California moved to late March...) may make some comparisons difficult, this is the picture, going into Sunday's 500:
   -- Daytona (8.2), Phoenix (5.9) and Las Vegas (5.9) were all up from 2010.
   -- However, following a week off (where NASCAR should have been running Atlanta), things started to dip. Bristol (which may need some rethinking by crews and drivers and NASCAR, to make things more exciting at what was once the toughest ticket in the sport) pulled a 4.3, down from last year's 5.3.
   -- California pulled a 4.6, up a bit from last year's event in that same time slot, but down  from last year's second-race-of-the-season 5.0.  (And NASCAR may be second-guessing its decision to move the Los Angeles event from its right-after-Daytona slot, where the past three years California pulled solid 6-plus ratings.)
   -- Martinsville pulled a  so-so 4.4. (Last year's race was rain-delayed till Monday.)
   -- Then Texas pulled a surprising weak 3.7. (Last year's race was rain-delayed until Monday; two years ago the event pulled a 4.2.)
   The Texas 500 is troublesome in several respects.
   First, did the move to Saturday night really work for NASCAR? Yes, considering the Masters' finish, it's a probably a good thing Gossage and Bruton Smith didn't try to go head to head on Sunday.
   But remember those once-great Texas TV numbers? Those 6-plus ratings? Texas used to be an early-season benchmark for the sport.
   Too many boring Texas races? Bad TV? What's the problem? What's the solution?
   When NASCAR can't go head-to-head with golf, there's something that needs fixin'.

Is it any wonder that Nascar

Is it any wonder that Nascar has lost it's momentum since the beginning of the season? Fans tuned in with the hope that the racing had improved and found that it was the same old boring racing or worse,but still controlled by Nascar's penalties and cautions. No wonder Fox seems flat, there isn't anything to talk about. ESPN doesn't even want to cover Nationwide practices and puts as little as possible into covering the races. I used to read every article but now just read a few as they too have nothing interesting to report on. Now that Nascar has spoiled Bristol and Talledaga I don't think there is much of a chance that the momentum will build. The fans have spoken, now it is time for the Sponsors, Owners, Drivers, and the Media to take a stand.

The problem Nascar is facing

The problem Nascar is facing in today's world is the same guys winning all the time. With the exception of the Daytona 500, its been the same guys taking the checker that it has always been, wheres the room for a rookie to come in and have even a chance at winning? Back in the hey day of the sport you had the Petty and Allison and Pearson and Yarborough all fighting for the win then here comes A Gordan and an Earnhardt to make it interesting. The older guys also taught tough lessons to the young guns out on the track, today its"watch the side draft dude, you might wreck someone" or "he has a yellow stripe on his bumper, lets give him a little room to race", thats not what this sport was built on. Neither is "have at it boys, but don't cross the little yellow line at the bottom, you may or may not get a penalty for it". This sport was built on the best driver winning by out running and out bumping the next guy,get in the way and you get the bumper, move over and you get passed, pass me below the yellow line and I'll take my car to the grass to pass you back, wreck me and I'll get the car fixed just enough to get back on the track and return the favor. Enough of this "lets fix things for the fans" mantra, it ain't working, lets go back to the rough and tumble ways that lets every one in the field have a shot and gives the fans a real show.

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