Daily Downforce readers: how many of you have watched an Out of the Groove episode and got to the end of a race recap episode where Eric was revealing the results of his Groovy Gage and thought to yourself: “Was this really a good race?”
How many of you have been scrolling through your YouTube feed and saw a poll posted by the Iceberg regarding your thoughts about the race only to be shocked that seemingly the entire NASCAR community disagrees with your analysis? Well, you’re not alone.
One Reddit user took to the site to beg the question: what is a “good race” when it comes to NASCAR? What helps a race cross that threshold? Is it a lot of wrecks? A lot of cautions? A lot of passing? Can a great ending with tons of drama make up for an otherwise boring snooze fest? Let’s talk about it.
In light of the fantastic final laps of the Kansas race, Reddit original poster, mj1814 asked the following:
Basically, it’s the age-old question of whether or not the end can justify the means. I have a take on it and we’ll just go ahead and get it out of the way: I think it depends.
NASCAR is so storyline-heavy that the players involved in the ending of any given race kind of indicates to us whether or not the ending was good. For example, I think most Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans would consider his 2012 win at Michigan a “good race.” Did it have a lot of lead changes? No. Were there a lot of cautions? Not really. It was before the days of guaranteed stage cautions and the racing itself was pretty darn clean. Dale Jr. led a vast majority of the laps.
It wasn’t like his first win with Hendrick four years earlier where the drama over will he or won’t he make it back around during the final lap still under his own power because of a fuel mileage play. Put simply, in 2012, Dale Jr. spanked the field. And I think that was a good race. Because my favorite driver won. Was it the most exciting race of the year? Almost certainly not. But it’s still a fan favorite and a very popular win among Junior Nation.
What I’m getting at is that many of these online polls are the result of some number of fans favorite driver having a good or bad day and not much stock should be put in them. It’s all subjective. It’s within the eyes of the beholder. An F1 fan can think a strung-out, total domination by one driver is exciting (though, possibly due to the added story lines of a Netflix show which really plays into the drama of the situation) while NASCAR fans call it a snoozer. It’s all a matter of perspective.
That said, removing my favorite driver from the equation (which is easier to do now that he’s mostly retired), I’ll do my best to answer the question as to what I think constitutes a good race. In my opinion, I think a race can be dubbed a “good” one as long as it has at least a couple of memorable moments. And by that I mean between the competition racing for position, not a protest stunt pulled by a driver like Josh Williams did at Atlanta earlier this year. The fact that that was the most memorable moment about that race means that that race was truly horrible.
I guess what I’m saying is that a typical race is a three-to-four hour long event and not every moment needs to be full of heart-pounding action. It just needs a few moments sprinkled in to give it some zest. I think the most important components to a good race is strategy to keep the race strung together (abolish the stage cautions!), some drama (like KFB speeding on pit road, thus ruining his day or, at the very least, making it highly unlikely for him to rebound), and a contested finish.
That doesn’t mean I want to bring back the b.s. debris cautions; if a driver spanked the field, they spanked the field and they deserve the trophy. But come on, who doesn’t love the scenario of a driver in second with fresher tires coming after the leader on scuffs as the laps wind down and the clock ticks against them? But hey, those are just my thoughts. Let’s see what the Reddit fans have to say. And you know they never disappoint!
SeattlePassedTheBall said that a good race includes comers and goers, lead changes, multiple grooves, tire fall off, and rain, specifically for road courses. They also state that the ending doesn’t always make or break a race. They also admit that with a tough-to-handle car, even a complete dominance by one driver can still be pretty darn exciting.
Here’s a cool thing to think about: if you physically attend a race, are you more apt to like it rather than just watching the television coverage of it? Hmm…I think, yes. I’ve fully enjoyed every race I’ve been to. I like the sounds and the smell of burning rubber.
Does that mean that all the races I’ve been to were awesome or was I just drunk off the experience? I don’t know but thanks to AgentofChaos17 for bringing it up.
ClearlyInvisible states the stone-cold truth: it’s all subjective.
Hurricaneshand echoes the tough-to-handle cars point from above and the added drama.
Icy-Consequence-4372 seems to only like races NOT one by the larger teams. Hmm…they must dislike MOST races, then.
PsweetJ01 throws in contact to the answer. Hmm…I don’t know, does there need to be a lot of hard contact to make a race more exciting?
Yes, BabycakesMurphy, tire falloff and strategy are big factors in how good a race can be.
iamdellb wants cars to be able to pass, not get caught in dirty air and unable to make a move. Good point.
TheMoonIsFake32 isn’t a hard race fan to please. There’s something admirable about that.
I agree, Fals-Ad4673, I’ve never seen a bad race at Homestead. I wish it would return as the season finale. I’m not going to be holding my breath, though.
So, what do you think, Daily Downforce readers? What constitutes a “good race” for you? Let us know on our Twitter and Instagram pages! And keep it right here for all your daily NASCAR chatter!