Thursday, February 19, 2009

Daytona Observations

(Maybe you should read the "Disclaimer" post before you read on. I'll wait.)





By now, you've probably seen the infamous "Dale Jr. incident" at last weekend's Daytona 500...

...or maybe you didn't. Take a look.

It makes you wonder if the guy driving the car that hit Brian Vickers wasn't Dale Jr., would he have been parked for five laps for rough driving? It happened to Jason Leffler the day before in the Nationwide race for doing less. And knowing that Junior was just coming off of a pit miscue - a miscue which had just added to the list of other problems he had during the day and raised his frustration level which you could clearly pick up on if you were tuned to his scanner channel - you're telling me that what just happened wasn't just the slightest bit deliberate? Wake up.

I'm no Jr. hater (hell, I watched the race in Dale Jr. Crocs and I own one of his new sweatshirts) but NASCAR knows that no matter what he did, parking their most popular driver for five laps in the biggest race of the year would mean people would change the channel. And NASCAR can spin things all they want but their decision (or lack thereof) was just as deliberate as what you saw on the track. Over the last number of years, their trail of inconsistent penalties against drivers and teams runs for miles. They know which drivers fill the seats and they will bend the rules and exploit gray areas to make sure they do not jeopardize the fan base if they don't have to.

It may not seem like it but I'm not as excitable about this as it may seem because I've seen this sort of thing before in NASCAR. It's not worth getting your undies in a knot. But I've said it before and I'll say it again. NASCAR races are fun to watch but NASCAR as a governing body is a joke. And until fans tell NASCAR that they're tired of the politics and the favoritism, and actually do something about it (like stop watching races), things will never change. At that level, NASCAR is the only game in town... and they know it.

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