I realize I live in the north, but NASCAR is my favorite sport. Ever since my father took me to my first race at Daytona in 1993, I have fallen in love with a spectacle that excites some and bewilders others. Regardless, the sport has fallen on hard times (with ratings and attendance) as it tried to become mainstream. The bigger the fanbase the more the money, right? Wrong: The sport needs to connect with the southeast, which is where it roots are firmly entrenched.
That's why Sunday's race at Talladega was so amazing. From the bumping and fighting, the Aaron's 499 had it all. There were a record number of leaders and lead changes. And it's amazing the response you get when the sanctioning body decides to afix a spoiler onto the backs of the cars rather than a douchey fin.
But I digress. What made the race so intriguing is the passing and rivalries. Four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson cut off teammate and fellow four-time champ Jeff Gordon on the backstretch. Gordon had to slide back into the pack and he wrecked a few moments later. This is the second time in as many weeks that the two teammates have tangled, making for an interesting storyline despite their clean-cut images. This is what racing is all about.
Then, on the last lap, Kevin Harvick bumped Daytona 500 champ Jamie McMurray to the side and they drag raced the final 300 yards to the checkered flag. It forced even the most hardened NASCAR fan to stand up and shout.
This is what the sport needs. More fighting and more side-by-side racing. I realize I'm in the minority with NASCAR, but I have a feeling that more people will start showing interest if the racing -- and story lines -- are as intriguing as they have been this year.
(Photo by Getty Images in the last lap of Sunday's Nationwide Series Race)
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