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Monday, February 18, 2008

A Great Race Ignored!?

The Daytona 500 was an excellent race and the excitement is building for a great season despite being downplayed in mainstream media.

The 50th running of the Daytona 500 is history. This was one of the best races from start to finish in recent memory. Some casual observers may focus on last- lap finishes but this race was thrilling for the entire 199 laps leading into the final lap. Congratulations to Ryan Newman, car owner Roger Penske, and Penske South on their victory. As an observer of Indy racing, Roger Penske’s name is synonymous with Indianapolis 500 victories, as he has collected 14 titles. This marked Penske and Newman’s first Daytona victory.

True race fans should feel insulted about the way our sport is treated in mainstream media. Of course, coverage on Speed TV and ESPN’s “NASCAR Now” was complete and
comprehensive. That is to be expected when racing is conveyed by former drivers, crew chiefs, and astute and passionate observers. However, when Sportscenter personalities and everyday ESPN hosts discussed the results, they were incorrect, omitted, or told with an air of disgust.

There has been an age old and often heated debate about whether auto racing is a sport. Sport is defined as “an individual or group competitive activity, involving physical exertion or skill, governed by rules, and sometimes engaged in professionally.” An individual who has ever talked with a driver or actually watched a race cannot argue with the fact that auto racing is a sport. People may not like motorsports or think racing drivers do very little in the cockpit, but this is an incorrect assumption.

Take Sunday’s 500 for example. There were 43 individuals, who race professionally, vying for the win in oppressive heat. There was a crew chief and spotter with whom the driver remained in constant contact. There is no discussion about defensive coverage as in other sports, but these conversations affect the outcome of the race. The driver and teams that are able to effect the proper adjustments to their car were in contention for the victory on lap 199. Unfortunately, “Pardon the Interruption” and Mike and Mike in the Morning” were not too concerned with the results and the excitement surrounding NASCAR’s “Super Bowl.” Instead of discussing the race with fans on the air and reading our emails, we were treated to the same tired news surrounding baseball and football scandals. Football season has been over for some time and spring training for baseball has just started.

Yesterday was a great race. I feel sorry for those that aren’t racing fans. The new car, personnel changes, and a long season should combine to make this year’s championship battle as exciting as the 50th Daytona 500. There is nothing about Andy Pettitte, HGH, or “Spygate” that is nearly as exciting as the 2008 Daytona 500. Enjoy the season and take pride in the fact that our drivers cannot rely on HGH or performance enhancing drugs to win a title!

Ryan Newman Victory Celebration photo by Pierre Ducharme of Reuters

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