By admin | September 20, 2010
By Richard Allen
There is too much points racing and settling for decent finishes in NASCAR today. Too many times we hear that drivers are pleased with a 5th place even though a particular driver may have had a car capable of winning.
There were caution periods after Tony Stewart last pitted in the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. Had the driver of car #14 pitted during one of those cautions he could have raced his way back up to or near the top-10 but his chance of winning the race would have been lost.
Stewart wanted to win and risked the loss of championship points in order to go for that win. Ultimately, his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet ran out of gas and he was relegated to a 24th place finish. Later on in the season if Stewart is in contention for the title it will likely be pointed out that had he not gone for the win but had simply pitted for fuel he would have more points.
Instead of condemning Stewart for the risk he took, he should be applauded. Race wins ought to mean something. Most fans want to see drivers try to win rather than play it safe.
There were probably fans leaving NHMS on Sunday who were talking about Stewart taking a chance by trying to win the race. It created real drama. Had he pitted there would probably not have been many fans leaving the track saying, “Boy, that was a great move by Stewart to play it safe and secure that 12th place finish.”
Of course, Stewart was not the only driver to attempt a fuel stretch at the end of the race. Jeff Burton, another Chase contender, also gambled and lost. Jamie McMurray was also in the mix at the end with the ‘low fuel’ light burning. And most notably, Clint Bowyer won the event with a similar strategy. But it was Stewart’s attempt that drew my focus here because of the near miss and ultimate cost of the gamble.
A number of drivers, including Tony Stewart, tried to win on Sunday rather than play it safe. To me, that is what racing ought to be instead of settling for mediocrity.
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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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