Driver Want-To Is The Hot Topic At Dover
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
DOVER, Del. – If NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers were required to carry collision insurance when they strap into their cars each weekend, insurers would be clamoring for their business as the series rolls into Dover International Speedway for Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks.
The year-long trend of few cautions and even fewer spins reared its head again during Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway when the pace was slowed a mere five times, including four for debris and one after Travis Kvapil scraped the wall.
So why has there been little in the way of bent sheet metal and on-track dustups this season?
Is it NASCAR’s current points system? Five years following its introduction, have drivers and teams mastered the Car of Tomorrow?
“There is not a point system that NASCAR can devise that is going to make us go out there and wreck race cars,” Carl Edwards said. “There is nothing positive out of wrecking a race car. It hurts your chances at winning the race, which is all of our number one goals when we come to the race track.
“No matter what point system they come up with I can’t think of one where everybody is going to go out there and go, ‘hell, let’s just go out there and wreck,’” Edwards said tongue-in-cheek. “That just won’t happen. We can talk about it all we want but we are all going to the race to race, not to wreck.”
As the debate continues to rage over whether spectators who watch NASCAR for the wrecks will begin to
lose interest, points leader Greg Biffle was emphatic on Friday when asked if he’s obligated to entertain fans.
“No. My obligation when I strap into that thing is to win,” Biffle said. “To kind of contradict myself though, we want to put on a good show and race each other hard and we do, but you can’t make it up.
“You can’t say, ‘well, I am going to try and race this guy side-by-side for so many laps or something.’ Our goal is to race hard, get to the front and get the highest finish we can.”
For those fans who enjoy the sight of wrinkled sheet metal, they may get their wish in 2013. That’s when the manufacturers will roll out new models.
“I think you will see more cautions with this new car,” Biffle predicted. “More people will lean on that car and it may not do what this car did or may do something different and they may get over their head.
“I think there will be growing pains with that new car. I would have to guess that with going to a new car completely that you are going to see some learning curve within the sport and that means probably some cautions.”
Sprint Cup drivers and teams are on the cusp on a rigorous schedule over the next two weeks.
New pavement at Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway translates into additional testing.
The Cup cars will be on-track for a whopping five days in Pocono next week. That will be followed by a four-day show in Michigan the following week.
Coca-Cola 600 winner Kasey Kahne’s concern is keeping his team fresh.
“With Pocono, it feels like we’re going to be there a full week,” he said. “(The normal) three days is pretty long at Pocono. I feel like we need to be smart about it, run as much as we need to but not more than we need to.
“We’ve already done the tire test (at Pocono). So for (my) guys it will be kind of a long week there.”
Longtime pit reporter Dr. Dick Berggren will hang up his microphone following Sunday’s NASCAR on Fox telecast of the FedEx 400 from Dover.
On the heels of broadcasters Barney Hall and Ken Squier being recognized last week by the NASCAR Hall of Fame and TV motorsports anchor Bob Jenkins’ recent announcement of his impending retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. wonders who is going to fill the shoes of some legends.
“I’m just upset that they are going to be gone,” Earnhardt said. There have been some really great broadcasters and radio personalities to come and go in this sport. The group that sort of been doing it for so long, Barney and those guys, they’re going to be hard to replace.
“It’s just an unfortunate circumstance that comes with it. Dick Berggren, he’s had an incredible career, and he’s put a lot of his heart and soul into the sport. He’s well respected and will be missed not just personally, but because of his skill and ability. It’s going to be hard to replace those guys as the turnover starts to happen. They just don’t seem to make announcers and radio personalities like that anymore.”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at email@example.comOne Comment