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Does NASCAR need Harvick/Busch type incidents?

By admin | May 11, 2011

By Richard Allen

One thing that has been said in a number of places throughout these past few days is that NASCAR needs incidents like that between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in Darlington to increase viewership and attendance. It is argued that the attention drawn from the fracas will stir interest going into coming races.

On this site I even posted a piece in which I said don’t look for NASCAR to do very much about the dustup because it actually increased the amount of focus on the sport. In my opinion, however, I do not necessarily believe such skirmishes will cause the previously unconcerned to suddenly rush out and plunk down $75-100 for a ticket or sit through an entire four hour broadcast just to see if two drivers are going to ‘have at it’ in the end.

Where NASCAR gains from such matters is in the placing of their highlights on shows such as ESPN’s SportsCenter. After a little controversy, the highlight package may get moved from the second segment of such shows to the first segment, which in turn garners more attention for the sport and its drivers and sponsors.

By the way, I want to venture just slightly off topic. As you might have noticed in the paragraphs written in this piece so far, I refuse to call that comedy performance in Darlington a fight. To do so would be a complete misuse of the term and an insult to Cale Yarborough and the Allison brothers among others.

Now, back to the topic at hand. Post race confrontations are not going to suddenly fill all the empty seats at every NASCAR track. Television ratings are not going to soar through the roof. The extra attention on the sports segment of the news and on highlight shows will be the most noticeable result. But make no mistake, those things are good for the sport.

So, to say that NASCAR needs such incidents is a pretty big stretch. What NASCAR needs is good competition on a weekly basis. Lap after lap of hard racing with position changes rather than accepting ‘good points days’ would serve the sport far better than the folly of two cars chasing after each other at 15mph on pit road ever could.

Sure, it’s always good that drivers show some personality and emotion. But such flare ups are not what the sport NEEDS. They are sidebar issues that are nice to have. Good competition that is not fabricated with mindless rules and phony caution flags is what the sport NEEDS for long lasting results.

So far in 2011, there have been good races and interesting storylines. That’s what the sport needs. If NASCAR is to recover from the funk it has experienced over the last several years and once again fill grandstands and increase the number of television viewers, they best not be relying on the pugilistic skills of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to make those things happen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying a little controversy isn’t entertaining. And I am certainly not opposed to drivers showing their true emotions. There is nothing wrong with a few SportsCenter moments every now and then. I guess I am quibbling about the use of the word ‘needs’ by some people when it comes to scuffles and dustups. NASCAR needs great racing on the track. The other stuff is just a side show.

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6 Responses to “Does NASCAR need Harvick/Busch type incidents?”

  1. Russ Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I must admit that my initial reaction was that Nascar couldnt ask for something better than the fracas at Darlington. But I thought the same after Richmond, and was surprised at the turnout, or lack thereof.
    While I agree that the exposure on Sports Center could be of more value than the fight, I still wonder. In what context will it be presented? As serious sporting news?, or a freak show on wheels?
    It appears there is something fundamentally wrong when you have to grasp at events like this to draw people to your events.

  2. jerseygirl Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I don’t think NASCAR “needs” these types of incidents. What they really need is strong competitive racing AND some decent tv coverage.

    I was at Darlington and I sure wasn’t impressed with the whole “boys have it” junk that is going on recently in NASCAR. There’s a difference between confronting your opponent, rather than just wrecking cars - especially on pit road.

    Exhibiting personality and emotion and getting the fans to enjoy racing again is what is needed IMO. NASCAR squashed the life out of the drivers before, then went to an IROC series type car racing on mile and a half tracks. Now they’re trying to get people back by letting drivers wreck each other at will — that’s not racing. I don’t mind a bump and run for the win; I do mind massive wrecks that take out cars at random.

    In 2001, I watched every minute of practice, qualifying, and racing. In 2011, if I can get to a race that’s the best, but the TV coverage is so poor that it isn’t worth wasting 4 hrs of my day and isn’t done well enough to attract anyone who isn’t already a fan.

  3. Phyllis Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I agree with Russ. NASCAR has lost much of its appeal, for whatever reasons. Having drivers act like childish, schoolboy clowns does little to enhance the honorability of racing or boost its notariety for the right reasons.

    Salute the flag, pray, pay tribute to God and country and then proceed to act like a hooligan is behavior that will not sell more tickets. The overall racing product must be improved.

    NASCAR appears to have lost touch with reality as well as the ability to continuously regenerate and reinvigorate its fan base. It is noticeable how drivers do far fewer appearances than in previous years. Perhaps performance fees have been reduced, but in this economy, drivers should appear far more freely and voluntarily if they have any hope for the future of their livelihood.

    A sport whose time has passed……….. and a governing body obsessed with living in the past and resting on its historic laurels is now a certified, on hundred percent anachronism.

    Little men, still fighting in the infield, just like the old days.
    Sure. That alone it worth the price of a $100 ticket and an $8.00 lemonade.

    I think not.

  4. Rich Norton Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I don’ t know how this is going to affect NASCAR, but I remember Jimmy Spencer poking a ham hock into Kurt Bush’s car and Kurt has been a much more polite respectful driver. I don’t know that Jimmy fist in his face made the difference or not, but it’s pretty interesting that his attitude changed shortly thereafter. As for drivers wrecking one another, I would much rather see a fist fight, they are much more likely to hurt someone wrecking them, than punching them, too say nothing about the collateral damage. When you wreck someone on the track you run the risk of collecting other cars. So maybe NASCAR should set up a boxing ring at each track and let the drivers have at it.

  5. Nascarxtm Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Nothing is more entertaining than a good clean race decided on skill and talent. Those who like fights can watch wrestling, boxing or hockey. Until Nascar decides they want to put a good product out there for reasonable fans, it will not grow.

  6. Marie Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 8:21 am

    If I wanted to see a fight, I’d stick to boxing or go to a bar!