It’s been an interesting week with NASCAR’s media members. Maybe we can chalk it up to the final two weeks of a grueling, ten-month schedule, or some media member’s incessant need to make more of a story than what’s actually there, but it’s been weird.
It all started during the Texas race last weekend, when Jeff Gluck tweeted what could end up being the worst take of 2018 about Jimmie Johnson’s penalty:
Seems like all of you are pretty pissed at NASCAR for the Johnson error. I get it, but also…I’m not that outraged. If it was a playoff car, would be a lot bigger problem. He was going to start 23rd and started in the 30s for a 500-mile race. Bad mistake, but…eh. Seen worse.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 4, 2018
You see, NASCAR messed up: Johnson failed inspection twice, but there was apparently a “miscommunication,” and he was ordered to start at the rear of the field at the start of the race–a penalty reserved for teams that fail inspection three times. Whether or not Johnson was a Playoff car or not is insignificant; this was a major mistake by NASCAR, and one that shouldn’t just be brushed over because the driver isn’t in the championship hunt.
Kevin Harvick went on to win the Texas race in dominating fashion, and everyone went on with their next week as normal. Until Wednesday, when it was announced that Harvick’s #4 Ford was illegal, and a L1 penalty was issued. And that’s when media craziness started to unravel more. Ironically, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones received the same penalties after Texas, but there’s been virtually no talk about that–presumably because they’re not Playoff drivers, as I noted in my Harvick article linked before.
Obviously there were going to be questions asked to Kevin Harvick about the penalty, so when I saw that he declined to answer questions about it while standing on pit road, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, the media members immediately made a huge deal about it, with the aforementioned Gluck chiming in, saying Harvick was “not very cooperative” when media members were just “trying to do their job.”
Give me a break.
Harvick’s wife, DeLana, quickly chimed in with a great point: Harvick isn’t really obligated to answer the onslaught of questions.
With all due respect, that’s a fairly large assumption on your part that you know what he plans to do after driving. You’re doing your job by asking the question, and he is in no way obligated to answer. https://t.co/AfuB28bXpN
— DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) November 9, 2018
On Friday, Harvick won the pole for Sunday’s Can-Am 500(k) at ISM Raceway, and was available to the media along with outside pole sitter Chase Elliott. Of course, most questions were directed at Harvick, and when Jenna Fryer got the mic, her and Harvick got into it a little bit. You can watch that clip by clicking here.
After that happened, Jeff Gluck once again tweeted out his interpretation, seemingly trying to de-throne himself for the worst take of 2018:
It’s clear to me the anti-media sentiment in this country has seeped into the NASCAR world. Call me naive, but I didn’t realize that until now. Honestly, it really hurts. At the same time, good to know where everyone stands going forward.
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 10, 2018
Sorry, Jeff. I enjoy following you, but anti-media? Really?
Let’s look at this from a driver’s perspective: when a situation like this arises, you’re constantly bombarded by–borrowing a line from President Trump here–stupid questions from the media. Like when Bob Pockrass asked Harvick if he thought he could win with a legal spoiler. Seriously, what the hell kind of question is that?
Of course, constant questions to try and make a situation into more than it actually is is something that is quite common with the media. Like when Martin Truex, Jr. was constantly asked after Martinsville if and when he’s going to get his payback on Joey Logano. Or the rest of the drivers not involved in that feud repeatedly being asked if they would’ve done the same in that situation.
Honestly, constantly hearing the same questions, that are often baited to try and extract a response simply to further a story, have to be extremely tiring for these drivers. And when you have one like Harvick that stands up to it, it’s almost refreshing from a fan’s perspective. Finally: a driver with a personality! But to cry foul and blame him for not allowing you to make a story more than it is, that’s just ridiculous.
But I guess ridiculous is just how the media tends to act these days. Like making a big story out of this:
Joey Logano thinks he's the favorite. When told that, Chase Elliott said "I don't care." When Truex was told that, he said "Good for him."
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) November 9, 2018
Yes, Joey Logano is confident in his championship hopes. And there is no reason why he shouldn’t be. Heading into Phoenix on Sunday–the final race before Homestead–he’s the only driver technically locked into the Championship Race. He has an average finish of 10.2 this season, which is not only 3rd-best among all drivers this season, but the 2nd-best season of his Cup Series career, statistically speaking. Logano is also in the midst of a major hot streak right now, with 463 laps led in the last three races and five straight finishes of 8th or better, four of which were also top 5s. Those are championship caliber numbers, and Joey knows it. And he knows he has one of the fastest pit crews in the garage to help put him in a position to win it all.
Hopefully, for the sake of the NASCAR media members, it’s the #22 team holding the championship at Homestead next week. The underdog beating “The Big Three” is a story that writes itself–and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask him all the stupid questions you want.