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« Pocono exemplifies trouble with modern day NASCAR | Main | Logano vs. Harvick and Kahne vs. Allmendinger add to year of the feud »

160 laps of boredom followed by 40 laps of terror

By admin | June 6, 2010


By Richard Allen

If a person had left the grandstand or tuned the television away from the Gillette Fusion 500 after 150 laps or so they would have thought they had just witnessed one of the most boring races in NASCAR history. I suspect many people did leave or tune away. And, they would have been correct in thinking they had witnessed a snoozer.

The vast majority of the race was, to be honest, horrible. Cars were spread out over the massive, oddly shaped Pocono Raceway and very few passes were made or positions exchanged. There were no real storylines and no real drama. It was hard to watch.

But as the race wound to its conclusion, not only did the excitement level pick up, it went through the roof.

NASCAR has become a very predictable soap opera seemingly every week. Drivers play a high speed, albeit boring, game of follow the leader for about three-fourths of the way. Then, a caution, or series of cautions, come out and lead to an inevitable mad dash to the finish.

The finishes are exciting, but they come at the cost of the vast majority of the event. This race was a classic example of that. NASCAR has so over mandated every little aspect of the cars that competitors are out there in essentially the same machines with the excitement at the end mostly contrived.

As I have said many times, I believe changes such as double-file restarts and multiple green/white/checkered finishes are good things as long as the current rules package stays in place. I would much prefer for NASCAR to lighten up the mandates but that is not likely to happen anytime soon so the current formula is what we have.

With all that said, back to the racing in Pocono. When a debris caution came out at lap 155, all heck proceeded to break loose. From there, a series of events would take place that will no doubt have fans talking for some time. And, NASCAR got the ESPN Sportscenter highlights they seem to crave so much.

The boredom ended and the terror set in. The initial feeling of gloom and doom had to come from crew chiefs all up and down pit road. As seems to always happen, the race at Pocono Raceway took on the look of a fuel mileage stretch. As caution after caution flew in those final stages, cars ducked on and off of pit road to take on a splash of fuel that would hopefully get them to the finish.

Calculators were smoking, nerves were frayed and two-way radios were filled with chatter between drivers and crew chiefs.

That terror was magnified when a caution flew just before leader Denny Hamlin reached the white flag(funny how it always works out that way) and set up a green/white/checkered finish with fuel reserves already stretched to the limit.

More terror was to ensue. As cars raced on the back part of the track toward the checkered flag, Kasey Kahne found himself being pushed to the grass by teammate A.J. Allmendinger. Kahne’s car slid across the track in front of a huge pack and was nailed by several cars. Numerous mangled machines were the result.

And finally, I don’t know if there was any terror involved but there were plenty of hard feelings. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, their crews and even some family members met up on pit road to exchange a few words. The meeting was the result of an on-track run in between the two that sent Logano on a wild ride through turn three. No punches were traded but a number of threats and insults were.

Very few races have created more storylines than the Gillette Fusion 500 at the Pocono Raceway. The race proved to be a capsule of what modern day NASCAR has become, for better or worse.

Because of what NASCAR has become, there may not have been many folks around at the end to see what happened. Perhaps that caused the TNT network a good deal of terror as well.

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.

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “160 laps of boredom followed by 40 laps of terror”

  1. Mrs. Goodman Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 1:26 am

    As luck would have it, I taped the race and watched the “most compelling and exciting” PGA Tour Memorial Tournament. The taping ran 3 hours and stopped before the end of the event, and ……the excitement?

    Bottom line, if fans have to endure 160 laps of abject boredom before anything remotely interesting occurs on the track, time spent is unequal to the reward.

    Again, NASCAR proves itself to be in a continuously downward spiral of insignificance.

    Wow! It really matters that Joey Logano wanted to smash Kevin Harvick’s snarky smirk…..

    I think not!

    Today, the PGA Tour trumped NASCAR big time.

  2. Rick Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 6:15 am

    The race at any track can be boring but the track is a challenge that far surpasses most of the cookie cutters. Cars like Clint Bowyers which at times are dominant can just go away and you always have to battle to stay ahead of it. Races were also boring years ago when cars were more different and the only difference then was who whined the most about configuration of a Buick, or Oldsmobile etc.

  3. Bill B Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 6:19 am

    The new NASCAR, no one falls off the lead lap and everything comes down to a crapshoot at the end. Just tune in for that last 30 minutes to watch the mayhem. Not good for those of us that really want to watch a race.

  4. Charles Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Richard

    At least the last 40 laps had excitement!!!!!!

    This is not one of Nascars better tracks for excitment, but with that being said, Pocono has just as good of racing as New Hampshire, the coming up Michigan Track, California, Road Courses, Indy, Dover to name a few!!!!

    What Nascar needs in my opinion is something to stop these drivers from riding around!!
    This is what happen in college basketball years back, when UNC Tarheels which I am a fan, used to use its 4 corners offense to hold the ball for unlimited time, sometime 10 minutes a game, basically freezing the game until someone fouled and it stalled the game until the end!!!!!

    Then to end this the NCAA adopted the ‘Shot Clock” and teams only have minuties to shoot the ball and makes the game better!!!!

    Nascar needs a “Shot Clock ” of some sorts, it should be a sport about great racing all through the race, not just the end!!!
    Cutting laps of the race will never be a solution, the 300 laps races are just a boring as 600, under the present system the importance being the Chase not the Race, stradety racing will dictate that sponsors will get ‘Air Time” and drivers will not take chances until the end!

    Would love to see Bruton Smith take 20 million and give it to the driver that leads the most laps!!! or even better start paying points to lead laps!!!

  5. Bill B Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Charles,
    How about this. Capture the running order at the end of every 25 laps and award points just as if it was the end of the race. Sure, at the end of the year we’d be dealing with drivers amassing a hundred thousand points and basically it would inflate everything, but that would guarentee that there would be a reason to race hard every lap. You see, unless the driver is an idiot, there is no reason to race hard until the end because that is the only time points are awarded. And, given the wave around, lucky dog, double file restarts, and multiple GWC there is no reason to. The end is a crapshoot and as long as you are still running you have the chance of a great finish.
    For example, look at Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin yesterday. They both were good enough to stay on the lead lap where many other cars lost a lap along the way. At one time there were only about 20 cars on the lead lap. Yet somehow, they finished 32nd and 29th respectively because all the cars that sucked or had problems were given an easy way to get back on the lead lap. What’s the point, it all comes down to a crapshoot at the end.

  6. gopapa Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Just another race to prove that the second date at Pocono should be reduced to 400 miles.

  7. Charles Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Bill B

    I would just like a simple format, just pay one point per lap, total up at the end, give the winner a small bonus!

    That way if they want to win the Nascar Point title, they will have to put a premium on leading and leading in the early parts of the race!!!!

    Racing should be about exchanging or passing for the lead!!!!!!!! Not like a movie sitting hours just to see the drama play out at the end!

    Would love to at least see them experiment with this at some of the tracks which have a past history with the least amount of lead changes!!!!

  8. midasmicah Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I’ll tell you how bored I was and I normally don’t go this far. With about forty laps to go I decided to go to an AA meeting instead. It was that boring. And the endings are contrived. I guess I missed a frantic ending.

  9. mkrcr Says:
    June 8th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    My guess is that the debris cautions and contrived “excitement” at the end of the race are so predictable that even Vegas wouldn’t give odds.
    Keep coming back, Midas.

Comments