The Big Problem with NASCAR

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By Rob Kotaska

I have never been a NECKCAR, I mean NASCAR fan.  In college I used to torment a dude in my hall who wore only Ricky Rudd shirts, everyone which seemed to have some sort of stain on it.  Given Rudd’s sponsor at the time the irony was just too big to miss, even for a NASCAR fan….sorry I really can’t help myself.

As a clone, Romey’s epic 90s take on NASCAR was gospel.  “Mix in a left turn or two”.  In the past few years he has softened his stance, as have I.  I want to like NASCAR.  My son James is a “Cars” freak.  We must’ve watched “Cars” at least 100 times, he loved the Piston Cup races: the speed, the drama, the crashes, he would inch towards the screen, leaning towards the screen like a plant to the sun.

I knew I would have to get over my prejudices.  He is going to want to watch NASCAR.  I’ve brought him to the Buffalo Bills, comics and Star Wars. This will be his chance to share some of his passions with me.

But I cannot get past the gimmickry that seems to permeate the sport.  This past weekend there was an All Star race which drew the ire of many race fans.  There were four heats to qualify for the final 10 lap sprint.  This allowed the drivers who qualified early to sit back and sandbag, saving their car to the end.   I don’t know much about the sport, but this seems antithetical to the core of NASCAR, at least to my limited understanding.  The fans seem to agree.

My main problem has been with NASCAR’s playoff, the Chase for the Cup.  Why are racing teams that are not in the top ten racing alongside the teams that have a chance to win?  This is a big problem for me.  Why should those non-qualifying teams be able to influence who wins it all? Should the last race not decide all?  What is with these points if this is supposed to be a playoff?  Maybe it is too important to have a full field, but that is beyond my understanding.  The Piston Cup was decided with a three car race off, and every one learned a valuable lesson in the end.

I wish NASCAR would as well.  Lose the gimmicks, find a system where teams who are not eligible to win can’t impact the Championship and you might find a true fan here, not just some guy trying to spend some time with his son.

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