NASCAR at Daytona, and in General: Stop Killing the Sport

By D.A. Lail, edited by Andrew Lail

Everyone has their own opinions about racing at Daytona. Some love it and some hate it. With this playoff format that is in place, I’m starting to be one of the ones that hate it.

I’m starting to agree it’s a damn miracle no one gets killed. The playoffs format that NASCAR has in place basically only rewards wins. The result that comes from that is that everyone not in the playoffs drives like a maniac to win to make playoffs. This results in drivers having no regard for who they are racing.

I think this the case because after years of drivers talking big and bad saying “I’m gonna get their ass come next weekend”, then not doing anything the following week has given drivers a sense of security. They think, “I’ll drive though him to get this win because he won’t really get me back.” Then, If they actually do get them back and wreck them, NASCAR calls you to the hauler and throws you under the bus for getting revenge. This prompts drivers to stop getting payback, which then prompts drivers to think I’ll drive though him and NASCAR will protect me.

Prime example would be Ross Chastain. No one is going to do anything to get him back because he’s caused so many wrecks, it would be obvious if they retaliated against him. Larson knew that in racing teammates, he knows Chase can’t flat out wreck him because that will piss off Rick Hendrick, their team owner, and make everything worse. He can say he is sorry and will do the same thing the next week.

So how does this get fixed? No more “stages”. No more “overtime”. No more playoffs.

Dominant teams with skilled drivers will win races. They will also be consistent. Drivers and teams will be rewarded for being consistent and will be in the hunt at the end of the year. Basically, do what worked for 70+ years. Also, make the NASCAR rule book public. If you need guidance on this NASCAR, please see Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Richard Petty, and Carl Edwards.

You want the sport to grow? Stop trying to neutralize the field so “everyone can be a winner”.

How to Fix “The Clash” – An Open Letter to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dear Junior,

My son and I were talking about the Clash at the LA Coliseum, and what a shame it was to have them do all the work to the stadium to make a track, only to tear it back up.

From that discussion, I had an idea for the future that my son thought was great, and honestly, so have several others that I’ve shared it with. My son listens to your podcast, watches your Lost Speedways documentary, and he said that if there was 1 person that would listen and possibly champion the idea, it would be you.

So here goes…

This past year, the Busch Clash was at the LA Stadium. This entailed building a speedway, only to tear it all back up. All that work and effort to make a raceway, only to destroy it after it was over. This is where my idea comes into play. On your Lost Speedways, you show the world tracks that have been abandoned and grown over. It’s sad to see. Along with those abandoned tracks, there are also countless small town tracks all over the map where Saturday Night racing is the norm. The NASCAR fan base has been dwindling over the years, and I think I have a way to revitalize it. What if each year, a “local track” was picked to be “revitalized” and refreshed, and then the Bush Clash would be held at that track. When it is over, that revitalized track remains, building more interest in the sport in that area, and nicer facilities remain to help fan that passion for the sport. Profits made from the previous Busch Clash can be invested in the next “local track”, creating another revitalized track, renewed interest in the sport in that area, and new fans.

The Clash itself would bring business to these small towns as well as helping to show the world the sport as well as its origin. For example, we live in Hickory, NC. Hickory Speedway was the birthplace of many NASCAR drivers/legends.

If the proceeds from LA was invested in Hickory, then folks could learn about that track and its history, the venue could get an upgrade while building interest that some folks new to the Hickory area, and inject some business live back into the area. After the “facelift”, some of the profits from the race that the track makes, could go to another track in need of an upgrade. Perhaps North Wilkesboro, then ?…

There’s basically no waste as was in LA, sparks interest in the sport, helps the communities, inspires young drivers to chase their dreams, and it’s a win for EVERYONE involved.

By the way, my son that I was discussing this with is 14…will be 15 in October, and he insisted that I share this with you.

Who will be the Charlotte Hornets Center of the Future?

