By admin | August 27, 2008
By Richard Allen
NASCAR and the NFL have a couple of things in common. Both feel the need to keep their competitors as equal as possible and both are lucky in that some competitors are able to succeed despite the sanctioning body’s best efforts.
Both organizations seem to have decided that sameness is what people want and both have enacted measures to see to it that sameness is what the people will get. Luckily, there are some who are able to stay ahead of the curve and ruin the plans of the powers that be. If not for that both organizations would probably slip into pages of history.
In other words, it is often the task of the governed to save those who govern from themselves.
Last year’s Super Bowl was one of the most anticipated and highest rated of all time, but not because every team in the league went 8-8 and the playoffs had to be determined by a myriad of tie-breakers. It was so anticipated because fans either wanted to see the New England Patriots succeed or fail in their quest to go unbeaten. People with allegiances to other teams or with no allegiances at all tuned in to see what would happen.
The Patriots, not the NFL’s regulations on drafting and salary, made the season interesting.
The NFL can survive without a single team’s domination or rivalries because of fan’s allegiance to their city and the fact that football is so ingrained in the American culture. NASCAR on the other hand needs rivalries and the element of having someone to either root for or root against to thrive.
And now, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards are doing their part to create interest.
So far in 2008 Busch has won eight races and Edwards has won six times. They have finished 1-2 a total of five times.
Having two drivers win that often is not the bad thing NASCAR may think it is. Remember Petty and Pearson, or Cale and the Allisons.
After 470 laps of 43 cars running basically the same speed and thus unable to catch or pass one another Edwards made a bold move to get around Busch, who had led a vast majority of the race until that time. Busch took exception to Edwards’ “bump and run” tactics and attempted to let him know about it on the cool down lap.
Busch raced his #18 Toyota up to the side of the #99 Ford and bumped Edwards’ car repeatedly. Edwards retaliated by turning hard left and putting Busch into a spin cycle.
The crowd of over 150,000 loved it. Virtually everyone in the grandstands cheered or jeered wildly as the two rivals continued around the track. Busch was convinced by NASCAR officials that the incident had gone far enough and Edwards went on to the finish line where he executed his customary back flip.
The drivers went on to make it even better. “I needed to do it and that’s the way it went,” Edwards said referring to the bump that gained him the lead. “Let’s make it real clear: I’m not apologizing for it and that’s it. I feel like the score is even and it just cost him more than it cost me at the time, and that’s the way it is.”
Edwards ended by adding, “I’d do it again.”
In his post race interview Busch countered by implying that if Edwards wanted to race that way he would be more than happy to oblige.
Even Busch’s normally mild mannered car owner, J.D. Gibbs, told Edwards he could expect to reap what he has sown.
That is the kind of stuff NASCAR needs, especially if the races are going to continue to be of the follow the leader type. There has to be something to stir interest because what happened between the green flag and lap 470 did not.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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