After his win at Las Vegas, Carl Edwards made some remarks about the quality of racing that went largely unnoticed.
Yet they probably are some of the most important that have been spoken by a NASCAR driver in some time.
Asked about the ability of the race leader to drive off to a big lead on every restart at the Las Vegas races, Edwards offered this assessment:
“I can tell you from the driver’s seat that there are no more exciting tracks to drive on. This place has a lot of character. You slide the car at 200 mph through the corner and there are multiple grooves. I think striving to deliver a product that is impossible to deliver in auto racing is foolish,” he said.
“I think we need to be NASCAR. We need to be what we are. Some days we will have races that are more single-file and some days we won’t. The true sport of auto racing is making your car fast, driving in perfectly and having the engine have tons of power.
“I think the fans can appreciate that without having to be in a giant pack with the restrictor plates. I think the savvy fans know what is going on.”
But do they?
Edwards couldn’t be more correct in his reasoning. Every sport has games with blowout scores, even championship games. Fans of the winning team generally don’t care how their team wins, just that they do.
Yet for some reason in NASCAR, it is almost expected that every finish must be down-to-the-wire and a fender-banging affair to be considered “good racing” by many fans and media alike.
Because so many people expect that from the sport, NASCAR itself feels compelled to make rules that help assure those kinds of outcomes. In the process, the outcomes too often appear contrived, which inevitably hurts the sport’s perception.
Edwards said it best.
Just let NASCAR be NASCAR, whether it’s winning by a lap or racing four-wide across the finish line.