What Happened: The assembled media converged on Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Penske Racing to listen to drivers and team personnel talk about the forthcoming season. The day ended with a reception hosted by Fox/SPEED where Fox Sports Chairman David Hill shared his thoughts on how Fox would cover the 2011 season, and some changes he would like to see NASCAR make going forward.
What We Learned: Larry McReynolds wants the media to be “positive”…Tony Stewart has gone from eating two large meals a day to five smaller meals…Due to his already busy schedule which includes 38 Sprint Cup races in addition to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Juan Pablo Montoya has no intention of running in this year’s Indianapolis 500…New dad Ryan Newman has gone from talking about setups with fellow drivers to conversing about cribs…Sam Hornish Jr. is going to run a minimum of 11 Nationwide Series races for Penske Racing…After going in-depth at Daytona in regards to the fight he got into in Australia, Tony Stewart is done talking about it…Kurt Busch will be making his NHRA debut in March at the GatorNationals…Fox wants to see shorter races, a greater emphasis on winning and will focus more on the drivers than in years past.
The Most Significant Development: Fans and media have been banging the drum loudly for NASCAR to shorten races for awhile now, but their requests have, for the most part, fallen on deaf ears. Last night though, for the first time, one of NASCAR’s television partners made it known they’re in favor of seeing the length of races reduced.
“Right now there are more opportunities for stuff [for viewers] than anytime in man’s history,” Fox Chairman David Hill stated. “I think a lot of the races are too long. I think probably three hours would be ideal.”
For those of us who want to see NASCAR trim the fat from some races, this comment is outstanding news. And one has to think these words will certainly resonate with the powers that be down in Daytona.
It’s also worth mentioning Hill went on to say Fox is no longer receiving the same value as it once was and that could play an impact when the networks contract expires after the 2014 season.
In Their Own Words: “Last year I think we all started feeling a lot more comfortable in knowing what to expect. It’s definitely not easy for sure, but we have Bobby Hutchins leading this for us. We have some great crew chiefs in Darien Grubb and Tony Gibson. And I have a great teammate with Ryan (Newman). Those are the key ingredients that you have to have.”
–Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart on how much more prepared the team is entering its third season.
What’s Next: Day two of the Sprint Cup Media Tour will feature stops at Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, TRG Motorsports, and Red Bull Racing along with a panel discussion with Nationwide Series drivers and officials.
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