Thoughts After Bristol from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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**********************************************************************************Rusty NormanBristol lived up to its name as a Short Track but turned out to be a relatively tame track as far as some fans were concerned. One complaint I heard repeated more than once was that the newest configuration of the track makes for a lot less beatin’ and bangin’ and a lot more long green flag runs and side by side racing. What I take from the comments are that the fans want to see more typical Short Track action (and to me, that means they like the beating and the banging, the cars showing the scars of the battle and the emotional buildup that leads to use of the “Chrome Horn” to move people out of the way.)

However, it does appear the drivers like the way Bristol has become a more side by side, lap after lap track for extended periods in recent visits. It seems it is a lot less carnage and more driving to be competitive than it used to be. It has always been hard to pass at Bristol and track position has never been more important than it is now, but since they can all run fast side by side, there is more racing and less wrecking and the drivers don’t mind that at all (especially if they’re running up front.)

With the long green flag runs and the lack of cautions, Bristol became more of a fuel mileage race and, at least from my view, that is what the fans really don’t like. Fuel mileage races become survival races and it limits the amount of action the fans want, and are used to seeing, especially at a short track like Bristol.

Of course everyone knows Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 and that is long been in the rear view mirror. Hardly anyone can forget the accident that happened on lap 23 that took out several of the ones expected to be real contenders at the end of the race. Even Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon’s close racing resulted in Gordon’s left rear being cut down and him sliding backward into the wall with his possibilities ruined for the day. But hardly anyone talks much about that either – it’s old history now.

So what is the big buzz everyone is talking about after Bristol?

Well… that one’s easy. It is the decision to undo all of the penalties levied against the #48 Team at Daytona by Chief Appellate Officer, John Middlebrook, except the $100,000 fine. Since that decision was made, there has been no lack of discussions and opinions about it. The overall reaction was “Shock and Awe” that such a decision could have been made and some even considered it “Historic.”

From this fan’s view, some seemed to think there was some sort of favoritism being displayed by the Chief Appellate Officer for various reasons while others seemed to think, given Chad Knaus’ history with pressing the envelopes set forth in the rule book, it was a slam dunk against the #48 Hendrick racing team. When that didn’t happen some really believed there was a fix in the works – a view this fan does not agree with at all.

As I said in an earlier article, I believe the rules are written intentionally broad in coverage, but that’s always leaving a little gray area in interpretation for the crew chiefs and others to test. Its not that they intentionally try to write them that way, it’s just that they didn’t interpret it the same way the crew chiefs did.

Here are my final thoughts on the matter for now. As I said in that earlier article, this was a car that had not been on the track at Daytona before the “C” posts were questioned and the actual area in question fit the template because it was not a measured area. (At least that is my understanding after all the talk after the fact.) Since the car never set tires on the track before it was actually found to be “illegal” and was corrected to meet specifications before any competition began, I didn’t think there should have been any penalties levied to begin with. Of course, it is obvious NASCAR didn’t see it the way I did and took the actions they thought necessary.

Now, in this fan’s opinion, it is up to NASCAR to change the inspection process to measure the area in question so there is no room for interpretation by anyone, including the crew chiefs.

There is one thing about the rule books I remember from when I raced at our local tracks and was meant to be a “coverall statement” for car inspections at the track. It was one I never liked simply because it left some things open to the inspectors opinion rather than an actual measurable item. Paraphrased, it said something like this… “Just because the rules don’t say you can’t do it, doesn’t mean you can… ”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 23, 2012 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and
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