Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Faith on the Frontstretch: Short-track crashes and real-life clashes

Bowyer, Gordon and Johnson wreck at Martinsville.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Short-track racing is known for creating chaos, so it was no surprise that the ending of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Martinsville generated an uproar.

How did the end-of-race controversy begin? First, David Reutimann had a tie rod failure, but tried to go a few more laps, attempting to stay in the top 35 in owner points. Then his engine stalled and the car stopped on the track, bringing out the caution.

Next, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson stayed out while drivers behind them pitted for tires and/or fuel. Then on the first green-and-white restart, Ryan Newman tapped Clint Bowyer, who got into the back of Gordon. The No. 15, No. 24 and No. 48 wrecked and Newman won the race on the final G-W-C.

After the race, a handful of drivers complained about one thing or another. Brad Keselowski questioned his assigned position in the lineup on the final restart. Gordon was initially peeved with Bowyer for bumping him. Lots of fingers pointed at Reutimann. A few drivers and fans waved the “It’s not fair!” flag at the finish line and for days afterwards.

Whenever there is interaction, there will be controversy, differing opinions and unfairness. That’s short-track racing and that’s life - messy, confusing and sometimes you don’t get a fair shake.

Perhaps a contentious race finish right before Easter break is timely. After all, the first Easter week was full of controversy, too. Opinions about Jesus clashed - some people loved Him, others feared or hated Him. On Palm Sunday, people lined the streets declaring Him their long-awaited king and shouting His praises. But only a few days later as He stood before Pontius Pilate, the crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!” Talk about unfair treatment!

During His ministry on earth, Jesus was a polarizing figure who was loved by common folk but badmouthed and criminalized by political and religious leaders. Yet He endured it with quiet strength and humility, talking to God often and facing His accusers without malice. No pointing fingers. No whining. No blame.

Our lives have controversy and unfairness, too. Sometimes you and I get spun out from behind. Our position on the restart may seem unfair or our motives for doing something might be misinterpreted. We can choose the way of the world, and allow ourselves to be filled with strife, anger and bitterness. Or we can follow the example of Jesus by embracing the Easter message of peace and forgiveness, praying often and trusting our lives to God’s care. Peace. Forgiveness. Prayer. Trust.

This week, will you read Luke chapters 22-24? Think about Easter and what Jesus did for you and me. With the hands that were nailed to the cross, He reaches out to you with an offer of forgiveness. He doesn’t come with a list of your wrongdoings to play the blame game or stir up turmoil. He simply seeks your faithful heart. Will you believe in Him today?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

To read more about the meaning of Easter, click here.

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go. See you on the frontstretch!

Beth Bence Reinke is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans. “Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke.


  1. Carol D'AgostinoApril 4, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Beautiful piece, Beth. So true, too!

  2. I am constantly looking for passages that have a particular reference to NASCAR. You brought this one to the checkered flag.

  3. I love your column, Beth. I'm not particularly religious, but I'm deeply spiritual and you offer testimony that's inspiring without being intrusive, compassionate without being condescending. Thank you for sharing your faith so openly.

  4. Beautifully written! Great message for an important week of reflection!

  5. Very nice and timely. While I not particularly religious, I always find your blogs thought provoking! Glad I found this site!