Inside Motorsports: A sorry state of affairs for drivers

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJune 25, 2014 

  • Next race

    Quaker State 400

    Where: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.

    When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

    TV: TNT

    Radio: Performance Racing Network

    Last year’s winner: Matt Kenseth

Why do we care if drivers apologize to each other?

In recent years, there seems to have developed some sort of mandatory media response to every on-track incident in NASCAR in which the offending driver must be asked whether he or she has “spoken to” or “apologized to” the other driver involved and asked if they are now “OK.”

Why is this?

Do NBA players call each other the next day after committing a hard foul? Do football players spend the week trading calls and text messages to apologize for every hard hit that takes place during a game?

In last Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma, Calif., Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked Matt Kenseth. He apologized on national TV and radio immediately after the race and again when taking questions in the media center.

But Tuesday during a previously scheduled teleconference call with Kenseth, a media member asked if Kenseth had heard anything from Earnhardt on the incident. Kenseth said he had not at that time.

Well, that did it. The “Earnhardt hasn’t called Kenseth to apologize yet” stories exploded on the Internet and with it, the controversy.

But why?

Is it because if drivers don’t apologize to each other there may be retaliation imminent in the next race? Tony Stewart has promised a laundry list of drivers he is going to wreck them for blocking him. I’m still waiting to report the first such incident.

Anyone paying attention to Sunday’s race knew Earnhardt had apologized profusely for the incident. Somehow, that wasn’t good enough.

Or at least it wasn’t good enough to close the “story.”

Notes

Global Rallycross returns to Charlotte

Global Rallycross racing – featuring 600-horsepower, all-wheel drive turbocharged compact cars – will return to The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway July 25-26. The series made its debut on the dirt track last season after running on a course on the speedway’s infield 1/4-mile oval in 2012.

Expected to enter the event is defending Charlotte champion and X Games gold medalist, Scott Speed, a former NASCAR and Formula One driver. Also entered is 2014 X Games gold medalist Mitchell DeJong.

Qualifying is Friday, July 25. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. The main event on Saturday will be broadcast live on NBC at 2 p.m. ET.

SHR cars sporting decal this weekend

All four Stewart-Haas Racing cars in Saturday night’s Cup race at Kentucky will be sporting a decal honoring Master Sgt. Aaron Torian, a Marine Special Operator from 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion in Camp Lejeune who died from wounds sustained while conducting operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Feb. 15.

Torian, a native of Paducah, Ky., who lived most recently in Wilmington with his wife and three children, would have celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday. Members of his family will be in attendance.

Ganassi honored

Chip Ganassi, who fields teams in NASCAR, IndyCar and the United SportsCar Championship series, will be honored Aug. 7 by the International Motor Racing Research Center at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass.

Ganassi will receive the inaugural Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for his outstanding contributions to motorsports. Often referred to as the father of American road racing, Argetsinger in 1948, conceived, organized, and drove in the first post-war road race in America through the roads of Watkins Glen.

LaJoie to make Truck start

Corey LaJoie, the 22 year-old son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie, will make his Truck series debut Thursday night at Kentucky. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 92 Ford for Ricky Benton Racing.

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