The Frontstretch: Going in Circles: Simple NASCAR Logic by S.D. Grady -- Tuesday March 16, 2010

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Going in Circles: Simple NASCAR Logic

Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View · S.D. Grady · Tuesday March 16, 2010


Editor’s Note: Have you not signed up for your FREE Frontstretch Newsletter yet in 2010? If you haven’t heard, it’s a daily edition we put out Monday through Friday with NASCAR news, commentary, interviews, and information you can’t find anywhere else on the site. Every Tuesday, S.D. Grady gives her opinions and commentary on everything racing exclusive to the Newsletter; and this week, it’s the simplest but most important NASCAR philosophies taking center stage…

“Please add windshield washing fluid.”

My car has been telling me to do this little chore for the past five days. I haven’t followed the instructions just yet, as it seems silly to add more fluid to my sopping environment up in Massachusetts. At this rate, if enough water keeps pouring from the heavens, I will never have to add windshield washing fluid again. Nonetheless, I expect I will do as I’m told when the sun appears tomorrow. Hopefully that bright orb in the sky does as it’s told to do by the meteorologists, or so that’s what the weathermen would like us to think…

But this random topic got me to thinking… what other silly things get done simply because it is somebody else’s bright idea?

In NASCAR, there’s a multitude of items that fit into this category. Perhaps this week, with its dearth of races and overabundance of bad weather (look, I’ve had enough Nor’easters in the past month to last a lifetime!), is a good moment to kick back and enjoy some of the idiosyncrasies of our sport.

1.) Go fast, turn left

I know each and every one of you that read this column have defended your choice of stock car racing as the best sport ever at some time in your life. It’s an inevitable argument. How can going around in circles be fun? Personally, I’ve stopped trying to worm my way out of this one. It does appear that our athletes have been trained for this singlular feat. Look what a mess of things our champions make when they attempt to turn right! This concept of chasing your tail for 500 miles was perhaps an odd one at some distant point in history, and the action is pretty predictable when you get down to it, but let’s face it: Going fast and turning left is awesome. Plain and simple. I’m sorry that’s a little too difficult for some other sports fans to wrap their heads around, but we all can’t be geniuses.

2.) The car has a wing?

Uh, yeah. Well, I called them idiosyncrasies, not good ideas. And fortunately, this one is leaving the arena in just a short time. It actually made sense to my traditional NASCAR mind when the sport introduced the CoT. That wing did look like something I would see on one of my young employee’s cars. While the rest of the machine had been beaten into a mobile billboard, more than an automobile, the wing was something that could possibly slip into the “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” mantra of days gone by. But yeah, when cars go airborne, and even if the number-crunchers can prove that the wing was not any more at fault than the soon-to-replace-it spoiler would be, it just doesn’t reassure any sane person that a wing on a ground dwelling machine is a good thing.

So wave goodbye to the do-do bird, kids. And good riddance!

3.) The point of racing is NOT to hit another car…honest.

This is another one of those really hard to prove ideologies of our sport. We view a race to see who is the fastest, the bravest, the smartest…the best. Right? We do not watch to see who hits the wall, or even worse, who is willing to put somebody else into the wall. And yet, there is the fact that we do not TiVo multiple instant replays of Mark Martin politely passing Jimmie Johnson for the lead. Nor do we fill bulletin boards with comments on what a nice person Ryan Newman is. How many times do you think the Keselowski/Edwards wrecks have been put on endless rewind over the past two weeks? So, yeah, let’s just face up to it—the beatin’ and bangin’ is pretty cool, too.

4.) A motor IS an engine

I’m not here to debate the correct definition of a motor. I get it! And I’m not here to piss off Ryan Newman. But, there are things we must accept as fact when choosing to talk NASCAR. If the motor broke, it is the engine that chewed itself into little pieces and suffered a catastrophic oil pan failure. As a fan who does not choose to dismantle their own car, I will leave it to the engine guys to determine which piston burned. I’m happy enough with “uh oh, looks like the motor broke.”

The flagman may have the best seat in the house to see the racing action – but more important of all, are the drivers even seeing him as they pass the start / finish line?

5.) The Flagman is the most important person at the track

If you’ve ever attended a NASCAR event at a track larger than a mile long, you’ve probably gotten out your binoculars to see something on the other end of the track. So, I ask you, if I have trouble picking out a stationary pit box when I’m sitting in a single spot, how in the world can a driver see a tiny yellow flag fluttering 30 feet above the track while he’s driving 175 mph? And yet, this most traditional and revered position is undoubtedly the most iconic for any race. Take away the green, yellow, and checkered flags and we’re left with…cars going round in circles for no apparent reason at all.

Oh dear, it seems we’re back where we started.

What does this all mean? I’m not sure. But the next time you see NASCAR Racing listed in your cable guide, don’t try and overthink the process. Instead, follow your inner voice that’s telling you to do a very simple thing: Watch the race! And enjoy. You already know it’s a good thing..

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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03/16/2010 02:58 AM

There’s a really simple reason they always turn left …. there’s a wall to the right!

03/16/2010 12:02 PM

There is no LOGIC in NASCAR. Mr. Spock is most disappointed.

03/17/2010 10:47 AM

Isn’t the reason oval racing came about is that it can be viewed as a good spectator sport. Meaning you can view the entire track without leaving your seat (at least on the short tracks). It wouldn’t be much of a spectator sport if they all went straight would it? I don’t consider road courses to be spectator friendly but some people like that.

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