Monday, June 11, 2012

Would More Wrecks Improve NASCAR?

As an avid sports fan, I often find myself reading through article after article about current news or issues in sports.   An article that crossed my path lately was about whether or not more wrecks would increase the entertainment value of NASCAR. This article comes after a semi-recent overhaul on the safety equipment for these cars.  My question is would more wrecks actually be good for NASCAR.

Whether you’re a fan of NASCAR or not, at one time or another you’ve heard about what happened to Dale Earnhardt Sr at the Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001. As a bit of a NASCAR nut, I certainly remember it. I always cheered against Big E and absolutely hated when he would win. However, watching what transpired on that final lap of the Daytona 500 is something I never wanted to see. I’m aware that many NASCAR races have wrecks and the drivers are hardly ever seriously injured, especially to the point of death. However, the more often something happens the likelier it is for something such as the Earnhardt death to happen again. This is why I found this article so intriguing. As sports fans, how have we gotten to the point where many of us no longer appreciate the sport for what it is but instead for the horrible risks that go with it.

 I have noticed that of late the green flags are lasting longer and the yellow flags seem fewer, but considering we revamped the safety equipment to protect the drivers isn’t that what we should want in the sport? An argument I’ve found among other fans is that the cautions provide the other drivers the opportunity to regain space between them and the cars ahead. Wrecks aren’t the only reasons cautions are thrown, as something even as simple as debris on the race track can raise the yellow flag. So to me risking driver safety just for a couple extra cautions doesn’t seem worth the risk.

 NASCAR has implemented new standards for the cars in order to reduce the down force created by these cars. The hope of NASCAR is it’ll make the leader easier to catch. A side effect of changing the aerodynamics of these cars, however, is it can make the cars harder to drive. It can also essentially force more drivers to pack up together and be forced to race side by side since they no longer have the lead advantage. I’m not sure that this has given NASCAR the results it wanted as drivers still seem to pull away in the end. We can only wait and see how this rule change effects things over time, but a definite possibility is it could lead to the added wrecks some fans crave.

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