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Fast Thoughts for Sept. 6: Will Furniture Row leaving provide motivation needed to changing NASCAR’s business model?

September 6, 2018

1 Let’s hope the news of Furniture Row Racing not returning next season provides the motivation needed to change NASCAR’s business model. To think the owner of a team that won a championship last season couldn’t make the financial numbers work two years later tells you how out of whack the economics of this sport have become. The fact Lowe’s has decided to pass on Jimmie Johnson — when he could be on the cusp of a record-setting eighth championship — is proof this isn’t the same NASCAR that featured overflowing coffers 15 years ago. Something has to be done to make this new situation work, even if it means turning “stock cars” into stock cars again.

2 Some less-important NASCAR questions:

Why does NBC continue to shuffle Rick Allen out of its broadcast booth for Cup races? The Peacock crew sent Allen to pit road during its July 22 broadcast at New Hampshire, with a spokesperson saying the network wanted to provide a unique perspective for the race. Fair enough. However, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pointed out during his podcast the next week the broadcast was missing something with Allen outside his play-by-play role. Fast forward to last Sunday, when Allen was again stationed on pit road. Why? Steve Letarte is serviceable as an analyst, but he hasn’t been good trying to direct the telecast alongside Earnhardt and Jeff Burton. There are essentially three hype men in the booth with no lead artist, and the broadcasts have suffered without the meat and potatoes that the only play-by-play announcer available provides.

Why wasn’t Ken Squier in the booth for part of Sunday night’s race? His annual visit to the broadcast booth is one of the most anticipated segments of the NASCAR Cup schedule. Instead, viewers got Kyle Petty, who isn’t bad despite his repeated demand to “let me say something right here.” (Ummm, Kyle, NBC gave you a microphone, so I don’t think you need to ask permission to speak.) Was it because of Twitter’s overreaction last year to Squier calling Daniel Suarez “the Mexican,” even though that is Suarez’s nationality? Did Squier just prefer not to face the pressure of a live broadcast anymore? Certainly he’s earned the right to step away, but the viewers lost out for whatever reason he did not take part.

Why does Kevin Harvick continue to hang out with the old man who can’t wait to ditch his son in those Mobil 1 commercials? Does the guy run the local Outback Steakhouse, and Harvick can’t get his free “Bloomin’ Onion” on Mondays without him? Were I the guy’s son, my gift to him for his 65th birthday would be dropping him off at the closest retirement center with the song “Cats in the Cradle” playing in the background.

3 Local spotlight: Davis Lipscombe of Mechanicsville won the 35-lap Victory Lap Pro Late Model feature at Virginia Motor Speedway. The biggest winner, however, was Matt Quade of Mechanicsville, Md., who finished fourth to claim the track’s season championship. ... Shawn Balluzzo rallied from last place twice to sweep the 30-lap Modified races at Langley Speedway and clinch the season championship. ... Brandon Umberger of Rural Retreat captured the Pro Late Model feature at Wythe Raceway.

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