By admin | December 26, 2010
By Richard Allen
In many ways the 2010 NASCAR season proved to be a very predictable one. Many of the same things continued to happen this past year that have been going on for a while.
For example, the same guy won the season championship who always wins the season championship. Jimmie Johnson continued his mastery of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship by winning his fifth consecutive title for Hendrick Motorsports.
Another example of the old prevailing over the new was the continuation of the decline in attendance and television ratings. Tracks that just a few short years ago were virtual locks to sell out a NASCAR Sprint Cup event had empty seats in abundance in 2010. Bristol, Talladega and Charlotte were once considered ‘can’t miss’ events. This past year tickets could have been easily obtained for any of those tracks and most others on the circuit.
Also from the old news department, the rich and powerful organizations continued to dominate over the smaller teams. Twenty-six races and ten spots within the Chase were taken by Hendrick Motorsports, Roush-Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. And that’s leaving out powerhouse organizations such as those owned by Tony Stewart, Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi. In the slower economic times of 2010, those four top-tier teams had the depth and availability of resources that allowed them greater opportunities for success.
But all of those storylines are old news. Those things have been going on for some time. There were, however, some new twists that gave followers of the sport plenty to talk about throughout the year.
“Boys have at it!” helped remove some of the boredom that had become far too commonplace in NASCAR racing. In 2010, drivers spoke their minds about each other, hashed out differences in the open air for all to see, and sometimes even came to blows over their disagreements.
Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon engaged in a brief scuffle in Texas. Joey Logano and family had it out with Kevin Harvick and family in Pocono. Brad Keselowski had it out with just about everybody. And that’s only a few of the scrapes to have occurred in 2010.
There is no doubt the “Have at it!” policy livened up this past racing season. However, one has to wonder if that policy was not allowed to exist in order to mask those deeper issues mentioned above that the sport is currently attempting to work through.
And even though “Have at it!” may have been the policy for drivers when dealing with each other, one thing remained on the forbidden list. Speaking one’s mind about the sanctioning body still proved as much off limits as ever before. Drivers found themselves on the receiving end of secret fines when they offered up criticism of NASCAR and its policies.
In my opinion, 2010 will be remembered as the “Have at it!” season in NASCAR. However, in years to come will we reach the conclusion that “Having at it!” was nothing more than a temporary smoke screen for deeper issues that went unresolved?
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