The Frontstretch: NASCAR Needs to Shut Up and Let Them Race! by S.D. Grady -- Tuesday October 6, 2009

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NASCAR Needs to Shut Up and Let Them Race!

Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View · S.D. Grady · Tuesday October 6, 2009


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Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce your Chasers for 2009. That’s right, just take a look at the top 10 of the race running right now, and you’re sure to see such stars as: Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Brad Keselow….

Hey, wait a minute! Keselowski! What are you doing at the front of the race? That’s not part of the script. We can’t be having a rookie stealing the limelight … somebody tell him to get to the back of the pack.

“Mr. Keselowski, could you please not ride the bumper of the Chaser quite so hard? Mr. France would really appreciate you not screwing up his nice shiny playoff.”

OK, OK… I’m probably exaggerating the behind the scenes chit-chat during Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft Foods, but I really do wonder by how much.

At the beginning of the 2008 season, NASCAR stated it wanted to let the drivers show their emotions and allow a little more bumpin’ and bangin’ on the track. In other words, let us fans watch some unscripted, honest battles. Officials proceeded to turn blind eyes to on-track shenanigans, pit road brawls, pushing, shoving, swearing… in fact, over the past two years, just about the only thing that garnered penalties citing the dreaded “actions detrimental to stock car racing” were malformed stock cars and tainted urine.

However, there must have been an unwritten caveat to this turnabout in NASCAR’s “let boys be boys” policy. I imagine it goes something like this: “I don’t care who you are, but if you’re not in the Chase, we don’t want to hear from you.”

What other explanation could there be for NASCAR’s warning to Brad Keselowski to be careful while racing Montoya? What? Juan Pablo is a saint? No, but he is in the Chase. And we can’t be having some rookie ruin the cough, cough mesmerizing competition between twelve chosen stars.

Guys like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Ryan Newman can relax on race day knowing that their Chaser status buys them a little extra “protection” on the race track.

Well, the last time I checked, 43 cars qualify to compete in the weekly premier NASCAR event — not twelve. 43 cars have the opportunity to win, right? Well, there is nothing in the rule book that states a rookie driving a fast car has to give any room to a veteran driving a fast car. It does say you can’t intentionally put another driver in the wall … but there’s nothing against messing up his door.

If anybody had the right to warn Brad off the No. 42, it was Tony Eury, Jr., his crew chief, hoping to bring the No. 25 home in one piece. Although when you’re running a limited schedule, the importance of making a good showing might outweigh the longevity of your car, right?

Not anymore.

In this movie, the happy ending comes only for a driver with championship dreams. I know the suits in the office suite were just clapping their hands in glee when nine out of ten of the top 10 were Chasers. This is their dream! The cream of the Cup drivers racing all out for the championship… cool. But hey! What about the other 31 cars?

Well, according to the NASCAR Chase Manual, they are not to be heard of. Please don’t put the camera on them (unless it’s Dale Jr.) and tell the booth not to talk about them. The regular season is over, so anything that happens in the lower echelons just isn’t important.

In closing, let’s revisit that 2008 PR release. Maybe it should’ve read something like this:

“We want to let the drivers race hard that we deem to be of interest to the viewing public, the sponsors, and those that compile ratings. Otherwise, we will continue to ensure that no other driver causes any kind of unexpected drama on the track… or off it.”

The bottom line is if NASCAR really wants to ensure a great Chase, with surprising finishes, unexpected twists, and driver’s emotions coming through loud and clear, they need to KEEP QUIET and let those teams do what we want them to do…

Race their hearts out. All 43 of them.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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10/06/2009 12:44 AM

NASCAR always does it’s best job when it can just keep it’s mouth shut!

Bad Wolf
10/06/2009 02:10 AM

They never told Swervin Irvan to be careful at Atlanta back in ’93, did they.

10/06/2009 03:04 AM

It’s easy to call NASCAR out for asking Keselowski to show restraint when racing the chasers. However, I bet most of us would be saying the same thing NASCAR did had Keselowski wrecked the 42 while racing hard.

