Things aren't so bad after all
With the 2009 NASCAR season winding down, it's time to look back and see what worked and where the sport can improve as a whole.
There's one area in particular that I think we can all do a better job with in 2010 and beyond: Keeping our attitudes in check.
I know we always strive for the perfect world and let's be honest, that's what we should be striving for. I have been in NASCAR since 1979 and it just seems every year folks complain about the competition, even back then.
I don't think folks realize that this year we have had 14 different winners in the Sprint Cup Series this year. That's actually a lot of winners for one racing series — many of which don't have many more than 14 races.
Now with the addition of the free pass and the double-file restarts, it is not uncommon for us to have 25-30 cars on the lead lap at the end of a race. Go check some of the statistics from the 1970's and '80's and see how many cars finished on the lead lap. I can remember finishing second in the 1987 Coca Cola 600, one lap down.
My point in all this is, again, it's great to strive for the perfect world while at the same time we realize we probably will never get it. That being said, however, I think we need to stop and realize what we have today isn't too awfully bad.
I also have a real problem with drivers complaining about other drivers racing them too hard. You have got to be kidding me. That absolutely drives me crazy. I wish we could get that one to go away. I mean, c'mon, that's what these guys are paid and paid well to do? Drive hard!
NASCAR keeps getting beat up about the restrictor plates at places like Talladega. I have said it before and will say it again, I do not envy the position those folks are in. Everyone has the answer of what should be changed. I do wholeheartedly disagree with NASCAR creating a rule two hours before the race that tells these guys how to race.
They're the reason NASCAR exists. That's why Jeff Hammond believes drivers need to reach out more to their fans.
While I think our drivers can do more with the fans, truth be told, we do more than most. If you put our drivers up against athletes from the stick and ball sports, well there is no comparison. Our guys are head and shoulders above them. Can we do better? Sure we can, but I think we do a pretty good job right now.
I am going to give NASCAR the benefit of the doubt that behind closed doors they probably do know there are problems that need to be fixed, but sometimes I get concerned that they don't totally acknowledge the issues that need to be worked on.
To me, for example, if a husband and wife are going through a tough patch but both sides acknowledge the issue, then to me it is no longer a problem. There's an issue, sure, but both sides agree to work on it. However, if one side doesn't acknowledge that a problem even exists, well the odds are pretty good that it is going to get worse.
I've told this to Mike Helton and to Robin Pemberton that they would be hard pressed to find anyone in the garage area that cares more about NASCAR than I do. That's probably why I complain so much. If I didn't care, then I wouldn't even bother to take the time to complain, but that's not me because I love this sport.