Haulin’ the mail: NASCAR mailbag, Daytona Int’l Speedway week

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Feb 23, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) beats NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin (11) across the finish line to win the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

 

As we near the 4th of July holiday weekend, that means one thing: DAYTONA.  The race will be an exciting one and also one that is nearly impossible to predict.  So to wet our appetite for some stock car night racing this weekend let us dive into the mailbag for the week.  I would like to thank all of those that chimed in with their questions.  Please feel free to continue to do so, as again, this will be a weekly chance for us to talk NASCAR.  Reach us on Twitter at @SCSBlog or @LeviWHeller, Facebook (Stock Car Spin or Levi Heller) and on the Fancred app.
How do you feel about NASCAR not really being a sport?  —Tuupacca (@doge_e_fresh), via Twitter
First of all, I know this question is intended to be a slight on NASCAR and fire up the die-hard fan.  Having said that, I know it is a common question among casual or ‘non-fans’ and heck I am up for the debate.  Sport is defined in the dictionary as ‘an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.’  Having read that description, NASCAR is clearly a sport. 
It requires a ton of skill (yes, even turning left at high speed requires the most highly tuned hand-eye coordination) and is extremely competitive in nature (have you ever seen a driver after they have been intentionally wrecked?).  I think what lies at the heart of this debate is not whether NASCAR or racing of any kind is a sport but rather: are the men and women who drive the machines, athletes?
We hit up our friends at Webster again for the definition of an athlete.  An athlete is ‘a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.’  Again the definition makes it pretty cut and dry; if you participate in a sport (which we established NASCAR to be) then you are an athlete.  But, as long as the debate has been around this is not sufficient evidence to prove racers are athletes. 
One could argue that it (racing) does not require agility or strength.  They may be right.  You don’t even have to look far to see a driver say they, themselves, are not athletes. Carl Edwards, perhaps the most physically fit driver in NASCAR history said, “The fact is, you don’t have to be an athlete to be a successful racecar driver; it’s not a requirement. I’m okay with racing being different. You don’t have to be able to run fast or be strong.”
The debate rages on; perhaps there is no right answer. But, does it matter? Can any of us get into a racecar and drive it like they do on Sundays? A resounding No is uttered and that is why we love to watch — ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things.
I, personally, think all racers are athletes for two simple reasons: competition and physical skill.  But as far as NASCAR being a sport…pssssh that is a no-brainer.
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Tags: Chase For The Sprint Cup Daytona International Speedway NASCAR Talladega Superspeedway