Hello Hornets fans! I sit and I do a lot of reading of tweets, Facebook posts, and other related communication mediums, and I enjoy seeing all of the armchair Coach/GM/Owners discussing who we should trade for or who we should draft because we need a center. Do I agree with them? Let’s just say that aside from Vlade Divac, Alonzo Mourning, and Al Jefferson, when haven’t we needed a center? Now I’m not talking about a tall body to fill a need here, I’m talking about a quality center that can rebound, block shots and score the ball in the post, mid-range jumpers, and the occasional 3-pointers.

Yeah, I can’t think of any either. So, with the 13th and 15th picks in the draft this season, who does everyone see at 13 or 15 that is a starting NBA-ready center that we can draft? I’ve seen mocks where we draft Mark Williams, a 7’, 242lb. sophomore. Would we look to make a trade to move up in the draft to try and get 6’10”, 250lb freshman, Paolo Banchero or 6’10” 230lb freshman Jalen Duren? I don’t know that we want to jettison any of our current assets. All those guys would fit in the age range of what we are trying to do, but I just don’t know that we will make trades to get these guys, unless we see them falling in the draft and we can just move picks for a pick.

Here’s my quick take:

Sometimes the answer is right in front of your face. Granted, I believe it would be a solid move to draft a center, should one fall to us in the draft. I would not object to grabbing Williams, Banchero, or Duren, but I don’t see any of those guys coming in and being NBA-ready to start for 82 games. I do, however, know of a certain, 6’10”, 235lb center that I would welcome to the bench to start getting center minutes, and possibly take the starting role over from Plumlee about halfway through the season.

That center would be Kai Jones. Kai made some crazy noise in the G League this past season, averaging 18.3 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocks. He’s 21, so the age range fits the team, his first day in the arena, he kissed the Hornet at center court, and he played a good bit of the season with purple and teal hair. This kid is passionate about being in Charlotte, on the Hornets, and was amazing in the G League.  Will the G League stats translate onto the NBA court? My belief is a simple yes. He’s had a season to cut his teeth in Greensboro, had a chance to mature and develop, bulked up to 235lbs, and I believe he has the open mind and desire to absorb every ounce of knowledge he can get from the other players and the coaching staff. If we draft a center, we can still do this exact same plan.  It’s not exactly like we are swimming in centers, and it would not hurt at all to get another big guy on the team, in the G-League, prepping to be the backup in 23-24.

I do want to take a step back and mention that we run PJ Washington at center in some instances.  He’s 6’8” and 232 lbs. I love his game inside and out, but he’s better suited to be a power forward. Plumlee isn’t a terrible option, as he is an NBA-size center, but I think we need to add some youth at that spot that can grow with the talent we have now.

Adding depth to this team is a necessity as you can see in most of these playoff losses teams are suffering right now, when the starters, or the bench does not contribute, they lose. Depth is key, and the next-man-up philosophy is what will continue to win games.  The Hornets had many, many flashes of this philosophy throughout the season, but they need to find consistency from everyone.

So, do I think Kai Jones should be our starting center for the 2022-2023 season? I wouldn’t frown upon it, and if he wasn’t, I don’t have a single problem seeing him gain more and more minutes as the season ramps up, and before the trade deadline, he’s getting most all of those minutes. I’m thinking of another 6’10” player that came from the Texas Longhorns that has had a pretty decent career.  Have you guys heard of Kevin Durant? I’m not saying Kai is the next Durant, but if his frame could hold about 242lbs…and even if he doesn’t grow another inch…maybe he’s the next Giannis. No pressure Kai, but I believe the sky is the limit for you. You can handle the ball like a guard, jump out of the gym, a wingspan for days, and you’re improving your range and battling in the paint. You got my vote to take the next step into NBA-Starter.

Just #KeepSwarming

The 2022-2023 Charlotte Hornets Head Coach is…

Hello Hornets fans. It’s been way too long since I last wrote anything about our beloved Charlotte Hornets, so I think now is as good of time as any to return to the fold of writing about the team that I love and cheer for, no matter what happens. A special thank you to Bring Back the Buzz/The Crown Club, for giving me an outlet to start back writing again.

