NASCAR

Not every finish is going to thrill

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races are plenty exciting, Larry McReynolds says.
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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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I know some fans have started to question about whether there is enough passing going on in our races and whether the cars possibly should be slowed down to allow for more passing.

IT ADDS UP

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Honestly, the show we have out there is not bad at all. Just look at our points battle going on right now.

This is the third year of the Wild Card component being in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format. The first two years never delivered anything like we are seeing this year. To date we have had 23 races and 13 different winners. Even though Toyota still looks to be a little behind, you still have to say all three manufacturers look to be a player for the championship.

In the words of Brian France, we always look for that game-winning touchdown pass or game-winning home run. In NASCAR’s case, it would be four-wide at the checkered flag with a photo finish. The reality is you simply can’t have that every week. You don’t see it in other professional sports or in ours.

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Think about this: how many MLB games are played in a week all over the country? Once the NFL season kicks off, how many pro games are there each week? It’s the same for the NBA, too. My point is there are many, many more opportunities for that last-minute basket or last-minute field goal that wins the game.

It’s simply not that way in NASCAR. We run one race a weekend for 36 weekends, so our possibilities of a Turn 4 on the last-lap pass to win the race are very limited. It would be unrealistic to expect that to happen each and every weekend. Sometimes I think we all set our expectations too high.

Now if we knocked, say, 20 miles per hour out of these cars, would it help the racing? It probably would. It’s just logic. Would drivers tend to be more apt to drive off into the corners side-by-side at 180 mph more so than 200 mph? Absolutely, they would. It simply stands to reason.

I know that once the race starts, the fans can’t tell the difference between 180 mph versus 200 mph. I am not sure how many actually could tell the difference from 160 mph to 200 mph. To the drivers dive-bombing off into these corners, they definitely know the difference. The question then becomes how do you do it?

You can’t throw restrictor plates on them. That’s not the answer. The answer is in the horsepower, and the way to do that is to take cubic inches out of the engines. While it sounds easy in theory, it really isn’t. If you go to smaller engines, a lot of these car owners wouldn’t make it because of the huge changeover expense.

Also, the racetracks themselves are going to slow the speeds down. We’ve had a rash of repaving at places like Pocono, Michigan and Kansas. That new surface, with all that grip, creates bad fast speeds. As those tracks, sit out in the sun and the various weather changes, the surfaces ages and grip starts to go away. That will slow the speeds down all by itself.

I still challenge anyone to predict the winner of each race. The competition is too close and too great this year to say with absolute certainty that this driver or that driver will win. Again, 23 races are in the books and we’ve already had 13 different winners.
 

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