So far, the Chase for the Sprint Cup has gotten off to a rather anti-climactic start and as such it seems that many fans are disappointed. They want excitement, drama, and some good racing. Who wouldn’t? But if you look at the two tracks they have raced at lately, is it really that much of a surprise?
Actually, I’m not even sure that is what fans want. While I didn’t think last Sunday’s race Loudon was anywhere close to exciting, I didn’t think it was terrible! Sure Hamlin dominated, which didn’t help, there was still some racing throughout the pack and I personally enjoy keeping up with the other contenders. However, no one else seemed to feel the same way.
Perhaps I’m just easy to please, but there is almost always an interesting storyline to follow. I know this is a Q&A column for _me_ to answer, but I have one for everyone else. What do you look for in a race, and what makes you hate or love it? Because honestly, I don’t know anymore!
Anyway, let’s get to _your_ questions. And be sure to send yours in for next week!
_Out of all of the racetracks that you personally have visited, what is your favorite track? Least favorite? What track do you recommend for someone making their first trip to a top-tier series race?_
I’ll admit that I am a bit biased towards Kansas Speedway, having grown up less than an hour away from the track for most of my life. It really is a great track, though, for a fan to attend. There isn’t a bad seat in the house—I’ve sat in the front row and still didn’t miss anything—and the access is usually pretty open to the everyday fan. It’s a great time.
However, on an experience level, I’d have to say Daytona International Speedway really does beat all. First of all, it’s absolutely gigantic which was really intimidating for a newbie who was trying to find my way around the garage without losing track of where the media center was!
Daytona is a great track for someone who has never been in person before, and not just because of the close racing and electric environment. The area around the racetrack is worth a gander, too. I could have spent the Daytona 500 weekend in the area without ever having gone into the track and would have enjoyed every minute of it. Having grown up in Kansas, oceans weren’t exactly in my backyard, so maybe I was way too easily impressed. But there are so many good local restaurants, shops, and the salty ocean air is so refreshing.
The hotels and travel can be expensive for those outside the area, but if you can make it work, do it! I promise you will never, ever regret a weekend in Daytona.
_The season is coming to an end soon. What team do you think should truly win with more than just the points system if you could choose in relation to hard work, driver, etc?_
If I understand your question, you want me to pick a champion based on something other than just the points that are awarded.
I personally don’t have a problem with the points system, or the Chase itself, and I do believe that whoever ends up winning it will earn it. That’s not to say that the other drivers haven’t worked hard or put enough effort into it. It just means that the champion was just that much better, and that’s not a bad thing.
However, if I had to pick a driver who would be a great story and “beat the odds” so to speak, I think I would have to go with one of the MWR drivers. Both Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer are representing Michael Waltrip Racing, a team that basically started from the ground up in what used to be a movie theater, and has been able to win and now make the Chase in just a few short years. Now, don’t get me wrong — that’s not going to in any way, shape, or form happen. Truex has been too inconsistent and Bowyer doesn’t quite have the consistent speed to keep up with the top three right now of Johnson, Keselowski, and Hamlin.
But in terms of “hard work”, this team is a great poster child for that sentiment.
_Do you think JJ winning this year’s title would be good or bad for NASCAR?_
I really only think the benefit that could come from that is from _outside_ the sport. In other words, Johnson’s dominance could garner some outside media attention which would get both “NASCAR” and “Jimmie Johnson” into the minds of people who don’t normally watch.
And that’s good, because we’d need them to replace those who quit watching the sport altogether because they are sick and tired of seeing the same guy win over and over and over again.
If I’m not being over-dramatic, I don’t ¬_really_ think that NASCAR will take a massive hit just because of Jimmie Johnson. A good chunk of NASCAR fans tune in to support their favorite driver, and they’re not going to let their support waiver just because of one guy. Additionally, I’m sure most of you are well aware that nothing is ever guaranteed in this sport. Johnson could go into the final race with a sizable lead and there are still plenty of fans who would tune in simply because all it would take is a blown engine, crappy pit call, or another driver’s stupidity to bring everything back to a level playing ground.
That also holds true for the next season. Even if Johnson takes and holds the lead from Dover on through the end of Homestead and there is absolutely no fight for it, there is no reason to think the same thing will happen next year. Every season is different and no one Johnson championship was ever exactly the same. There were new players, different storylines. Honestly, that’s probably why so many fans keep coming back every year, because almost nothing is guaranteed.
So, in short, my answer is neither. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for the sport, but I don’t believe it will be devastating either.