Is It Racing Or Just A Show?
Author's Note: My articles are based solely on my opinions. Normally no statistics are offered. Enjoy and feel free to comment afterwards...
I've tried. Goodness knows I've tried. But somehow I cannot reconcile my feelings about how this season of NASCAR is ending. I keep asking myself, and others, what has happened. Sadly, neither I nor anyone else has an answer.
My feelings seemed to change drastically during the last race at Talladega on October 23, 2016. To protect and help their advancement to the Chase, three of the normally faster cars in most Cup races, decided to fall to the back and just ride there for the entire race. They finished 28th, 39th and 30th. They were Toyotas driven by JGR drivers Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.
Way back on September 15, 2013 NASCAR made a new rule and then they announced the following to the fans.
"NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event," NASCAR president Mike Helton said, quoting the new rule. "Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.
"Artificially altered shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR's sole discretion."
After the Talladega race, NASCAR deemed no rules were broken. What they said was:
"The spirit of that rule is really to prevent somebody from intentionally allowing another teammate to do something that would not be in the spirit of the rules of the race,"[Steve] O'Donnell said. "In this case, we look at that as a strategy decision that the team made. They executed it.
"It's obviously part of the format. It's a decision that they made during the race. But in this case, that wouldn't be something that we look at that violates that rule."
At this point, some of you may be asking, what does this have to do with anything at this late date? To some it means nothing, especially if you are a fan of their Chase scenario. To others it may mean something. Some changes have come about this year and they have instituted the Chase in the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. Herein is the rub. What I saw happen in the NCWTS race on Friday night (11/11/16) gives me cause for great concern. Keep in mind, I am not a fan of the Chase. At this time, I am still trying to figure out what the spirit of the rule means. To me a rule is a rule, is a rule, is a rule. I may never be able to figure it out.
What does rule mean to you?
A new, young up and coming driver named William Byron has won 6 races in the truck series this year. His closest competitor in that area is Johnny Sauter, a veteran truck driver who has only won 3 times this year. This young driver has a lot of talent and is with a team capable of running for a season championship. However, due to an engine failure at Phoenix with only 11 laps to go, he has been totally eliminated from Chase contention. In this fan's mind, there is something dreadfully wrong when this can happen. It means all those wins count for nothing now except on his resume. Is that the way it is supposed to work?
As I watched the interviews prior to the Xfinity race on Saturday, I especially was amused by what Kyle Busch said when they spoke with him. He mentioned that he would love to win, but he might have to not do that, depending on whether a teammate needed help in advancing to the chase. He had a smirk on his face (jmo) and added something to the effect that we won't go there right now.
Can anyone tell me what he meant by that? BTW, of course he won - again.
Finally, as I write this, the Cup race at Phoenix got underway. I watched pre-race ceremonies and then turned to an NFL game. I flipped the channels back and forth for a while. However, it was soon clear that the announcers were only going to be talking about drivers eligible for the Chase and their possibilities of getting in for the final race at Homestead. So many ifs, buts and what could happen scenarios that I turned back to the NFL game and totally forgot about the show at Phoenix. Yes, I have been and continue to describe these NASCAR events as shows and very rarely call them a race. The NFL game I watched was a great one, and I am now watching NHRA and thoroughly enjoying it.
Am I still a race fan? Absolutely. I love cars, speed and many racers and drivers. Am I still a NASCAR fan? Yes. Then why do I write this type of article? There are several reasons but the main one is to impart to others, especially to the younger generations, that this not the typical NASCAR racing I grew up with and learned to love. It has changed so much and there are many reasons for the changes. That is why I call it a show most of the time rather than a race. Over 10 years ago, I wrote an article for another site and then it was posted on this site in December 2015. If you would like to read it, please click here. So tell me, is it a show or a race to you these days?
Please feel free to offer comments and your thoughts. Thank you.