Do we really need or want paybacks in NASCAR?
Normally in this column this time of year we would be discussing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Since, in spite of the carnage last week at Kansas Speedway, the top four drivers are mostly in the same position, Danica Patrick brought up something that needs some discussion.
Danica Patrick was racing Landon Cassill most of the Day at Kansas Speedway. Racing that is for positions in and around 25th to 30th. If racing for 25th or 30th for that matter is actually racing. It seems to me that is more like just hanging on in hopes one can fix the car. Since cars racing in those positions are not usually on TV we can only go by what the drivers say. Apparently at some point in the early part of the race Danica did not like how Landon was racing her.
Danica said, “I have just been really frustrated with the No. 83 (Landon Cassill). He slammed into me on the front straight for no other reason than his radio communication ‘She was in the way’. I’ve always played fair. If it’s one time, I can imagine frustration. But it’s been pretty consistent with him getting in to me. So at some point in time, I have to stand up for myself, or everybody’s going to do it. So, the bummer is that this is my Texas car. We were having a good run, we were making the car better. And, I’m out of the race and he’s not.”
Danica tried to get back at Landon Cassill but in the process got to him too fast. While trying not to hit him too hard she made the mistake of turning left too much, spinning herself out while correcting and wrecking her car badly. Her actions point out two things. First if you are going to wreck someone you shouldn’t wreck yourself. Second and more importantly is payback even worth it?
Rubbing is racing. Every race fan has seen it and every race fan gets it. NASCAR is probably the only motor sport where a car can literally rub against another car without there being a wreck. There is a difference between rubbing and hitting. Apparently Danica doesn’t understand it yet or hasn’t practiced it. When properly done the other car simply is moved out of the groove and out of the way. Improperly done you can wreck yourself or the other car and someone can get hurt.
On some tracks rubbing is easy to do and more or less harmless. On other tracks, Kansas Speedway for instance rubbing is not as easy to do and not necessarily harmless. Danica’s move if executed properly would certainly have caused Landon Cassill to hit the wall and cause damage to his car. Executed improperly could have been even more dangerous than what had happened.
This weekend NASCAR is at Martinsville Speedway, a track where rubbing and racing go together pretty well. Danica Patrick isn’t entered in the race but she should be if she is going to take part in the NASCAR payback. It is a great track to practice on. The only problem is paybacks only lead to more paybacks which takes us back to the beginning. What is the point of paybacks?
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