Can NASCAR really call the city of Chicago, as the old song says, “my kind of town”? I surely doesn’t seem so. There was some promise with a good Xfinity Series race on Saturday that saw Shane van Gisbergen playing with Kyle Larson like a cat plays with a mouse, and then eventually winning the race.

But Sunday, was another mess. Remember 2023’s inaugural race? The one that was slated to go 100 laps, but due to heavy rains, and despite having wet weather gear, including tires, the race was delayed, red flagged and finally cut short by 25-laps due to darkness.

We go to 2024 and they begin the race at 3:30pm Central time – Chicago time – and then, without taking into account a possible summer shower, hoped they would get the race in, this time slated for only 75-laps…but sure enough, hot and humid conditions conspired to bring showers during the race, and instead of switching to wet weather gears – read tires – NASCAR decided to red flag the race.

This is yet another bad decision by NASCAR. If you’re going to race, then RACE! IndyCar does it, Formula 1 does it! What in the what are you doing NASCAR? Either go all in on racing on the streets of Chicago, or bail out. Whatever you do, do ONE OF THEM!

Here’s another thought. In the aftermath there was a lot of talk about moving to timed races…nope, that is not the answer. You want the answer, move the race up. When scheduling it, don’t set it at 3:30pm Central time, leaving a street course that has no lighting to be able to race in the dark, little to no margin for error.

Slate the race to begin at 1pm Eastern/Noon Central time, or 2pm Eastern/1pm Central time. That way you have much more daylight to play with.

Or, instead of fishing NASCAR, cut bait and let’s go to an actual road course, you know, like the ones you had been going to instead of a street race, like Road America or Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Either way NASCAR, fish or cut bait – playing with it like SVG played with Larson and the rest of the Xfinity Series field isn’t going to cut it with the fans of the sport for long.

What a span of a few days it has been within the motorsports world, especially NASCAR……

I am not going to touch on the horrendous decision on ending the 600 Sunday night. That will be saved for the shows this week. I am sharing some thoughts on this late night about another thing that is being absolutely blown so far out of proportion that it is ridiculous:

Donald Trump visiting the Coca Cola 600. 

At my last check, sporting events, whether they be baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, or motorsports are PUBLIC EVENTS. They aren’t some elite invitation only setups. Before, and after his visit to the 600, social media turned into an absolute toxic dump at levels even worse than before. People absolutely bashing people for taking a simple photo with him. Let me put this disclaimer out there: I AM IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM TAKING A POLITICAL SIDE. I despise politics because that is the one sole thing that has absolutely destroyed this country in my opinion. I could honestly care less about it. It has caused people to have complete disrespect for each other, because they may disagree on something. All I have seen all day is “keep politics out of sports this, keep politics out of sports that.” If you go back and look at the definition of keeping politics out of NASCAR, It refers to POLITICAL FIGURES SPONSORING CARS FOR CAMPAIGNS. It doesn’t mean that someone can’t visit a race as a guest, whether it be of a team or of a track itself. And the aspect of it disrespecting a main figure from 4 years ago, Bubba Wallace: GIVE ME A BREAK. Pretty sure he could care less because he had a job to go do, to which he had a very solid run in the 600 until the weather impacted. And to the bashing of Richard Petty of all people, just for taking a photo with the man in a private suite at CMS, GROW UP. I could guarantee you that you would not confront The King about it face to face.  THE GASLIGHTING with the THUMBS ON THE KEYBOARD that a certain side of social media is doing is inexcusable. Things like this right here are what divides sports and civilization. I have heard ” Trump coming to a race setback the sport and progress for years to come….”

I ask you this simple one word question, to which you probably can not give a logical answer to:   HOW????

Until you see a negative impact happen from someone visiting an event of our sport, do us all a favor and shut up. 

The crowds at these tracks now, whether it be outside or inside the garage, are as diverse as ever on MANY levels. Things like this that certain wings of social media within the sport are doing causes the division, it doesn’t bring it together.  

