Now that’s more like it! The NASCAR brass and chatter class can talk ’til the cows come home about what the sport needs, but the visual offered Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway is a crystal clear picture of what fans like about racing.
How complicated can it be? The Food City 500 was one of those "don’t leave the couch for the fridge" affairs. There were races for position all over the track, including- dare we believe it- races for the lead as race winner Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski locked horns for the lead. When Kahne went high, Bad Brad went high. When Kasey went low, there was Keselowski for the block. Eventually, Kahne closed the deal, after failing to close the deal at Las Vegas last week.
You want fender banging, we had fender banging. Jeff Gordon had a tire give way, taking out not just himself but Matt Kenseth as well. On a re-start, Denny Hamlin- who says he got a push from Joey Logano- got into the back of Brad Keselowski, impeding the reigning champion’s progress and setting the stage, in part, for Kahne’s victory.
You want tempers flaring? Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano delivered. The former Joe Gibbs teammates have had a simmering war of words that kicked up another notch on Sunday. While it doesn’t quite rise to the level of Tiny Lund chasing Cale Yarborough through the garage with a hammer, there was no absence of emotion.
Yes, it’s good to have a variety of tracks to test the skills of some of the world’s best racers. Variety is the spice of life. With that said, it boggles the mind why there are not more short tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. It’s that frenetic 43-car traffic jam, complete with contact that made NASCAR racing what it is today.
The unfortunate thing is that while this race was a conversation starter, next week’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana is more likely to be a buzz kill. It’s painful to admit (yours truly is a Fontana native), but its true. Yes, the cars will fly around that track, but sadly, high speeds do not equate to good racing.
There’s no question that reconfiguring a track is an expensive venture, but what about the return on investment? Surely, years of full houses to come have to be better for promoters than the current pace of half-full venues featuring racing that looks more like a high speed parade.
This race at Bristol, the racing at Martinsville, the Nationwide races at Iowa Speedway- this is the racing that brings the fan, and the kind that will put rear ends in the seats. What’s not to like?
Can anyone please answer why we don’t have more of it?
Jim McCoy is a radio sports and television reporter and play-by-play announcer residing with his family in southern Oregon.His true sports passion is racing, because like they say, "all the others are just games."
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