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Nascar At Talladega After Chatter: Did Nascar’s Ruling Really “Dull Down” the Racing in the Amp Energy 500?

If you listened to the commentators (especially on TV), there was no doubt the teams had their hands semi tied behind their backs with the Nascar ruling and threatened penalties about seeing daylight between bumpers in the turns at Talladega on Sunday afternoon; but, did they really have their hands tied behind their backs??

I’m afraid this is one week where I am going to be much more opinionated than usual simply because the situation warrants it. (You’re probably saying, “So, what else is new?”)

I admit, I’m just a fan and former driver on local short tracks. I’m not an engineer, have no degree and I’m probably more opinionated than some would prefer, but after this week at Talladega, it is hard for me not to speak my mind.

Most will ignore what I have to say simply because I only raced on short tracks in my area, never hit the big time and certainly was never a part of Nascar other than a fan. I was, however, owner of three high points championship trophies and finished in the top three in high points at our local track over several years. (That’s not bragging, it’s just stating the facts.) I have been in the stands and in the driver’s seat and had the great privilege to look at Stock Car racing from both points of view. I personally built all of my race cars except for my first one and always had the same engine builder all the time I raced, (except for that first one I mentioned.)

“So what?” you say.

Well… I gotta tell ya, I guess I’ve said all of that to make sure you know that I’ve been more than “just a fan.” I had to learn a lot about what makes a car “go fast and turn left” and I had the great privilege of not only getting my hands dirty, but also being a part of the decision making process in our racing association, (along with many others.)

Again, you say, “So what?!?

Well, I guess I’m just a little frustrated. I have never heard more whining, griping and complaining as I have during this 2009 season from people that seem to have all the answers, but have never done anything in racing but report on it. Many of the loudest complainers don’t know much more about racing other than how they think they can make it better. They’ve never been in a race car, never been in a position to have to make hard decisions about the sport they say they love and, it’s for sure, they don’t have to answer to millions of people for trying to make something safer for all involved. All they have to do is offer their opinion and collect their checks.

I knew the day was in trouble when the TV guys started speculating and making statements about how they felt the race was going and they made it known right from the start, Nascar’s late ruling was keeping the drivers from racing. It seemed they didn’t like the fact that the race wasn’t being run with two, three and four wide racing every lap and because Nascar had laid down a new rule just before the race, the single file racing was their fault because the drivers were “afraid” of getting penalized. Several of these commentators are very familiar with Nascar. These are team owners, car owners, crew chiefs and car drivers and they voiced their opinions early.

Now, I’m not saying they don’t have a right to their opinions, but, it appeared to this fan that they were so hyped for side-by-side, three and four wide racing that when the drivers decided to fall into single file racing for an extended period, they felt short changed. Not only were they openly critical of the racing and expressed their thoughts on nationwide television but they blamed the bump drafting in the corner ruling for what they considered poor racing at the Super Speedway called Talladega, (which was a rule Nascar had made previously, they just decided to enforce it differently.)

One thing I don’t really understand is why, (and, of course, this is just this fan’s view), ESPN associated sportscasts seem to always look for the negative side of anything. Many have spent multiple minutes talking about the decline in viewers for the Nascar races and what needs to be done to fix it. I’ve heard some of the most outlandish comments made this year and many of them come from reporters and commentators giving only their negative input. They’ve criticized everything from Dale Jr not winning to the choice of tracks for the 10 Chase races. Hey, I’m just sayin’; the racing this year has been very good whether or not Jimmie Johnson is the Sprint Cup Champion for a historic fourth time and whether or not Dale Jr runs up front more often. There is more to the reduced number of people in the stands and those that watch it on Tv than just the above mentioned possibilities and, yes, some of it has to do with the economic situation we are all faced with.

In the end, I would just like to say the racing at Talladega was great and not that much different than in days gone by. I still remember the days when only a small number of cars finished on the same lap as the leader. If this isn’t better than that, I don’t think Nascar has anything to offer some of you and you might as well go back to watching something else.

Are there things that need to be addressed in Nascar? Most definitely, but hardly any of them are what many think caused the problem(s) at Talladega. As a fan, I think the drivers were more bored than the fans were and the media needs quit over-analyzing every minute detail and sit back and enjoy the racing for what it is… It is still more than just making laps and running three and four wide for 500 miles waiting for someone to make a mistake. Strategies have never played a more important role than they do right now and racing is still just as much a thinking man’s game as it is about pure speed…

See ya next time… Rusty

(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© November 3, 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman


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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.