To this certain wing of social media, and a few select media members that I saw make comments too: GROW UP and use your platforms to BUILD UP, not BREAK DOWN what has gotten better step by step over the past years. Because if someone doesn’t step up and be that person to be positive:   HERE WE GO, AGAIN…….

It’s been a couple of months since the podcast began, and now more than ten episodes in we are building up some good momentum, and for that we say a big thank you, from Matt Nicholson and Producer John to our podcast producer, Molly, plus myself, we can’t be more thankful, but there is so much more.

With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, and the “Greatest Day in Racing” almost upon us with the Monaco Grand Prix kicking things off in F1, to IndyCar’s crown jewel the “Indy 500”, and then wrapping things up with a NASCAR crown jewel, the “Coca-Cola 600”, we have a lot of good racing to go, plus a driver trying “The Double” in Kyle Larson, but we also know that radio’s Doug Rice will do “The Double” too, working with IRN on the Indy 500 and then his regular job at PRN for the Coca-Cola 600, and Jimmie Johnson wanted in to, so he’s doing a hybrid double, race commentary for NBC during the Indy 500, then heading to Charlotte for to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 for his team, Legacy MC. All kinds of cool storylines to be checking out.

But I have to ask this question of both IndyCar and NASCAR…what the heck are you two doing?

For IndyCar, they’ve got 27 full-time cars, but are talking about a charter system where only 25 cars are guaranteed starts, meaning that, with Prema Racing coming in next year with two cars, there is a chance to have 29 full-time rides, so two cars will go home each race weekend. Why stuck at 27? They don’t have pit roads that generally can handle more than that…really? You’re in a growth spurt IndyCar…and you’re woefully under-prepared for it. You are in the envious position of having teams wanting to join the series, as there is one sitting off to the side, now awaiting the charter situation, to see whether they’ll actually join. Get it figured out IndyCar, hopefully it’s not too late to do it either.

Then there’s NASCAR, which is taking a page from the NBA with an “in-season tournament”. Ok, whatever, it’s a gimmick, no doubt, but not the worst idea in the world after all. But with the other things they’re dealing with, including trying to figure out how to take advantage of the hype of the Chicago street course race, without taking another major (read: $50 million) bath.

Then on top of that they’ve got someone, or a group of someones, who apparently think they need to make all tracks look and sound alike…why? What’s the purpose? These tracks are all in different parts of the country, and different parts of the country have different feels, all you need to do is travel around this country to realize that Talladega has a different feel that Daytona, and they’re only a few hours away from each other. Forget Talladega feeling different from Phoenix, or Sonoma, or Kansas, or whatever other NASCAR-owned track you can think of.

I have worked in radio for going on 40-years now, and I can tell you this, radio has consultants, just like the ones NASCAR is likely listening to…and there are ones who will tell major radio companies to run the same playlist on their music stations to make things easier. History shows those consultants aren’t worth the air they breathe, much less the money they are getting paid.

The best consultants look at the city a radio station is broadcasting in and get a feel for it and tailor the music to that city, and like Talladega is different from Phoenix, so is Birmingham different from Phoenix musically, and the best consultants will let the stations have their own personality. But, NASCAR is listening to the consultants that aren’t worth their papers, and that is sad. Hopefully someone at NASCAR will revert to realizing that while Daytona is a jewel, it isn’t the only shiny jewel they have in their portfolio and allow all 13 of their facilities to get back to being what they truly are, not forcing a national voice and music playlist on them all…

That is my ultimate wish, but I hate to say it, I just don’t see it…things will get worse for NASCAR before they get better, because it takes a lot to turn a big corporation around in a different direction. Hope by the time they realize it that its not too late.

There is one thing that is for certain so far in 2024 in the NASCAR Cup Series….

The short track racing has been quite lackluster to say the least. 

