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Friday, September 13, 2013

Final thoughts on Richmond; Fix points racing; Go for legitimate win!

Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer
As much as everyone would like to put last week's Richmond race behind them, that may not be possible. NASCAR can choose to simply move on or they can make the necessary changes to ensure it doesn't happen again.
This has been a really busy week! What has been deemed "Spingate," has kept everyone on their toes, including those of us who have watched intently as the news began to unfold.

Reporters and commentators have been busy, not just filing stories about the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, but posing questions associated with Spingate, when Clint Bowyer spun out in the closing laps of Saturday's Richmond race. It was the final race to determine the championship contenders, and a lot was on the line. Bowyer refuses to admit he spun out on purpose, changing the entire complexion of the race, but he may be the only one who won't admit it. Drivers and past drivers have all but accused the action as being intentional. NASCAR stepped in and assigned harsh penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing. The only person really affected by them was Martin Truex, Jr., the most innocent one of the MWR stable, but who was the beneficiary of his teammates' actions. Personally, I think he was completely innocent and had no idea what was happening. All he knew, is he was driving for his life, and with a busted wrist, no less. The result of the penalties took Truex out of contention for the chase and replaced him with Ryan Newman who was running in the lead when the spin occurred. In essence, the win was stolen from him. NASCAR made it right by him to assign penalties to MWR. the result was that he replaced Truex in the points standing, as he would have had the race reached its natural conclusion.

A shout out must be given to the reporters staying on top of this story. I know how hard they are working. When they aren't doing interviews, or filing stories, they are tweeting about their observations. They have been living this story just about 24-7. Kudos to them for a job well done, keeping us all informed.

While NASCAR officials have made monumental changes, with the alteration of the chase field, they continue to review radio communications between the teams of David Gilliland and Joey Logano to see if additional action should be taken. It seems Jeff Gordon feels he was robbed of the opportunity to compete for the championship because of team orders in the Ford camps of the #38 and #22 cars. While I don't anticipate another change in the chase field, it remains that Jeff Gordon is a very popular driver. I would never be surprised to see NASCAR help him out, possibly by adding a 13th car into the Chase.

From where I sit, NASCAR caused this perfect storm of controversy with their emphasis on points racing. They have the ability to change what they created.

While NASCAR's Chase for the Championship is a playoff of sorts, much like football has its super bowl and baseball has its pennant race and world series, NASCAR needs to change its structure. With so much on the line, cheating is practically inevitable and rarely discouraged. NASCAR may have looked the other way for many, many years, but with the open communication available today and social media where fans can talk to one another readily, NASCAR can no longer get away with business as usual. Besides, a little cheating to help yourself is one thing, but cheating to manipulate an entire race that determines the season is quite another. NASCAR has in essence been caught, doing what they have always done. Fans have long suspected cheating to manipulate races and favor certain drivers over others, but now it is out in the open.

NASCAR has to change before there are no fans.

One way to do that is to simplify the process. It has gotten way too complicated. Rules are made but not enforced consistently. Perhaps there are too many rules that contain gray areas.

The emphasis of racing should be as it always has--winning. The way it is now, winning is rewarded, but it is not the end all, be all as it should be. How many times do drivers lay back for hundreds of laps only to make a late charge toward the end? Perhaps races are too long. Whatever the case, every driver needs to fight his way to the lead to win the race.

"If you aren't first, you are last." There is something to that. For a driver to race his butt off to earn a point is ridiculous. He should race his butt off to try to win the race. That is what fans want to see. That is what they pay money for. And they don't want to see anything but a legitimate contest.

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