NASCAR. What have you done to yourself?

7 06 2012

You can look at the stands at the races now, half full. You can’t blame that entirely on the economy because other sports haven’t been as badly effected. No, the problem goes deeper than that.

Kurt Busch gets suspended for a race because he said something unbecoming to a reporter… after his car had just blown up and he’d had a terrible run. Luck hasn’t smiled on Kurt this season, on or off the track. Well, love him or hate him, at least he has some passion. Perhaps a word to the wise should be interjected here – don’t stick a mic in a passionate man’s face just after he suffers yet another in a long line of failures not necessarily his fault.

Could just be that’s what NASCAR needs right now. Passion.

There’s no brand passion anymore like it used to be, all the cars are the same. I think the way the chase is structured has hurt more than helps, because it’s become all about “the chase”. If your guy doesn’t “make the chase” well, football season is starting, so…

Dale Earnhart Sr. was a very passionate man. Would they be fining and suspending him for the things he used to do, now to? You didn’t want to find yourself holding him up if you didn’t want to find yourself getting towed off the track. People forget that one of the main things that set NASCAR off as a nationally interesting sport was two drivers coming to blows live on camera back in the seventies. People loved the passion. People loved that they cared.

Junior Johnson. Cale Yarbrough. Passionate men. The only polish you’d probably find around them would have been on the hood of their cars.

NASCAR was built by bold, badmouthed, and carefree individuals, not cookie cutter prettyboys all saying the right thing, while sipping a Pepsi or Coke for a $1000 every time they are on the TV screen. I miss the days when if you weren’t cheat’n you weren’t winning, and if you weren’t wreck’n you weren’t race’n… and people got pissed off when they didn’t win. That is, after all, how it got to be in the first place.

Today, what’s the visible difference between Nationwide and Sprint Cup? Well, from the perspective of sitting behind your television set, nothing. What’s the difference between Indy racing and NASCAR? Soon, nothing.

The Nationwide Series might even be becoming even a bit more interesting than the Sprint Cup. The young drivers there still have the drive and ambition, the passion, to win.

Unless we get some passion, and some reason to care, back into the sport I think NASCAR has seen it’s peak.

Wrestling didn’t get popular because everybody plays nice and says the right thing. Football is full of rivalry’s and full of players that are larger than life with reputations you either love or hate. Even Basketball has it’s share of controversial characters. They get out there and knock heads and talk trash and the fan’s eat it up. Jimmy Johnson smiles and Jeff Gordon talks about how good that DuPont Chevrolet ran today and how he’ll get’em next week…, Jr. say’s “aw shucks” and signs a hat…

Meanwhile Kurt Busch, past champion and one of the better drivers, sits on the sidelines. It’s said that past owners he drove for got tired of having to make excuses for his behavior and apologizing for his actions. Sad, because no excuse should have been necessary nor apology needed for a driver displaying passion and disappointment. Sad, because NASCAR could probably use a villain right now. Someone to interject some life, a bit of passion, back into the sport.

Kurt Busch, your my hero.

-Al

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