10/06/2009 03:38 AM

From what I saw, the 42 moved up and darned near wrecked Keselowski.

10/06/2009 06:19 AM

I think Brad was more surprised then anyone when Montoya got into the 25’s door! I guess Hamlin must have gone to NASCAR and complained about BK holding his line and turning him in the CupLite Series..I mean you can’t have a Lite Series regular outrunning a Cup guy can you? NASCAR made sure BK got his hands slapped while running with the big boys. If the Cup guys can’t run with BK they should pull over..and the SUITS should keep their mouths shut..I was kind of hoping to see Montoya spin..he has gotten out of control these last few to watch..but no free passes just cause you are running the get what you give….I think earning respect goes both ways…

10/06/2009 06:56 AM

If Nascar wonders why many fans have not bought into their contrived not-a-playoff format, Kansas was the perfect example of why. For starters, forcing fans to watch no one BUT the ‘top 12’ is insulting. Do Nascar and the media not understand that a fan wants to watch their favorite driver, whether they are in the ‘chase’ or not? They appear to think that, once the ‘chase’ starts, every fans will now change their loyalty to one of 12 drivers. Not going to happen. Then, Nascar pretends that all 43 cars are ‘equal’ on the track….then they tell drivers to stay out of the way of the chasers? It’s a farce. and having many members of the media telling fans they are stupid to dislike the format doesn’t help. Just because we are stuck with a ridiculous format doesn’t mean we can’t make up our own minds about whether we like it or not. Kansas simply brought to the forefront why many fans consider the final 10 races of the year and the new format a bore. And TV ratings would seem to indicate that fans are voting with their remotes.

The Turnip
10/06/2009 07:26 AM

If the “other” 31 cars cannot “race”, THEN WHY ALLOW THESE 31 CARS ON THE TRACK AT ALL?

If the “other” 31 cars just “happen” to get caught up in some ACTUAL RACING (gee, imagine that, racing) and then tell them not to?


Holy crap!

Are 43 cars racing? Or are 12 cars racing?

brings back the old notion that maybe the 12 cars need to run 100 laps by themselves, then the other 31 put on the REAL race of some 200 laps (or whatever)

How stupid of NA$CRAP!

BUT! STUPID! & NA$CRAP in the same sentence is really a common thing isn’t it?

z'hills fan
10/06/2009 08:16 AM

NASCAR’S attitude is a good way to “chase” more sponsors away. It’s no wonder they are loosing the real fans.

10/06/2009 08:38 AM

I was watching Race Day on Speed a couple of weeks ago, and they went out of their way to let us know that drivers who don’t make the Chase are NOT second class citizens.

Guess we can dispel that myth now.

How much more plainly can NASCAR say now that it’s not about the racing but instead about Brian France’s marketing efforts?

It needs to be said once again. WWE.

Dave in NJ
10/06/2009 09:41 AM

Keselowski is a talented but incredibly aggressive driver who gets into more than his share of wrecks in everything he drives. He’s like Steve Wallace out there. NASCAR was right to just let him know that they didn’t want his aggressiveness ruining somebody else’s day. They didn’t tell him to go to the back of the field, they just said they had their eye on him.

And many of the folks who are upset about this would be furious if some non-Chaser wrecked Mark Martin with 10 laps to go battling for 7th and dropped him to the back of the field.

I used to think Frontstretch was full of insightful commentary and discussion, but now it’s become the place for disgruntled “old-time” fans to congregate and complain about how bad everything is. Which is your right, of course, but I don’t see the point in non-haters coming here to hear the same old point of view.

10/06/2009 10:09 AM

Coming here and reading the columns and responses just might teach you something……..Us old timers as you call us have been around the block once or twice!!

10/06/2009 11:30 AM

Johnboy60, you said it. As for Dave, you must not have watched Brad race a lot. The fact is he has been wrecked by Biffle, Lagano, Kenseth, Mr. Clean’s Mark Martin, and Denny Hamlin. He never retaliated or said anything about them on air. Now after Dimmy opened his mouth to “school” Brad on how to race, Dimmy is taking the backflack.

