- When Falls the Coliseum - http://whenfallsthecoliseum.com -

Bad sports, good sports: NASCAR, that is how it’s done

No Gravatar

Hey NASCAR, I hope you were paying attention today. There is so much that was right with today’s race at Watkins Glen in New York, that it makes me wonder why more of the races can’t be like this. NASCAR makes a huge deal every year out of its worst races, and I am ever at a loss to figure out why. I need to make myself the emperor like Chris Matarazzo [1]so that I can make some sort of decree that promotes road course races over restrictor-plate races.

Stock car racing’s top series spends a lot of time trying to appeal to the base instincts of its fans. Are wrecks exciting? I guess so. I certainly do not like the races that include huge stretches of green flag racing, as those tend to be boring and the field gets far too spread out. There is a huge difference, though, between those races and the wastes of time at Daytona and Talladega where 3/4 of the field invariably ends up smashed to bits and the end result has very little to do with driver skill or traditional racing details. Road courses, though, are all about the drivers. As much as I disagree with people who deride NASCAR as being nothing more than 3 hours of cars turning left, I will freely admit that the races where they turn both directions do have a strong appeal. Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway are the only two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule, and that is a mistake that NASCAR needs to rectify. These tracks, beyond their bi-directional corners, have hills, wide turns, sharp turns, curbs, and a variety of other little things that set them apart from the cookie-cutter tracks that so dominate the circuit. The crews have a much bigger challenge to set up the cars for success, considering all of those details, along with the heavy breaking and shifting that is required. The drivers really earn their bucks on these tracks too. That is not to say that they have a cakewalk on the superspeedways, of course. Five hundred miles at 200 mph while being inches from a whole slew of other cars has to be incredibly difficult and nerve-wracking. That does not make it fun to watch, and it certainly does not demonstrate the things that make this sport so fascinating to me.

On Sunday, a great race had an even better ending. Three cars spent most of the final lap banging into each other as they fought to win the race. Kyle Busch tried his hardest to hold off Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski, but he couldn’t pull it off. Some oil on the track from a wounded car made it even crazier, as cars started slipping and spinning. In the end, Ambrose took the victory [2] with Keselowski right behind him. It was a thrilling finish, even though it did not involve any of my favorite drivers. In the post-race interviews, both Ambrose and Keselowski talked separately about how much respect they had for each other, and how much they enjoyed that battle. That was fun to see, as there is usually far more griping after one of these things.

I know that NASCAR is not going to suddenly decide that the Daytona 500 should go away, or even that it should be given a place of less importance in the overall scheme of things. I doubt they are going to add any more road courses to the already too-long schedule, as that would require them to take races away from other tracks, which they are loath to do. I hope that they at least consider changing the schedule so that one of these races is part of the season-ending Chase, which would give it a larger role in the championship.

Good sports, continued:

2) Allyson Felix, the runner who was involved in that infamous tie [3] during the trials for the 100 meters last month, won her third gold medal [4] of the Olympics on Saturday night, as the U.S. 4×400 relay team won by more than three seconds over second-place Russia. Her earlier golds were in the 200 meters and the 4×100 relay.

3) Rory McIlroy ran away with the PGA Championship on Sunday, winning the season’s final major [5] by eight strokes over David Lynn. This was McIlroy’s second major victory, with the first coming in last year’s U.S Open.

Bad sports:

1) The other side of the tie mentioned in Good Sports #2 above was Jenebah Tarmoh, who declined the runoff that might have given her a spot on the U.S. team for the 100 meters. She won a gold for being part of the 4×100 team, even though she did not actually compete in the event. She competed in the heats, but was not included in the foursome that actually ran in the real event. True to form, she complained about her unfair treatment [6]. Maybe if she hadn’t quit before the runoff, the team might have been more inclined to include her in the events that counted.

2) Nick Delpopolo, who competes in judo for the U.S. Olympic team, was disqualified from competition [7] on Monday after he failed a drug test. He claims he accidentally ate a pot brownie. Oops.

3) Last Monday night, U.S. Olympic basketballer Carmelo Anthony took a shot in the groin [8] from Facundo Campazzo of Argentina’s team during a win by the U.S. Squad. Carli Lloyd, who had a big week for the U.S. Women’s soccer team, got her head stomped on [9] by a Canadian player on Monday. The Germans had different issues than the Americans, as a couple of them inflicted some damage to themselves. Weightlifter Matthias Steiner dropped a barbell holding 432 pounds of weights on his neck [10] on Tuesday, while Stephen Feck, a diver, pulled off this spectacular failed dive [11].

4) Usain Bolt threw a wrench in the Olympic love-fest that was being thrown for him in London when he decided to rip legendary sprinter Carl Lewis [12] during an interview on Thursday.

5) Doug Martin, an assistant basketball coach for Villanova, resigned [13] on Saturday after it was discovered that he had lied about a number of things on his resume. Similarly, Jovon Robinson, a freshman running back at Auburn, is unable to practice because the NCAA is reviewing allegations that his transcript was falsified [14].

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02