Woody: Don’t Tamper With Talla’
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
I remember a time when drivers had trouble sleeping the night before Talladega.
Now they have trouble staying awake during the race.
At one point during last Sunday’s race – using the term loosely – Tony Stewart radioed his crew that he was having a problem keeping his eyes open.
Trust me Tony, you weren’t the only one. About mid-race I switched over to watch old re-runs of the Joy of Dry-Walling.
Drivers spent most of the race running single-file, with points-leader Jimmie Johnson lollygagging in the back, and despite some late-lap fireworks, the overall affair was a snoozer by past Talladega standards.
I think the problem was due to two things. For starters, the race followed a scenario that has been typical this season – a lot of riding followed by a little racing. Fans should get a 95-percent refund on their tickets because they get to see only about 5 percent of actual racing.
Secondly was the pre-race warning by NASCAR not to touch anybody. Specifically NASCAR warned drivers not to “bump draft” in the corners.
Great. In a season in which fans are nodding off and tumbling out of the stands from sheer boredom, NASCAR tells drivers not to bump into each other.
(In other news, the NFL has called all its players together and warned them not to hit anybody.)
Over the years I’ve generally defended NASCAR and its decisions because I thought it was acting in the best interest of the drivers and the sport.
But this is getting ridiculous.
NASCAR, with its new car, tells drivers what to drive. At Talladega and Daytona it restricts how fast they drive and when and where they’re allowed to pass. Now it’s telling them how carefully to drive.
It’s about to regulate the life out of the sport.
I realize that NASCAR is concerned about safety. But driving race cars is not safe. It never has been and it never will be, not entirely. Especially on monster tracks like Talladega.
Look what happened last Sunday: even with NASCAR’s no-bumping edict, Ryan Newman still took one of the wildest tumbles in history, followed by a predictable pileup near the end.
The no-bump rule didn’t make the racing any safer. It just made it more boring.
NASCAR is searching for a creature that doesn’t exist: a Completely Safe Race.
It’s made great strides by cushioning the walls, mandating better cockpit restraints and making the cars virtually invincible – witness Carl Edwards’ Talladega tumble in the spring and Newman’s cartwheels last Sunday, both escaping without a scratch.
At Talladega NASCAR has further slowed the cars and raised the catch-fence. That’s about all it can do. It’s about all it SHOULD do. It’s time to stop the tampering.
Drop the starting flag and get the heck out of the way.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments