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Monday, June 4, 2012

NASCAR needs to make some changes

DOVER, DE - MAY 14:  Clint Bowyer, driver of t...
NASCAR races are starting to resemble traffic
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Stands are no longer full; once die-hard viewers are now finding other things to do on a Sunday afternoon. NASCAR seems to have lost its edge. 

There are a littany of criticisms that could be leveled at NASCAR brass for creating so much similarity that they've all but killed the competition. The bottom line though, is that lately, the racing has simply been boring. Even the commentators have mentioned hearing complaints from fans. Perhaps that is why in their effort to boost the ratings and interest, there has been an emphasis on the air recently about big wrecks in past races complete with footage of Joey Logano's car tumbling end over end or Carl Edwards' car diving for the catch fence, and a myriad other similar events. 

To prove that wrecks aren't the draw, Sunday's race at Dover wasn't a barn-burner either despite a big wreck early on. 

Granted, there have been a few races in recent weeks that have been without wrecks. But I hate to tell them--it isn't necessarily about the creating a crashfest. 

Consider that races may be too long. The good thing about racing is watching a driver put it all out there; driving his race car on the edge. Sometimes wrecks occur, but that is only a result of intense racing. The wreck itself isn't the draw--the intensity is.

It isn't exciting to watch a single file line of race cars going fast. We want to see passing, which is difficult when the cars mandated by NASCAR are all the same. Long green flag racing runs are in themselves, boring. It reminds us of the freeway, albeit faster. For fans who watch on television, the long camera angles make the cars speed seem much slower. They look like traffic. Nobody wants to watch traffic! 

Races are 400 or 500 miles in duration. For a long part of them, it isn't uncommon for drivers settle in, trying to stay out of trouble and away from certain drivers they have pegged as problematic. That isn't racing!

But it is the kind of intensity at the end of a race in those closing laps that gives us the thrill. It isn't necessarily who wins, but how they win. We like the fight to the finish. Often times, the thrill just isn't enough to justify sitting through hours of "traffic."

At least NASCAR recognized the importance of a good ending, which is why they instituted the green-white-checker finish. It is just too bad that there are so many rules attached to it that it often times gets a little lost in the translation. When two cars fight it out to the end, and we formulate our opinion of what we saw only to learn that we are wrong because of NASCAR's rules, it is like blowing the wind right out of our sails. NASCAR's rules are excessive, and don't always seem to be applied fairly.

The only conclusion I can come to is that the races are just too long; the cars are too similar which hinders competition; and an emphasis seems to be less on the driver and more on the crew chief.