After a grueling year of 36 cup races, it seems all NASCAR fans want to rant about is how lackluster a season it has been. I disagree with that statement. It has been a great year. Perhaps, in some areas, the season could have been improved. But it is ridiculous to ask a sanctioning body for more competition than NASCAR had in the 2010 Sprint Cup Series (Nationwide Series is a whole different matter entirely).
So what could race fans be disappointed about?
Was it the lack of GWC finishes? Everyone thought at the beginning of the season that there would be a lot more Green-White-Checkered finishes, especially after the new rule about the 3 attempts at such a finish was passed. Even though there were quite a bit early in the season, I believe there were only 2 GWCs in the last half of the season. Therefore, for the most part, no one should be saying that GWCs ruined the racing, because there haven't been that many to begin with.
Was it the number of cautions? Cautions in 2010 decreased from 2009. I believe there was a stretch of 4-5 races late in the season with green flag runs of 100 laps or greater. That is an astounding statistic. The number of debris cautions has also decreased. But at the same time, the wrecks causing these cautions didn't disappoint. Remember the Keselowski/Edwards brawl? or the wreck in the Samsung 500 that took out many top contenders? or the Coke Zero 400 wreck that left half the field in the garage? or Elliott Sadler's brutal accident at Pocono? or Kasey Kahne's incident in the other Pocono race? A.J. Allmendinger's flip at Talladega? the Gordon/Burton incident at Texas?
Was it the on-track competition? While the normal race fan with a short attention span may say that the racing action was actually quite boring this year, in my opinion, it was exciting. Not every race is going to have competition but pit strategy ensured some great races while the fastest car still won. Lead changes and leaders increased in 2010 from 2009. The Aaron's 499 was the most competitive race in NASCAR history with over 80 lead changes!
Was it the pothole? If the old pavement on the track that hosted the Daytona 500 deterred you from watching the rest of the season, I really have nothing to say. I would expect this from a casual fan, but not a NASCAR diehard. I'm saddened by the Daytona's new pavement honestly, as I was with Darlington'.
Was it the media (FOX, TNT, ESPN/ABC)? Yes, the media over-hypes storylines. Yes, the media deepens conflicts between drivers. But if not for the media, we would have little access to our favorite sport. Therefore, as we should learn to accept them, they should be more viewer friendly. Perhaps they should cut down on commercials, or perhaps we should avoid commercials by attending the actual race. All three networks should work together. They should advertise each other's races because in the end, increasing the viewership of one race (especially the Daytona 500) would result in the increasing of viewership through the entire season.
Was it Dale Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin not winning (among others)? I think that this is the worst part of the season. These three drivers are very important for the health of the Cup Series and fans watching them losing race after race doesn't bode well for increasing viewership. Everyone complains about the power of the Hendrick team, but remember Jr's win at Daytona in the Nationwide Series? I don't think anyone else objected to him winning that race (other than those who thought it was a conspiracy). If Jr. won a Cup race, I think it would come with the same reaction.
Was it Jimmie Johnson winning a 5th title? Absolutely not. I think there are becoming more and more fans of Johnson after every race. Johnson's accomplishments put NASCAR in the national spotlight, something that only happens after a violent wreck or a "fist-fight" between Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton.
(Less than 50 days until the Daytona 500! I'm so excited!)
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