Speed wins races and should rule qualifying
June 10, 2007
I started with NASCAR when qualifying was a 3 day affair and the only way to get into the show was on speed. I lived 10 miles from Darlington, and saw the stands filled with fans for all 3 days of qualifying. NASCAR used speed for over 50 years, until some popular drivers failed to make the show. I have no problem with past champions provisionals, they earned that respect. I have a major problem with the contention that NASCAR's success revolves around Dale Jr. Are you suggesting that NASCAR would dry up and blow away if Jr decides to stop racing (not that he is)? That is almost as far fetched as saying that DEI will fail because they do not have Dale Jr. Did RCR racing fail when Dale Sr passed? We know the answer to that question, NO. I'm sorry but one horse does not make a race.
Jr has demonstrated that he is a middle of the pack driver, no more, no less. (I do like Jr, I just do not pull for him although I would like to see him in victory lane sooner rather than later). He has only 2 victories since Nov 2004 while Gregg Biffle has 9 victories in that same period. In the group of drivers who started at about the same time as Jr., Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmy Johnson have all won Championships. Dale Jr is glaringly missing from that list. (Please do not blame Theresa or bad equipment for his troubles. That may have been a small part of the problem, but he has run up front on too many occasions to not have turned one of them into a win. We also remember the controversy with his pit crew and crew chief.)
The only thing Jr has going is his popularity. That popularity is based on his name first and foremost. The death of his father propelled him to greater popularity, and now people are drawn to him because he is popular, like a snowball rolling down a mountain growing bigger and bigger just because it is rolling. People are attracted to him like they were to pet rocks. The rocks had no value except that they were marketed into popularity. Everybody had to have a pet rock.
When Richard Petty was popular it was because he won races and championships. The same is true of Dale Sr. Both drivers earned the respect and admiration of the fans by their actions on the track. I know because I was a fan of The King, and knew that he was a superior race car driver. Jr has not earned that level of respect, and to suggest that he is the reason for NASCAR's success is, IMO, very short sighted.
As far as those TV ads, language could be used that would release the promoters from any liability for drivers who do not make the show. It is patently unfair for a driver to qualify 23 in a field of 43 cars and not make the show because he was not faster that a group of 8 or 10 drivers. That driver has shown that he was faster than 20 other drivers and that should be all he needs to do to get into the show.
NASCAR has always been about speed and who had the fastest car. They still award the winners trophy to the fastest car to finish a race. Why should qualifying be any different? In their efforts to be PC, NASCAR has lost sight of its mission, and is losing fans and viewers because of it. They need to get back to what made them popular in the first place.
This commentary was originally a post on the Yahoo! Group NASCAR World Order
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