It was after last Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Superspeedway, where David Ragan scored a redemption win for the ages, that I went to look at some of the comments of Ed Hilton's recap of the night's events. I was looking forward to engaging in back-and-forth banter among my peers. For the average NASCAR fan, what wasn’t to like about the event?
Record-setting lead changes? Check.
Multiple passing lanes? Check
Multi-cart melee? Check
Green-white checker finish? Double-check
First-time race winner with a great back story? Check, check and check.
Unfortunately, not to my surprise, that wasn’t the comments I was welcomed to. Out of the over 250 comments I read through, 75 percent bashed the sport I have grown up with and loved for over 15 years now.
From the two-car tandem (which I still have some issues with) to the car design, cookie-cutter tracks, boring racing and everything else under the sun was said. Every comment pointing the finger at NASCAR, saying it is the most evil thing in the world since LeBron James.
While I know that this represents the very extreme 10 percent and not the entire fanbase and this article is not designed to bash anyone, but here's a question that must be posed.
Are we, the great and wonderful fans of NASCAR, being too critical and unfair to the sport?
Are our expectations maybe a tad bit unrealistic?
For what it's worth, the on-track product this year has been really good but maybe the average fan doesn't see it that way. NASCAR is a marathon, not a sprint, expecting that ALL 36 races we have will be door-to-door excitement is impossible. NASCAR, like every other sport, will have it's blowouts and runaways. There's always been a double standard in this respect.
In football when a team blows out an opponent, we praise them for an excellent game plan, dominate performance and execution. In NASCAR, if a driver leads 197-of-267 laps and wins by over four seconds, we trash the venue and say that something needs to be down to improve the racing—maybe not stopping to think that they and the driver had the best setup and preparation for that week.
For years, we complained that all drivers were too boring and vanilla, yet, fans crucify Tony Stewart, the Busch brothers, Brad Keselowski and others for showing flair and their true personalities.
In 2003, many fans and media cried about Matt Kenseth winning only one race, yet, he clearly had the best performance week in and out. Most of those same fans now complain how the chase unfairly takes the last 10 races and makes them far more important than the first 26.
Maybe we, as NASCAR fans, should take a step back and look around the sports landscape. The NFL is in a lockout, the NBA might lose a season and the NHL is still trying to recover from their own lost season back in 2004-2005. We are truly blessed that our league won’t have to go through that pain.
NASCAR is not perfect, far from it, but the sport is also not doom and gloom as some fans may portray it as. NASCAR is always moving forward, and maybe, we as fans should take a step back and appreciate what we have for our sport is better than most sports currently out there.