Since last we talked a lot has happened.  Coach JB increased our wins by 10 each season, getting us to 43 this year and being fired…

I really liked the guy and his track record with our youth was astounding. Combined with Mitch Kupchak, our team has amassed a lot of young talent and developed them beyond what many could have imagined. Best examples of this include the Martin twins and Devonte Graham. Granted Graham and Caleb are no longer with the team, we saw them improve their game and become attractive players that other teams wanted. Caleb has done a great job for the Heat and Devonte did a good job with the Pelicans.  Cody has done a great job with our Hornets as well, becoming a go to defenseman that we could count on to do the dirty work on the floor with great results. In addition to those guys, our primary guys like Miles Bridges, Lamelo Ball, PJ Washington, and even Jalen McDaniels took good steps in improving their game as well, resulting in Ball being an All-Star and Miles being right there in the mix as an all star and certainly a team leader. As for the firing itself, I am somewhat nervous. We have Kai Jones and James Bouknight that I really wanted to see what development would happen with them this summer, but with JB gone, I guess it’s on to the next man, whomever that may be. Basically Borrego’s team got blown out on the national stage, again, in the play-in, and that’s something that Michael Jordan, in my opinion, could not handle a second time. On paper, I fully believed that the play-in was going to be a hard fought game that the end result would have seen us in the playoffs.  Instead, we got embarrassed again, looking like a team that had never played together before. The scapegoat could only be Borrego.  As for who replaces him, that’s the next issue to cover.

With rumors of Mitch pondering retirement, one has to be rather concerned about who could replace him as well as what coach comes in and takes the reins. Do we believe he has pulled in enough talent and we can now just focus on what we have? I don’t think so. Mitch, please stay with us. We need you to find us a few more diamonds in the rough, and solid coach, and a few really good and positive trades. If you need help, give me a call and I’ll help out, though I don’t know how exactly I could help and keep you from retiring…but please don’t retire just yet.

I believe that we are past the point of grabbing an “assistant coach” who is really good at one thing and deserves a shot.  I believe we are at a point that we need an experienced head coach that can take the reigns, get the attention of the locker room and get them to buy into what needs to happen next.  Who will that be? The team is built to run, and with our youth, we can do just that.  In running, however, there has to be defense to get stops, otherwise it’s a game of trading baskets and the highest score wins.  We need stops and defense in the worst way.  We need a balanced coach with forward thinking ideas, who knows how to steer a team like this and motivate them, and get better results than “10 more wins”. Who would that coach be? I’ve seen rumors of Quinn Snyder and Frank Vogel. Do I think they are the guy? I really don’t know.  I know that we are an attractive young team to come and coach, but the results this coach will need to produce will be very high.  While it was said that the team had progressed ahead of schedule, they still aren’t in the playoffs, so, in my opinion, whoever the next coach is, they better have us in the playoffs, not the play-in, and we better be winning games in those playoffs. If we aren’t, well, they won’t be here a 2nd year.

Yes, I believe MJ has expectations that are very high.  Do I think JB needed to go? Honestly, I really don’t know. He did what he was best at and these guys have figured out what their talents are.  Now we need a guy at the helm that is seasoned. We need one that can get us into the playoffs and win.  Do I think they know who that is? Not really.  We aren’t the only team that will be shopping for a coach, but I do hope that we have someone in mind that is of quality and can continue to push us up out of the NBA gutter and gain us some respect. We are not a bad team, but we do not get ANY respect from the league, and by extension, neither do our players.  It’s truly a shame.

Do we need a 1-2 punch type coaching staff where experience and youth meet? Perhaps Alvin Gentry and Sam Cassell? What about Terry Stotts and Steve Clifford? Stan Van Gundy? Mike D’Antoni and an assistant coach that is a defensive specialist? Maybe our best bet is Darvin Ham who hasn’t been a head coach, but is one of the top assistants in the league. That carries a good bit of weight towards giving him the reigns as well.

I truly do not know where we will go with this. I’d love to hear feedback from everyone though. The one thing we can all agree on is that this coach has to be “The One”. If he’s not, ho-hum Hornets will remain…ho-hum.