Saturday, July 18, 2015

First topic at first NASCAR drivers council meeting: 'What makes a good race?'

   It sounds like a simple question, but history shows the answer is far more complicated and varies by perspective: "What makes a good race?"

   According to Dale Earnhardt Jr., and confirmed through other attendees, that was the first topic of the first NASCAR drivers council meeting last month at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. 

   The reason?

   "For the last probably 10 years we didn’t even know what a good show was. The drivers had an opinion what a good show was, NASCAR had an opinion what a good show was and it might not still be the same thing," Earnhardt said Friday in an interview at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
   To address many of the issues facing the sport, Earnhardt said drivers and NASCAR all had to get on the same page as to what each was trying to accomplish. The first starting point was a logical one.
   "The two sides might now be the same, but they were never in a room together years ago. So, we can sit there and talk about aero packages and what kind of racing it might present and now we’re seeing these packages get implemented on the race track, which is pretty crazy," he said. "I never ever thought that they would go allow us to run this low downforce package. I just, we wanted it and asked for it and asked for it and it really never got any legs."
  When the discussion ended on the first topic did drivers and NASCAR find their views on what makes a good race were different?
   "I think so. NASCAR I think wants pack racing and drafting and passing. Tons of passing, tons, tons - if they could pass every straightaway at speed that would a great show for NASCAR, which it would be great to watch," Earnhardt said. 
   "I think the drivers' opinion of what a great show is, is a bit old-school. Something from the '80s and the '90s. Not necessarily in the fact that fifth place was a lap down, because that stuff is not going to happen these days because the sport is too competitive. But off-throttle time, guys sliding around, tires wearing out, tires not making a fuel run, having to really take care of it.That's the kind of thing we want to encourage."


  1. I'm baffled why drivers would want off-throttle time and tires wearing out to be factors in good racing because in the 40-plus years I've followed racing I can't think of one race where any of that was really to the advantage of the drivers. If NASCAR wants pack racing and an enormity of passing, it's because objectively speaking it is the best racing there is, and we saw it again today with the Modifieds at New Hampshire where the lead changed 29 times in a 100-lap race and Todd Szegedy won in a near-photo finish reminiscent of Tim Richmond vs. Bodine and Rudd at Pocono in 1986. Racing like that is about actually making something happen and for drivers that should always matter the most, not waiting for someone to slip or needing to change tires almost every stop - if you can pass the field and race for the win without changing tires (as some Hoosier-shod cars famously did in the 1988-89 tire war period) it's not only good racing it's economically better in the long run.


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