I hear this all the time from the so-called "stick and ball" sports fans about NASCAR (or fans of no sports at all for that matter): "It's just guys driving around in circles." I want to slap anyone who says that in the head. That's like saying basketball is just ten guys running up and down the court in their underwear or golf is just smacking the crap out of a little white ball and chasing it and hitting it again. There is so much going on in a NASCAR race that makes it one of the most exciting sports in the world.
You have 43 cars racing at high speeds, inches from each other and inches from a wall. For three hours. How many of you out there have taken a trip on the interstate and driven for three hours in bumper to bumper traffic? Now imagine that at four times the speed, with no air conditioner, no CD players, no comfy seats, wearing a fire suit and a crash helmet, strapped in to where you can barely move, and you are trying to beat all those other cars on the road. There is no "I'll just slow down and let the lead foots pass." It's not about getting there in one piece—it's about getting there first.
Driving at high speeds like this is so precise that any little thing can cost you the race. The tire pressure being off one pound can cost you the race. Not getting one extra mile per gallon can cost you the race. A piece of paper flying up and getting stuck on your grill causing your water temperature to go up can cost your the race.
How many times do you drive five or ten miles over the speed limit with no problem? If you do that on pit road, it can cost you the race. In fact it could be one mile per hour over the limit and you're done.
A car that doesn't handle perfectly can kill your chances. How many of you drive cars that shimmy a little bit? You do that for weeks before taking it in because it's not that big a deal. Not so in a NASCAR race. You have to ride it out until the next pit stop, hoping you can at least stay on the lead lap because that car that doesn't want to turn, or wants to turn so much the back end is wanting to come around and say hello to your front end, is costing you valuable time.
And even if you have that car dialed in to where none of those issues are hindering you, you can't be sure about those other guys. You can be riding along perfectly and the car in front of you can get loose and spin out right in front of you and "BAM" your day is done.
So you see, there is a whole lot more to a NASCAR race than guys just driving in circles.
Think about your odds of winning a race in NASCAR. In any other sport except golf, you only take opponents on one at a time. So you have a 50-50 shot at winning on a particular day. In NASCAR you take on all 42 other teams every week. So your odds of winning are one in 43. That's why you see drivers celebrate in Victory Lane like they just won the World Series. Because they just did.They beat every team in the league that day.
And if you don't think racing is a team sport, ask Jimmie Johnson after on the last pit stop of the year, with a possible championship at stake, his car left pit road minus a lug-nut. That is what it can all come down to.
But the main reason you should give NASCAR a shot is because there is nothing as exciting as watching and hearing 43 cars rev up those engines getting ready to take the green flag and then watching them come around nose to tail to complete the first lap. It sure beats the start of a baseball game watching a guy strike out on three pitches or a football game watching a kick go though the end zone.
Once you've seen that crowd rise to its feet and stay there until the entire field comes roaring by for several laps until there is finally a caution flag, you will be hooked.