By admin | October 26, 2008
By Richard Allen
The pit stop competition held in Charlotte every year during the All Star week is a fairly popular event. Sunday’s Pep Boys Auto 500 in Atlanta looked like a strange adaptation of that event.
In Charlotte, crew members perform their pit stops then push the car a short distance while racing against the clock and another team. In Atlanta, the event featured a series of pit stop races interrupted by periods of time in which drivers took the cars out and paraded around the track.
There were very few passes for the lead during green flag runs of this race. More often than not, lead changes occurred in the pits. The driver who found himself in the lead after a round of pit stops typically got out to a comfortable advantage in clean air and held on until the next pit stop race.
Whether it be the tires, the Car of Tomorrow, the track surface or some combination of the three, the racing in Atlanta in 2008 has not lived up to expectations.
At one time I had hope things were improving, and I wrote as much on this site. There was a run of several races in a row in which the competition on the track proved more exciting than had been the case earlier in the season. This race, on what is typically one of NASCAR’s more exciting tracks, has dampened any enthusiasm I had developed.
After losing a round of pit stop races, driver Matt Kenseth made a telling remark over his in car radio. “This is new age racing,” he told the crew. “I just run where you guys put me.”
NASCAR has stated there will be few if any changes to the CoT next year. With no competition, Goodyear seems only willing to do enough to avoid embarrassments like the ones occurring earlier this year in Atlanta and Indianapolis. That combination seems to add up to a season of more pit stop contests in 2009.
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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