Random Lugnuts: Making Sure Racing Doesn't Become Basketball
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September 11, 2013
Well, that was an interesting week for NASCAR.
At the end of a nail-biter of a night, watching and hoping for Kurt Busch to put the Furniture Row team in the Chase, the last race before the Chase ran into a quite bit of controversy when a late race spin by Clint Bowyer set up Martin Truex Jr.'s entry into the Chase.
Watching the replay with the team audio, it sure does sound like Bowyer spun himself to at least give Truex another shot at the Chase, and NASCAR agreed, fining Michael Waltrip Racing and penalizing Martin Truex Jr., removing him from the Chase Monday and opening the way for Ryan Newman to get in.
What's wrong with helping a teammate? None other than @TheOrangeCone tweeted, "You use all the tools available to you. If you need a caution, you create one. All is fair in love, war, and The Chase for the Sprint Cup." That about sums it up for the side in favor.
There's just one little bitty issue I have with that. Have you ever seen the last three minutes of a very close basketball game? I mean, have you ever endured the half hour or so of inbound passes, fouls on purpose, and free throws that constitute the final game clock minutes of a close basketball game?
Let's not let the drivers think it's okay to turn the final ten laps of a Sprint Cup race into an half hour grind of 80mph pace laps, aborted green-white-checker attempts, playing chicken with the fuel pressure gauge on all the extra laps, and caution flag finishes after the GWC attempts run out.
Team orders are fine by me if you want a teammate to throw a block or draft off of, but I think messing with the flow of the race by manipulating cautions is going to alienate, not excite, fans. That's becoming another issue, as folks are looking into whether or not Penske made a deal for Joey Logano to get a lap-leader point midrace. I have no problem with that, points are bought and sold all the time in the offseason, with NASCAR's blessing and approval. What Penske supposedly did for Logano didn't cause a caution, didn't affect the outcome of the race, and wasn't even noticed by anyone until after NASCAR came down on Michael Waltrip Racing and somebody said, "hey, what about Penske?"
With the pressure of money, sponsorships, and prestigious championships, you don't leave anything on the table for the sake of "the show." Like Cone said, you use all the tools available to you, and that may be for most teams regardless of how boring it may be for Joe Fan waiting in the stands. NASCAR took the caution flag tool away yesterday, making sure that the fans are entertained AND the race teams can still have competed equally without having left any tools left in the bag.
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