Superspeedways are always going to produce the show of all shows. It’s going to be awfully hard to top the Ambetter Health 400 finish from Atlanta Motor Speedway in race 2 of this year. The mile and a half tracks are slowly continuing to produce good races. But like the road courses, the short tracks have fell off the face of the earth. People have been screaming that need more horsepower. While I do agree that cup cars need to me max horsepower that the chassis will withstand, I don’t fully believe that is the full problem. So what is it you think is the problem, Matt???

Funny you should ask….

The tires are the problem. When you have a wider contact patch on the ground, going from a 15 to 18 inch tire on these next gen cars, in theory, that makes the cars EASIER to drive. Denny Hamlin said it best on his podcast this week, When the cars are almost dead equal across the board, that makes things too easy. The tires are not wearing hardly any, save face from Bristol. When the stage two winner goes 180 laps on left sides, at Martinsville, THATS A PROBLEM. 

These cars are CUP SERIES CARS. They are NOT supposed to be so easy to drive that your grandparents could drive. 

Make the tires as soft as sponges, put 925 hp under the hood (don’t say it can’t be done NASCAR, because Doug Yates will tell you otherwise), and put these short tracks back into the drivers’ hands. They ACCIDENTALLY stumbled on something good at Bristol. It reminded me of when iRacing had a patch error and put 950 hp in the ARCA cars, and people screamed leave it alone. This is fantastic. 


Fix these cars and stop giving us the SHORT END OF THE STICK at these short track races. 

It has been a long time since any of the three of us have taken the time to come up with a blog entry, but a lot of things have been happening in that time. In fact, to follow up on the title of this particular blog, I feel like I predicted what seems to be coming to fruition for this show that had oh so humble beginnings.

So, the beginning. When the show began, it wasn’t really anything much but a segment on a Saturday hour-long show I was hosting on one of our former host stations, and it was all NASCAR related news. I chose to do that as, first, it was a Saturday show, so I didn’t feel like we needed to be political at all, and two, I know NASCAR, having been the lead tower PA announcer at Talladega for two years already, having done race calls and commentary for ARCA races and garage and pit road reports for an Anniston-Talladega station in what I termed “MRN Lite”, and have long had a fascination with the sport anyway.

From there I got moved into a two-hour evening show, and during that time I had two hours set aside to totally get away from politics and hard news, as I have little patience for the lunacy of the world and don’t want to wade too deep into those waters lest I lose my own sanity in the process, so came up with an early version of “Entertainment Roundtable”, just to talk TV and movies and such, and then created what became “The Fastest Hour in Radio”, a quite appropriate name since we were talking about racing, and let’s face, we all want to go fast, with respect to Ricky Bobby.

When that two-hour show was unceremoniously ripped out from under me for some less than adequate replacement (paid) programming, I was invited to take both shows and do them on the weekends so we had a full line-up of original Saturday programming. Most of those shows were also paid programming, so as they came and went, “ER” remained an hour, but we found the chance to expand “Fastest Hour” into a two-hour program, after having been asked to expand our race series coverage to Formula 1. I felt like if we were going to add F1, let’s add IndyCar as well. Then we added the curiosity known as Formula E and then the NHRA too. We remain the only show that we can find anywhere in America that covers the breadth of racing series that we do.

When things came to an end there, we moved to another station group, but then moved again, and finally one more time before landing at our current home, 95.1 The Mountain in east-central Alabama. If you can’t get it on your radio, you can download the app for the station as well.

But, Producer John also got us on YouTube, and we invite you to search “CRN Live”, and subscribe to the page – it’s free – and that way you learn about all postings we have.

That brings me to our final live show of 2023, where, just before we took the two-week break for Christmas and New Year’s, I said that there would be big things for Matt, Producer John and myself, and the show, in 2024, and wow, has that begun to come to fruition.

