By admin | May 2, 2010
By Richard Allen
This past Saturday night I did something that a few years ago I would have never done. I skipped the broadcast of a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in favor of going to another race. Up to just a short time ago I used to plan my week and weekend around NASCAR. That is not necessarily so now.
The two races this year to have been run on Monday have taught me that I can go on with other things and watch racing later. And more, they have taught me that just catching the ending can sometimes be all that is needed.
After watching the television show Madhouse on the History Channel over the winter, my brother-in-law and I decided we would visit Bowman Gray Stadium to take in some modified racing. The track’s first race of the year was to have been last weekend but rain changed that plan.
Initially, I had said I would not be able to make the trek back to Winston-Salem due to the fact that the Sprint Cup race in Richmond would be on Saturday night. However, I changed my mind and do not regret it at all.
After the Tucson 200 race had finished at BGS I got in my car and tuned the radio to the MRN affiliate(WTQR-FM) in Winston-Salem and listened to the last 50 laps of the Crown Royal 400 in Richmond.
Apparently, I did not miss much. According to the MRN broadcast crew, Kyle Busch got out in front of the pack early and dominated the first half of the race. Then, the two Jeffs, Gordon and Burton, took turns in the lead.
As I have had many fans tell me, NASCAR is becoming a sport to be watched in a short period of time via the DVR feature on the television. After all, there is very little racing that takes place in the first three-fourths of most events outside of the restrictor plate tracks. All Sprint Cup races are now decided by a late race caution and a mad dash to the finish after a long span of riding and positioning.
I listened to those final laps on MRN and then went back on Sunday and watched the race. In the case of this race, there was not so much riding as the other teams simply couldn’t catch Kyle Busch.
After having only three cautions in the first 367 laps, a caution for Elliott Sadler’s spin at lap 368 brought on the ‘Dash for Cash’ at the end. After a series of three late race cautions and varying tire strategies, Busch emerged with the win.
NASCAR has a problem with the growing perception that the only part of its races that matter is the final stretch. The green/white/checkered rule combined with double-file restarts have gone a long way toward making the end of races exciting. I, personally, favor both the g/w/c and double-file restart procedures. Of course it is manufactured competition but there has to be something worth watching.
Those who criticize these changes act as though NASCAR is the only sport to attempt to create excitement. They forget basketball’s three point shot and shot clock changes. The NFL and college football have each made changes to their overtime rules. And how often have the words ‘Rules emphasis’ of ‘Point of emphasis’ been used in those sports?
As long as teams are forced to race with identical cars there has to be something to create a little excitement. I might have a much different opinion on such things as the multiple g/w/c rule and double file restarts if NASCAR ever goes back to allowing creativity and ingenuity to be a part of racing, as it should always be. Until that happens, there are going to be more folks like me who find more entertaining things to do during Sprint Cup time slots. While I am not saying that I am giving up on NASCAR, I am saying that if I could be allowed to drift away on a Sprint Cup race day then it can happen to anyone.
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
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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