MONTE DUTTON - IF YOU AIN’T GOT NOTHIN’, YOU AIN’T GOT NOTHIN’ TO LOSE
One will never see two races, on the same track, that are so different. It’s always true in some ways. The Monster Energy All-Star Race is short. The Coca-Cola 600 is long. This time, when the 600 takes the green flag late Sunday afternoon, the cars will be different, too.
Kevin Harvick won the All-Star Race. He may well win the 600. At the moment, there appears to be no format Harvick cannot conquer. His Ford is “freaky fast,” regardless of whether or not Jimmy John’s is delivering that week.
Harvick’s domination of the ending didn’t negate the approval most fans voiced after the race. More often, a crackerjack ending leads them to overlook the stagnant laps leading up to it. When the going got tough, the tough became preoccupied with one another, and Harvick escaped.
All it took to make the racing close was 20 mph or so. Some said they couldn’t see the difference in speed. I could. They only looked as if their power had been restricted because it had.
The All-Star Race began as The Winston, and it was designed as an entry-level race for fans who had not been indoctrinated. If only NASCAR could get them to drive out to Charlotte Motor Speedway to see what the commotion was about, they’d be hooked. Winston, a product founded on addiction, knew something about the subject.
No poor little lamb ever lost its way as much as the All-Star Race.
Bah! Bah! Bah!
It changed. It gave NASCAR the kind of shot in the arm it was designed to administer.
Now what? The Coca-Cola 600 will go back to fully powered engines, and the spoilers that look like a border wall will be stored away. Restrictor plates will give up the fort they just captured. I understand why. Due diligence and all that.
But the rush of Sunday morning is giving way to the familiarly major bummer.
I wish things would work. I wish the premier series in the wide, wide world of stock car racing could go fast, pass and duel back and forth, all at the same time, but, at intermediate tracks built largely in the image of Charlotte Motor Speedway, at the moment, they can’t. Officials have tried to fix the problem with gimmicks designed to fix numbers, but it’s the sensation of watching that has grown stale.
Why, just because this worked in a race that really doesn’t count, they can’t just go stark, raving wild.
Why not? Stark, raving wild worked. Don’t tell us you’ll take it under advisement.
By almost every measure, the ravages of the past decade have lopped off half the sport. Half as many like it. Half as many watch. For that decade, I’ve thought the changes too radical, too desperate and too reactionary.
Now, however, it’s time. The geniuses stumbled on something that worked. It may not happen again for another decade.