If you think about it, the most exciting racing occurs as a result of driver aggression, with drivers dive-bombing their cars into corners, not sure if they will make it out the other end.
If drivers get after it, and are constantly aggressive and making daring moves throughout the event, this always makes the race more exciting and entertaining.
However, there are also times where drivers cross the line.
Where do we draw the line of being too aggressive? Is intentional wrecking acceptable and part of the sport? Or is it a dangerous habit that needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible?
Switching gears, with the playoff picture heating up as we enter the final two races in the regular season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, there are several surprises right now as to who is out and who is in. Two of the drivers on the bubble and outside of the cutoff are Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.
Which postseason absence would be most surprising? Can one of them squeak in some momentum before Indianapolis? Who has the better chance?
Q: Where do you draw the line of being too aggressive as a racer? Brian F., Orlando, FL
A: Being an aggressive racer is a good trait to have. There is nothing wrong with it — often the most successful drivers are also the most aggressive.
An example of being too aggressive is intentional wrecking or the “dump and run”. I understand retaliation is part of the sport, and if you’re a driver who has been on the wrong end of an encounters, then of course you will want payback. That is, in my mind, acceptable to an extent. Where I draw the line is dumping somebody for a win, especially if the opposing individual has not been racing that way.
A lot of talk surrounded Ross Chastain and his aggressive nature after the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He is always aggressive, but after his run-in with Raphael Lessard and some others that night, many were frustrated with how he raced. He openly made a mistake and raced hard all night long. I had no issue with his actions in that race, and it led him to a top-five finish.
If you take aggression like that out of racing, it would be boring, right? You have to have some form of aggression in every form of racing for it to be interesting. If we had plain, conservative racers, I don’t think we’d see the kind of action that we are often treated to. The ability to race hard but smart is what separates the good from the great.
We all hate to see wrecking, especially if it endangers someone else at a high level. You draw the line right there. If a driver is going to retaliate, do it in a way where no one else is endangered.
And to all of those hard-chargers out there, keep it up! The sport is more exciting and entertaining with you in it.
Q: Which driver missing the playoffs would be more of a surprise, Jimmie Johnson or Clint Bowyer (both outside now)? Pam S., Bowling Green, KY
A: Johnson, no question about it. Even though Stewart-Haas Racing was the best team last season with multiple victories, the organization hasn’t had the year it thought it would in 2019. Johnson, on the other hand, was virtually unstoppable in the not-too-distant past.
We are living in a world where a seven-time champion is in danger of missing the playoffs altogether with the same team that he has been with his entire career. It’s a pretty crazy thing to think about; to have him miss the postseason would be one of the biggest shockers of this decade. Just think, Johnson is the man who only nine years ago won his fifth straight championship. Now, with the season he has had, he may miss the playoffs.
Bowyer missing it would be a shock as well though. After such a successful season last year, he has had a dismal summer stretch. Bad luck has plagued the No. 14 team and it has led to him being just barely outside of the cutoff line. Bristol seemed to be a starting point for that team so it is possible that he could go on a small streak the last two races before the playoffs to sneak in over his teammate, Daniel Suarez, or Ryan Newman.
There is still a chance both make it, whether on points or with a victory. They are both within striking distance as long as they keep their noses clean. If someone like Suarez or Newman falters, Johnson or Bowyer will be right there to pounce.
Do I think Johnson makes it? I am going to be bold and say yes, he finds a way to do so. He has a large point margin for two races to go, and if anybody can do it, he can. Stay tuned, he may just shock us and steal a win at either Darlington or Indianapolis.