Clinton, S.C., Friday, April 25, 2014, 10:15 a.m.
One opportunity the NASCAR schedule seldom affords is simply “to take a breath.”
It’s not easy to pause and consider. Most often the talk turns to speculation when NASCAR takes a siesta. Changing the schedule, for instance. To my knowledge, no one has suggested the schedule is going to be radically altered, though given the apparent futility of current changes to move the attendance/ratings needle, it wouldn’t be a shock.
Already the Lords of Daytona have very nearly made points – points! – irrelevant. The championship is going to be decided by an engine-driven game of Jeopardy. I’m not sure whether the host should be Art Fleming, Alex Trebek or Jon Gruden.
Occasionally, it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. Or Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I can’t remember whether I’m in the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea. (How’s that for obscure?)
… That somewhere, right now, in Richmond, Kyle Busch is thinking, in regard to the Nationwide Series, Chase Elliott must be stopped!
… That, in spite of seven different winners in eight races and a general perception that the quality of racing has gotten better, NASCAR officials seem intent on making even more changes. Following the current trend, perhaps in two years, there will be a rule stipulating that each car must be set on fire sometime during the race.
… In some ways, this seems like a sport run by men and women intent on justifying their salaries. The cars are faster. Slow them down. The tires are softer. Harden them. The ratings still sag. For God’s sake, do something! Anything!
… Not everything can be fixed quickly. To a considerable segment of onetime fans, NASCAR just went out of style. The NBA was struggling before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came along. Its leaders had enough sense not to raise the baskets. A sport does not get the luxury of multiple reinventions. At some point – in NASCAR’s case, some time back now – fans get confused, and if the changes keep coming, stay that way.
… I must have heard this at least a dozen times while driving around listening to the radio: “The fans can’t tell the difference between 195 mph and 180.” True. Drivers can, though. Faster cars are harder to drive. The best drivers should win at the Sprint Cup level. Nationwide racing is slower. It is a developmental series.
… There better not be any pine tar smeared on the front fascia of Jimmie Johnson’s car. A little around the edge of the grille, okay. But don’t flaunt it. Baseball has never looked more like NASCAR than this week.
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