“I think the thing we have to focus on as a sport is making sure the cars can race one another.” Ladies and Gentleman, we present the “Voice of Reason,” Carl Edwards. It’s the cars, NASCAR! If you fix the cars so that the racing is good, the rest really doesn’t matter. If the fan can walk away from a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday evening feeling like they’ve watched a good battle for a win, you can give the guys 10 points, you can give them a hundred.
Thank goodness someone grabbed the platform and addressed the real issue! Does anybody really believe that there isn’t a racer out there who isn’t pursuing a win like a hungry hound chasing a slice of ham? “I don’t think you can take the top 15 guys in this sport and make them race any harder for wins. I don’t think you can,” Edwards said. What about those guys who say “we had a good points day?” That’s just spin. Admittedly there are the days out there when a driver says he has nothing for the guy up front and brings the car home fourth, reasoning that fourth is better than racing balls out, wrecking, and finishing 30th. That’s always the case, I don’t care what you’re racing and where- Chase or no Chase.
“Right now, if I’m staring at the guy in the front window, it doesn’t matter if I’m racing for a billion dollars and 10 championships…if I can’t catch him, I can’t catch him” says the 2011 runner-up, “The only thing we can do to race harder is basically start running into people.” NASCAR is working on the cars, and that’s where the energy is needed. If fans get a good race, all the rest NASCAR wants in terms of drawing more fans will follow.
What I’m saying here is the drivers aren’t the problem. If you give them a piece they can wheel, they will wheel it. Can you imagine the likes of Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch all fighting for a win? Do you really think a “good points day” is what Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are willing to settle for?
Lots of fans are less than pleased with the Chase, but that’s just one more thing, not the whole thing. Jimmie Johnson isn’t the real problem; NASCAR survived quite well periods of domination by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. The tickets are pricey, but you know what? Tickets are priced high in the other sports as well. If a race fan has a good assurance they are getting a “bucket list” experience, they will pay money, good money, big money for it.
Some believe Edwards will be fined for his remarks. If that’s the case, I’ll kick in a little money to pay it. I think a lot of us would. It’s refreshing to see someone with skin in the game to say what needs saying.