Cumulus Media, where I work Monday through Friday, offered us the chance to christen their new podcast studio, as we debuted “Crossed Flags: A Racing Podcast – presented by CRN”, which is recorded on Wednesday afternoons, about midway through the week leading to our two-hour Saturday show. This had been added to not only “CRN Live” on YouTube, but the social media and YouTube channel for Birmingham’s sports radio station WJOX, and we can’t be happier or more thrilled. So, stick with us as we grow, because we feel like this is just the beginning and bigger things are coming…quickly, like a high-speed run down a mile-long front straight.

If you caught our Live Youtube stream this morning (Saturday, 9/18/21) I promised to post the maps you saw showing next year’s scheduled races, along with Steve & Matt’s suggestions on how to ‘improve’ said schedule. You will also be able to view these (and watch the Live rerun) on the “What’s New” tab (after Sunday).

So, our long national racing nightmare is over, and NASCAR and IndyCar got back to racing. Long-time listeners to the show know I have an affinity for Watkins Glen International, so I was happy to see NASCAR back in action, all three top series, running there…still wish they would use “The Boot” to run the complete race course, but that’s another story.

Then there’s IndyCar in Nashville. They used a very scenic street course path, which went over the Korean Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, and Cumberland River, with the nice scenery of downtown and Broadway in many of the camera shots that NBC used in their coverage of the event.

There was the situation of trying to get the race going. The first ten laps were marred by over half of them being under caution.  The driver who actually led the most laps of the event was not the winner, Marcus Ericsson, but the pacecar driver, former IndyCar driver Oriol Servia, who made sure to use the C8 Corvette Stingray for all it was worth.

This is not a massive problem, as the racing was quite good, Colton Herta was the class of the field until he locked up his brakes with five laps to go and hit a tire barrier, and then the wall, ending his bid for the win. Good to see Ericsson getting his second win this year, the first coming in Detroit, and besting his six-time champion teammate Scott Dixon to do it.

But, for next year, and for the “Big Machine Music City Grand Prix” I certainly hope there is a next year, the course, while overall good, needs to be widened a bit as it goes over by Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. It was just too tight through that section. Not much can be done at the other end of the bridge, unless they lengthened the course, which might not be an all-together horrible idea either, by only a block or so, should do it.

Nashville, other than stringing SMI along when it comes to the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, is doing a fine job of becoming a racing hub, so, tweak the course just a bit to create a better race circuit, and you’ve got a winner.

Along with that and Dover Motorsports un-mothballing Nashville Superspeedway, and things in the capitol of the Volunteer State will rival that of any state in the country.

If they’re only reading this.

If you have listened to our show for any length of time, you have come to know the three of us, John Myers, dedicated producer of the show and overseer of the site you’re currently on. Matt Nicholson, the show’s “resident driver”, who brings the behind the wheel perspective. Then there is me. For those new to the show, and/or me, I have been in the radio business in some way, shape, or form, since 1985, when I was a senior at the now defunct W.A. Berry High School in Hoover, Alabama.

That year I was an intern for what is now WJOX, or the sports station, JOX 94.5…back in 1985/1986 it was a hit-making radio station playing the likes of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Ratt, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Journey and much more. I was honored to be an intern there, as it stoked what had been a candle of an idea to get into broadcasting, into a raging blaze that has not been abated at all despite some really bad owners, general managers and/or program directors that I have met and worked for over that time.

But one thing keeps coming back to me when it comes to the business, and this is where the Kyle Larson lesson comes in. My first paying gig, an intern was not a paying position for me back then, I was doing it to learn and get school credit, was at a station in the small town of Arab, Alabama. One night, while doing the 7pm to Midnight shift, I thought I was all alone in the building. 

I had not heard the afternoon driver jock re-enter the building, make his way quietly, to me, down the hall, and poke his head into the studio, with door open, and catch me off guard. I was so caught off guard that I yelled back, “What the (edited) do you want?!?!” He laughed and went about his business.

