It cannot be argued that Sprint Cup racing has reached a level of dog-eat-dog competition that the rest of the motorsports world envies, with one exception, The IndyCar Series.
Watching the Cup teams on Sunday battle for 600 long, and unnecessary miles, they have established themselves as great drivers, great strategists and great athletes. 600 miles of hard driving should put to rest any doubts that they are athletes.
Unfortunately the Coke 600 is an absurd display of those talents. It’s too damned long.
After you’ve won the ratings war by a hundred fold, why go through the agony of having to watch the teams spend themselves on a race that was designed to out perform the Indy 500. That was long ago.
Maybe it’s because this year they didn’t. The Indy 500 was hands down the best racing on planet earth for Memorial Day weekend. The Coke 600 drug on like a Yugo drag race.
I’ve stated my position before, which is, shorten some of these NASCAR races where the competitors have to race hard for every moment of the race. What I saw in the 600 was a great deal of driving to set up for the last 50 laps. Why take 550 miles to do that?
I know, IndyCar does the same in it’s oval races, but they race harder throughout the race, you can’t hold back as much with a modern IndyCar, you’ll lose the draft and precious momentum, the same could be said for the NASCAR races, but it’s just not as immediate.
NASCAR thrives on tradition, but this tradition began in order to one-up the Indianapolis party. It’s now become overkill.
A weekend that has three great races on it’s calendar need not have to come with an over-reach of trying too hard to be seen. The Cup races bury the IndyCar series in viewership. The Formula One races are so horribly predictable now the most exciting thing about them is the standing start and the first turn.
Formula One is in crisis, IndyCar can barely contain the bleeding and NASCAR is keeping it’s head just above water in attendance and viewership, but it’s far more stable at the moment than either of the aforementioned series.
The competition in NASCAR, both Cup and the Xfinity series has never been better, never had more competitive drivers and teams and has never been more interesting. So why bother to cling to a tradition that really isn’t? It was a creation that happened when NASCAR was on the defense.
NASCAR no longer need worry about IndyCar or Formula One. It has become entrenched as an American sporting institution and now has to concentrate on competing with other sports. NFL, NBA and Baseball are it’s main competitors and where it’s marketing efforts should be.
The 600 mile stock car race has simply outlived it’s value to the consumer.