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Richmond race probably not what NASCAR was looking for

By admin | September 12, 2010


By Richard Allen

This time of the season is when NASCAR needs to put its best foot forward as the NFL and college football begin their seasons and thus provide strong competition for weekend television ratings points.

Despite predictions of plenty of no holds barred fender banging action, the Richmond race settled into a pattern of long green flag runs with Denny Hamlin leading the majority of the laps. According to the social networking posts of some who follow the sport, the race was boring and needed to be spiced up with some cautions and wrecking.

Although I was one who did think there was a possibility of just that sort of thing, I did not see anything wrong with the way the race played out. There were cars that started out well and then faded, such as Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. There were cars that started in the back and moved forward, such as Kyle Busch. There was the necessity of getting the cars to run well over entire green flag runs which put emphasis on setups, and there were demanding green flag pit stops. And all of that boiled down to a close finish between Hamlin and Busch.

Not every race has to end with a contrived ten lap mad dash with wrecked cars strewn all over the track. Sometimes the best car just goes out and wins.

Trouble is, that is not good enough for the new fan base NASCAR has tried so hard to endear itself to. That new fan base wants instant gratification and constant entertainment. Or else, they will change the channel when the race gets ‘boring’ or leave the facility when only a few rain drops fall.

And now that the NFL and college football have started, those fickle fans who have not been lifelong racing buffs will have somewhere else to turn when they aim their often used remotes at the television. In order to keep these demographic fitting souls interested, NASCAR would have been better served with a slam bang affair in Richmond. Instead, they just got a race with the good cars doing well and the bad cars not doing so well.

What any sport needs when it is faced with tough competition from some other source is a solid, longtime fan base to fall back on. A core group that will always be there no matter what else is going on is a necessity for any sport. NASCAR used to have what was perhaps the most loyal core group of fans in any sport, fans who would always be there for them. Unfortunately, after a geographic shift and fundamental changes to the car and the contesting of the sport, that core base has eroded significantly.

With competition from football now here, NASCAR needed a race filled with drama and excitement from start to finish. Instead, it just got a race. In years gone by that used to be good enough. But NASCAR got what it wanted with its new fans, now it may suffer the consequences at the Nielson box.

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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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