It was then that I looked at the control board and realized that I had not turned the microphone off from my last time talking on-air. While likely muffled by the song being played on the air at the time I yelled, it no doubt went over the airways, and some eagle-eared listeners no doubt heard what I had yelled. Luckily one of them was not the PD/GM/Owner, and I was not fired.

However, that taught me two things, be aware of what is going on around you at all times while in the station, and secondly, and more importantly, act as though the microphone is always on, even if you know you just cut it off. That lesson is especially prudent in this day and age when every Tom, Dick and Harriett with a cell phone is seeking to make the next “viral video”…always suspect someone is watching and has a camera and/or microphone on you.

Kyle Larson had not learned that lesson as of Sunday night, but I can guarantee you he has now after using “the n-word”, over iRacing communications. The ramifications came swiftly, as Chip Ganassi Racing, then NASCAR, then iRacing all suspended him. McDonald’s, Credit One Back and more sponsors terminated their deals with him, Chevrolet suspended, and then ended their personal services contract with him, leading Chip Ganassi Racing on Tuesday to fire Larson, who was going to be a free agent after this year anyway, to fire him effective immediately. 

Larson will recover, slowly, and with a lot of work rehabbing his image, and I believe he will return to Cup Series racing, likely in 2021. I don’t know with what team, but, pending what he does through the remainder of 2020, he may, once he goes through NASCAR-mandated sensitivity training, and is reinstated, get lucky and sign with a Hendrick Motorsports, or with his Chevy deal terminated, potentially a Stewart-Haas Racing, as Tony Stewart has said he really likes Larson’s driving style. Or he may go the route of Kurt Busch, who dropped to a then almost unheard of Furniture Row Racing when he not only burned, but nuked the bridge that was his relationship with Roush Fenway Racing. It humbled “The Outlaw”, who rehabbed his image, helping him join SHR, and interestingly enough, is now with Chip Ganassi Racing.

So, Kyle Larson, this is your teachable moment. Take the lessons from Kurt Busch and myself, rehab your image, get yourself back into NASCAR’s good graces, and get back to driving, what you do best…but also remember, always suspect that a microphone and/or a camera is on you at all times.

A lesson not just for me, but Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch…and you, the reader. Learn it well.

NASCAR has had its ebbs and flows, big times with big audiences and money rolling in, and times like now, where NASCAR is trying to figure out how to stem the downward trend in viewers on TV and in many cases, at the track.

Two tracks have really shown this downward trend in the people attending, Bristol and Indianapolis. If you watch “Hot August Nights”, what they used to call it at Bristol, that was a ticket that was much like getting season tickets to the Green Bay Packers, you had to go on a waiting list, at times three or more years long.

When NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway came to terms on bringing the top motorsports series in America to, arguably, the most famous race track in the world, for 1994, there was such a buzz about it. The top auto racing series coming to the legendary Indy! I was part of that, I watched as these big, lumbering stock cars worked their way around a course where only IndyCar had dared tread before.

Before you argue that Formula 1 did, remember, they raced on the road course, not the 2.5 mile long rectangle that makes up the “Indy 500” and “Brickyard 400”.  Also, NASCAR arrived before Formula 1, which ran for a few years that ended in 2007.

Jeff Gordon won that first race and NASCAR, even before that time, had been seeing their fortunes on the rise, television numbers were up, people were lining up for tickets (remember what I said about the Bristol night race) and tracks began expanding their seating, Bristol up to 160,000, Talladega up to 125,000 and that is just the grandstands.

Well, at Indy, 400,000 stuffed themselves in for the “Indy 500”, but, those numbers include temporary seats. Those seats were not put in for NASCAR, for reasons understood within the racing world as Indianapolis Motor Speedway understands that IndyCar (or whatever name they’ve used in the past) is their bread and butter, and these old moonshiners in “taxi cab” racers aren’t going to put more butts in the stands than our series. OK, that’s fine.

