Monday, July 24, 2017

OPINION: NASCAR Must Make Changes to Avoid Further Controversy

NASCAR continues to shoot itself in the foot with controversial calls that end up costing race fans good racing moments and memorable finishes.

Sunday's race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not the best Monster Energy Cup Series Race by any means, but it also wasn't the worst.  While Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the class of the field throughout the first two segments, the race was blown wide open when the two leaders wrecked themselves with 50 laps to go.

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
But that wreck set up a wild chain of events that led to numerous front-runners wrecking, two red flags that threatened to end the race due to the impending sunset (more on that later) and the return of everyone's favorite overtime line.  

When a wreck with two laps to go broke out off of Turn 2, NASCAR seemed to hold the caution flag until the leader passed the overtime line, thus ending the race.  Unfortunately, it didn't seem like NASCAR followed its own rule, as the wreck happened with more than enough time to throw the caution before the leaders passed the line.  To most people, it seemed like NASCAR just wanted to end the race with the overtime line rather than see it end due to darkness at the track.

This is at least the third time this season that a race has been decided by the overtime line, with the June Dover Cup race and the Xfinity Series Daytona race earlier this month being those other two instances.

I understand that the overtime line made sense at the time of it's creation.  It was created in the wake of Kevin Harvick basically causing a wreck during the single overtime at Talladega in 2015 to save himself and move on in the Chase.  Many drivers campaigned for some kind of overtime line to avoid a finish like that, and it made sense at the time.

And it does make sense, but maybe only at Daytona and Talladega.  This would be used to avoid something like Austin Dillon's terrifying accident at Daytona two years ago.  But at any other track, maybe we should go back to three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish before calling the race.

Although, maybe NASCAR wouldn't have even gotten into this situation had they not gone for higher TV ratings (which have still been declining) instead of doing what's best for the fans that attend races.  Like I said, we'd get back to the start times.

The Brickyard 400 on Sunday started at 3 p.m., instead of the former traditional start time of 1 p.m.  At 1 p.m., there wasn't any rain, and the race could have probably made it to the end of Stage 2, making it an official race.  But instead, the race started at 3, and went 12 laps before rain caused a 2.5 hour delay.  

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Had NASCAR started earlier, it would have never been in a situation where it needed to beat the sunset at a track without lights.  If the race had been postponed because of rain that could have been avoided if the race had started at a more normal time, the stands at Indy would have been much emptier than they had been on Sunday.  And those stands were pretty empty on Sunday.

And I'm not the only person who doesn't like the later starting times.  During the rain delay on Sunday, both Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted about their dislike for 3 p.m. starts.  Those are two pretty high-profile stars speaking out about the way NASCAR is doing things.

NASCAR lucked out on Sunday when they traded one controversy for another.  But eventually, its luck will run out. Next week NASCAR heads to Pocono, a track that is notorious for rain.  In fact, last year all three major races at the track (two Cup Series races and an IndyCar race) were postponed due to rain, causing the track to enact a weather guarantee for all of its tickets.

NASCAR needs to take a hard look at its policies, and possibly make a change that will prevent further controversy down the line.  If it doesn't make a change, it should at least read its own rule book and call races in black and white for the rest of the season, instead of giving itself a ton of leeway and living in the gray area.

No comments:

Post a Comment