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Foreign competition makes NASCAR better
NASCAR at Chicagoland
Mike from Asheville, N.C.: Tom, now that NASCAR has finally decided to allow imports from Japan to race, do you think that it will become as successful as Indy and Champ Car racing? After all, Indy and Champ Car races are always sold out. Now, maybe NASCAR can finally distance themselves from all those "Good Ol' Southern Boys" that gave NASCAR such a bad image. I can now dream of the day when Hyundai wins the manufacturers championship, beating out Kia, Subaru, Toyota and Honda. As for the Chevys, Fords and Dodges, they are in a new sanctioning body that promises to be loyal to them and their fans. An ex-Michael & Darrell Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and UPS fan
Tom Jensen: Yep, the arrival of Toyota is going to put off some longtime NASCAR fans. No question about it. The NASCAR of 2007 is going to be very different than the NASCAR of 1997 or the NASCAR of 1987. But you know what? I've always believed more competition is good, not bad. If Chevy, Ford and Dodge want to kick Toyota to the curb, they need to roll up their sleeves and go to work. It's that simple.
Mike from Jacksonville, Fla.: Do you think that allowing foreign drivers into Nextel will hurt the sport just as is did with baseball? If Nextel goes the same route, I believe it will hurt the sport tremendously. What say you?
Tom Jensen: Mike, will allowing foreign drivers into Nextel Cup hurt it? Quite the contrary. It will bring more fans and more global attention than ever. There are three issues to consider:
- I don't think we'll ever have a situation where there are more than a handful of foreign Cup drivers
- As I said about Toyota's entry, competition enhances the sport, it doesn't detract from it. Chip Ganassi hasn't won a NASCAR race in four years; if Juan Montoya can come in and win, he deserves to be here, plain and simple.
- Being foreign doesn't guarantee success in NASCAR. Just ask Christian Fittipaldi, Michel Jourdain Jr., Adrian Fernandez or Hideo Fukuyama, to name just four.
Zeebus28 from Suffern, N.Y.: What will Montoya need to do to be able to make a successful transition to NASCAR, will he be running Busch races to get seat time?
Tom Jensen: Juan Montoya will do just fine next season. He's pals with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, among others, and Chip Ganassi said he's an extremely quick study. He will do all companion Busch races next season and might do a couple this year, too. All he needs is a little seat time.
Send your questions & comments to Tom
Tom Jensen: Dale, Paul Tracy will not wind up full-time in NASCAR anytime soon. In May, he signed a five-year contract extension to remain in Champ Car. "I've been checking out some other types of race series this year, and that's been a great learning experience and a lot of fun, but at the end of the day there's just nothing like Champ Car," he said. That pretty much settles it.