By admin | September 20, 2010
By Richard Allen
Last week, I wrote a piece in which I said that the race in Richmond was probably not the event NASCAR had hoped for going into the time in which the sport would be competing head to head with the National Football League for television ratings. Although there was nothing really wrong with the way the Richmond race played out, many of todayâ€™s seekers of instant gratification with their short attention spans probably considered it boring.
The Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway was anything but boring in the way it played out on Sunday.
The race had just about every element a viewer could hope for. There were early cautions which allowed drivers and crews to adjust their cars. Then there were longer stretches of green flag runs to allow the cream to rise to the top. And finally, the race ended with a number of dramatic happenings. All in all, it was quite a start to the ten race playoff that will decide the 2010 Sprint Cup champion.
Perhaps what I liked most about Sundayâ€™s race was that drivers were actually going for the win rather than simply settling for a good points day as has so often been the case since the inception of the Chase for the Championship back in 2004.
In the last 100 laps there were numerous incidents that involved Chase contenders. Those drivers did not race as if they were afraid of losing points nor did the other drivers race as if they were afraid of being the one who played an inadvertent role in the championship playoff. No less than Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards were involved in one type of mishap or another in the late going.
And at the end of the race several Chase contenders gambled on fuel mileage when the safe thing to do would have been to pit and preserve points. Clint Bowyer won the race on fumes because he gambled that he could do so and showed no fear of losing points. He wanted to win that race.
Tony Stewart gambled that he could make it. He came up just over one lap short which relegated him to a 24th place result. He wanted to win that race rather than play it safe and settle for a decent finish that would not do too much harm to his championship hopes.
Thatâ€™s what racing is supposed to be. Go for the win first and let the points take care of themselves later. However, in the modern day world of television driven sports, there has to be a champion and that reigns over all else. Sponsors want to be able to say that their guy won the championship, or at least contended for it, which has brought about so much of this points racing we see today.
If every race played out like the one in New Hampshire, it would be hard to argue that the Chase for the Championship was a good idea. Thatâ€™s what NASCAR envisioned when they devised the system. Hopefully, there will be more of the â€˜go for brokeâ€™ type attitude over the course of these final nine races. However, history indicates that this most recent race was an exception rather than the rule.
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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