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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Frontstretch 5: NASCAR Annoyances

It’s been one of those weeks. and while I firmly believe there are positives in the sport in the form of good people and great stories to be told, there are some things that just make me want to gnash my teeth and groan. Here are a few of the things that really drive me crazy… and believe me, I don’t need a lot of help with crazy.

1. Hey, there’s an actual race going on!

I know it’s Chase time, and even if I’d blissfully managed to forget about that before the race, NBC made sure to remind everyone during the broadcast. And by remind, I mean shove it down our throats at every possible opportunity. Sure, the championship is an important part of the sport, but in order to get to it, we still have races. Races that have 27 other drivers in them, and sometimes one of those guys actually even does something worth mentioning. I know that comes as a shock to some people, but the race is still about the competition among the 43 participants. Points as they run is the worst talking point ever. “If the race ended now…” Except unless a huge anvil falls from the sky onto the racing surface leaving a huge anvil-shaped hole in the racing surface, or for those less prone to drama it at least rains and rains for hours, it isn’t going to end now. The complexion of a race can change in an instant, as we were reminded on Sunday. The key is to talk about the Chase in the context of the race… and not put the whole race into the context of the Chase.

2. And there’s a rulebook, too…

I don’t have an issue with NASCAR applying the restart rules at Loudon on Sunday. I do, however, have one with the failure to apply them at both Richmond and Chicago, and then randomly deciding that they count this week. Will they count at Dover? Maybe, I guess? That’s just not right. Yeah, I know that expecting NASCAR to be consistent with rules is about as fruitful as expecting pigs to sprout wings. But it would be nice to see teams penalized equally for the same infractions just sometimes instead of this, ‘you guys better fix this and go back through inspection or we’ll have to send you a harshly-worded letter’ or ‘we already told that team to reinspect for this same violation which may or may not even BE a violation, so we’re going to dock you a bunch of points and suspend your crew chief for a month and a half. Better luck next time!’ approach we’ve seen in recent years. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t fool anyone. Teams are asking for consistency and clarity because there isn’t much to begin with. Fans have stopped asking because they’re busy asking Santa for a unicorn instead, figuring they’ll have better luck.

3. Whatever happened to just cheering for your guy?

Is is just me, or is there a faction of fans that are either particularly large or particularly loud who seem to spend more time disparaging drivers they don’t like than supporting the ones they do? I mean, all fans have that one driver who gets on your nerves… that’s to be expected, but why put so much energy into the vitriol? And why be rude to other fans who like a different driver? There was a day when fans in the stands shared favorite drivers and stories and camaraderie. Now, if a fan tells the person next to them that they like a different driver, a putdown of some kind is often sure to follow. It also used to be that there were a few drivers that everyone seemed to like. Guys like Ward Burton or Ken Schrader who, while they might not have been most fans’ main driver, everyone sort of pulled for. Now, take a nice guy in a mid-pack car and people wonder why he’s even out there, or sneer at his efforts. It’s not a nice change, frankly. I love to see fans supporting their favorite drivers. But watching people constantly put others down instead seems like such a waste of time and energy. Why do that?

4. Change simply for the sake of change.

I just don’t understand this. “The sport is changing, we have to keep up with the times.” Since when does keeping up with the times involve rampant change for no particular or necessary reason? Sports do evolve, but they’re more successful when they do it on their own. Think football here, though comparing NASCAR to football is a bad idea. A really bad idea. But the game itself, and its playoff structure, have remained fairly constant. There have been small tweaks to keep up with technology, think the equivalent of NASCAR switching to fuel injection. If it was up to me, there would be no wild cards, which could be done away with with realignment, but that’s a whole other deal. But the game has changed on its own. The wishbone formation is outdated, so teams do something different. The NFL didn’t have to do away with it. NASCAR doesn’t need to make these big changes we’ve seen over the last decade. It needs to let the teams work and let things change on their own. We never needed a Chase, or contrived cautions, or tight gear and suspension rules. We needed cars that could race and emphasize on winning, all season long, along with a solid points system. That’s all. Both the Xfinity and Truck series do just fine with no Chase in terms of solid championship battles.

5. This Chase format

Because determining a champion in a single race with little bearing on what he did for the rest of the year seems like such a good idea on paper… or something. It’s a shame that the best overall driver of 2015 will most likely not have the opportunity to defend his title, while three drivers with zero wins and fewer top-five finishes combined than he has are in position to make the cut. What about that says champion to anyone? What says it to me is earned the most points this year by racing every week. But maybe that’s just me…

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9 thoughts on “The Frontstretch 5: NASCAR Annoyances”

  1. Sure there are a few drivers that make me crazy, and I have said so on here when THEY ARE MENTIONED , like everyone else. The media is a big part in building up some ALOT and ignore the nastiness for example of that driver, and then castigate a driver with glee for a quarter of what Joe Blow favorite did. They are just as guilty, in a twisted passive/aggressive fashion.

