By admin | December 28, 2013
By Richard Allen
There were certainly good moments in NASCAR during the 2013 season, but there were also some negatives. So, here is my list of those less than memorable things to occur in the past year.
The Daytona 500- For an event that is often billed as “The Super Bowl of NASCAR” this race was a tremendous letdown in 2013. Once we got beyond the hype for Danica Patrick’s pole winning run, there was nothing to get excited about as drivers and teams worked to get a handle on the latest restrictor plate rules package.
For the most part, the race was a 500 mile parade with a few moves being made at the very end to offer a bit of excitement. And what might have been worst of all for some fans, the race served as a preview of things to come with Jimmie Johnson winning on his way to a sixth Sprint Cup title.
It wasn’t the much disliked 2×2 style of racing, but it wasn’t very good either.
Parading in general- And speaking of parade racing, that pretty summed up the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup season. And no where was that more evident than on the so-called ‘cookie cutter’ tracks where the only passing seemed to take place on pit stop exchanges and immediately after restarts.
And to make matters worse, the parade races seemed to always end with fuel mileage stretches. While those types of endings certainly add drama, there is just something bothersome about cars designed to race at full speed being made to coast to the finish line.
“Spingate”- This thing got covered and recovered when it happened, but it still has to mentioned on a “worst of” list. Michael Waltrip Racing paid a heavy price for manipulating the finish of the Chase for the Sprint Cup deciding race in Richmond when they allegedly had Clint Bowyer spin on purpose and Brian Vickers mysteriously give up a number of positions to get Martin Truex, Jr. into the playoff.
And it seemed as if NASCAR handled the situation in the worst possible way by leaving the driver who it was believed to have spun on purpose in the Chase while eliminating the driver who essentially had nothing to do with the entire conspiracy. And further, the sanctioning body decided to include a 13th driver at the last possible moment when they put Jeff Gordon in the Chase after teams had already begun preparations for the race in Chicago the next week.
This situation was just badly handled all the way around.
Poor attendance- While there were instances during the season in which grandstands surrounding NASCAR tracks were full or mostly full, there were far too many times when huge pockets of empty seats were visible or were covered by large banners. And as that trend continues, tracks seem completely oblivious as many of them keep ticket prices high in the seating areas that fans might actually want to sit in.
Further, some tracks have announced ways in which they will “improve the fan experience” in the future by adding high priced video screens while at the same time eliminating the more affordable seats to do so. Apparently the television money is good enough that they do not have to worry about selling tickets.
Injuries- For all its faults, the Car of Tomorrow dramatically improved driver safety during its tenure as NASCAR’s primary vehicle. Along with SAFER walls, Hans Devices and other improvements, safety has sometimes been taken for granted in racing. But 2013 showed us that this is still very much a dangerous sport.
High profile absences by two of the sport’s biggest stars jarred us awake this past season when Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart had to miss races due to injuries sustained while racing. Granted, Stewart’s broken leg occurred while racing a sprint car rather than in a NASCAR sanctioned event, but racing is racing in that sense.
These injuries combined with the tragic death of Jason Leffler, also while racing in a sprint car, made us all realize that we can never believe that this sport is free of danger.
Danica-palooza- I’m not sure if I’m in the majority here or simply a vocal minority, but I reached the breaking point on Danica Patrick publicity very early on in the season. There’s only so much that can be done to make a 25th-30th place driver look like a star. “Keeping the fenders on it” and “logging laps” just weren’t very intriguing storylines once we hit the 25th race of the season.
But she did appear in a TV cooking contest and host a country music awards show. That’s good for NASCAR…right?
We shall see in 2014 whether or not any real progress was made in the female driver’s career or if she will simply continue to be a commercial and tabloid star.
The loss of Speed TV- Television is a business and it must be treated as such, but it was disappointing to see the Speed network fall by the wayside in favor of an “all sports” network(that seems to show an awful lot of cage fighting). And more than what the loss of the racing based network might ultimately cost NASCAR is the potential impact on less publicized forms of racing.
In your opinion, hat were some of the more negative moments during the 2013 NASCAR season?
The Best of NASCAR 2013 was … –> http://racingwithrich.com/?p=2452
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