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Will NASCAR Actually Allow More Aggressive Driving in Races?

Posted by chadmusselman on January 27, 2010

NASCAR Wreck“Our regulations on [bump drafting] will be totally eliminated,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “Boys, have at it and have a good time. That’s all I can say.”

“… there’s an old saying in NASCAR: ‘If you ain’t rubbin’, you ain’t racin’. I think that’s what the NASCAR fans bought into and what they expect.” said NASCAR president Mike Helton.

We’ve heard NASCAR say similar things in the past. Before the 2008 season NASCAR said that they wanted to let the drivers’ personality show, and would let them be more colorful off the track. Back then I let you know what I thought about the new stand, (http://blog.chadsfantasynascar.com/2008/02/09/does-nascar-really-want-the-drivers-to-display-their-personalities/) but ended with one question. “Will NASCAR let the drivers be themselves, and will they let more physical racing take place on the track?” That obviously didn’t happen and the racing got more boring, and the drivers acted more like androids giving the same rehearsed message in every interview without much emotion.

Will it be different for the 2010 season, and NASCAR actually let the drivers drive the way they did back in the 90’s and very early 2000’s? Back then everyone said rubbin’ was racin’, and we saw exciting finishes with drivers banging their cars door-to-door on the final lap. Will that style of racing make a return? I sure hope so, and I think NASCAR is more serious about it now than they were a couple years ago.

Why do I think 2010 will be different than 2008? For the same reason most people and organizations change. Money. NASCAR is struggling just like everyone else. Attendance is down, TV ratings are down, and good drivers are struggling to find sponsors. What better way to get attendance and ratings up than to revert the rules back to “the good ole days” when people rubbed and bumped until someone crashed?

For the past 8 or 9 seasons NASCAR has been trying to make everything safer and has made tremendous strides in this area. The only downfall to that is boring racing. Yes, the HANS device, softer barrier walls, and some features of the new car are great and have no or little effect on the racing. (The wing on the new car is dumb though, and I’m glad that the spoiler will be back.) What really killed the racing were the rules limiting or restricting bump drafting and “aggressive driving”. How ridiculous. You want to make racing boring, don’t let any of the cars touch each other.

Finally, NASCAR has listened to the fans, but more importantly they have felt the financial impact of being too cautious. Auto racing is a dangerous sport. That’s a big reason why people watch. If you dull even the most exciting sport down, people will quit paying good money to watch it, and won’t pay attention to it on TV. This is the reason I believe NASCAR is serious about letting the drivers drive. 2010 should be a year filled with good, entertaining NASCAR races.

What do you think?

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