Thursday, May 5, 2011
Mike Ford Asks For Truth From NASCAR Media
Denny Hamlin's crew chief was on the Thursday edition of SPEED's Race Hub program. Mike Ford was being interviewed by reporter Danielle Trotta when she brought up a sore subject.
John Nevins is a NASCAR fan from Daytona Beach, FL. Under the name Captain Thunder, Nevins produces the CaptainThunderRacing.com website and several other NASCAR-related projects.
The Wednesday, April 27 headline at CaptainThunderRacing.com read "Hamlin and Logano to Swap Crew Chiefs."
Here is part of the story published on that topic:
Sources confirmed to Captain Thunder Racing.com that a crew chief swap has been discussed and is imminent between the #11 and #20 teams. The swap would send Denny Hamlin's crew chief Mike Ford to the #20 garage, and Logano's crew chief Greg Zippadelli to the #11 garage.
Zippadelli, once the crew chief for two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, will bring the championship experience to the #11 team that JGR feels Hamlin needs at this point in his career.
The very next day, a spokesman for Joe Gibbs Racing quickly denied that this story was true. The interesting part wasn't that he denied it. It was that the mainstream NASCAR media was using the Nevins story as the source for asking the question.
The response from Nevins was also swift. This on Friday, April 29:
We stand by our story - if both teams do not improve quickly, a change will be made. According to our sources, that decision has been made by Joe and J.D. Gibbs.
Ultimately, it was JD Gibbs who was sitting beside Kyle Busch in the Richmond Infield Media Ceter on the following Saturday night. Busch had won the race. Hamlin was second. Gibbs was once again asked about the Nevins story.
Yeah, you know, it was frustrating in a way. At times kind of comical. I think the website was Captain Thunder. I didn't know that website. C'mon, (if you) listen to that for your information, we're in trouble.
It was nice to put it to bed. Our guys did get a kick out of it. It's one of those things that when you're running not as well as you're used to, people are used to seeing you up front, they start asking questions, leap to crazy conclusions.
During the early part of this week, Gibbs also made the NASCAR TV rounds and used the interview opportunities to confirm that there had never been a discussion, even among JGR senior management, of swapping the Logano and Hamlin crew chiefs.
Thursday, it was Ford's turn to address the topic. His words bring-up a growing debate among hardcore fans. The question is, just who these days is a NASCAR media member?
"I feel like the (NASCAR) media has an obligation to report the truth," Ford told Trotta. "You get a guy who reports a non-truth. I think the media ought to bring him to the forefront so that others don't do that in the future."
Ford's words are interesting. On one hand, he sees a blog like CaptainThunderRacing.com as a member of the NASCAR media. On the other, he wants the "old guard" mainstream media to expose his verson of reality. That is that Nevins simply made the entire story up.
On the same Race Hub show as the Ford interview, Jeff Burton cooked burgers on the lawn of the SPEED studios, Jimmy Spencer delivered his weekly rant in a sombrero for Cinco de Mayo and Hermie Sadler said cooler temps at Darlington will make it more comfortable for fans in the stands. It's not rocket science.
What is upsetting to many is that Nevins seems to be using this type of innuendo as a promotional tool for his website. The parties mentioned by Nevins as the ones making the potential crew chief swap said it never happened. Meanwhile, Nevins continues to fish for new fans on his website, Facebook and Twitter pages by using the denials from JGR as his own red badge of courage.
Where do you draw the line? Should an amateur blogger's story using mystery sources and innuendo send the mainstream NASCAR media running to cover it like breaking news? Was the mainstream media used? In journalism terms, that is called the tail wagging the dog.
That expression is used when suddenly the parts of an equation thought to be the least important become the most important. Suddenly, veteran NASCAR reporters are asking questions based on a report from a website created by a fan. It kind of makes one wonder what this weekend holds in Captain Thunder land?
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