NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voices Returns: The Pros & Cons of NASCAR’s Furious Backpedaling

As many longtime readers may have noticed, the Voices column has not been around this year. There are plenty of reasons for it, but I will briefly share a couple of the major ones.

First and foremost, I just plain got burnt out. This space started out years ago as a fun way to share my enthusiasm for all things racing, but over the years, and especially the last couple, it got to be a drag. You can ask most people who know me, I am about the most laidback person you will ever meet; but when even I know I’m being bitchy, well, it was time to take a break.

Secondly, NASCAR had/has become so predictable, Al Roker was rumored to have been picking Brian France’s brain (or the people who tell him what to think) for career advice. For those of you that didn’t catch that, it means that a NASCAR race is more predictable than the weather! To sum it up, I lost interest, as well as many of my friends and millions of other fans. Oh sure, I’d go to a race or watch part of one, but the glitz and glamour were gone. I never thought I’d say it, but it really didn’t matter anymore if I saw the race or not. Five years ago, I planned my Sunday around it. Call it apathy.

Having said that, and after taking a few months of sabbatical, (that’s a rest, for those still wondering who Al Roker is…) I am here to tell you that I will be back, starting in June, full-time! Lucky you! I can’t say that I won’t be bitchy anymore… but at least I can do it with renewed enthusiasm! In the meantime, here are a few observations that I have made during my time on the sidelines.

NASCAR, as a whole, has made some very good progress over the last year. But despite the fact that they did the right thing(s), just know they told you the wrong reasons behind it.

The biggest and best change, by far, is the removal of the wing from France’s beloved CoT. The drivers never liked it, the fans never liked it, and despite NASCAR’s adamant claims, wings were made for flying! As John Madden may be apt to say, if God intended man to fly, he’d have given us wings. Well, Brian France did give us wings, and guess what? Cars flew! Oh sure, you angle it down enough and you will get downforce, but I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that during all the development of the CoT, they never faced the ass end of it into the fan at full tilt in the wind tunnel! Had anyone bothered to do that, we probably never would have seen it on a stock car. I hear the purists now… “but Petty had a wing on his Charger once…” Save it! Look at the ‘wing’ on those old Dodges; they resemble more of a rollbar on redneck’s pickup than they do a wing! Run it backward at 190 mph and it won’t lift the car off the track – not like France’s wing! The wing on the CoT totally negated and overpowered the roof flaps on the top of the car!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that cars will never get airborne again. This is racing, after all and as they say, caca happens, but the return to the spoiler is a super step in the right direction for the drivers, the fans, and safety in general. If, like some of our staff, you want everything about racing to be totally safe and accident free, you’re in the wrong sport. If there wasn’t risk, no one would do it.

Last year about this time, NASCAR, “because the fans wanted it,” gave us double-file restarts at ALL the races. Well, duh!!!! That is how you start a race, ain’t it? It is called a “restart,” isn’t it? “Because the fans wanted it” is some of the deepest BS that NASCAR has ever given us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: once racing back to the yellow was forbidden and the “Lucky Dog” implemented, double-file restarts should have been an instantaneous next step. Once you are giving a guy his lap back, there is no need have him starting up by the leaders! It has nothing to do with “the fans wanting it” and everything to do with that rare commodity, common sense. ‘Nuff said.

One area that NASCAR has managed to screw up this year is the green-white-checkered finishes. GWC, if you remember NASCAR’s rhetoric, was deemed as totally unsafe for the Cup cars… until that fateful race in 2004, when fans were willing to go to such extremes as to throw perfectly good beers onto the track in Talladega. NASCAR, realizing the value of a perfectly good beer, (and what a bitch it is to pick up all those cans off the track) decided that maybe it was OK to have a GWC for the Cup Series after all.

Now, that decision was a rare but wise one on NASCAR’s part. Unfortunately, this year they have tried to improve it with “three attempts at GWC” because “we are listening to the fans.” OK, well let me ask you this; can you honestly say you personally know even two people who were not happy with just one GWC? I bet the answer is no. If NASCAR was truly “listening to the fans,” they would have known that the “fans” were extremely happy (not to mention surprised) that GWC was even implemented at all – let alone asking for two more!

No, three attempts at GWC is seen by fans for what it truly is… NASCAR’s pathetic propensity for screwing up a good thing, not to mention it now becoming a hokey gimmick. In this day and age, NASCAR needs to avoid all appearances of gimmickry.

This next bit of foolishness came up in this week’s Mirror Driving, and that is the subject of, gasp!, someone on Twitter, tweeting the results of the Truck Series race before someone else had the chance to watch it!!! OMG!!! Can you believe it?

Personally, I don’t twat, twit, tweet or whatever it’s called, but this had me literally ROFLMAO! I do have a cell phone, but I only use it to make phone calls and the occasional text, so call me an old fuddy duddy or out of touch or whatever but baby, this is the information age! Stuff like that is gonna happen, so get over it or don’t twitch, er, tweet, er, chirp, or whatever it is you gotta do. The total reliance of people nowadays on their little electronic devices and the “need to talk to people” is just ridiculous! Heck, there used to be a time you had to wait for the next day’s paper to know the outcome of anything!

Let me put it this way: millions upon millions of people are so dependent on American Idol or some other inane show that even if your friend tweeted you to tell you who won before you had a chance to watch your DVR, you’d still actually watch it, right? Don’t lie!! It’s the same with racing. It’s about the actual racing, stupid! Just because you accidentally know the outcome doesn’t lessen the quality of the race (or the show).

Before I finally put this thing to bed… is it just me, or has even the Junior Nation finally come to the realization that hey, maybe he’s just mediocre at best? I mean, they just don’t seem to argue the point as fervently as they used to. He’s been in the best equipment money can buy for quite a while now. How long does it take?

I dunno, just sayin’!

Stay off the wall (and off your device for a change!),

Jeff Meyer

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