The furor continued as, the next year, Dale Earnhardt wins, and then the other big names claim “Brickyard 400” titles, up to and including home-town/home-state guy Tony Stewart winning two of those races.

Since about 2010 however, the numbers are dying off, and if you watched Sunday, September 8, 2019 and the most recent version of “The Brickyard 400”, you saw a lot of empty seats. Well, Indianapolis has problems, first and foremost being sight lines, but that is true of any series racing on the 2.5 mile rectangle, not just NASCAR.

Even if you sit in say, turn one, you can see the cars coming off turn 4, down the front straight, across the start-finish line, through turn 1 and into turn 2, but, you cannot see the backstretch or turn three. Major problem? Not really, but it is a problem that people talk about.

Also, Indy, being a rectangle, means you have two long straightaways with two short-chutes to combine them. With the holes the Cup cars punch into the air, if you’re out front, you can cruise, but if you’re behind, you are experiencing massive “dirty air” and passing becomes something of a premium, and if NASCAR is known for anything, it is passing.

So, without the passing, what is one to do? Well, the call has been coming for a couple of years now that we need to get out of Indianapolis, and that call seems to be getting louder each year.

I, for one, disagree. While IndyCar and the NHRA are on the rebound, in viewers on television and people at the races, NASCAR still leads the US in motorsports viewers, in both TV and at the race dynamics. Indianapolis is still, with respect to Daytona, the premiere race course in the United States, and the two belong together.

So, what to do? Well, NASCAR is slowing beginning to understand it, and have stated the desire to ensure that the upcoming Generation 7 stock car at least looks a bit more like the car you would buy at your local Chevy, Ford or Toyota dealership. That’s a start.

However, there is no real compelling rivalry, and that may be a bigger problem. When NASCAR first came to the Brickyard, we were coming off a DW vs. Dale rivalry and moving into the Gordon vs. Earnhardt rivalry. Before DW vs. Dale it was DW vs. Bobby Allison, Bobby Allison vs. Richard Petty and the most noted Petty vs. Pearson rivalries to look at and choose sides.

Now, we have the one we can root against…anytime Kyle Busch is announced in pre-race ceremonies, he is roundly booed, at least as lustily as Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and/or any other “black hat” personality in NASCAR had ever been.

But there isn’t that one we all want to root for. We like Chase Elliott, but to create a rivalry in auto sports, or any sport for that matter, when the one we all root against wins, the one we want to root for must win too, and Chase has not answered Kyle punch-for-punch yet. That is what NASCAR needs, not to leave Indy, but to have that driver we all root against, but more importantly the one we all root for.

Do not leave Indy…develop that driver that becomes the answer to Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch, like him or not, is good for NASCAR, but we don’t have his opposite, and that is what is hurting NASCAR, not Indianapolis.

     Really ever since 2010, Watkins Glen International has put on PHENOMENAL racing within the ranks of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The finishes amongst the battles between Marcos Ambrose, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr, Chase Elliott in Cup, and NUMEROUS drivers within the ranks of the Xfinity Series have been nothing shy of amazing, and CONSISTANT. Every year, this facility in upstate New York puts on a phenomenal show for the fans. People that I personally know that have made the trek have said that its a great event weekend every single day that the track is open for fan patronage. Even a few have said that SOME, NOT ALL aspects of the infield life rivals Talladega Superspeedway, and WE ALL know how big of a party the Talladega Infield is…year, after year, after year. When 2021 rolls up, and the full schedule realignments take effect after the 5 year sanctions end, Watkins Glen should be rewarded with a playoff spot, in Cup and Xfinity both. Remove the Roval race out, and put WGI in. Make it the cutoff race for round 2 after Talladega. Weather shouldnt be an issue for it whatsoever, because its still in October. With all the constant sellouts and great crowds, plus the on track product that never lets us down, Theyve rightfully earned a playoff spot. It would add larger flare and diversity to the Cup and Xfinity Playoffs.