The twice a year non-race was held at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, sort of like the non-races held twice a year at Daytona. This bastardization of what stock car racing is all about is about 25 years old and in all that time, no solution has been found for the restrictor plate, the device that robs cars of horsepower and allows the nonsense that lately has two cars working in tandem so they can go faster. Those that refuse to pair up go to the back. Just ask Denny Hamlin. The poor guy didn’t have a partner and until he found one, he was dead in the water. Is this really racing?
[media-credit name=”Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR” align=”alignright” width=”246″][/media-credit]I used to gripe about the long lines that restrictor plate racing brought to the table, but this is worse. It is apparent that nearly everyone had secured a “dancing partner” before the race along with orders to go along with it. Teammates with teammates make a lot of sense. It wasn’t too long ago that Jeff Gordon said, and I reported it, that he was going to work with his teammates and that included Tony Stewart. Everyone knows that Hendrick Motorsports supplies cars for Stewart-Haas Racing, so it was surprising that so much controversy when Trevor Bayne was asked to desert Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon in the closing laps of the race. It seems that young Bayne doesn’t really understand how the system works. There’s a championship on the line and helping a competitor, especially pushing him is not accepted.
It’s a shame that it has to come to this, but it has. The monster that has been created rests with antiquated thinking. There probably is a solution, but it’s too easy to ignore what could be done and go along with what has already been done. Maybe it’s the cars. Maybe it’s the tracks. Maybe it’s something else, I don’t know. What I do know is that people love this kind of racing, or at least I thought they did. From the looks of the empty seats at Talladega on Sunday, I’m not so sure.
I blame Jeff Gordon for taking advantage of a young man who may not understand how the system works. It’s especially upsetting to me that he took advantage of that young man. I can just read the comments from fans who want to talk about “mean old Jack Roush ordering young Trevor around,” and not remembering that most of the teams were doing the same thing. I’m sure it was upsetting to Bayne, but he is going to find the same thing all around the garage as long as this kind of racing is permitted. It’s also telling that Gordon admitted as much earlier this year.
I really cannot wait until this weekend when we go back to real racing. Martinsville has true racing as it was meant to be. There may be team orders, but not to the extent we saw Sunday. I’m going to be frank and admit that I do not know the answer to this problem. My only hope is that we somehow and someday do come up with an answer that will let every competitor race for himself or herself and not have to worry about teammates and what they’re doing. It’s just insane.