By admin | May 12, 2012
By Richard Allen
In the opinion of this writer, Fridayâ€™s Nationwide Series race at the Darlington Raceway represented much of whatâ€™s going wrong in todayâ€™s NASCAR. First, a Sprint Cup regular took out a driver who could have potentially been leading the Nationwide Series standings after the race and then that Cup driver went on to win. Second, two drivers with no real credentials but who are supposed to stand as the new face of the sport dominated the attention during and after the race for doing very little and despite the controversial finish.
On a late race restart, Joe Gibbs Racing driver and Sprint Cup series regular Joey Logano banged the rear bumper of Nationwide Series regular Elliott Sadler as the two attempted to get out to an advantage over Loganoâ€™s teammate, Denny Hamlin. The result of the banging was for Sadlerâ€™s car to be turned into the outside wall and his night to be ended prematurely.
Sadler is racing for a championship in that division while Logano is not. The irony is that considering Loganoâ€™s situation at JGR on the Sprint Cup side, he could easily find himself in the same situation as Sadler next season.
It was pointed out by some that Logano was actually giving Sadler a â€˜boostâ€™ by bumping him. As a matter of fact, Hamlin feared that was the case as he discussed the matter with his spotter over their in-car radio prior to the restart in question.
Hamlin directed his spotter to get word to Logano not to bump Sadler on the restart for fear it would push Sadlerâ€™s Richard Childress Racing car out to a sizeable lead with only a few laps remaining and hand him the win. “I never got an answer out of the 20(Logano),” was the reply from Hamlinâ€™s spotter when he urged the teammate not to â€˜boostâ€™ Sadler.
But the fact that Logano was actually trying to help Sadler, and thus himself, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he hit Sadler hard enough to take him out, and thus, play a role in the Nationwide Series points championship.
And apparently, the â€™boostâ€™ had been less than appreciated by Sadler and his team when it had been performed by Logano early in the race. “The 20 didn’t wreck us the first two times he hit us so he got us again,â€ Salderâ€™s spotter replied when asked by Richard Childress what had happened.
Now donâ€™t get me wrong, I like aggressive racing and drivers trying to win rather than settle for a â€œgood points dayâ€. The real issue I have here is simply the fact that someone with no thoughts of running for a championship damaged the chances of someone who is running for a championship. In other words, my real issue is with Cup drivers racing in the lower divisions, as it has been for a long time.
And speaking of folks not in contention for a championship but playing a role in the race, or at least the race coverage and the post-race chatter, how about Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana?
In case you havenâ€™t heard(and you would have had to be unconscious for that to be true), those two drivers finished 12th and 17th respectively in their first starts at the tough old Darlington Raceway. And also in case you havenâ€™t heard, â€œIt was a victory in and of itself just for them to finish and get those laps inâ€ and â€œThey kept the fenders on their cars and stayed out of troubleâ€ and â€œYou have to be impressed with how they handled racing here on this track that has chewed up so many veteran drivers in the pastâ€ and so on and so on.
Of course, I am being a bit mean spirited with the comments posted above. However, there are only so many times statements like those need to be made, and they are made multiple times on a weekly basis. And, they were made over and over on Friday night about two drivers who have major sponsors and are in great equipment but ran mid-pack all night until attrition moved them forward at the end.
Good for them.
Whatâ€™s really sad, or actually pathetic, about these two is not only the way they are gushed over on a weekly basis but how NASCAR and its media partners have gambled so much on the success or failure of such unproven, yet overly hyped, â€˜starsâ€™. Itâ€™s as if they are playing an early round at the â€˜World Series of Pokerâ€™ and have decided to push all of their chips to the center of the table with only a pairs of fives in their hand.
And this gamble is all for the sake of a quick ratings pop and the hope of drawing in a new and previously untapped demographic. That strategy has not exactly been working well in recent years, but who knows, maybe itâ€™s time to hit the jackpot on this spin of the wheel.
Anyway, those are my thoughts from Friday nightâ€™s Nationwide race. I am not covering any dirt races this weekend because Darlington is my favorite track and I wanted to watch these races live rather than on the DVR. I hope the Sprint Cup event will prove worthy of that choice, but after last night and considering whoâ€™s in the Saturday race, Iâ€™m now less than encouraged.
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