June 4, 2012
By Jim Fitzgerald
The Track Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
Throughout Driver press conferences this week at Dover, one question that was repeatedly asked for driver opinion was the lack of cautions this year and the feeling that we are having so-called boring races.
Most of the drivers stated that they were not driving any differently, they were just driving smarter.
When Greg Biffle was asked if he felt any responsibility to entertain the fans during a race, his response was, “No. My obligation when I strap myself into that thing is to win.” He then went on to say that the drivers do want to put on a good show and race each other hard, but you can’t create that by telling saying during the race that they will race another driver harder for a certain amount of laps. “We know it is an entertainment sport,” Biffle continued, “but there is nothing in our control that we can do about that.”
So, the topic of the boring race has become so hot that the drivers are aware of it and are addressing it in their interviews.
Well, as I reflect upon the happenings of the first two events of a three event weekend at Dover, I feel it would only be right to say that so far, Dover has been the cure for the boring race.
In the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, there were nine cautions. A few of those were for rain and some oil on the track, however, the racing action near the front and mid-pack was very good, tight, and aggressive. A five-truck accident on lap 25 shook up the field and what looked like a sure win for Kevin Harvick was stolen away by the strategic team of Todd Bodine, Red Horse Racing, and Mother Nature.
The drama of the persistent rain, the impending darkness, and a great pit call was enough to make for a very entertaining finish.
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series took to the high banks of The Monster Mile. The action started early and kept steady throughout the race. The Nationwide Series points leader felt the bite of 'Miles The Monster' early in the race. Ricky Stenhouse’s car broke loose coming out of the second turn and he was basically done for the day, and as a result, we have a new points leader in Elliott Sadler, who has a twelve point cushion. That was the second caution of the day, and that was even before the scheduled competition caution on lap 40.
On lap 125, a three car incident was the cause of a caution, and then again on lap 134. The fifth caution was very high profile because it involved Sam Hornish and Danica Patrick, who had tangled after the race at Talladega earlier this season.
Cautions notwithstanding, let’s talk about the Ryan Truex story.
Eleven days ago, Ryan Truex was in the hospital having an emergency appendectomy. Truex was cleared earlier this week by NASCAR and his doctor to race this weekend, and nearly pulled off a great ending to an outstanding story. If it wasn’t for lapped traffic, and the three wide pass that Truex needed to complete to get through to the finish of the race, he may have executed that story book ending. Joey Logano passed Truex after that move, as Truex’s momentum was slowed, and he was left vulnerable to a faster, better handling car.
If these two stories are not what you are looking for in your racing, I’m not sure what else NASCAR could serve to you on a fancier silver platter. After last year’s Sprint Cup Series Championship battle, everyone is always looking for Brian France’s “Game 7 moment.” That’s why the Chase for the Championship was created. In truth, you are not going to have those “Game 7 moments” every race. You don’t even have “Game 7 moments” every Game 7.
What you do have is, every now and then, and fantastic story with an entertaining ending. We are all fans of the greatest sport in the world. I would submit that you put away your visions of Talladega flipping car finishes, and Darlington Busch-Craven side-by-side Ultimate Fight battles.
Try to view each week for what is it, because you do not always get a full count pitch in the bottom of the ninth with two out, bases loaded, and a tie score.
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"The horizon is out there somewhere, and you just keep chasing it, looking for it, and working for it."
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