NASCAR fans are always looking for one thing; side by side racing, and passing for the lead a hundred times a race. That is what the fans say they want to see. But that just isn’t the reality, and it never has been.
When people think of the old days of NASCAR, they think of names like Allison, Earnhardt, Petty, Bonnet and Waltrip, among others. They think of the 1979 Daytona 500 finish that saw Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough wreck going into Turn 3 on the last lap while racing for the win, and that is what fans want to see. But the reality of the situation is that was never the reality at all.
NASCAR has had good racing in the past, but also in the present as well. But to say that the past was filled with constant side by side racing and last lap passes and many drivers competing for the win each week is just a fantasy that the fans of today have made up based on stories from their parents. Stories such as the battles that Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt had, or those of Bobby Allison and Richard Petty; while that did exist, it wasn’t the utopia that most fans try to make it out to be.
There are many different complaints that we could cover today, like the size of the current field, to the racing, to the fact that we have had three drivers and two manufacturers dominate this season. We will touch on them all so that maybe we can open the eyes of the current fans and try to make them realize that we have some of the best racing that we currently have on track, is as good, if not better, than what we had back in the day.
Let’s take a trip down NASCAR memory lane, shall we?
The year was 1985. The place was the Talladega Superspeedway. Bill Elliott had just set a new record for the fastest 0qualifying speed for a stock car at 212 mph. Elliott started on the pole for the race and had an issue and found himself two laps down, which surely meant trouble for the fastest car in the sport. However, over the course of the race, Elliott was able to make up over five miles, two laps, and win the race. This was something that we will probably never see again in our sport, and probably something that would cause a majority of the fanbase to complain that the car was illegal or something else to that effect. Bill Elliott would go on to win a total of 11 races that season.
Fast forward two years to 1987. In route to his third championship, Dale Earnhardt claimed 11 wins of the 29 races run that year, and most of them, in a dominating fashion. But keep in mind, this is the supposed “Golden Age” of NASCAR, where one driver didn’t dominate the sport and there were last-lap passes for the win each week.
In 1981 and 1982, Darrell Waltrip had two 12 win seasons. In 1996 and 1997, Jeff Gordon won 10 races each year, and then came back in 1998 and won 13 races.
And now, in 2018, we have people complaining that Kevin Harvick has won five races, Kyle Busch has won four, and Martin Truex has won twice.
This is the most competitive field that NASCAR has ever seen. Gone are the days of the leader lapping the entire field and just completely dominating the race. Now you have 20-30 cars finishing on the same lap, and racing for every position. There may not always be a battle for the lead, but you don’t see the leader lapping the entire field, which means that there is more of a chance for someone to come and challenge the leader for the win.
Honestly, NASCAR fans nowadays need to go back and watch some of the races from the 80s and 90s, and they need to truly be thankful for the racing that we see today because it could be a lot more boring.
~Follow me on Twitter @HMurray76