By admin | December 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
With the end of the year fast approaching and a new year right around the corner, there will no doubt be a great deal of reflection during this week as well as a great deal of looking ahead. In this particular piece, I intend to not only offer my own reflection but ask for yours as well.
Itâ€™s often last impressions that mean the most. Even George Costanza on the Seinfeld show knew to leave on a high note. So after the past few weeks of reading columns, tweets and Facebook posts regarding â€œthe greatest season in NASCAR historyâ€, I decided to pose a question to myself and anyone who might have chosen to read this blog post.
Was the 2011 Sprint Cup campaign a great season or was there just a great ending to an average season?
During the past off season, NASCAR chairman Brian France held a press conference to outline a new points system that would be employed during 2011. The not so subtle intent of the new scoring method combined with the already in place Chase for the Championship was to produce a close finish that would cause the championship to be decided on the last lap of the last race.
Well, France and NASCAR got exactly what they wanted when Tony Stewart finished just ahead of Carl Edwards to win the season finale Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and create a dead even tie at the top of the Sprint Cup standings. For the first time in history, the sportâ€™s champion had to be decided by the tie-breaker of Stewart having more race wins than Edwards over the course of the season.
Without question, that made for an exciting conclusion to the 2011 season.
That said, however, it seemed as though there were more than a few of the individual events that lacked in overall excitement except for caution flag inspired endings. Middle sections of many races resembled more parade than race as drivers often seemed content to just ride. Or worse yet, they were unable to pass because of the carsâ€™ handling characteristics or the lack of grip in the tires.
And the above statement has certain merit in that drivers this season were not-so-secretly fined by NASCAR for saying as much.
Now thatâ€™s not to say there werenâ€™t exciting moments or exciting races. There certainly were both. However, it just seemed as though there was a great deal of discontent found within the comments section of this website as well as any number of other sources throughout the year.
The obvious holes in the grandstand sections of a number of tracks would seem to further speak to the discontent of many toward the way the racing was going during much of the season.
There were stretches within the 2011 season in which it looked as if the only way to provide intrigue was for the race to come down to a fuel mileage stretch at the end. Races seemed to be determined more by who could save the most fuel than who could actually go the fastest. Granted, that type of finish is entertaining occasionally but it was a bit too prevalent this year.
And more, it also seemed as though NASCAR had to rely too much on rivalries and personality clashes to maintain interest rather than the racing on the track. Again, that type of thing is entertaining, and certainly provides a great deal of fodder for sites such as this, but is that what this sport is to be built around?
When it gets down to it, the core product of NASCAR is racing. Feuds, fuel mileage coasts and any number of other sidebar issues are not what is needed to keep the interests of fans over the long term.
In my opinion, this was a season that featured racing that was average at best but offered up a great ending. Last impressions are important. Was that last impression enough to make you believe it was a great season? What are your thoughts?
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