“You play…to win….the game.” The words of former NFL coach Herman Edwards ring true. It seems like the “Well duh” rule of NASCAR, but Brian France and Mike Helton have mandated that the on-track behavior that makes NASCAR look like “racertainment” be put to an end.
It’s about time. If a driver is doing anything other than trying to overtake the car in front of him, if he isn’t truly committed to getting to the checkered flag first, then he needs a remedial course in Sports 101.
Sell the “it’s been going on in racing since the beginning of NASCAR” logic to somebody else. Teammates keeping each other honest like Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch did Sunday is what we need more of. Did you catch Kyle’s remark that he’s glad he didn’t discover what he might do if he caught up to the 20’s bumper? That is the spirit of competition, whether you race for the same owner or not.
It will be interesting to see how the enforcement of the “Race 100 Percent” rule works going forward. It’s safe to say that most who have taken a dive in the past were a little more, shall we say, subtle in their approach than some of the bad actors at Richmond over two weeks ago. Michael Waltrip’s boys couldn’t have been more obvious about their chicanery than if they had shot the tires off of Ryan Newman’s car. Limiting the team management conventions on the spotter’s stands will help to some degree, and that “secret channel” chatter is also another positive step.
If it’s being inferred here that attempts at manipulating race results will never be completely done away with, it’s true. France said clarity was needed, and Brad Keselowski crew chief Paul Wolfe said the message sent loud and clear by the brass shortly before the Chase opening race at Chicagoland Speedway. You almost got the feeling among the drivers there was a collective sigh of relief. To be fair to the likes of Clint Bowyer, David Gilliland and Brian Vickers- I don’t think any of them had any real interest in sandbagging it. They did what their bosses told them to do, and it’s not a heck of a lot different than Chicagoland in 2009, when Chad Knaus asked Mark Martin to let Jimmie Johnson pass for a bonus point. Martin complained, but then relented. The rules make it obvious this is no longer to be tolerated.
While it seems like it shouldn’t have to be said, the message conveyed by NASCAR was obviously needed. Playing the goon should not be tolerated in any sport. If you want to win, get faster. It’s really that simple.