NASCAR Racing Different but not BoringBy
By Jason A Jarrett
Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure
Is it time to realize that today’s races are not going to be full of crashes? When I read or hear that fans didn’t like a race I always wonder why. I can see how some fans could get discouraged if they go to a race, or, watch a race looking for crashes and look for every segment of the race to be full of some type of drama. In my opinion, it is time for race fans to be able to follow the races with a little more of a technical understanding of the races. There are various amounts of gadgets and technologies fans can use to follow the progress of their favorite driver or follow the entire field of drivers. With all of the information streams available fans have the ability to know more and more about what each driver and team are trying to accomplish throughout the races. The races with multiple crashes is now the exception and not the rule.
Baseball comes to my mind when I hear these complaints. Maybe it is time for the fans to realize that teams and sponsors realize the value of being able to complete every lap of every race. It doesn’t benefit anyone involved to tear up the race cars. I believe one reason that we are seeing fewer crashes is because the drivers and crew chiefs know it is faster to just find your own lane on the track (in clean air) and run as many laps as fast and as uninterrupted as possible. When we see the cars spread out to different lanes at Texas Motor Speedway, or, any of the 1.5 mile tracks, we are basically watching the drivers search for grip and search for clean air. Anything the driver can do to get clean laps he will do. We can blame it on the cars or whatever our complaint may be but simply put, the drivers know it is faster to run the most consistent laps as possible. This eliminates a lot of the factors that cause crashes. Everyone knows it is slower to race side by side so they don’t run lap after lap that way. Everyone knows it increases your chances of being in a crash to run two and three wide and it slows every driver’s momentum to be in packs. It even extends to the point in the races when drivers are making green flag pit stops. The crew chief will start counting down the laps so the drivers know how many laps before they need to be on pit road. Sure, crew chiefs have been doing this for a long time, but the difference I see is, the drivers start working on getting in the best position to get onto pit road as smooth as possible and without having to break their momentum until it is absolutely necessary. There isn’t necessarily more communication than there used to be, but there is an overall understanding between driver and team to provide each other with as much information as possible to get the timing right. To me, the talent of the drivers gets lost in all of the complaints. The drivers make running over 200 laps, without a caution, look easy. The teams make the cars so durable that there are very few failures, therefore, we add another reason for having fewer cautions.
I wanted to try and connect my baseball game reference. Not every baseball game is going to be filled with homeruns and strikeouts. Most baseball wins are a result of slowly grinding away at the competition using the athletes’ precision to win the games. There are the occasional games with home runs, strike outs, and bench clearing brawls, but most of the time it comes down to everyone on the winning team doing their particular jobs at a very high level, without mistakes.
My opinion is probably not the popular opinion. My main objective is to inform everyone watching that NASCAR racing is more technical than perceived. Take a little time during each race to break down the objectives of the drivers and teams. If you can do this you will learn something from the race every week. You will learn just how hard these teams work on perfecting each scenario they are faced with. You will learn how they work through the continuously moving targets they must hit during each event to have the best race possible. Mainly, you will learn how the drivers and teams that win, make the fewest mistakes.