Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: NASCAR 2011 Short on Controversy, Short on Fun

Would they or wouldn’t they? For days and days, nothing else graced the headlines of NASCAR media. Come Saturday, when Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch would next meet up on the track, would they permit their emotions to get the better of them, and proceed to finish what Harvick wanted to start at the end of the Southern 500?

I knew, once the “penalties” were issued last Tuesday, exactly what the outcome would be… not much of anything. NASCAR clearly didn’t perceive the near spat using cars instead of fists as anything too terrible to worry about, trotting out a pitiful $25,000 penalty and the ubiquitous but never truly meaningful probation for the pair. Helton didn’t think much of the confrontation.

So why did the media continue to pose the question all through the usual driver appearances all weekend long? Because, quite frankly, there wasn’t much else to talk about. Or at least, not enough to fill endless hours of practice, qualifying and the various at-the-track shows that fill SPEED and FOX’s programming on race weeks.

Despite the fact that we’re one-third of the way through the season and the spring has been littered with feel good, out of the ordinary kind of endings to the races, we’ve lacked any truly big story. Nobody has tried to slip a slightly bent car through inspection, a tire issue at Bristol turned into nothing more than an inconvenience for the guys working the Goodyear garage, and even though we’ve seen some mighty big hits, drivers continue to walk away without any lingering negative effects.

Furthermore, the weather has actually agreed to cooperate this year. Ain’t that something? Especially with the tornados and floods ripping through our nation, it appears that at least rain has permitted us our races.

Quite basically, as a sports nation that has been living through years of discontent, we should be thrilled with a year sprinkled with a variety of winners including a pair of first-time visitors to victory lane. We’re all focused on sorting out the effects of a new points system that has had little effect on the actual competition, and there’s even the distraction of new (well, new to NASCAR) technology coming in the engine compartment.

It’s all very, well, kind of a nice year. Nice. Tepid. Beige. Last I checked, none of those words belong in descriptions pertaining to auto racing.

So mad, he was ready to rip the offending driver out of his seat and explain the facts of life to the ignoramus. Now that sounds more like what we hark back to on occasion when thinking of the good ol’ days. That was what Harvick wanted to make happen over a week ago when Kyle Busch decided it was better to drive away from the confrontation. And yet, considering most of what we’ve seen of the younger Busch over the past six months or so, this bland reaction sort of fits his new persona.

But does it fit NASCAR?

It might fit in with 2011, as depressing as that might be. Unless, of course, Kevin Harvick gets Jimmy Spencer to hold Kyle Busch down on the start/finish line and proceeds to provide the kind of pre-race entertainment we could stand a little more of. Combined with Clint Bowyer’s cars doing pirouettes on its nose weekly, the rest of the season might turn into a something a little more exciting.

I’m sure the producers of the All-Star Race are certainly hoping so.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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