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Having the Super Bowl first makes sense for NASCAR

By admin | January 29, 2009

By Richard Allen


In case you haven’t heard, it’s Super Bowl week. OK, you probably have heard.

Sunday night the Arizona Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Steelers for the championship of the National Football League. Needless to say, it makes sense for the NFL’s biggest game to come at the end of the season. When else would the championship game be played other than at the end of the season?

NASCAR, on the other hand, is a different ball game all together. Since the championship for this sport is not determined by a single game, but rather by a series of 36 “games”, it makes perfect sense for the biggest race of the year to come at the beginning of the season.

Having an off season prior to the big race allows teams all the time they need to prepare the best car they possibly can. However, this year NASCAR has taken away the ability to test that prized piece, at least at the Daytona International Speedway itself, by instituting a no testing policy. Still, teams have extra time to message their ride and give it plenty of extra attention. And, many teams have managed to sneak in few test sessions on non-sanctioned tracks over the past few weeks as well.

Placing the biggest race at the top of the schedule also allows the anticipation of fans to grow. After going for three months without seeing cars go around the track, most everyone is in the mood for a little bump drafting.

Unlike the NFL, NASCAR also has the opportunity to take advantage of the hype that goes along with their “Super Bowl” by funneling that energy into the rest of the season. Theoretically at least, an exciting Daytona 500 should lay the groundwork for the events to follow.

The NFL has no where to go with the energy created from the Super Bowl, but again, these are two completely different situations. The NFL’s entire season is built around getting to that one game. NASCAR’s season is meant to be a long grind of weekly events of equal importance, at least in regard to the championship.

Everyone will show up at Daytona with their batteries recharged. They’ll be ready to get on with the most prized race on the NASCAR schedule and to start up another season. No doubt, most who show up in Daytona will have watched the NFL’s Super Bowl in their last bit of off time before getting ready to embark on their own “Super Bowl”.

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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