Race Weekend Central

In NASCAR Racing, It’s All About Redemption

When Brian Vickers climbed into a NASAR Sprint Cup racecar at Bristol for the first time since an uncertain November, he was determined to answer the questions that had dogged him for nearly two years, ever since he found himself lying in a hospital bed, wondering if he would race again. Ever since a 2011 season plagued with uncharacteristically aggressive racing. Looking back, now, after Vickers’s stellar top-five run at Bristol, it’s easy to think that perhaps some of that aggression stemmed from fear-his race team was closing down after the season, and there simply were no decent full-time rides available.

Perhaps Vickers’s on-track actions were the hallmark of a driver trying far too hard to impress and ending up doing just the opposite. In any case, that’s behind him now. Vickers has an eight-race deal in place with Michael Waltrip Racing, with seven more races left to run this year. Seven more chances to prove himself worthy of a full-time ride. Seven more chances at redemption.

Racing is a game of redemption. Teams and drivers race for it every week: redemption for a mistake, redemption with the competition, redemption in the eyes of the fans. It’s the common theme of every team, every race: to redeem themselves for past transgressions, whether they won last week or came in last. In a sport with 42 losers in every contest, there is always room to wonder where things went awry, always a time to beat yourself up over something you could have done.

A speeding penalty, a botched pit stop, misguided strategy, a wreck, having to pull an undamaged racecar into the garage early, losing your ride to the Next Big Thing. What did or did not happen doesn’t matter. Whatever it was, their only option is to come back and prove the world wrong next week.

Redemption.

There are 42 teams looking for it this week. And the one team that found it in victory lane last week will be looking for it next week.

It doesn’t matter how good you are. Four championships, five? For Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, two of the best of their era, there are still the ones they didn’t win to motivate them to win one more. How about Carl Edwards, the runner-up? That’s twice, now, and last year, all it would have taken was one single spot in any Chase race. One spot and he’d be champion. These men want it more than ever.

Redemption.

The start-and-parkers want it as badly as the champion. Give JJ Yeley or Scott Speed just one full race, one chance to prove they can do this if only they had the chance. The upstarts like Landon Cassill want that one day when they beat the champion because they knew all along they could.

How about Kasey Kahne with the best equipment in the garage and searching for the wins that should follow? Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have the added weight of carrying a name on their shoulders. Winning proves they deserve it. Martin Truex Jr. is in a contract year, needing to prove he can perform if he wants to keep his seat

Redemption.

Racing is a game of redemption. At some level every driver, every crewman, every person in the garage is looking for it in one form or another. The fans expect it, the sponsors demand it, and the teams sometimes winder if it will ever come. For some it means winning, for others, simply being able to show up and race. In a game with 42 losers, everyone has something to prove.

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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