By admin | February 11, 2010
By Richard Allen
The two Daytona Duel qualifying races held on Thursday were two of the best races contested by NASCAR in quite sometime. And they were great races with great finishes because of close competition, not wrecks and mangled cars.
How many times have you watched a football or basketball game and heard an announcer or someone else comment that the fans did not pay to come and watch officials officiate? Well, that is what NASCAR fans have been made to do for the past several years. Suddenly, this off season the powers that be in Daytona Beach seemed to have finally started getting the message.
In recent weeks NASCAR has removed the no bump drafting edict they put in place last year in Talladega which caused one of the most boring and unwatchable events in the sport’s history. Look at what has happened with the competition in such a short time. The two finishes at Daytona on Thursday were so close it almost required a photo finish camera to distinguish the winners.
The Budweiser Shootout was headed for just such a finish on Saturday had it not been for a late race crash. NASCAR has even taken steps to rectify that situation. Just before the Duel races the sanctioning body officially announced a change in the green/white/checkered rule saying they will now make three attempts at a finish if necessary with the goal of having the leader take the white flag.
This is not to say that the Daytona 500 will not be a wreck filled affair, but drivers have proven that the racing can be exciting without such happenings. And more importantly, the races can be run without NASCAR over legislating in an attempt to keep tight fisted control.
The officials have decided to let the players decide the outcome of the game just like officials are so often asked to do in other sports.
Now don’t mistake my sudden giddiness with NASCAR to mean that I am completely won over. This is only the beginning of making the racing so much better than it has been in recent years. The rule changes that have occurred so far will only affect restrictor plate tracks. The racing on other tracks could also be made much better if the officials would get out of the way and allow the teams to do their jobs.
NASCAR still needs to get out of the parts distribution and mandating business. Let the crew chiefs and engineers decide what shocks and springs to run, what tire pressures would be best, what gear ratio would allow for the best performance and what camber angles to use. Doing these things would improve competition because it would create more passing and less single file running as cars would each handle differently.
Also, the Car of Tomorrow needs to show brand distinction. This would cause each make to have different aerodynamic characteristics and thus create the type of differences to make for better racing.
With all that said, however, NASCAR is taking small steps in the right direction. Hopefully as they see the results of the small changes made so far they will be encouraged to do more.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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