Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Faith on the Frontstretch: NASCAR in Transition

NASCAR's Brian France explains the changes to the Chase format.
Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

As the 2014 NASCAR season approaches, the David Bowie song, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” comes to mind, doesn’t it? When cars return to the track in a couple weeks, will we recognize the revised edition of our sport?

The changes came quickly, with a new procedure for qualifying announced first. Second, a revamped championship format was unveiled. Love it or hate it, it’s the new face of the Chase. Third, NASCAR made enhancements to its penalty structure and appeals process. Even the number of drivers and crew chiefs switching teams seems extreme this year.

Sorting out the gazillion changes to our sport is a bit disconcerting. On one hand, the new format has turned qualifying into mini-races, which will be more fun to watch. But when drivers start blowing engines more often during races, will the new qualifying plan be blamed? Many folks have strong feelings about the intricacies of the new Chase format. And the “just released” penalty and appeals details? I don’t know about you, but my brain hasn’t unpacked them all yet.

As the start of the NASCAR season approaches, you may feel a mish-mash of emotions. You’re excited to get back to racing, but unsure how the myriad changes will affect your favorite driver and the sport as a whole.

As perplexing as it is for fans, can you imagine what all the shuffling means for NASCAR personnel? Each one is scrambling to decipher how the changes affect his or her job. Teams are forced to rethink every aspect of their strategies. Drivers are pondering how the “you-need-a-win-to-make-the-Chase” rule will affect on-track civility. And the folks in charge of scheduling testing at Homestead will earn their pay this year, don’t you think?

When NASCAR transitions from one way of doing things to another, those changes define the sport. The personality of NASCAR is molded and shaped by the altered rules. You could say the very essence of the sport is transformed.

But human beings are different than racing. Adjusting to difficult changes in your life doesn’t have to redefine you. Rough times are like temporary swerves you’re steering through, but who you are doesn’t fluctuate. You’re a child of God, no matter what!

How we view God can make a big difference in how we react to transitions in life. Many refer to God as their “heavenly Father.” Others like to think of God as “Abba,” which means Papa. Either way, knowing God cares for us, like a parent loves a child, softens the disappointment of bad times.

As long as drivers are willing to strap in and race, NASCAR will continue to evolve. Likewise, we’ll keep puttering along in our race of life, navigating the ups and downs.

In this crazy, always-in-transition world, there’s one constant we can grab onto to remember who we are: God. He’s the only one who never changes.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NASB)
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“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st and 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or Twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

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