Nascar acted like Dimmy, and now they are taking the flack.

P on U
10/06/2009 11:35 AM

HA HA HA! What a joke! Na$crap messing with the outcome of a race? No way!?!

How are we supposed to take this seriously anymore?

10/06/2009 11:41 AM

I agree with z’hills fan. But not only is nas$car chasing more sponsors away, even more fans are following suit, including me. For the first time in a long time I cut from the race about mid way through and never switched back. I didn’t know who won the race till later in the evening. The sad thing is, I don’t much care anymore. If you’re not a chase driver, get out of the way and let the pretty boys hold sway. At one point I believe 10 out the first 12 drivers were chase drivers. If your driver is not in the chase, he’s told to not face competivily with the chasers. After being a nas$car fan for 30+ years, I’ve lost interest. Thanks mr france (no capitals here) for ruining the sport I used to love.

don mei
10/06/2009 12:05 PM

The rumor that the World Wrestling Federation is negotiating to buy Nascar is NOT true.

The Turnip
10/06/2009 01:04 PM

Hey “Dave in NJ”!!


NA$CRAP “allows” 43 total cars in any given race, BUT! ONLY 12 of them are “eligible” to actually “RACE”?

Only in Brain Farces NA$CRAP would that happen!

If that IDIOT Brain Farce does not want ALL 43 cars to “race”, then why allow them on the track?

Or maybe NA$CRAP should paint ALL 12 chase cars the same SAFETY ORANGE! And MANDATE all non-chase cars stay 20 car lengths away!

“don’t race”?


10/06/2009 01:25 PM

Dave, if a non-Chaser wrecked Mark Martin, I personally would wonder out loud why the hell non-Chase drivers are even in Chase races. That is part of what makes the Chase idiotic. If there is no reason for them to be out there, why are they?

I’m not an “old time” fan. Just thought NASCAR was best in 2003, before they started this moronic pseudo-playoff.

Robert Eastman
10/06/2009 07:06 PM
permalink is taking a “fan opinion” poll. 93% think NASCAR was wrong in telling BK to “not race hard.” That means that more than 9 out of 10 fans are unhappy with the way NASCAR’s Chase is being run/manipulated. If 9 out of 10 fans decide to stop buying tickets and/or turn off the “race” (hardly a race when the “race drivers” are told “NOT to race”)then eventially NASCAR will cease to exist!
How soon are the NASCAR stake-holders going to realize that BF and his “management team” need to be “kicked to the curb!”

10/06/2009 09:03 PM

Dave in NJ, Do you really think this is the only website that us “Old Time Fans” are disgruntled on?
Have you ever wondered why NA$ doesn’t have a comments section? I’m sure they don’t want to burn out their servers.
The only reason why Steven Wallace has a ride is because of Daddy and even he can’t hide his frustration on broadcast. When was SW’s last move to Cup? BK’s just like any rookie with talent, he’ll make his mistakes and he should be able to race regardless of the Chump Chase.
At least someone “outside the Holy 12” got some attention.

10/06/2009 09:56 PM

Upon further review, I do see a comments section on some articles. As long as you’re an “Official Member of NA$CAR’s Website” and don’t mind commenting on non controversial articles. They have great staff commentators.

10/07/2009 12:45 AM

The races have lost their thrill. I was a saturday night racer for 20 plus years and the politics I saw at every track goes all the way to the top of the heap at the Cup level. There is a need to manipulate by the organizers deep in their heart. You can not stop it you can only stop watching it. Every once in a while I turn on a race but damn they are boring except for an occasional last 10 laps. Really there is no reason to have a race last longer than 50 laps to see a good race. All the rest of it is boring and now even the last 50 are usually boring.

I would like to see Kaz wreck someone just to hear the complaints. How dare he race them like that. Hey racing used to be all about wreckers or checkers.

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