Monday, July 16, 2018
Sports

Two NASCAR tracks are primed for tragedy

The cataclysmic gloom and doom coming to NASCAR's restrictor-plate tracks is inevitable.

The cataclysmic gloom and doom coming to NASCAR's restrictor-plate tracks is reactionary nonsense.

Which side of the fence are you on?

Wherever you are, let's hope it's far away from the carnage and the flying sheet metal and the fire and the cars flipping in the air at Talladega on Sunday.

That wasn't racing. It was a blood sport. Visceral cheap thrills. A demolition-derby crashfest, when 35 of 40 cars suffered some sort of damage. Matt Kenseth's car went flipping in the air. Chris Buescher went barrel-rolling three times before his car finally stopped.

Danica Patrick walked out of her car physically battered and shaken.

"It was awesome," a fan said as I walked into a Birmingham, Ala., hotel after the race.

And therein lies the dilemma for the NASCAR business model. Fans — enough of them anyway — crave this stuff. It's sad and scary at the same time, but it also pays the bills.

"I love capitalism," said Brad Keselowski, who emerged as the winner and most fortunate son on Sunday.

"There's still people paying to sit in the stands, sponsors still on the cars, drivers still willing to get in them. Sounds self-policing and enough interest to keep going, so we'll keep going."

But it's time for a fair warning.

Yes, NASCAR has made significant strides in safety since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001 on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Neck-and-head restraints. Safer barriers. Reinforcing catch fences. Concussion protocols.

It still may not be enough one day at Talladega or Daytona. All it takes is a hit at a wrong angle, especially if a car gets popped while it is flipping through the air. Double-whammy. Maybe a driver is seriously injured or killed. Maybe it's a fan, or a cluster of them.

This much is certain: Restrictor-plate racing invites the inevitable seismic clang when cars are going three- or four-wide at close to 200 mph.

Drivers hate every minute of it.

"It's scary, it's very scary," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

"Very, very insane. You get butterflies in your stomach even thinking about coming here because you don't know what will happen," Trevor Bayne said.

"We don't like to be a part of crashes," said Austin Dillon, who was involved in a spectacular one at Daytona in July. "It's not what our job is, is to crash. Our job is to compete and have fun out there and put on a show.

"Putting on a show, in that crashes happen. I don't think of it that way.

"I think people, if they're cheering for crashes, man, it's not a good thing."

Yes, drivers sign up knowing the risks. But this isn't racing.

This is Russian roulette for the sake of entertainment.

You can moan about the wussification of NASCAR if you wish, as you sit there in the comfort of your home. I doubt that you will go flying in the air at close to 200 mph, fearing for your life, anytime soon.

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

Comments
Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

WASHINGTON — Nationals star Bryce Harper has not had a lot to enjoy in his last season before free agency, struggling — at least by his usual standards — with a .214 average and other deficiencies in his game.Monday turned out to be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

WASHINGTON — The success the Rays have had during two months of using a game opener followed by a relieving starter seems to have tamed some of the criticism of the unusual plan.Until Arizona ace Zack Greinke, a Cy Young award winner and five-t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell first got the feeling after arriving at the All-Star hotel late Sunday night. He'd shared the first-class cabin on the Delta flight from Minneapolis with Rays teammate Wilson Ramos plus manager Kevin Cash and his wife, ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Sports on TV/Radio for Tuesday, July 17

TODAYBaseballAll-Star Game8 p.m.Fox; 620-AMCycling, Tour de FranceStage 107:30 a.m.NBCSNLacrosseWorld Championship: Australia vs. Canada7:30 a.m.ESPNUWorld Championship: England vs. United States11 a.m.ESPNUNBA, summer leagueChampionship10 p.m.ESPN...
Updated: 5 hours ago
SEC media days: LSU’s season could be defined by Miami, Gators

SEC media days: LSU’s season could be defined by Miami, Gators

ATLANTA — With criticism already heating up on LSU coach Ed Orgeron, don't be surprised if the Tigers' season ends up getting defined by their performance against two Florida teams.The first comes on the Sunday of opening weekend, against Miami...
Updated: 6 hours ago
SEC media days: Pressure already on for Jimbo Fisher

SEC media days: Pressure already on for Jimbo Fisher

ATLANTA — When new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher walked to the stage Monday for his first SEC media days, he knew exactly what to say.Howdy."That's an A&M thing," Fisher explained.So Fisher knows how the Aggies say hello. Which is progress,...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Captain’s Corner: Warm water brings algae blooms

It’s been a hot summer. This week water temps crept up to sweltering 90 degrees at the surface inshore. We saw 88 degrees on the surface temps offshore. The deeper the water, the cooler the water temps were found, especially toward the bottom. Wit...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Tune into the only All Star Game that matters

Summer was for beach days and watermelons and shorty pajamas and fighting with my brother over who gets to sleep in front of the fan.And summer was for the MLB All-Star Game.They'll hold the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Washington's National...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

Jimbo Fisher: ‘I love Jameis…unfortunately he made some bad decisions’

ATLANTA — Jimbo Fisher defended every step of the way at Jameis Winston at Florida State, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he continues to back his former quarterback, even though both have moved on.Fisher, now the coach at Texas A&M, sa...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Live from Washington: Rays Blake Snell was under consideration for All-Star start

Live from Washington: Rays Blake Snell was under consideration for All-Star start

UPDATE, 2:33: AL manager A.J. Hinch said  Snell, even though he wasn't named to team until Friday, was in the mix to start the game, that he was "not too far behind," though Boston's Chris Sale was chosen.  Snell is likely to be 3rd pi...
Updated: 10 hours ago