Monday, February 15, 2010

24 Hours of Daytona

In response to the conclusion of the football season, Frank Helps You Think It All Out slowed down a little last week. But the blog is right back this week- and I will start with the horrible show NASCAR put on with yesterday’s “24 Hours of Daytona”.

Okay, okay- it really was the Daytona 500- but as it stretched into sixth hour yesterday- it was a little obscene. Let me abridge Mike Bianchi a little here:
This will go down in infamy as the Pothole 500. The Great American Race turned into a Great American Disgrace.

How does this happen? How can a sport whose entire existence is based upon good asphalt have its most important event all but ruined because of bad asphalt?

"We're the world center of racing," said Robin Braig, president of Daytona International Speedway. "This is the Daytona 500. This is not supposed to happen, and I take full responsibility."

The Daytona 500 was red-flagged and delayed twice — for nearly 2½ hours — as track workers struggled before finally patching a mysterious hole on the track between turns one and two. The race started at 1 p.m. on a cool, sunny day. It ended more than six hours later when Jamie McMurray held off a hard-charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. under the speedway lights.
NASCAR simply can’t have its signature event extend almost seven hours due to non-weather related, non-Act of God style shenanigans. And NASCAR owns Daytona- so don’t send the President of the Speedway out there to take the flak. This is their pothole and their mess.

Secondly, I get the green-white-checker rule. I don’t like it, but I get it. NASCAR wants fans to see a finish under racing conditions, rather than a caution parade to the finish. So yes, giving the fans a chance to see a racing finish by extending the race- fine, grudging approval.

But je’zum crow. We’re now going to do this three times? Who was not rolling their eyes as NASCAR again and again and again, again edging toward hour seven, lined these guys up to smash into each other?

One solvable problem with the green-white-checker finish is that NASCAR rewards a change of position pretty much the same no matter where you are in the field. A driver gets roughly the same points boost improving from third to second as he does from 23rd to 22nd. So all through the field you have incentive to drive like a nut. Particularly at a plate track, where a driver can improve several positions in two laps.

I would make it a true overtime- clear the track of every driver but the top five or so- and let them sort it out. A meaningless wreck over fourteenth place, involving a whole field re-set again and again and again- is not the purpose here.

Lastly, I’ve been working on both a Tulane editorial and Olympics for this week- so content is back this week with a vengeance!

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