Summer Bedgood · Thursday June 13, 2013
We all know it’s a possibility. We all know it can happen. It is, in fact, inevitable.
That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt.
Jason Leffler … taken too soon. Leffler, killed in a sprint car crash last night at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey, has many of us reflecting back on the sport we love and recognizing that the risks the drivers face are so very, very real. Last week, he was racing on track in Pocono. Just a few days later, he is gone from our lives. He was a joy to those who knew him and he was no stranger to the racetrack.
I struggle with the right words to say at this time because no matter how aware we are of the possibility of losing the drivers, it is never easy. We never get used to it or expect it. What was a normal Wednesday night instead left many of us weeping and trying to search for answers.
When the end of the year tributes are playing and we are reflecting back on the year … we will remember Leffler. We will never forget him or his family, and the racing community will bond together as it always to get through this.
Shed a tear. Hug your family. Enjoy the drivers. Life is sometimes simply too short.
Now, on to your questions:
_Just wondering why NASCAR will not dial the raw horsepower back to about 700
like we had in the 1980’s and 1970’s? It seems like we had less blown
engines and the racing was more competitive. I love NASCAR but the racing
even with the new car has been anything but competitive, you get in clean
air and if you just happen to get the set up right, good-bye. I find that
the Indy car series as well as the Grand-Am Series seems to have better
racing overall._ Lin
I know several people who follow your line of thinking, Lin. Sadly, it doesn’t appear NASCAR is one of them. It’s not a topic NASCAR has given much thought to aside from tracks like Daytona and Talladega, and when they are asked about it, they normally dodge the question or kick the can down the road.
I agree that this is a really good idea and that, at the very worst, the racing would simply stay the same. Slowing the cars down would increase competition, put the cars closer together, and altogether present a better on-track product. I don’t know of that many people who don’t feel the same way.
I know that not all of NASCAR’s problems come from the engine, however. Goodyear providing boulders as tires and the aero package are both ways in which passing is made to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible at some tracks. The fact that these cars are so equally matched doesn’t help either. However, I don’t think slowing the cars down would hurt anything.
I do, however, disagree that racing hasn’t been competitive this year. In 14 races this year, we’ve had seven different drivers, including five different winners in the first five races. There have been exciting finishes, an even wider variety of potential winners who just didn’t quite get there, and some exciting on-track moments. Just because every lap of every race isn’t chock full of highlights doesn’t mean the season or field itself isn’t competitive. In order for us to truly appreciate the highlights, sometimes there has to be a dull moment.
I also disagree that IndyCar or Grand-Am provides better racing. I’ve watched many dull races in both series this year. I’ve also watched many good races. Not every race can be a classic and more races will be forgotten than remembered.
In other words, there is room for improvement, but the current state of racing is far from generally uncompetitive.
Summer, I can’t take another weekend like Pocono for my Gibbs guys. When Kenseth is asking for a rental car instead of his racecar, there is obviously a problem. Has TRD gotten their heads out of the sand yet?? Richard
A Toyota Racing Development official did say on Wednesday that they would be increasing the horsepower in their engines this weekend in Michigan. Not a bad idea considering Michigan is historically tough on engines, though having slightly weaker ones won’t help them get into victory lane. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, just ask Denny Hamlin how important getting a win is to his team right now.
For what its worth, TRD was apparently happy with how their engines performed in Pocono. David Wilson, the company’s acting president, said that there were no valve train issues which had been a focal point recently. However, when you reduce the amount of stress your drivers can subject the engine to, I don’t know that I’d consider that a surprising find. For a sport built around winning, they have shifted strategy lately to doing all they can do to in order to just simply finish.
It has to be the most frustrating thing in the world for the drivers and their teams. When you enter the weekend eying victory lane and instead you are forced to watch the gauges on the dash to test run a science project for your manufacturer, it can’t sit well with your competitive spirit.
From here on out, I expect TRD to start increasing the horsepower incrementally until they can pinpoint where their issues lie. That doesn’t seem like the best decision to me since it intentionally makes the drivers gun shy, but I guess when you have nowhere else to go….
Maybe Tony Stewart wasn’t so off base when he left JGR to start his own team and get back to some Chevy horsepower. Reliability AND speed. Not or. As the new Ford commercial says, “and is better.”
Can we just crown Jimmie Johnson the champion and sit him out the rest of the season so we can enjoy ourselves? Anthony
Well what fun would that be?!
Really now, it has been two full season since Johnson won a championship. Sure he’s on top of the world right now and is in no way, shape, or form slowing down. But that doesn’t mean it will stay like that the rest of the year. Matt Kenseth is still a real championship threat. Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer aren’t second and third in points by sheer luck. And there are still many other drivers who have yet to hit their stride before season’s end.
There is no example better than this than Tony Stewart in 2011. He literally entered the Chase saying, “We don’t deserve to be here”, then wound up winning the whole thing. Things change fast in this sport. So giving up on the whole year when we are still several weeks away from even setting the Chase field is unfair.
Even if Johnson does win this year, that doesn’t mean it won’t be exciting. The last two seasons have had incredibly exciting and adversity-laden championship battles.
Honestly, now, why let Johnson ruin the whole year? It’s just a compliment to his team that you’re even thinking that way (though you’re not alone). I think it has been a good year and will be much better at the end of the year.
Now … my question to all of you: Do you judge the excitement of a race (or a season) by the eventual winner or what happens between the green and the checkered?
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