NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Are Rivalries All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch are in a feud and it’s not looking pretty. Though Busch came back from an issue with Keselowski to win the race, some choice words were exchanged between the two both during and after the event. It caused such a buzz on social media, to the point that even Kurt Busch’s girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, weighed in.

Temper tantrums, feuds, and rivalries have been a part of the sport since its inception. Not just NASCAR, but auto racing as a whole. Fans take well to rivalries. Rivalries make the news and it plays well to a social media audience. It’s hard to imagine a sport without them, but NASCAR had been lacking a solid one since the Joey Logano / Denny Hamlin feud last year, and that was relatively short-lived.

Kurt Busch had some not so kind things to say about Brad Keselowski over his team radio on Sunday.
Kurt Busch had some not so kind things to say about Brad Keselowski over his team radio on Sunday.

Despite the fact most people seem to enjoy these conflicts, and the grandstands typically erupt in cheers anytime a driver retaliates on another, I don’t necessarily enjoy seeing that sort of behavior over a long period of time. The feuds of the past few years like Logano / Hamlin, Keselowski / Hamlin, Edwards / Keselowski, Edwards / Busch and so on … have been entertaining, for sure. I’m not denying there wasn’t some humor in watching the war of words and the chrome horn being issued on occasion.

With that said, I personally prefer the rivalries that are, for lack of a better word, amicable. First of all, I like the rivalry to be evenly matched. I like to see two drivers either racing for the win, or in the top 5, against one another every week. They constantly cross paths on track and are dealing with the other on a weekly basis.

Two specific examples I can think of are the type of “rivalries” I would like to see more often. Brad Keselowski versus Jimmie Johnson back in 2012, for example. The two of them were going at it the last several weeks of the Chase, yet they were both civil about it. They raced hard against one another without being jerks.

The same can be said of the Johnson versus Jeff Gordon battle a few years before that. No doubt that the two of them were evenly matched, but I don’t recall them ever getting testy with each other. In fact, they would cut it up with each other post-race about how tight the competition was.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I find those more civil rivalries more fun to watch. The drivers come off more as sportsmanlike competitors as opposed to overgrown toddlers. Though Busch made some rather pointed and funny comments about Keselowski over the radio, they were downright immature and completely unnecessary. And while I know that this wish is a pipe dream, the incident at Martinsville made me realize those of us who take enjoyment from those type of incidents are also encouraging crappy behavior. So while I know that tempers are a given in racing, my preference still remains with the hard-fought, yet still amicable, rivalries on the track instead of ones that lead to a war of words off it.

Now, on to your questions:

Hello Summer! I’m a daily reader of Frontstretch. Appreciate all the articles! Waiting through a recent “rain delay,” my mind began to wander. (Never a good thing!) Here’s my scenario:

All cars but three have been lapped.The white flag has waved but on the backstretch, all three take each other out as they fight for the lead, and none of the three are able to continue. The yellow flag waves but not until Car No. 4 weaves around the wreckage and crosses the finish line. However, remember Car No. 4 was a lap down.

I know the rule states that after the white flag, the next flag ends the race, but it doesn’t seem right that NASCAR would “award” the win to one of the three leaders who wrecked, especially if Car No. 4 passed the wreck before the caution came out. So in your opinion, would NASCAR “decide” who wins among the three? Or would a second white flag, along with the caution flag be waved when Car No. 4 crosses the line, and is Car No. 4 declared the winner?

Like I said, a wandering mind is never a good thing. Thanks! I’ll look forward to seeing your response on Frontstretch. Ted

So I got your email about a week ago and I’ve been mulling it over ever since then. I’m going to give you my answer first and then go back and explain how I reached my conclusion. I believe that Car No. 4 would win.

Here’s why. NASCAR says that cars must maintain a reasonable amount of speed under the yellow in order to still be scored. I don’t know if you remember the Kansas race in 2007, but there was a big controversy at the end of the race because Greg Biffle, who was the leader at the time, slowed down significantly and pulled down into the grass coming to the checkered flag. Clint Bowyer, thinking Biffle was out of gas, pulled in front of him and crossed the finish line first. NASCAR ruled that Biffle was still the winner because he had maintained a reasonable amount of speed.

