Wednesday, April 25, 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
Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

UPDATE, 5:34: Venters, understandably, was humbled and happy to make it back. "It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an emotional day."Venters was in uniform in the Durham clubhouse during rain delay when he got called in ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

USF's quarterback derby could have a prominent 11th-hour entrant.Former Alabama QB Blake Barnett, the Crimson Tide's opening day starter in 2016 who transferred to Arizona State shortly thereafter, is leaving Tempe as a grad transfer, several media o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

BRANDON — The welts and the bruises and — yes, even the broken bones — they are the badges given this time of year to the hearty souls who, in hockey vernacular, sacrifice the body.They are awarded to the guys who knock aside wrist ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Orioles, weather permitting (again)

For starters: Rays at Orioles, weather permitting (again)

The Rays and Orioles are going to try again to play tonight, though the tarp was on the field this afternoon and a light rain falling with heavier precipitation expected later.The Rays, who called up veteran reliever Jonny Venters this afternoon, are...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

TAMPA — From the department of the weird, also known as Bucs marketing genius — also known as if it bombs, we can blame Ed Glazer — the Bucs will use a … parrot to announce their fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft, which kicks...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith has a big season ahead, going into a contract year as part of a reshuffled offensive line. Still only 24, he has started all 48 games in his three NFL seasons, and has made it a priority in the offseason to be more active in...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Springstead baseball isn’t easing into districts

Springstead baseball isn’t easing into districts

SPRING HILL — With the high school baseball regular season ending this week, some teams like to dial down their schedule in preparation for district play.Springstead is more than happy to be doing the opposite. With two games against HomeTeam t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Updated: 8 hours ago
A bittersweet farewell for Rams baseball

A bittersweet farewell for Rams baseball

NEW PORT RICHEY — This week alone, Larry Beets has bid farewell to two longtime homes.He and wife Donna, who are transitioning to a villa at Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club, are completing the sale of the Hudson house they shared for nearly a hal...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

We've linked to a lot of mock drafts over the last four months.We went back and assembled mocks from 40 different NFL writers we've linked to — this isn't the most recent for some of these who are in Mock 9.0 mode, but it's meant as an unscient...
Updated: 8 hours ago