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NASCAR racing has always had a fair amount of rough driving and intimidating behavior. Methods such as bumping and running and bump drafting have made racing in NASCAR more aggressive and more competitive than it once was. Since the time of Earnhardt, there has always been that one driver who raced harder and was more competitive than almost every other driver on the track. This season, however, the growing trend in rough driving and overly competitive nature has reached a new high. After watching all these drivers trade paint and bruise egos at 190 miles per hour, one must ask if the end justifies the means?
There was a time in NASCAR when a driver would use their bumper as the laps winded down. In the final laps drivers would apply their bumper to take the win, often remaining unconcerned with their opponent’s misfortune. This was a move most popular at Bristol, where drivers Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt raced competitively for the win, and where Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon found themselves using the bump and run to end a winless streak. In addition to the Bristol incidents, many more racetracks have played home to bumping, rubbing, and wrecking. Highly competitive racing has always played a presence in NASCAR, and will for many seasons to come. Whether it is right or wrong for a driver to bump their way to a better finish will always remain debatable, yet whether or not a driver benefits from the bump seems obvious.
Brian Vickers did not win the All-Star Challenge, and as points were not awarded during the weekend, Vickers had nothing to show for his aggressive behavior. He finished third in an eleven-car field. His behavior in the Nextel Open seemed irrelevant at the finish of the All-Star race. When a driver needs to spin out another driver in order to gain a better finish, they are showing disregard towards every other NASCAR driver. Basically, spinning out a driver is a method of showing a lack of respect, which could come back to haunt the wreckless driver. Remember Speedweeeks in Daytona? A multiple car crash in the Dual 150s had many drivers irritated with Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
Basically, wreckless driving is an effective way to gain a better finish, and in turn, gain ground in the ever so important points championship. However, the disrespect that they show other drivers helps to show disrespect to the sport of NASCAR. They may be doing what they believe is right at the time of an incident, however spinning a driver out is an action that will be relived in NASCAR for many weeks to come. Let’s not forget the possibility that when a driver races aggressively on a consistent basis, they could be putting a bulls eye on their sheet metal for weeks to come, becoming the focal point of attention from drivers, fans, and the media.
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