By David G. Firestone
As mentioned last week, I spent a few days in St. Louis. I’ll have more to say on Friday. In the meantime, I wanted to discuss a few racing things this last week.
We are going to start with the big news coming out of the NHRA. The last major barrier in drag racing has been broken. On Friday, Hector Arana Jr. officially broke the 200 MPH barrier, with a 200.23 MPH run. This has been coming for some time, and it finally happened on Friday. Arana becomes the founding member of the Denso 200 MPH club, which was created prior to the Gatornationals. Congratulations to Hector Arana Jr.
While this is exciting, it’s also a little sad, because there are no real barriers in drag racing anymore. Kenny Bernstein hit 300 in a dragster at Gainesville in 1992. Jim Epler hit 300 in a Funny Car at Topeka in 1993. Warren Johnson hit 200 at Richmond in 1997. Realistically, there are no more major barriers. Could we see a 350 MPH run in Top Fuel or Funny Car? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet the farm just yet.
NASCAR had a good sponsorship announcement, and a bad situation. Earlier in the season, Coors Light announced that they would no longer sponsor the pole award. So for a while, there was no pole award sponsor. Last week, Busch announced that they would be sponsoring the pole award in NASCAR. That’s the good news, since Busch is more committed to NASCAR than Coors Light was.
The bad news for NASCAR is that as of this writing, Monster Energy hasn’t renewed their sponsorship contract with NASCAR. The contract, set to expire at the end of the year, has been in discussion for some time now. Recently, an unconfirmed report stated that there is optimism for a renewal, however, no details besides that have been discussed.
In other sponsorship news, Lowe’s has announced that after this season, they will not be returning to Hendrick Motorsports after this season. Since the #48 is the only team in NASCAR that has only one primary sponsor, this puts them in a bad situation. I’m surprised that the #48 only has one primary sponsor, and now it’s coming back to bite them. Now I’m sure that they will pick up a few sponsors this year, it doesn’t look good when the only sponsor you have leaves.
In the last news item, Goodyear announced recently that the option tire won’t be returning to the All-Star Race. The problem with the option tire was that any advantage it provided in terms of speed was nullified when the lights came out. Goodyear says it isn’t a dead issue, despite the fact it was a failure, and nothing has been said about it since. I think it is dead, based on NASCAR’s lack of enthusiasm for the option tire, both from fans and drivers.