The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600. The marathon event will test all aspects of a race team as crews, drivers and the cars themselves are asked to perform for an extra 100 miles while crew chiefs have to figure out the right adjustments to keep up with an ever-changing track as the day becomes evening and the evening becomes night.
Before I dive into this weekend’s rankings, I’d like to talk about the aero package that NASCAR experimented with during last weekend’s All-Star events. I already knew I was in the minority when it comes to restrictor-plate racing, so I’m not surprised that the package appears to have been a hit.
In the grand scheme of things, anything that can save NASCAR’s declining ratings is a good thing, but the aero package definitely wasn’t for me. I could already do without the plate races at Talladega and Daytona. To me, they are just glorified demolition derbies that push luck ahead of skill behind the wheel and encourage fans to cheer for wrecks. I understand that safety necessitates the use of plates at these tracks, but I sure hope the use of restrictor plates remains limited to these two tracks.
This is racing. It’s supposed to be about who can go the fastest. Using restrictor plates to slow everything down just to manufacture closer racing seems to go against the very nature of the sport. For someone like myself who never thought NASCAR needed to be overhauled and has been forced to watch an every-changing championship format and countless other rule changes, it’s hard to view the use of restrictor plates at other tracks as anything other than NASCAR’s latest gimmick.
Based on the initial fan reaction, it appears I’m out of touch with a majority of the fans today. Personally, I don’t mind if a driver wins a race by a wide margin. In fact, I like when the driver with the best car ends up winning. Blowouts happen, but there have also been plenty of memorable finishes and there are plenty of instances when the fastest car doesn’t win because of bad luck, mistakes or strategy calls.
I think it’s a misconception that there has to be a close finish for the race to be good. Do you appreciate the sport itself or not? I can watch a basketball game and regardless of the score I can appreciate the defensive rotations, the passing or a rebound in traffic. Similarly, I can watch a driver slide a car off the corner or wiggle in the corner and appreciate the racing no matter what the margin to the leader is.
Yes, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have been dominant early on this year, but overall, the list of competitive cars has never been longer. Like I said, I’ll figure out how to deal with anything that actually help attract fans to NASCAR, but I’d be lying if I said I wanted to see more of what I saw this past weekend. This is supposed to be racing. Can you keep up or not?