Friday, September 13, 2013

All isn't fair in NASCAR: Five Questions for Chicagoland

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Life isn’t always fair, and, when it is, you always wonder what catch is around the corner. Or spinning out in the center of said corner. At times, it’s hard to differentiate what you can control from what’s out of your hands. Sometimes, you just go at it and hope for the best. Later, you understand what you should’ve done in the first place.

In those ways, NASCAR is like life. Also, like in life, you can’t fix the past, no matter how hard you try.

The sport’s powerful minds have spent this past week trying to clean up the Richmond International Raceway aftermath. This has included issuing penalties, fines and suspensions, all the while facing repercussions. It’s rough for those who have built up that sector of racing; they’re watching it be burnt down by various news outlets every day. It’s also hard on the fans that surround the sport. How are they supposed to support it if they have no idea what’s going on?

As NASCAR struggles to balance on its own line, we have some business to invest interest in: the first race of The Chase at Chicagoland Speedway this coming Sunday. I address MWR, the fans and a banner season in this installment of Five Questions.

Was justice served at Michael Waltrip Racing? Here is the main dilemma: did the penalties against MWR right all the wrong done Saturday night? My answer: partially. You can argue with me as much as you want, but Clint Bowyer’s 50-point deduction NOT being applied post-Chase reset isn’t fair. How is it that the man who affected the race outcome the most gets the least backlash? I understand what Ty Norris and Brian Vickers did, and what was thrown at them made sense. It’s the twisted world of NASCAR, and we’re just living in it.

How are the fans feeling after this hectic week? On the other side of this deal, you have the fans who are pushed into a corner. I know that I feel slightly betrayed, similar to how a child feels after they discover the truth about Santa Claus. When something you love begins to seem less genuine, then the pain slowly creeps into your nerve endings. Fans are collectively confused and hurt over what has happened, and it may take awhile for before they feel comfortable putting their faith in the sport again.

Has this season been the most historic in recent years? On top of record-breaking fines and the earth-shaking drop of the hammer, this year has been everything but uneventful. NASCAR returning to dirt for the first time since 1970, a silly season to remember and injuries to forget make the 2013 highlight reel, and we still have 10 races to go! This will definitely be a season that goes in the books as an exciting one - for good and bad reasons.

With the Chase underway at Chicagoland, who’s looking hot? I’ll take a break in the heavy stuff to focus on this coming Sunday. The past two champions have won the Chase opener in the Windy City, so it’s important to hit the ground running. Because Chicago is an intermediate track, I expect Matt Kenseth to do very well, and he’s a favorite in the playoffs. Other favorites include Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and (shockingly) Jimmie Johnson. Who are your picks to do well in the final 10 races?

What do these cheating allegations mean for NASCAR as a sport? OK, back to the main issue. There’s no denying that, in the realm of sports, ours is looked down upon. From comments of “Drivers aren’t athletes!” to likening it to the WWE, outsiders never appreciate how complex the world of racing is. However, Saturday night and the dramatic days that have followed give those outsiders credibility. We are now like the WWE, and who knows how long this will bruise us? It’s difficult to defend the sport when something like this happens, and I think NASCAR knows that, too. This is far from over.

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