By admin | November 7, 2010
By Richard Allen
To be honest, many of this season’s NASCAR Sprint Cup races have left me feeling a bit blah after the event concluded. So many times this year the races have turned out to be somewhat lifeless affairs with few storylines beyond the usual long stretches of boredom followed by a contrived finish.
The AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway had enough storylines to make up for an entire season.
A major star was given an ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ penalty for his use of an obscene gesture which was followed by a second profanity laced tirade in as many days directed toward NASCAR officials. Later, two of the sport’s most well-known names wrecked each other then got into a physical altercation on the track.
And more, the sport’s top team benched their pit crew in the middle of the event. The three top drivers in the Sprint Cup standings staged a late race scramble for position which ended with a turnover in the standings. And, the end of the race saw a spirited battle for the win with the lead changing hands multiple times over the final couple of laps.
Wow! That’s a lot to digest from just one race. So, this piece will only focus on a couple of the happenings.
Kyle Busch felt as though he had been cheated in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and let the world know it in the form of a an obscene radio interview followed by a similar meltdown inside the track’s media center. Apparently, he was not over it by Sunday.
After a spin, he went to the pits for repairs to his car. He was deemed to be speeding as he left pit road. It was at that point when Busch’s emotions got the better of him. He offered an obscene gesture toward a NASCAR official for starters. Then, when told of his violation he let loose with a tirade that would have made the most hardened sailor blush.
NASCAR, which is known for remembering past transgressions, issued a two lap penalty when going to the end of the longest line on the restart is the typical punishment for speeding on pit road.
Many of the folks who follow NASCAR races on the social media site twitter began to joke that the race had provided its highlight moment that would be seen on all the national sports television shows. No one knew what was to come.
Following a lap 190 incident, under caution no less, in which Jeff Burton nailed Jeff Gordon sending both cars hard into the turn two wall, the two drivers staged a re-enactment of old time NASCAR. After both cars came to rest, Gordon emerged from his machine and began a long walk toward Burton’s wrecked vehicle. Once there, the two drivers engaged in a brief fight and shouting match before being separated by race officials.
Amazingly, those officials then decided it would be a good idea to load the combatants into the same ambulance.
Both of these incidents showed an element NASCAR has been missing for years. Passion made a return to a sport too long known for scripted answers designed to draw as little controversy as possible and offer praise to sponsors and the sanctioning body. Maybe neither was the appropriate way of dealing with the situation at hand but at least the drivers involved didn’t stick with the stale, boring answers from the recent past.
Whether appropriate or not, the real benefit from both of these situations is that interest in a sport most definitely in the midst of a downward trend in attendance and television viewership may be rekindled, in the short term at least.
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Here are other columns you may find interesting:
Bayne makes Sprint Cup debut in Texas http://tennesseeracer.com/?p=1250
Should NASCAR suspend Kyle Busch from Sprint Cup race in Texas? http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1309
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