Yesterday, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville, making him only the second African-American to win a NASCAR national touring series race since Wendell Scott almost 50 years ago. It was an historic event and an excellent victory that Wallace earned every bit of. Unfortunately, his victory was overshadowed by the usual shenanigans that reminded me why I don't watch NASCAR anymore.
Even though I stopped watching the main NASCAR touring series, I still DVR the K&N Pro Series races because, ironically, the younger drivers at that level act more professional than most Sprint Cup drivers these days. Unfortunately, my DVR doesn't understand the difference between the K&N races on FS1 and the truck races or the 157 different NASCAR practice and qualifying sessions that occur each week and just records them all. With nothing to do this morning and the historic race still on my DVR, I figured why not. What could possibly go wrong with a truck race?
Well, that guy for starters. I forgot that racing color commentator and professional cheater Michael Waltrip called the races for the truck series. Way to represent the brand, NASCAR.
Anyway, I soon tuned out Waltrip's nasally Southern twang and settled into an otherwise enjoyable race. There was bumping and banging and rubbing and racing and many more potential double entendres that describe your typical short track race. Everything was going well up until the last few laps when "Happy" Kevin Harvick decided that he wanted to take the low line. This would normally not be a problem except for the fact that his teammate Ty Dillion was also using that line. This made Happy Harvic not so happy.
Now, those of us well versed in the intricacies of physics know that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time and an uninitiated spectator would be forgiven for assuming that the point of the race was to find new ways of proving or disproving this fundamental law. Unsurprisingly, nobody was able to disprove it, not even Happy. When he tried to take the low line from Dillon, he basically pit maneuvered himself on Dillon's front bumper and the ensuing carnage rolled up his car, Dillon's car, and Matt Crafton's car.
Now, I understand Harvick's anger, unfortunately it was directed at the wrong person. You see, the person he should have been angry at is himself. But instead of taking the high road and accepting the blame ruining the race for not only himself and Dillon, but for Crafton who just simply happend to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, he decided to throw a hissy fit like a little girl during the ensuing caution.
I'll spare you the boring details, but to sum things up cars were used as weapons, sledgehammers were thrown, words were said, and Twitter drama was had by all. It's really pointless to delve into the details as the melee could have been copied and pasted onto any one of a dozen similar incidents in NASCAR this year. And NASCAR seriously wonders why it's considered a joke by the rest of the auto racing community.
While Harvick, Dillion and that one pit crew-member who threw the sledgehammer must ultimately take responsibility for their own actions, the fact that they decided to resort to such actions should be surprising to no one, especially NASCAR and specifically Brian France. You reap what you sow when you're the chairman of a racing series and you say "Boys, have at it."
This kind of behavior isn't really a problem anywhere else. The reason? Other racing series have rules for unsportsmanlike conduct and - here's the kicker - enforce them (mostly). When Ryan Briscoe of Level 5 Motorsports decided to go all NASCAR at Lime Rock Park by trying to get his 551 P2 car to occupy the same space at the same time as Guy Cosmo's 01 Extreme Motorsports P2 car, Cosmo didn't return the favor. While Cosmo and teammate Scott Sharp were visibly upset after the race, they refrained from throwing sledgehammers or any other pit lane tools at the Level 5 team because they knew that IMSA would do something about the obviously avoidable contact.
So here I sit, and instead of writing about Darrell Wallace's historic victory I am instead writing about man-children behaving like man-children with cars and sledgehammers. I could delve deeper into the multi-layered issues with NASCAR, but that's for another, more in depth article that I plan to write in the future. All I have to say now is that as someone who was raised in the middle of NASCAR country and grew up liking, nay, loving the sport and all the legends associated with it, they lost me as a fan this year because of shenanigans like this. If they want the redneck fan base that badly, they can have it.
Good job, NASCAR. Good job.