By admin | September 19, 2011
By Richard Allen
I am not sure when NASCAR racing crossed into its current realm but it has now become the norm rather than the exception for races to end in fuel mileage stretch runs instead of the fastest car simply outrunning everyone to the finish line. In previous years, or eras, there was the occasional race that ended with a driver making the gas in his tank last long enough to coast to a win. Now, such a finish has become the way in which most races seem to be won…or lost.
Granted, these fuel mileage races do create drama. Up until the final turn there is the question of who will make it and who won’t. And, such racing has provided for a wider variety of winners this year with some new names finding their way into victory lane. But still, I am having a hard time embracing these conservation laden coasts to the checkered flag.
Due to the fact that I had already used one sick day to stay home and watch the rained out Atlanta race, I chose to set my DVR for the postponed Chicago race and go to work on Monday. After following along on Twitter for the final laps and knowing how things played out, I decided to cut my grass rather than watch the taped race when I got home.
The decision to stay home and take in the Atlanta event was a good one on my part. The late battle between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson was one of the best races of the season. Neither driver was concerned about fuel. It was simply two skilled drivers giving it all they had to win. In my mind, that’s what racing is.
The Richmond race of one week ago provided enough controversy and excitement to stir debate for weeks. And again, it wasn’t fuel mileage that made things interesting.
With those two lead-in events as the backdrop, I was as excited going into this Chase for the Championship as I had been in quite some time. And then, I read a plethora of Twitter posts about drivers being told to conserve gas and of drivers running half throttle or even cutting their engines off in the turns. Sorry, but that isn’t inspiring to me.
In my opinion, it is a sad day when the roar of a wide open engine tearing down a straightaway has been replaced by the muffled sound of a motor being milked for better gas mileage. The rhythm of a driver working the accelerator to get his car to better maneuver in the turns is far preferable to the silence of a deadened machine in conservation mode.
If you enjoy the drama of fuel mileage endings and the surprise winners they create, please continue to do so. As for me, I would rather see and hear actual racing.
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