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We’re Dirt Track Racin’ Now!

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Yes, it’s getting really dirty now. When I say dirt’s on the track, I’m not talking about your Saturday night at Dixie. I’m talking about a bunch of smoke and mirrors…
There is a rumor going around. Now I’m not going to confirm the rumor, because I’m a better man than that. But if it is true, then we need to clean up our act and clean the track. NASCAR has been accused of paying teams to show up to races even though they were not originally planning on attending, solely to have a field of 43 teams. It’s a fact that only 37 teams have signed on for the entire race schedule, so what happens with those other 6 spots? Well, NASCAR definitely doesn’t want to portray an image that there could be any problems, so the best way to approach the subject … Buy People Off. That’s right. To keep the image of NASCAR glory, let’s make sure that we always have 43 teams involved.

Now, what’s magical about the number 43? Just because one of the grandfathers of NASCAR drove the number 43 the majority of his career (possibly his entire career, not sure, CYA), doesn’t make it special. It’s just a number. Petty had the number painted on some sheet metal. That’s it. Nothing any different from any other driver. So why is it so coveted? What would have happened if his number was 2? Or 158? I digress.

The fact of the matter is, NASCAR has this number of 43 in their heads. If there aren’t 43 cars, then they were a failure. So they have paid teams to show up and race, even though they did not have the resources to be there. Sure, they start at the back of the pack. But even starting at the back of the pack, you are guaranteed at least a finish. If you complete one lap, yes I said one lap, they are guaranteed at least $50,000 for finishing last.

Let’s look at Rockingham, which is a whole story in itself. Joe Rutman was one of those drivers who showed up to make NASCAR look good. Rockingham had only 37 drivers sign on to being at that race, so NASCAR made a few calls and had some drivers on hand to drive cars (I still don’t know who paid for these cars) and fill the spots. If you noticed, Rutman was black flagged on the 8th lap. Well if you remember the race, the first caution didn’t come out until around lap 12 or so. So, did he have engine problems? Did he cut a tire? Was he spreading debris on the track? No. He didn’t have a pit crew. That’s right. He actually showed up to the race without a crew. Now I don’t know if he thought that since he wasn’t racing his own car, that whoever provided the car would also provide the people to keep it running. Whatever the case, he didn’t have anyone to hand him Gatorade on a long stick during pit stops. I believe that when NASCAR finally realized that they had a driver without a pit crew, then that driver would not be able to compete. Well, what the heck gave them that idea? The fact that he didn’t have a crew? He didn’t have a ride. He didn’t have a sponsor. He didn’t even sign up to race! Yea, he’s going to be a true competitor!

Brian France stated at the beginning of the season (which I spoke on in an earlier article) that he was not concerned about not having 43 teams, he was more concerned about having teams that would compete. What kind of turnaround is this then? Obviously there are always teams that can’t compete, so is NASCAR going to foot the bill for each and every one of them, just to be there?!?!?! If NASCAR wants to protect the image of glory days years gone by, then they need to do it with honor, not disgrace. If you can’t field the entire field, Richard Petty will just have to get over it. There’s dirt on the track, and it’s not the kind you race on.

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About Christopher Smith

A long time fan of NASCAR, he attended his first race as a kid in 1979 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the World 600. Christopher watched Darrell Waltrip drive his way to victory and from that day forward hes been hooked. As president of RubbingsRacing.com, Christopher launched the site in 2000 and in the past decade, it has grown into a NASCAR-accredited web site hosting multiple podcasts, dedicated writers and race coverage at the majority of NASCAR-sanctioned events. Christopher is an official member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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