Sunday, January 26, 2014

Daytona Wrap-Up

Well, how about that for an ending, huh? Three of the four classes had a first to second gap of less then 3.0 seconds at the checkered flag (two of them were less than 2.0 seconds), a controversial call that affected who won a class that was later rescinded, storylines galore...there wasn't a whole lot missing from this 24 Hours of Daytona, right?

Well, as Wedge referred to earlier, I wouldn't go that far. A great finish, and I was certainly entertained (which is the point, I suppose), but there was a lot to dislike here.

 - For the most part, my days of complaining about TV coverage are well behind me. Yes, I've done my share of bashing ABC for their coverage of IndyCar over the years, and I do wish that some networks and teams would pay a little more attention to what they were doing, but I'd say that I vent my spleen on the internet about TV coverage probably once a year or less at this point of my life (which is saying a lot, since I was such an arrogant so-and-so as a teenager that I used to rant to my parents about how bad Bob Varsha was at his job...either he got a lot better since 1992, or I mellowed and figured out that it's damn near impossible to make every single call a perfect one for two straight hours sometime in the ensuing years; I'll bet that it's the latter, and that he was just as awesome back then). I don't even have a whole lot to say about the actual crew that was covering the 24. I think they did their usual B+ to A- job (it's probably impossible to score an A+ in my book, but I'm not upset about that). HOWEVER, whoever was pacing the commercials this weekend, in the last three hours of the race...they have some explaining to do. Even in my days of watching a lot of NASCAR (which ended in about 2010, which is an entirely other topic), I've never seen so many ad breaks. In my estimation, during the last two hours of the race, there were eight or nine occurrences of "ad break/return to coverage for two minutes or less/another ad break", and there were even two occurrences that I remember for sure of "ad break/return to coverage for two minutes or less/ad break/return to coverage for two minutes or less/another ad break". Yes, two times down the stretch, there were THREE ad breaks in an eight minute or less stretch of real time. That is egregious. I hoped that this would translate into one of those "we're going commercial free for the last 20 minute!" things, but that definitely didn't happen. I get that there are bills to pay and what not, and Calvin Fish, Dorsey Schroeder, Justin Bell, Andrew Marriott, Bob Varsha, Tommy Kendall and all the other pros at Fox Sports 1 don't work for free, but are there not less obvious ways of shoving ad content in front of peoples' eyeballs? Maybe instead of that third ad break in seven minutes, rotate a couple of sponsor logos at the top corner of the screen while the action continues? I know I've seen that before during races, so why wasn't it employed this weekend?

 - By the same token, I've been wary about the GrandAm "takeover" of the ALMS for two reasons: 1) the NASCAR-owned (actually "sister company", I suppose) GrandAm has had an iffy relationship with technical rules enforcement in the past (I still hold a grudge over 2009, when a Porsche-engined car won at Daytona by a virtual nose, then GrandAm cut the Porsches off at the knees by eliminating their sixth gear and knocking down their rev limiter by 500 RPM for most of the year...related: the Porsches didn't get close to winning another race until the last race of the season, after GrandAm finally relaxed the penalty), and 2) the enforcement of yellow flag and restart procedures hasn't always been what I would call "consistent with other sanctioning bodies worldwide". We got a good dose of #2 today, when Leh Keen went off track with about 21 minutes to go in the race, hit a tire barrier in the Continental Horseshoe hairpin, was stationary for about four or five seconds, then put the car into gear and resumed driving (I'm not sure he even pitted right away to repair the damaged front fascia, that's how light the damage was). Local yellow, right? If that? No car to clear away, no debris of any sort to clean up...NOPE! 13 MINUTE FULL COURSE YELLOW! Yes, I know that everybody wants a photo finish, and we basically all but got one today (a two second gap after 24 hours of racing is incredible, even if it had to be manipulated into being), but is this what racing has become? Throwing cautions whenever expeditious to bunch the field up in order to keep margins of victory razor thin? If this is going to be an every race occurrence under IMSA sanction, then you can count me out.

 - The penalty on the #555 Level 5 Ferrari has been rescinded, and class victory given back, but I still can't believe that anybody in race control could have possibly thought that it was a good idea at any time to levy a penalty on something that they'd only probably had time to review a replay of once or twice...FOR A RACE WIN, ON THE LAST LAP. We heard that there was a penalty being handed down to the #555 car even before Joao Barbosa had stopped to pick up a flag or something on pit lane after his cool down lap, which meant that there had been no more than 5-6 minutes elapsed between "cars side by side in the infield" to "results changing penalty announced". Hey, guys? In the future, if this happens again, I think we're all fine with you watching a few more replays from a couple more angles, just to make sure you got it right. If it means that the champagne in victory lane isn't quite as cold as the winners might like, I think we'll all get over having to wait an extra minute or three. Just spare the embarrassment of rushing to a decision because you feel like you need to RIGHT THIS SECOND.

So, with that, consider my spleen vented, my garments rent, all that good stuff. Because outside of that stuff (as major as it might have been), we actually saw a pretty good race. The Prototype balancing act between the DPs and the LMP2s was probably about as good as you could get, even if there was never a doubt that a DP would win (Daytona is almost alone on the schedule in its identity as a high horsepower, low drag track, which is the DPs whole thing...LMP2 cars will probably dominate most of the rest of the schedule, unless IMSA hands the DPs even more downforce than they already have). The Fords were just about on the pace, which is pretty darn good for a brand new engine (they'll definitely win races later in the year). The GTLM class was as good as expected, with four different makes in the top-5 in class. GTD was an absolute monster of a class, with Ferrari, Porsche and Audi all seriously contending for the win, even right down to the last lap (the#58 Snow Racing Porsche sneaked up and finished in the wheeltracks of the #45 Flying Lizard Audi after all that argy-bargy). If IMSA can stifle the urge to tinker, tinker, and tinker some more with the balance of performance, we could be in for an epic season, at just about every track.

That's all from Speedgeek Towers! Thanks to everybody for stopping by to check out Blogathon, and special thanks to Mike and Wedge for having me along on this excellent adventure in the first place. I'm already stocking up on Red Bull so that I can stay awake for next year's movie. Is there any chance that there's a "Hockey Moms 2: Back 2 the Ice"? Come on back and find out!


Mike said...

I just want to take a moment to congratulate myself for watching and comprehending enough of the race to actually understand about 80% of this post! I agree with all that you said about the commercials, that last yellow flag, and the non-contact illegal contact.

Hockey Mom was so much fun, for being a terrible movie at least. Listen. SHE RAPPED THE CANADIAN ANTHEM. I imagine a bad hockey movie is probably even better if you're a hockey fan. I personally don't know bad hockey from good hockey, so there were likely some hilarious things that I missed on the ice.

I'll be doing more of these and will hopefully have a football edition posted by Sunday. Last year's Superdome screening was just as good as the Super Bowl itself.

Allen Wedge said...

Yeah good thing the eventually rescinded the penalty because if it stood it would open the door for guys to get really close to the other car if they were getting passed and hoping to draw a penalty on the guy passing them, it's be NFL/Soccer all over hah.