On the flip side, Marcos Ambrose likely lost a race at Sonoma a few years ago for the same reason. He stalled going up the incline while under yellow and slowed almost to a dead stop. Since he didn’t maintain reasonable speed, NASCAR stuck him back in the lower end of the top 10 for the restart.

With that rule in mind, I believe NASCAR would allow the fourth car to become the victor. Assuming that the three leaders you mentioned all came to a dead stop and couldn’t drive their cars further, then, based on the minimum speed rule, the fourth car in line would win.

However … if the three cars wrecked and one, two, or all three of them were able to drive away after the yellow came out and drive back around to take the yellow/checkered, NASCAR would likely allow that to happen. It wouldn’t be the first time a driver drove to Victory Lane with a wrecked race car.

Honestly, though, I hope this scenario never happens. Not necessarily because it’s so complicated, but because it would likely be a stinker of a race if only three cars were on the lead lap. Thank you for your question, though and please… please… take up your free time before you drive us all crazy!

I cannot find any way to complain about the new show “NASCAR America” onNBCSN. It’s a great show – WHEN IT’S ON!

It comes and goes, changes time and is becoming more bother than it’s worth. Do you have any idea who I could contact to express my frustration? If people can’t find it at the same place and time, it’ll die, which would be sad. Shirley

www.twitter.com/nbcsn

www.facebook.com/nbcsports

Social media is powerful and you should utilize it to your fullest extent. I would recommend Facebook over Twitter just because I’ve noticed that companies are more likely to reply directly to people on Facebook since it doesn’t clog up other people’s timelines.

Kyle Petty is one of many who have done a fantastic job on NASCARAmerica. There’s just one problem: finding the time the show is on.
Kyle Petty is one of many who have done a fantastic job on NASCARAmerica. There’s just one problem: finding the time the show is on.

I went to the NBC Sports website as well, and there is a motorsports section called “MotorSportsTalk”. On this page, it usually includes information about the day’s episode of “NASCAR America” and I noticed that there was a comments section below these articles. This area is another one where you could (politely) request that the show be on at a more consistent time and, if possible, a more reasonable one. I feel like “NASCAR America” was meant to be a show watched on the DVR once people got home from work, but I know that not everyone has DVR capabilities.

With that said, be vocal about it because I feel the same way. The show is great but a better and more consistent time would be helpful.

I think it sucks that tracks are having to resort to gimmicks like Texas’ “Big Hoss” to get people to the track. What’s next, pre-race concerts and air shows? Oh wait… Unknown

Actually, most sporting venues have screens that show the action. In fact, most racetracks do. They are just relatively small in comparison to, well, the racetrack itself.

Greg Davis interviewed TMS president Eddie Gossage for our newsletter last week and he admitted the screen was meant to get people to the track (duh…). But in truth, it was more of an incentive than a gimmick. One complaint about many live sporting events, and racing in particular, is that you miss a lot of the action. When there are 43 cars on a on a 1.5-mile track, chances are you won’t see every wreck, spin, wiggle, or otherwise exciting action. In fact, if you aren’t near a screen or don’t have a Fanvision, you probably won’t even know it happened until you get home and see the replay.

What Gossage and Charlotte Motor Speedway are trying to do with these giant screens is to make sure the fans don’t miss anything. Let’s be honest; at a track like Charlotte and Texas, no matter how high you sit, you can’t see the action on the backstretch all that clearly. Unless you know who is driving that white and blue car, you probably don’t know who just spun through the infield. Even then, it’s hard to tell. What the big-screen does is give fans the television experience of viewing the race while still being able to experience the sights, sounds, and smells that you can only get by going to the actual, physical event itself.

Honestly, I don’t think this stuff is worthy of any trivial complaints. I think it’s a move towards the future, and something that all sporting venues, not just racetracks, will start doing over time. When attendance is dwindling and struggling in many sports, not just NASCAR, venues have to give people a reason to get off their couch. I think it’s a great idea and I wish more tracks had something like this screen because it’s very easy to miss things. When you do, consistently it’s hard to get fans to spend the money to show up when they can get a better experience watching on television. Now, they get to experience the best of both worlds.

Also, there is nothing wrong with pre-race entertainment. It keeps people happy in the hours leading up to the race. Sometimes gimmicks are a good thing.

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