Saturday, September 11, 2010

Credit Denny Hamlin with a win and a very good answer

   What makes a good race?

   Too many opinions and too little space to provide everyone's answer to that question. But the issue was sure to arise Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Denny Hamlin won his sixth race of the season and captured the No. 1 seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

   While that is an impressive accomplishment, the immediate consensus by fans following the action on Twitter was that the racing was "boring" or fell short of expectations.

   Why? More than one person pointed out that there were "only" three cautions. Count me among the faction that does not believe good racing only comes because of wrecks or the cautions those wrecks create.

   The drivers with the two best cars most of Saturday night - Hamlin and Clint Bowyer -passed each other under green five times. Granted, that's not a lot of action in a race with only three cautions, but it certainly doesn't count as "bad racing" in my book.

   After the race, I thought Denny Hamlin provided a good explanation from behind the steering wheel as to how it is out on the track, even during times when fans watching on TV may be less than enthralled with the competition.

   "It’s so more than what people can see on TV," he said. "It’s so tough and mentally it’s tough to see a guy barreling down on you with 40 laps to go and know that you just cannot force yourself to go any harder than what you know your car is capable of.”

   There is no way a race fan or media member for that matter has any idea the pressure - mentally or physically - drivers face at any given moment in a race.

   I, for one, am not going to try to guess at an opinion based only on what I "see" - in person or on TV.

1 comment:

  1. "There's no way a racefan or media member has any idea the pressure, mentally or physically, drivers face at any given moment in a race." And this is relevant to what? That the physical and mental stresses in racing - stresses Hamlin and company are obviously handling quite well - somehow justify calling an uncompetitive race - as this Capital City 400 manifestly was - good?

    It wasn't a terrible race, but it didn't qualify as good, either. They passed each other five times - how about doing so thirty more times on top of that? When you lost the lead, Denny, how savagely did you fight to get it back?

    It is worth asking because the drivers are not motivated to win races; they are all counting points. If you're a racer worth your salt, you go for the lead, regardless of what lap it is and how savagely you have to fight to get it.

    At Pocono we saw much better racing than happened at Richmond, and by this I mean the lead changed several times a lap, notably the Gordon-Montoya-Hamlin slugfest in August.

    Give us back 50 lead changes a race and people will feel a lot better about the sport.