All last year, folks commented that the racing in NASCAR’s top series was boring. Most of them pointed to the late-race action at Martinsville Speedway last April. On Sunday, at near 200 mph, they saw more of the same. This time it was Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, fresh off a dustup at Bristol Motor Speedway where both drivers pointed fingers. Who would have thought that a race at Auto Club Speedway could bring that kind of excitement? Certainly not me or most anyone else would think that. Was it the Gen 6 car or the track or the drivers? I can’t answer that question, but the bigger question is why Safer Barriers were not on the wall where Hamlin hit head on?
The accident that put Hamlin into that wall was just that—a racing accident. Fighting for a win on the last lap, neither driver did anything wrong. I doubt wither one of them even thought about the spin of Logano caused by Hamlin. They were just going for the checkered flag. That’s racin’. The result was something else. Hamlin might miss seat time with a broken back and Logano will always be seen as a vindictive guy who deliberately wrecked Hamlin. I don’t believe that for a second. While we all know that Jeff Gordon did do that to Clint Bowyer, I don’t think that is the case here. Regardless, if there had been a Safer Barrier on that inside wall, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The track is owned by International Speedway Corporation, not a part of NASCAR, but the same people are involved. To continue to ask why is not enough. They have some explaining to do. When Pocono’s guardrail nearly cut Elliott Sadler’s car in half, nothing short of a removal was accepted. When Kyle Larson nearly tore down the catchfence at Daytona, the conversation was all about safety and changing things. I certainly hope this unfortunate incident gets the same reaction.
As for Tony Stewart’s quarterly outburst against some other driver, I take it with a grain of salt. Blocking was the sin committed by Logano, but if we look back long enough, we might notice that Stewart is the king of blockers. Plus, you cannot tell me that Stewart wouldn’t have done the same thing if it had been him in front of Logano. The cheap shots at Logano’s upbringing and personality were un-called for, but that’s Tony. We can all remember the helmet throwing incident at Bristol, can’t we? If Kurt Busch was called on the carpet for his language at Homestead a few years ago, what about Tony on Sunday? Sure, his expletives were beeped, but is there really any difference. Every 10-year old knew what he said. If Tony isn’t fined, they owe Busch an apology, in my opinion.
So boring it has not been in 2013. Television ratings are up and attendance, save Bristol, is better than last year. Or so it seems. Since NASCAR doesn’t give out attendance estimations, only the tracks know and they’re not talking, but it looks better. Still, I’ll be the first to say that so far the product is better. That goes a long way from what we’ve seen in the recent past.