List of the Week: Elements that Can Ruin a Race

July 28, 2008 by Tim Zaegel  
Filed under Racing

Allstate 400

Coming off the heels of a very disappointing race this weekend at Indianapolis, it got me thinking of what some of the biggest factors can be to ruining a race for us - the fans. Of course, we’re always unhappy when our driver finishes outside of the top-ten, or even worse, when the driver that we adamently root against wins the race … but, I’m thinking of things beyond that. I’m talking about the actual elements that help give the race a lackluster feel to it. Here goes …

5. Multiple Cautions for Debris - These are obviously a part of racing that is more often than not well out of the control of NASCAR or anyone else. You get one or two of these, fine, no biggie - let’s move on. But, when you start getting 3, 4, or even 5 of these things, then you’re just left with an unwanted lull in the action.

4. Red Flags - I don’t really care what it’s for. Whether it’s for rain, a huge wreck, or a portion of the track coming unsurfaced, an extended period under red can take the wind right out of the race’s sails.

3. Rain - There’s obviously nothing you can do to ward it off, but when Mother Nature strikes the NASCAR track, she pretty much dictates the entire event. Teams have to start working different strategies based on when they thing the rain will come, and if it does, all too often we’re left with a guy standing in Victory Lane that really didn’t deserve it.

2. Over-Abundance of Commercial Breaks - We all know that the networks make the bulk of their money off advertising, and personally, I’m okay with that. But, at some point you’ve just got to draw the line. Take this past weekend for example. ESPN knew that NASCAR was going to continually run their competition caution periods, and even if they didn’t, there were going to be enough tire issues to fill the caution quota anyway. But, as if 11 caution periods weren’t enough to get in all the advertising they could hope for, the network still decided to cut to commercial at least once during every green flag run. I wasn’t counting, but I’d imagine that there were AT LEAST 20 commercial breaks … in  a 160 lap race. Do the math.

1. Bringing the Wrong Tire Package - This past weekend at Indy was obviously about as bad as it could possibly get, and kudos to NASCAR for doing their best to work around Goodyear’s blunder. But, even when it’s not the absolute worst, the wrong tire package can absolutely destroy a race. Whether it results in a race filled with competition cautions (Indy) or it results in multiple cars blowing tires for no real reason (Las Vegas) or it hinders on-the-track passing to the point of sheer boredom (Atlanta), the tires themselves play a major role in determining what the cars look like out there on the track.

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6 Responses to “List of the Week: Elements that Can Ruin a Race”
  1. Newman's #1 says:

    Gosh, I don’t even know which one of these are worst! I hate the commercial breaks. I can’t stand it when rain cuts the race short. Cautions are normal, and red flags I can understand. But the tire issue drivers experience is the worst it could get! Definitely #1 pick!

  2. Tim Zaegel says:

    Oh, I’m usually pretty empathetic to most of these issues when they occur, but still, they can easily contribute to turning a race pretty sour.

  3. Amy says:

    I think the number of commercials directly coincided with the number of yellows which directly coincided with the number of corded / blown/ blistered tires.

    If I were a fan at the race in Indy I would have asked for my money back.

  4. Tim Zaegel says:

    Actually, Amy … one would think that if you knew a caution flag was coming after every 12 green flag laps, then in a 160 lap race, you’d probably be able to fill your commercial quota by just cutting from the race during those caution periods.

    Instead, what ESPN did was come back from caution, run about 5 laps, cut to commercial, come back and go back to commercial under the next caution about 4 laps later.

  5. Rev Jim says:

    It could have been worse. I just wonder if things could have been fixed before race weekend if NASCAR had allowed open testing like they did at Lowe’s. Perhaps they will know enough to allow testing for Homestead, before they get embarrassed there.

  6. Tim Zaegel says:

    Actually, Jim, I really think that the only way it could’ve been any worse was if NASCAR hadn’t taken the measures that they did once they dropped the green … but, by then it was really too late. It was very foolish, though, to take the new car to this track for the first time and introduce a brand new tire package without having ever tested it.

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