MARCH 20, 2012: WHY NASCAR IS SUCH A GREAT SPECTATOR SPORT FOR SPORTS FANS

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There are simpletons among us who love to trot out a tired cliché about NASCAR: hit the gas and turn left.

Hitting the gas and turning left at 200 mph (330 km/hour for the metric crowd) is well beyond the skill set of 99.9% of the drivers on the road.

 

In fact, it is doubtful that most road jockeys could handle half that speed on a straight highway.

 

 

The fact is Sprint Cup drivers are some of the world’s best athletes in a sport with few actual stoppages during the course of a race.

 

A red flag will halt a race but all other parts of a race will involve motion and strategy. Even a yellow flag will simply add to the strategy as drivers pull in for a pit stop and initiate a flurry of activity from the pit crew.

 

These guys have to change four tires, fill the car with gas and make chassis adjustments in under 20 seconds. It has to be an amazing moment of teamwork to prevent the driver from losing track position and the pit stop may well decide a race.

 

Meanwhile, back on the track, a yellow flag restart is done on the fly and drivers have to make split second decisions about acceleration and traction issues that are determined by track conditions and tire wear.

 

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A Sprint Cup race is nothing but action because there are over 40 players and their pit teams on the field of play in constant motion during the entire race. Some of the players are eliminated by crashes or equipment failure, but the track action is a combination of speed and constant motion.

 

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NASCAR is different from nearly every other sport because there is something happening every second of the race somewhere on the track- no timeouts, no intermissions, no halftimes-just constant motion every race.

 

In fact, the TV broadcasters have begun to split the screen and now continue to show the race during commercial breaks so they don’t miss the constant action of a NASCAR event.

 

NASCAR is one of the finest sports in the world for one simple reason: world class athletes in constant motion-from the drivers right through the pit crews.

 

Jim Sutherland

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