Fantasy NASCAR: Tony Stewart defends boring Brickyard
All good things must come to an end, and so ends another Post-Tribune Fantasy NASCAR contest season with another boring Brickyard 400.
Call me a homer, but it’s always nice to see a Hoosier win the race. Actually, South Bend native Ryan Newman was a Boilermaker since he graduated from Purdue, but he’s an Indiana guy and this is our race.
What I wish would end is the lack of excitement in the race on the oldest track in America.
It’s been nine years since there was anything that resembled a close finish.
In 2004 there was a green-white-checkered flag finish with Jeff Gordon winning his fourth Brickyard. Since then, the gap between first and second has been huge in racing standards — between 1.5 and 4.5 seconds.
After about five laps of the race, the cars spread out in single file and passing is at a premium.
But according to one of the Indiana nativeS who has won the Brickyard, passing is overrated.
“We’re racing here (at the Brickyard). If you want to see passing, we can go out on I-465 and pass all you want and tell me how exciting it is,” said Tony Stewart, who finished fourth on Sunday.
Actually, I do find passing in an auto race exciting, and sometimes it’s quite interesting on 465 or any interstate highway. But don’t mind me. I shouldn’t interrupt the always colorful Stewart who lives 30 minutes from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“This is about racing here. It doesn’t have to be about two or three-wide to be good racing. Everybody’s on this kick about passing. It’s racing, not passing.”
OK, Tony. I get it. Doing well at the Brickyard is real racing — how to go into challenging corners, finding a way to pass once in a while, pit strategy, etc. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I happen to like passing and I’m sure most of the racing fans reading this agree.
Stewart knows as well as anyone that IMS was built for open-wheel machines that go upwards of 220 to 230 miles per hour. Those cars pass plenty in May, especially with the “push-to-pass” buttons in the cars. Logic dictates that it’s even tough for those high-performance machines to pass at the Indy 500 when they need a special button to enhance the passing.
There’s not much that can be done at IMS to fundamentally change the way races evolve. Maybe a night race will change that. For sure, running at night will likely draw a bigger crowd, because, once again, empty seats out-numbered occupied ones on Sunday.
As for our final 2013 contest, the readers ended it in style with three scoring more than 200 points and 15 scoring more than 190, including myself.
The top effort went to Randy Glans of Valparaiso, who almost was perfect with 210 points. He had Newman, runner-up Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne (third), Stewart and Jeff Gordon, who finished seventh.
Glans was followed by Lori Cross of LaPorte (204 points) and RuthAnne Slamka of Chesterton (201 points).
All three of them will receive tickets to a RailCats baseball game. They also have one thing in common: They compete in our contest against their spouses. It’s the one theme I enjoyed most while running our sixth annual NASCAR contest, and the readers have chimed in about how much they like it, too.
Glans, Cross and Slamka each significantly defeated their significant others (Renee, Rickey and Joe, respectively). Other couples had much closer races to end the season. John Daras edged his wife, Joanne, 183 to 181. Ken Cates defeated his wife, Debi, 199 to 194. Two couples had 195-194 barn-burners as Allen Curtis edged Phyllis, and Sonja Ison edged Gary.
Hopefully, all these couples and many more return next year for a seventh P-T Fantasy NASCAR contest after we averaged around 100 entries each week.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of another interesting Sprint Cup season. My over-the-top-of-my-head prediction on who will take the overall title? Let’s go with Jeff Gordon in a close race over Jimmie Johnson.