J.R. Fitzpatrick leaves GO Canada Racing; TV times for races
Although it might look a little strange on the outside, the reason that Rick Hendrick signed Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a five-year contract extension this week is the same as Earnhardt and Tony Stewart signing Danica Patrick to drive for them:
Auto racing – rightly or wrongly – is a commercial sport completely dependent on major money and drivers who are personally popular and can attract serious corporate dollars are always going to be most in demand.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t won a race since 2008 but he’s still the most popular driver in NASCAR. Patrick has never won a stock car race, period, and only has one Indy car win to her credit but is about to give Earnhardt a run for his money so far as popularity is concerned.
It might not be fair, but it’s the way it is.
I can remember going to some of the early Indy Racing League races in places like Phoenix and Nazareth and the USAC Silver Crown cars were always on the undercard. Terrific drivers like Dave Darland, Dave Steele and Tracy Hines would put on some wonderful shows.
In the press conferences afterward, at least one of those drivers would make a remark like, "if I had a rich uncle like some of those guys, I’d be in an Indy car too," and I’d feel sorry for the man who said that because it wasn’t just money that got some people into the big league and not others, and it sure wasn’t just talent that got some in and some not, but it was all of the above – plus timing plus luck. It’s all got to come together; one or two of those variables by themselves just won’t do it.
Earnhardt is where he is because he can drive the wheels off a race car, sure, but his last name hasn’t held him back either. Patrick has talent, charisma, a big sponsor and good looks. Nothing wrong with any of that.
If you’re a race team owner, and you can have a driver who will challenge for the win and bring a couple of million bucks to the table versus someone with talent and no cash, which one would you choose?
And if you can lock up somebody through 2017 like Rick Hendrick did this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr., so much the better.
Just about everywhere you turn these days, there are dueling Danica columns. Some people obviously like her and some people obviously don’t. At the end of the day, though, they’re all writing about Danica and if you’re trying to draw attention to yourself, as she is, do you really care what anybody says about you?
Of course not, because your sponsor, GoDaddy.com. won’t look at what’s said or written but will just count up the numbers and say, ‘Right on!
There used to be a saying in the newspaper biz: it doesn't matter what you say about me as long as you spell my name correctly. It still holds true, whether it's a voice on radio or TV or part of the so-called social media.
I was watching the Blue Jays beat the Orioles Thursday afternoon and the camera zeroed in on a two-seater Indy car taking people for rides around the temporary street circuit that’s been laid out in the vicinity of Camden Yards in Baltimore, site of this week’s American Le Mans Series and IZOD IndyCar Series double-header.
Here are the TV Times for all of this weekend’s races:
ALMS: Baltimore Grand Prix, Sat., 4:30 p.m. till 6:30. Sportsnet One, live; Sun., 4 p.m., ABC, delay.
INDYCAR: Baltimore Grand Prix, Sun., 11 p.m. TSN2, delay.
NASCAR: Trucks, Fri., 7:30 p.m. SPEED, live; Nationwide, Sat., 7:30 p.m . TSN2, live; Sprint Cup, Sun., 7:30 p.m. TSN2, live.
Speaking of NASCAR, Cambridge racer J.R. Fitzpatrick, who’s turned heads while driving in NASCAR’s trucks and Nationwide divisions, is a star of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and even finds time to run the occasional Can-Am TQ midget race, has severed his connection with Toronto financier Steve Meehan’s GO Canada Racing Team.
Fitzpatrick notified the motorsport media Thursday evening that he will no longer drive for the No. 67 Nationwide car and will concentrate in the meantime on the Canadian Tire Series. But he vows to be back in a Nationwide Series car before the season is over.
"I want to thank all the guys at the shop in Nashville for all their hard work," said Fitzpatrick, who finished fifth in the Nationwide race at Montreal two weeks ago, which was his third Top Ten finish in the Nationwide Series this season.
"I think I played a large role in helping GO Canada develop their program. Thanks to Steve Mehan for bringing me in at the beginning to do that."
Fitzpatrick added that he wants all his fans to be assured "that I will be making some really cool announcements about the continued development of my NASCAR career."