By admin | February 17, 2012
By Richard Allen
About halfway through the first of two scheduled practices for Saturday’s Bud Shootout All Star event, five cars went spinning out of control in the turn three area of the Daytona International Speedway. While that was a bad deal for the drivers and teams involved, it will no doubt benefit television ratings for not only the Bud Shootout but also for the Daytona 500 a week from Sunday.
Last year on the smooth surfaces of the giant tracks in Daytona and Talladega the racing evolved into a strange looking form of 2×2 tandem drafting that fans did not take to very well. With each successive restrictor plate race, crowds at the track and television viewers in their living rooms seemed to diminish.
So, NASCAR went to work over the most recent off season to take away, or at least reduce, the ability of drivers to race in those tight pairings. A number of aerodynamic and cooling system changes were mandated in hopes of putting cars back into large packs rather than the groups of two.
Granted, the incident was actually caused by the two cars of Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart attempting to tandem draft within a large pack. So the 2×2 style of racing is not gone for good, but it will be very much reduced due to the fact that cars cannot run in such a formation for as long of a period of time as they could last year.
While most true fans of the sport do not watch racing for the crashes, the fact that there was one such incident in practice indicates that the cars are indeed running again in the larger packs. Once the highlights of the crash are filtered throughout the racing community, fans who had been driven away by a style of racing they did not care for could be inspired to return.
And, of course, there are those “casual fans” who do watch racing for the crashes. Those observers may have drifted away when the new form of competition on the big tracks did not provide what they hoped for. These “fans” may also be enticed to tune in on Saturday night and next Sunday to see the show.
Whether it be for the true fans or the casual observers, Friday’s ‘Big One’ indicated that 2×2 racing will probably not go on for the course of the entire races throughout SpeedWeeks in Daytona. And for that reason, television executives, and NASCAR, are likely smiling somewhere behind closed doors.
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