Thoughts and observations on NASCAR I compiled
while putting off all of the many more important things I need to be doing right
-Here's a quick recap on the "field fillers" situation. Every week, NASCAR allows drivers who have no intention of running competitively to go out on the track and run ten miles per hour slower than everyone else for about thirty laps because the TV networks inexplicably demand this. For doing this, these drivers are compensated to the tune of about $50,000 per race, or in other words, more money than I have ever seen. In one race, Joe Ruttman was black flagged for not having a pit crew. Guess how many sets of tires Kirk Shelmerdine had at Darlington last weekend. Survey says? Three.
-But here's what really bothers me about this. In this weak economy, drivers are having a hard time finding sponsorships. Guys like Jimmy Spencer, Johnny Benson, Dave Blaney, and other worthy competitors are not racing because they cannot afford to field competitive teams. They refuse to participate if they do not have a chance to win. They have enough respect for the sport to not insult it by running a few laps and then quitting and leaving with money they did virtually nothing to earn. However, the Belmonts and Hillenburgs of the world obviously do not feel this way. They interfere and detract from the quality of Nextel Cup racing. And NASCAR pays them for this? Does this not make sense to anybody but me?
-We've already seen one catastrophe involving the field fillers. While the wreck at Darlington involving Jeff Gordon and Andy Hillenburg was pretty nasty, things can only get worse. Consider these scenarios:
-Best case scenario: nothing happens. The field fillers run for the first thirty laps or so, and then park their cars after they run out of tires, or can't make the minimum speed, or whatever. They walk away with their $50,000 and everyone is happy. No one is harmed in this situation, but it makes the race less competitive and less entertaining. It would be kind of like if the NFL put one Ivy League team in every division.
-Worst case scenario: imagine it's the 26th race of the year, and someone like Casey Mears or Terry Labonte is tenth in the points standings when he is involved in a wreck with a field filler that puts him out of the race in the first few laps, thereby costing him the chance to compete for the championship. If it was me in that situation, forget a seven second TV delay, the censors would need at least an hour to bleep out the string of expletives I would let loose.
-Even worse case scenario: a driver is involved in an unnecessary wreck with a field filler and somebody get seriously injured or killed. How is NASCAR going to explain to a widowed wife or a fatherless son that the TV people demanded there be 43 drivers in every race no matter how slow they're going? Is it worth it to NASCAR? Let's hope not.
By Cooper Marlowe (clemsonfanatusc)
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