Eddie Gossage’s latest banner sparks another conversation

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is an expert at starting a conversation, and he did so again Friday by hanging a large banner outside the media center.

The banner displays the caricatures of seven young drivers: Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, William Byron and Alex Bowman.

The title? “New Kids On The Track,” which is written in the logo style of the 90s boy band New Kids On The Block.

Of course, the hangup here is all those drivers have a combined one career victory. And aside from 27-year-old Austin Dillon’s win at the Daytona 500, the race winners this season have been 42-year-old Kevin Harvick, 37-year-old Martin Truex Jr. and 38-year-old Clint Bowyer.

That’s noted in a much smaller banner off to the side, which contains an enlarged version of a recent Kevin Harvick tweet:

So what do the drivers think of the NKOTT banner? As you might expect, the reactions varied.

“If you like good marketing, it is good,” Harvick said. “If you like winners, you go for the old guys.”

Harvick quickly added he wasn’t taking a personal dig at the young drivers, but enjoys the debate over the generational divide. The veteran is having fun with it, he said, “and I told (the young drivers) they should have fun with it, too.”

“The dad and kid sitting in the grandstands from two different generations and mom and daughter sitting in the grandstands — (the parents) root for the old guys and you root for the young guys,” he said. “That is great for our sport, it really is. It makes it fun to be able to have that banter back and forth.”

The banter hasn’t been all fun this year, though. Kyle Busch said NASCAR’s young guns push was “stupid” and “bothersome.” And Brad Keselowski told NBC’s Nate Ryan the veteran drivers are jealous of the young drivers’ marketing push — but it was warranted because they never received that support from NASCAR.

Suarez said that’s just drivers competitive off the track instead of on it.

“All of the veteran drivers are very strong; they have a very strong fan base and they have a lot of support,” he said. “They pretty much have the path already made. I feel like for young drivers, sometimes we need that extra push to start making that path and to start building that fan base.”

Ryan Blaney said he found the sign funny, and didn’t get why people try to divide the younger drivers from the veterans in the first place.

“It’s not a rivalry,” he said. “It’s not a competition. I don’t care if you’re 18 years old or 50 years old, we’re just competitors.

“I think it was a pretty neat thing that Gossage did. I laughed at it. I like how it has me throwing up the peace sign, too. I’ve never done that in my life.”

Blaney at least knew who the New Kids On The Block were. Suarez and Erik Jones said they had never heard of them (which was what Harvick predicted would be the case for every driver on the banner).

As Jones noted, he was born in 1996 — well past the prime of the New Kids. But he certainly was in favor of NASCAR helping give the new drivers a publicity push.

“I think we’re just more willing to take some of these opportunities that (the veterans are) not willing to,” he said. “A lot of them have families and want to spend as much time at home as they can, and for us to take a trip to wherever or spend some extra time somewhere isn’t as big of a deal.”


5 Replies to “Eddie Gossage’s latest banner sparks another conversation”

  1. “Told ya so.”

    No really, I have been beating the dead horse for awhile. They are pushing these silver spoons too young, too hard, too fast. I said “back yonder” that Chase was too young to handle the pressure. Yes, he made the chase. By a lot of luck and other drivers beefs that ramped up. And given the concentration of cash these days, I don’t even think top 10’s are all that impressive by the same powerhouse teams. But he faltered under pressure. Worse, the disgusting cash grab, pushing him into the 24 to get those sales, then putting him in the 9 to get those sales to double dip Byron, as the 24 stuff for Chase became obsolete. (This has become a master Hendrick tactic, which I have come to loathe, as a Jeff fan. They put out that “bring back the stache” merch, and when the last one sold out, he shaved and said “nevermind”. Nice quick $2m there.) It feels like Cup series is becoming the Sportsman Series – where there was far too much inexperience mingled with experience, the haves mixed with have nots, where there is high stakes gambling that these inexperienced young guns can handle not only the car itself on the track, but the combined stress of racing with the stress of promoting. I actually worry about the future safety of the series – much like the Sportsman series, which lost too many lives.

    Bubba was pushed into the faltering Petty ride. He will end up in no man’s land, because the Petty team generally sucks. When he can’t produce with that equipment, he might hang around, but he’ll have no bargaining chip to move up into an actual top team. And I hate it for him, because I love him!

    Byron was one I was even more adamant on, that he has no business in the Cup series yet. He hadn’t spent more than a year in any series. He’s a serious talent, who was underdeveloped. Not because he doesn’t have talent (or even age, really), but because he didn’t have experience in ramping up a race schedule that includes massive media schedules to satisfy some sponsor’s third cousin’s former roommates girlfriend for a selfie. Cup drivers are a faster version of Westminster. It takes time to get used to the demands. Byron didn’t get that time to adjust to ever increasing demands.

    And let’s not get into the Dillon’s being wedged on us…

    About the only promotion that made sense was Suarez, but calling him a young gun is a little… strange. He’s 26.

    Meanwhile, Kenseth has no ride. The fact that these drivers have been doing it for 20+ years, and are expected to be up at dawn, spending every waking minute as a walking commercial, 7 days a week, and the many-multiple-millionaire owners not wanting to pay them is irritating, but hey, bring on the cheaper young guys…. why not? Cheaper to hire a 20th place “young gun” and get that purse, than to have a consistent winner and paying him what he’s worth.

    If I was an older driver, I’d be jealous too. Mostly because they are the ones doing the media dances for hours on end after winning, to satisfy NASCAR’s bloodlust, they are winning races with talent and experience… and…. nothing. But hey, let’s do an hour long interview with the 21st place finisher, because he’s got youth on his side!

    1. None of this is news. It’s been slowly heading this way and they have forced this recent speed-up on themselves. The fact that the only real natural rivalry is the manufacturer is being downplayed. It’s not like stick and ball sports where the rivalry is between the cities. They have to manufacture rivalries that don’t naturally exist and they don’t have the patience to let them develop. They could have done well with a Danica vs the World but didn’t want to be politically incorrect. It doesn’t seem they are learning from their mistakes either. I’ll be doing something other than watching NASCAR on the weekends for the first time in 30 plus years.

  2. Food for thought

    Nascar (and track owners) said for years that Cup drivers were needed in the Busch series cause no one wanted to to pay to see young upstarts who weren’t names yet, and guys like Busch, Edwards, Stewart, Keselowski, Harvick, etc were needed in BGN, even when it became a farce and Cup lite (and this only recently has been — to some degree — addressed)

    Now Nascar is saying ignore the Cup veterans, people will want to watch our winless, unknown young guns in Cup

    Does not compute

  3. I can’t believe anyone cares about this. To me it’s all background noise. Who cares who NASCAR promotes. You are a fool if you even pay attention to it. Just watch the race and ignore all the background noise.
    Geez, in the 21st century people just look for things to get upset about so they can go on Twitter and whine about it.

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