By Travis Stahl
Racing is a much more difficult sport than any spectator can imagine. Sitting in a NASCAR fighting your way through 400 or 500 miles is exhausting physically and mentally. At one point NASCAR was rivaled in popularity only by the NFL but viewership has dropped recently and the answer as to why can be found from our old friend Tony Stewart. After the race at Talladega Stewart let reporters know he was not happy about the crash-em-up that took place on the track and he shed some light on the problem facing NASCAR.
If you ever want the truth, go to Stewart. That is why people don’t like him. Stewart is not going to lie or sugarcoat the issue and that makes people uncomfortable. So when reporters asked Stewart if the race was exciting he responded by saying he wished there were more wrecks, that he was upset the race was over because he wanted to hit some more cars and that he wished all races were like the Talladega race. Of course he said all of this with a heavy hint of sarcasm.
Drivers don’t like pack racing like at Talladega, it’s not safe. Ironically, NASCAR had just completed a five-race stretch with the fewest accidents in history. Unfortunately for the drivers’ safety, those caution-free races mean viewership drops even lower. Therein lays the problem for NASCAR, viewership versus driver safety.
The solution to the problem lies with the drivers themselves. Fans want competitive races, not what is perceived as dirty driving. NASCAR drivers are admittedly a very competitive bunch; if they want to race safely they must regulate themselves. It is possible to drive fiercely and maintain the safety and integrity of the drivers around you. Does that mean NASCAR needs more suspensions for dirty drivers? Maybe.
NASCAR is steadily losing fans from its once vast empire. Nobody wants to see a race filled with 10 to 15 cautions; it slows the race down too much, especially near the end. There has to be a solution to balance driver safety and give the fans an entertaining race. NASCAR should ask Stewart what to do; he’ll tell them the truth.