By admin | May 1, 2012
By Richard Allen
Often times I read articles and tweets or hear comments in which some within NASCAR claim there is an element of fans and pundits who want the sport to go back to what it was years ago. These comments are often accompanied by statements that years ago races were settled by laps rather than feet or seconds. It is also often said that today’s racing has more competitive cars capable of winning than was the case in the past and that more cars finish on the lead lap now than ever before.
The idea for this particular column came just the other day when I heard a representative of a NASCAR track talking on a radio program and he declared that, “There are some people out there who have this ideal in their minds that the racing was so much better years ago than it is today.” He went on to say that if drivers were winning races by one or two lap margins, no one would watch.
I believe I am often lumped into the category of those who want NASCAR to return to the ‘good ole days’. However, I am going to argue that such is not the case at all.
Those things mentioned above are absolutely true. Races were indeed won by laps on occasion in NASCAR’s more distant history. And, there are more competitive cars now than there were two or three decades ago.
I don’t want to see races won by those kinds of margins and I am glad that there are so many cars and drivers capable of winning nowadays.
The reason I often complain about the way NASCAR is being run today is not because I want it to go back to what it was, but because I want it to be all it can be today. It is my opinion that the leadership of the sport often seem to make reactionary decisions based on whims rather than consideration of what is best for racing. That, in turn, has caused the product on the track to resemble more of a choreographed play than a competitive sport.
And more, to manufacture close finishes for today’s ‘SportsCenter’ culture, NASCAR over-regulates far too many aspects of the machines in use today. Aside from finishes with 20+ cars on the lead lap, this over-regulation has created a form of racing with a great deal of parading and relatively little passing.
Further, with the excessive emphasis placed on points under the current Chase for the Championship system, drivers have seemingly become too content to settle for “a good points day” rather than take a risk that might result in a race win.
It is my feeling that a lessening of the restrictions placed on teams in regard to the setups of cars would create better racing as that increased leeway would allow for a so called ‘comers and goers’ effect. More passing would take place throughout each green flag run as some cars would be better suited for short runs and others would be better on longer runs based on driver and team preferences. As it stands under the current rules package, teams have so little allowance for individuality that every car is essentially on the same setup, and thus, running pretty much the same speed.
However, when it is suggested that a loosening of the stringent rules be enacted, in a situation as was the case a number of years ago, some claim that those who support such a position want racing to revert to a less competitive past. Not so. Rather, greater tolerances would make racing better due to the very fact that there are now so many competitive teams.
And has been much discussed since last weekend’s race in Richmond, the leadership of NASCAR has a serious trust issue with their fans, competitors and those who report on the sport. Many believe that finishes are contrived with late race debris cautions and questionable rulings being called to assure highlight reel material.
No legitimate sports organization can afford to have those types of accusations hurled at it. My contention is that there would be no need for contriving finishes if regulations were to be loosened.
Just recently, a friend of mine who is a casual fan of racing told me that, “I used to keep up with NASCAR a lot more than I do now because there are too many rules and its too hard to keep up with what’s going on.”
NASCAR does not need to go back to what it used to be. It needs to be all it can be today. But that will not happen as long as there is so much regulation in place.
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