    What I find particularly disturbing is the insane morons who seek out drivers and post completely nasty and inappropriate things on their social media pages. A person could be at a their fundraiser, posts pictures of the event raising money for cancer, a heartbreaking story is shared and then you see on the comments some horrific post saying nasty things about a driver and his loved ones. I have to ask and will ask to the day I die, if you hate a person so much, what the hell are you following him/her for and actually posting on their social media. Who in their right mind dos those things and what kinda sick satisfaction do you feel when you do these things. Unreal.

  2. Almost as much as the constant whiff of FIX, NASCAR’s constant march toward the completely generic is what drives me nuts. It is counterintuitive to think that fielding 43 cars identical except for decals and paint schemes driven by 43 people bullied into behaving like identical Ken dolls will not result in a bland product. Throw into the mix a generic tame press bullied into scripted talking points coverage and you have the perfect recipe for chasing (pun intended) away the fan base. This is a very good article. Sadly, while reading it my first thought was that the writer would somehow be pressured to get back into the great beige line that is NASCAR.

  3. Great article Amy.
    As for number 3, I believe you can blame that on anonymity of the internet. People will say things on social media and blogs that they might think but would never say in reality. Or if we did, we’d definitely find a more diplomatic way of saying it.

  4. I never attended a NASCAR race in the time where everyone got along but I’ll take your word for it. If I go way back to the time my Dad was dirt track racing and the rulebook stated “No women are allowed in the pits”, the grandstands and pits were a battle field. Fights were regular and sometimes turned into all out brawls, kids falling through the stands and 57 Chevy’s running off the track and flying through the air over the bank returning to the track and somehow I only have fond memories of those years. Oh yea, back to the point, name calling sucks and all you people should stop it.

  5. I agree with most of your points, Amy. As a long time fan, I’m simply tired of the inconsistency, the gimmicks, the emphasis on the chase instead of actually broadcasting the race and just in general, I’m tired of NASCAR. It used to be so much fun, now it just isn’t.

    As far as number 3, well, I’m a Gordon fan, so I can tell you from personal experience about people not only hating Gordon but being abusive toward his fans, too. Going to the track during Gordon’s heyday could be very interesting. I had some idiot who threw a full water bottle at me at Charlotte and the other memorable one was the guy who cursed at me the entire walk from the track to our truck at Martinsville. I was more concerned with keeping my friend from punching both those guys and causing more of a problem, but I can say it was not a lot of fun.

    I do agree that the social media/internet explosion has also allowed people to be anonymous and therefore, many feel entitled and able to hide behind it and be total jerks. While I’ve always been a Gordon fan only and certainly have trash talked with other fans about each others drivers at the track, that was in fun and it was obvious we WERE having fun. Even then, it is still better to keep it civil. There is a difference between having fun and being ugly. I may not like that driver and I am willing to defend my point of view, there is a difference between kidding around and being a total moron.

  6. Very salient points! I don’t understand why they ever went away from the flag man starting the field every time. If someone jumped, they wave the yellow, warn the driver, and try again. What’s so difficult about that? The KISS method never seems to apply to Nascar.
    I firmly believer one (of many!) reasons so many fans hate this ridiculous playoff is because of the way the media covers it. we are pounded over the head with it from race one, and for the final 10 races they pretend no other cars or drivers are relevant. Ridiculous! I also think that one of the reasons Jimmie Johnson isn’t given the ‘respect’ that 6 titles should have is because they have all come under some sort of format that negates 2/3 of the season. IT’s hard to hold someone is the same regard as The King or Earnhardt who didn’t have to maintain for the entire 36 races. fair or not, that’s how a lot of fans (the ones that I’ve talked to, anyway) feel.

    I have never understood why Nascar suddenly decided that they had to get so involved in how teams engineer their cars and set them up for races. Shouldn’t part of racing be who decides to take chances on reliability of longevity by using different springs, camber, etc.? All I know is that the enthusiasm I once had for Nascar has faded to the point where I no longer watch a race from flag to flag. I miss that.

  7. Thank goodness for DVR. I’ve followed NASCAR since the sixties. Back when we only saw portions of races on TV and felt grateful for that. Now it’s very seldom I watch a race live. Set the DVR, zip through it ,watch the running order and stop when something interesting is happening. Watch the last 10 laps to the finish. Once Gordon is gone I may not even do that much. Yep used to be an avid fan, but no more. Even considering giving up my Daytona 500 tickets after going and experiencing Daytona Rising in ’16. Tickets have been in the family since the sixties when my father first purchased them and continued to renew every year until his passing. Now I continue to get them but not sure how long that will last.

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