Looking out for the greater good of the drivers, or taking back control?
One of these NASCAR is attempting to do by making technical changes to the cars at Daytona in an effort to slow down their outrageously fast speeds. The question is, which one?
On Sunday, NASCAR announced it was making two changes to the cars to keep them from participating in the tight two-car drafts that took place in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. The annual exhibition race saw drivers reach speeds of over 206 miles per hour on average at times.
Despite the crazy speeds, the drivers loved the racing that went on Saturday night, as did many of the fans. Some even called it the best Budweiser Shootout ever, due to its astounding record number of lead changes, as well as its unpredictability.
Perhaps that’s why NASCAR wants to control speeds: to take back the reins, and not let the unexpected happen.
Come Friday, it will be the 10-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500. Since that day 10 years ago, the sport has seen several advancements in safety. Those advancements have brought with them a sense of predictability: the knowledge, or at least the educated guess, that nothing bad can happen at a NASCAR-sanctioned event on-track.
That is a wonderful thing. But with that predictability came a major setback in competition.
With all the advancements in safety, the drivers were given cars that basically couldn’t pass, and rules so strict that they were unable to do just about anything.
It wasn’t until last year when NASCAR finally pulled back the reins and told drivers to “have at it”. Now that they finally have a car that seems to allow them to do that, at a track that usually doesn’t, with these adjustments being made to control speeds NASCAR is once again taking back those reins.
What we saw Saturday night was something many fans claim they haven’t seen since the day of Earnhardt’s death: a race that kept them nervous, and on the edge of their seat, to the very end. It was a race that might have boasted the closest finish in NASCAR history if not for a penalty dished out to the man who crossed the line in first.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.
The 2011 Budweiser Shootout was precisely that way because of its unpredictability. But the inability of not knowing what was going to happen next scared NASCAR. Now they’re doing what feels best to them: taking control.
We’ve seen in the past what happens when NASCAR takes over the reins of a certain situation.
Often times, it makes things worse, like the 2008 “Indy Tire Debacle”. When it doesn’t make things worse, it makes things boring, like the 2009 Amp Energy 500 that saw drivers parade around Talladega’s 2.66-mile oval in a single-file line for hours on end.
Either way, the fans lose.
But when things are a sure bet~in this case, the safety of the drivers~NASCAR feels good. Even if it means doing what makes the majority of fans and drivers unhappy, that predictability makes the boys at headquarters in Daytona feel a whole lot more comfortable.
By taking control of the speeds in Daytona, NASCAR is taking back the reins. They have control, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Even if it means we have to pay for it.